A sixth-former hides from
another A-Level dedicated hour, armed with pen, paper and Sony Ericsson.
Screw the teachings of Plato or even Shakespeare’s soliloquies- she’s got
Joseph Mount, founder of rough electro-pop, on the end of the line- who
needs an education when one has Metronomy. It’s been a busy year for the
three boys of gothic dance, success flowing from all streams of the
industry. With a new single “My Heart Rate Rapid” being unveiled at the end
of this month and a much awaited second album “Nights Out” circling a record
store near you around the summer, the electro spot-light today casts light
on the leader of the electro pack.
New single coming out, how are you feeling about
that, apparently mastered by all the ‘fisher-price keys that Toys’ R’ Us can
I don’t know really, I think it’s a good song, it’s weird I guess. There
are no lyrics in it at all, just weird singing….fisher-price keys? That’s
interesting, didn’t use one to make it but I get what they mean.
The up and coming album ‘Nights Out’, how long did
that take to get into progress?
Some of the songs on it are quite old, but there was a big gap between the
first record and this one, so I wasn’t rushing it- I had quite a while to do
it. It was weird as it always ends up that some of the best songs were the
last ones I wrote, kind of only a few months before finishing the album.
Any tracks that particularly stand out for you?
There’s one called ‘On the Dance Floor’ that I really like, and that’s quite
an old one, that’s the first vocal one I actually wrote and then there’s
another one ‘Holiday’ which is new, it’s like a disco song, its is quite a
lot of fun.
Your recent support slot with CSS grounded your
original live show, how is the new album going to come across in the future
of Metronomy gigs?
We’ve been playing quite a bit of material from the new album; the vocal
tracks are a bit more engaging from the older stuff we used to play. What
we’ve played so far has gone down pretty well, I’m hoping when people know
the songs they’ll start singing along and all that; clapping at the end-
that sort of thing.
Any chance of incorporating the love-foxx cat suit?
Absolutely, I don’t think any of us would look good in a cat suit, we’d walk
out and then absolutely anything could happen…if we get desperate we might
What are your summer plans? Festivals?
We’re going to do quite a few, Bestival, Benicassim which is in Spain which
I hear is pretty hot, think its quite easy to die there, people die in
tents…dehydration (I’ll try to avoid that). Yeah, basically just playing
festivals and I’m sure they’ll be like tours coming up around the album and
that kind of thing, just a lot of playing hopefully.
5 minutes with the
mastermind of a dance trio leaves us with everything from the excitement of
a new album to a little bit of hope that coming to a town near you will be a
cat-suit flocked Metronomy (especially for the ladies), not bad for a
clueless sixth-former with a couple of questions up her sleeve- back to
Shakespeare I think.
Erin Kubicki, 13.03.08
Krummi the singer in Mínus
amongst other things answered Stuart Bowen's questions for the band
including how to order beer in Icelandic and what should be included on a
honeymoon itinerary to Iceland.
For the uninitiated, and in your own words, who are
Mínus are four individuals who live to create something beautiful out of
"The Great Northern Whalekill" is your fourth album
and quite a departure from how Minus sounded on your debut. What have been
the highs and lows of your journey to this point so far?
We only remember the highs so this journey has been amazing. We took
some time off in 2005-2006 so we could start a family and kinda settle down.
Now we're back with our feet firmly on the ground and ready to drive the
Mínus art machine. The only lows were maybe trying to get sober after all
these years, we are not as crazy as we were i can tell you that but don't
Joe Barresi, your producer for "The Great Northern
Whalekill", has worked with the likes of Tool, Queens of the Stone Age and
Melvins. What was he like to work with, and what did he bring to group
It was very interesting working with him, we learned a lot. I personally
didn't work as much with him as the boys did because i produced my vocals on
my own with the help of our engineer husky. Joe is very precise and is a
genius in guitar sound, amazing! It is not easy to impress him so that was
very good you know to have somebody telling you the truth.
How do you feel the departures of Johnny and Frosti
will influence the sound of Minus going forwards?
After they left we have become much more experimental and we put more
dynamics in our live set. We allow ourselves to incorporate a lot more
psychedelia in our live set and we agree on everything because we love the
same music and we're best friends. We can't wait to record our next album
which will happen this year.
Is there something that they put in the water in
Iceland, as over the last few years, the music scene has become huge – how
do you explain this?
We are a small country so we're not as influenced as others, we kinda
try to create a new sound. We are inspired by our nature and culture.
There´s only one scene in Iceland not you know scenes
so nobody sounds the same. Basically we all look at ourselves as serious
artists, so we put time and effort in our work.
You are releasing The Great Northern Whalekill in a
year that is full of other eagerly-anticipated releases. What will you be
buying / listening to this year?
I don't really buy new music that much, i personally buy vintage vinyl
from the 60´s and 70´s. We will never stop listening to Captain Beefheart,
Allman Brothers band you know brilliant stuff like that.
Who has control of the music on the tour bus and
what is normally playing?
Well I'm a bit of a music control freak so I'll be playing some heavy
70´s stuff and a fair share of the blues and of course some good old prog
The album art for The Great Northern Whalekill is,
ummm, striking! If the person you have gracing the cover had not been
available, who else would have made your naked wishlist!?
Someone else just as striking and beautiful and we are not being
My fiancée and I are getting married at the end of
the year and are going to Iceland for our honeymoon! Can you tell me one
thing we must see / do while we are there, and how to order a beer in
You must see Jesus Christ Superstar because i myself is playing Jesus
and Mínus are playing the music. You must make love at least 3 times a day
and go to a restaurant and order some fresh fish. Go to the bars and drink
and get to know the people. Take long walks by the seaside. How to order
beer in Icelandic is "Ég ætla að fá einn bjór,takk"
Finally, what can we expect from Minus in 2008?Will
we see you in the UK this year?
An amazing live show and a new album here are our tour dates:
Mar 20 2008 Monto Water Rats, London
Mar 21 2008 Leadmill, Sheffield
Mar 22 2008 tbc,
Mar 23 2008 King Tuts, Glasgow
Mar 25 2008 Academy 2, Newcastle
Mar 26 2008 Roadhouse, Manchester
Mar 27 2008 Rock City, Nottingham
Mar 28 2008 Barfly, London
Apr 4 2008 Organ, Reykjavik
On a night punctuated by curry,
malfunctioning microphones and a compere who is half Superman, half Smurf,
Will Columbine attempted to interview The Argonauts in the toilets of 93
Feet East - twice! Here for your perusal, enjoyment and (most likely)
bafflement are the edited highlights.
To quote one of your own songs,
“let’s take it back to where it started”…how did the band get together?
Daniel Fell (bass, vocals): I started it and then I tried to get Terry to be
in it but he lived in Guildford so it wasn’t happening.
Terry Swain (drums, vocals): I only
moved down there to go to college for, like, four weeks and ended up staying
down there for four years.
What were you studying for those
TS: Fuck knows!
James Eaton (guitar, vocals): Dan
and I bumped into each other in an East End pub and we were both like, “Hey,
I like Supergrass too!”
DF: I said “Nice glasses!”
JE: And I said “Nice beard!” Dan
suggested that we get together and play some guitar, so a year later I gave
him a ring.
What took you so long?
TS: He didn’t have any credit, did he?!
JE: I was a student and there were
better things to do.
DF: Basically, he played his guitar
on his own in his bedroom for a year until he felt he was good enough to
give me a call.
JE: And then I went round and I
couldn’t play the songs. Why did you keep me on?
DF: Because I thought you looked
like the bear out of Bo Selecta!
But I thought you all knew each
other at school. Were you planning the band even then?
DF: Yeah, we did. I remember playing with Terry then and stealing Jim’s
guitar a couple of times and him scowling at me, and me being like, “Fuck
off, Four Eyes – I’ll eat you!”
Charming! You’ve got an album out
now called “Sixes & Sevens”. Is that meant to be a comment on the state of
DF: Basically, yeah.
TS: It should have been called “The
JE: Have you reviewed it yet?
Not yet but I will.
JE: What mark are you going to give it?
I might give it six or seven out
The Argonauts: Oooooooooooooh!
TS: I think you should give it sixty
seven out of ten.
You must be aware of the recent
“controversy” with the NME (*spit!*) and Morrissey over his perceived
racism. If, later in your career, you got into a similar situation, what
would your particular controversy be?
JE: Actual racism!
TS: Probably graffiti or something
What would the graffiti say?
DF: “Let’s wrestle!”
TS: “Why play music when you could
become a bank manager?”
Terry, I hear you’re a bit of a
storyteller. Can you tell us a story right now?
TS: We’ve written a new song called
“Cameraman” which is about my friend who had his way with a young filly on a
pool table in the desert. Some freak was taking pictures of it. It was at a
toga party. Also, they didn’t have any ice so they drove twenty miles to get
Rumour has it that you’d rather
lay bricks than play session drums for Brian May. Is that true?
TS: Well, it’s a better fucking job! Playing drums is a mug’s game. You’ve
got to lug the whole kit around…you can’t drink…when you do, you get
Arrested for what?
The other rumour I’ve heard is
that the drummer from Red Hot Chilli Peppers held a drum tutorial at your
college, saw you play and said you were the best he’d ever seen.
DF: They had a drum-off.
TS: I beat him off!
Ok, back to the music! You can
buy the album from Amazon, is that correct?
DF: Well, you can buy it if you want, or you can just listen to it round
your mate’s house.
How long do you reckon it’ll be
until it becomes available on bit-torrent?
JE: Well, we’ve got to get some fans first…so about a week.
How many fans can you get in a
That’s more than one a day so
that’s not bad. But let’s say the album sells Alanis Morrisette amounts…
TS: I like the way this question’s going.
…would you bother doing a follow
up in the knowledge that you could never match that initial success?
JE: I’d buy a little cottage in the country and become self-sufficient,
forget about people, grow a vegetable patch…a few chickens…maybe a have a
little studio in the shed with an acoustic guitar, and that’s what I’d do
for the rest of my life.
TS: I’d do a solo album.
Any last words?
DF: We’ve got a single coming out called “Where It Started”. I wrote it and
I sing and play bass on it.
JE: And you play guitar on it. I’m
not even on it because I was on holiday.
Interview by Will Columbine
Interviewed by Katya at
Resolution, Whitby 10/07
In the decaying grandeur of the Resolution, Whitby; I corner Cybercide in
their hotel room for a grilling on their renowned live show, vampires, the
trouble with singers, bodily functions and being the ‘Dolly Parton’ of EBM!
S- Spike, James Marsden cloned synths player.
E- Eddie, Vocals, writer
K- Kat, free lance rock writer
K– The most amusing thing I’ve read about you guys thus far described you
as ‘Two blondes fashionably dressed’.
E- (laughs hysterically) Is that running?
K– It’s like you’re air hostesses or something.
E- (Laughs more raucously that before)
K– Did you object to the image at all?
E- (continues laughing) I’ve gone red now. Air hostesses? Isn’t that
Screaming Banshee Aircrew?
K– No that’s from me. But can you comment on the image because we’ve
already established that you only originally spoke to Spike because he’s
E– Kind of yeah… I just heard that the way you just heard it (laughs).
Considering the gay blokes he’s been hanging around with in the bar!
K– I wasn’t going to ask that but I could do…
S– What if I’m gay?
K– No but if you were bothered by all the attention?
S- No...I don’t actually get any gay attention.
E– Someone said that we’ve got a bit of a big gay following, I don’t know
any big gay people (chortles). Let’s face it, I’d rather be loved
platonically than hated by ‘em.
K– So you’re like the Madonna of EBM (cackles)?
E- (in a camp voice) No Dolly Parton! I bumped into Rob and the image was
very striking. I had this idea at the time to do something with EBM and all
the clichés and images. Hell its been done to death in pop with all trite
manufactured rubbish but they had the right idea. Think about what you’re
going to do at the end of the day, don’t just make it up along the way. So I
asked him if he could play an instrument.
S- (interrupts) I said I could play the drums and you said that was
completely useless. So I said I’ve been playing the piano since I was four…
E-So I had a keyboard player yeah. Bu the image thing we kind of fell on it
by accident, it was just the idea that a lot of the clothes went together.
S– Dude, you had red hair down to about half way down your arms when I met
E– Yeah I know but that soon went.
K– In the past you’ve commented on the present levels of snobbery with
respect to originality. In which case why do you think you’ve been so well
E– I think deep down everyone actually likes the stuff that was written a
long time ago. You go into a club and if someone plays early VNV it will
fill the dance floor. Yet you can play some new stuff and it will be
completely dead. The new Apoptygma and VNV is so far removed from what they
were doing. In 1999/2000 EBM had its hey day just before it turned into
future pop. It was what we all really liked and got us into the electronic
scene in the first place.
It’s also because it’s melodic and you have a lot of these music scenes
burning themselves out because the next thing is to be harder and louder and
nastier. There’s only so far it can go before it becomes boring.
K– So are people who believe you’re trying to be VNV just stupid?
E– I wouldn’t say they’re stupid but we have the same producer...hello!
There might be some similarities from that.
K– But did you seek out that sound actively?
E– Any synth you go through the presets, that just happen to be it! And the
rousing chorus thing , well I did that in ‘Voices’ and every other band I’ve
S– You get it in every genre, you get it in trance. I mean a lot of my stuff
has to do with that since that’s what I was into originally.
E– Especially since he’s lent me some CDs (laughs). In the last year I’ve
discovered trance, trance is so cool!
S– Because EBM is trance with some miserable goth singing over it!
K– Why did it take so long to get the album together?
S– Singers! We’ve gone through about six singers.
E-Most of them were so short that you didn’t notice! The main one John was a
lovely guy. It was disappointing that he had to leave but you can understand
when you’ve got a child, you know marriage and responsibility.
K– We’re you choosing singers by height and not by hair? Or what was the
S– People who can actually sing which was the problem after John left.
E– We tried for a very long time and had gigs booked. Especially playing
Carnival of Souls two months after John left.
K– When did this decision come that you thought you’d do a bit of DIY?
E– About two or three weeks beforehand. We had auditions from people who
were worse than bad.
S– We had a rehearsal studio and sat there and people came in seeing what we
do as a group. You know if you get someone new who can work with you.. We
figured that Eddie is the worst person to work with ever...he really is.
(laughter) But I manage to do it for some reason.
E– I tend to revise songs and revise songs and revise songs and revise
songs. I do find that it is very much black and white. I’ll either work with
someone or I won’t and I’ll usually know within the first five minutes.
K – How do you know so quickly if you don’t mind me asking?
E– I can only work with people who’ve got good talent. It’s very difficult
to work with people who don’t understand what you’re aiming for at the end
of the day. These bands who say we don’t quite fit into this genre, we’re a
bit of this and that. It’s an incredibly arrogant thing to say ‘oh we are
But I’m always open to suggestion and I admit that I’m wrong on many
(general background laughter. To Spike) This is going to be printed you
know. You want to find another singer, it’s not going to help!
K- (To Spike) Can you sing?
S– Fuck no!
E– I don’t like singing and I never wanted to be the singer. The hardest bit
of it is that I’m doing an instrument that isn’t mine. The amount of singing
lessons I’ve had to go to. Have you any idea how stupid you feel going ‘La
K– Yeah, my experience of singing lessons involved walking around a room
barking like a dog.
E– I would have paid good money to see that! I had the sound of music
treatment but it was kind of if I didn’t sing at Carnival of Souls, we would
have ended up falling down the toilet straight away because you can’t cancel
The Live Show
K– What are the classic ingredient to the Cybercide live show?
E– The audience. We feel like they’re our mates. We’ll have a beer with
anyone who’s got the time to recognise us in the street.
K– Or pay?
E– Not necessarily. Well that’s the worst bit because I’m always the one
K- (To Spike) I don’t believe you don’t throw up.
E– No he doesn’t throw up but you hear that head board making some odd
noises when you’re in the next room! I tell you what, if you’re a drummer
your rhythm is right off.
You look like a cigarette!
K– So you don’t object to glo-stick wavers.
E– I’m a fucking glo-stick waver.
K– Me too!
E– We don’t care if they’re goths or if they’re metallers or if just sort of
S– That’s why we did it really and I feed off the audience...
- (interrupts) Sorry I can’t take you seriously. You’re talking about
feeding off the audience and you look like a stinking vampire!
(everyone falls about)
E– That’s quite quick! That’s how he got the nick name Spike because he
looked like James Marsden.
K– Ah...we know that.
K– We know that Eddie was in bands before e.g. ‘Voices of Masada’ but what’s
S– I’ve played as a classical musician.
K– I’m assuming you guys don’t actually write out manuscripts?
E– Well actually we do..
K– You do! That’s amazing.
S– Playing percussion in an orchestra gave me the confidence because it’s
incredibly exposed, with timpani you’ve just got one guy with huuuuuuge
things going BOM BOM BOM! And one time my parents decided we going to take
the timpani home and have them in the living room, scaring the hell out of
K– Was it under the drum?
E– You didn’t think to look...it’s like bonfires and hedgehogs. You’re wrong
S– I didn’t know! I just was in BANG and MEOW! And at the next rehearsal the
whole horn section did exactly what the cat did.
E– Leave the room at head height!
K– Did the funding initially come from you guys with the artwork etc?
E– We all worked really hard but we’re happy with the result. Think about it
10-20 yrs down the line when you’re sort of ugly old farts. Actually you
don’t have to go that far down the line.
S– You don’t!
E– But I think it’s just insulting these days as a lot of bands… I won’t
name any names, who just rehash the same song for half the album. Who’s
artwork is pretty poor and hasn’t been thought through and the mixing is
terrible. If someone’s gonna pay £10 for a CD, well they could be earning
minimum age so that’s pretty much two hours work after tax. These people are
effectively your friends and are showing you a mark of respect and you owe
it to them to do the best job you possibly can.
S– The other thing is that if it’s a decent CD it gives them a reason not to
download it off the internet.
E– We’ve got a couple of tracks on our website for free download. The remix
kit is going up there so people can have fun with it. There’s one sample at
the beginning of ‘Further’ no one realises! I spent the whole morning
outside my house, I’d saved up all the cardboard for about four weeks and
made it really unmanageable chunks. In a long line of recycling rubbish down
the street. So that the bin men could pick it up and chuck in the lorry
while I’ve got a microphone there.
K– That’s fantastic!
E– Yeah…(deadpan) He said it was rubbish.
K– ‘Isolate’ sets a very different pace on the album and female vocals;
are we going to be seeing more of them?
E– I think quite possibly if they fit with what we want to do.
S– It was ideas I came up with which Eddie turned into a song . As opposed
to a lot of the other ones which are written by Eddie so that’s what makes
it a very different feel.
E-The problem is without the vocals, it is so hypnotic and introspective,
you fall asleep halfway through!
S– The bleeping itself is the drums. If you listen to the stuff that’s on
the album and also when we play live; there’s extra stuff. The string stuff
is basically my input to it. Listen to the other tracks, most of the stuff
written is Eddie.
E– But quite a lot of them happen on guitar. They start out as sort of goth
tracks and we do have goth version of the various songs that make people do
a double take. You get the other snobby lot, that say ‘Oh electro music, you
just push a button and it does it all for you’. Not quite and they’d
probably dance to it in a club if the drum pattern underneath wasn’t four to
the floor and if it was Fields of the Nephilin style guitars. What they
don’t realise is that its changed from plonk plonk plonk to bleep bleep
S– If someone wants to decide whether its live or not. I will sit down at
the piano and play ’Brave New World’.
K– Talking lyrics, who writes them?
S– Both of us, Eddie tends to do more of it because he’s much better at bad
K– The ’Ben Hur’ quote, who chose that?
E– Er...I did. The reason being the whole song ’Faceless’. The fact that
when we’re dead no one remembers what we look like and I think it was the
Mission who said that ’names are for tombstones baby’.
K– So what’s with the anti-war stance?
E– ‘Underfire’ is from a guy I knew who did a tour of duty in Afghanistan. I
won’t name him but he was telling me what happens when you shoot someone and
they basically die of suffocation. It was so shocking, I actually went away
and was reading a lot of the war poets from WW1. I was stunned that we’re
not stupid and yet we’re allowing this to go on.
K– Are you going to play ‘Rebel Yell’ tonight?
E– Originally we did it as a joke! Don’t get me wrong, we like Billy Idol,
he’s a good old punk singer and he made punk quite interesting in the middle
of the ‘80s and sort of brought it back to accessibility.
– That’s the thing with covers, its got to be in the style of the band
that’s doing it. Else there’s no point.
E– You want to sort of set yourself apart from the busker in the street
S– We’re never going to do VNV covers or Covenant covers or anything like
that because they’re so similar.
E– Well early VNV! They’ve all moved onto something different now.
S- I was thinking we could do some Oasis or something…
E– No! I never liked that shit the first time round.
K– How about ‘Song 2’, Blur?
S– Yeah possibly (Eddie pulls face)...Eddie doesn’t like the idea (giggles).
E– But it has to be a song we like as well though.
S- ‘Chop Suey’!
E-’Bella Legosi’s Dead’.
S– I mean if you’re going to play the original, you might as well put the CD
on the juke box and walk away or jump around and pretend!
E– We know a couple of bands who do that!
S– I don’t fucking mind!
E– When he plays a bum note, the whole song turns into bum notes.
K– I’m sort of done with the questions so good luck for tonight and can
you burp and fart at the same time?
S– I don’t know, can you burp and not fart?
E– I’ve been in the same room when he’s been drinking Guinness and it’s not
Will Columbine gets confused about anti-Royalism during his interview
with Royal Vendetta at their show in Leeds on 5th October 2007.
Listen to Interview (MP3 1.81 Mb, 12:41)
Bad Mans Dog produce eclectic, catchy, energetic indie, ska punk pop.
Will Columbine caught up with them before their show in Leeds on 5th
Listen to interview
(MP3 1.42Mb, 9:58)
Punk jazz? Punk n roll?
Warped? We find out a bit more about the multi-faceted Kat Vipers.
SB: With a classical training and background, what
is it that draws you particularly to the more percussive style of piano?
KV: It’s funny that you ask because I am working on some new songs I
will be recording in the summer, and they are quite different from that
style of playing but I still enjoy it of course, I mean it's the only way to
to play piano and sound rock n roll, you’ve got to be really punchy,
aggressive and raw which is what the percussiveness achieves. So basically,
I still enjoy it a lot but there’s such vast territory to explore that this
is just the beginning I think.
SB: It seems to me to be a particularly energetic
style - together with your often rapid vocals, I imagine your shows are
actually quite physically demanding?
KV: Yeah, by the end of each gig I feel completely drained, physically
and emotionally. There's too many notes to play, I need to be accurate and
still move about and enjoy it. I don’t know, I suppose as my sets are
getting lengthier I need to either get used to it or simplify the pieces, or
start working out or something!!
SB: yeah - some kind of training maybe
KV: ehm, I fence if that counts
SB: good for those stabbing sounds! Avant garde is a
description often used to describe your music. Do you think this is fair or
do you see yourself more as being part of a counter-culture or subculture?
KV: Yeah it’s a shame that people pigeonhole this as avant guard
immediately, it draws a line between me and audiences i.e. so many people
are put off at the sound of the word avant guard that they won't even give
you a chance. Sometimes it feels like I am banging my head against the big,
rigid wall of mainstream music, mainstream thinking/arts, whatever. Like I
am starting to fear that my music will never make it past the underground,
which I think is a shame. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?
SB: Your style is obviously a little unusual to the
average record buyer. Would you ever consider slightly compromising your
ideals to open the door and ease a bigger audience into your genre?
KV: I am sticking to my guns for now. What can I say, we are all human -
I mean we have to pay the rent etc.. and then I know that I have a lot to
offer artistically, so perhaps bending slightly at first isn't such a
tragedy. I can't believe I am saying this!
SB: Kat Vipers in sell out shocker?
KV: No seriously, I am doing whatever feels natural, so I will keep
writing music I myself enjoy and can be proud of. I find myself
progressively approaching what we call alternative mainstream
I know you have reviewed both Mother Superior and
Summer Bloody Time; Mother Superior was such a total statement of
megalomania and a bit ignorance - I mean you can't put out a debut record
like that, its suicide. And then SBT felt like the only possible next step.
SB: so as a musician, and clearly someone who
believes that thinking about the meaning and nature of music is also
important, how do you define success?
KV: Getting through to as many people as possible, whilst also making a
serious artistic contribution. There's so many examples out there, like
Bowie (the first records) and Polly Harvey, Tori Amos, the list goes on.
Nick Cave of course
SB: So in your video ‘Kat Vipers Unwrapped’ you seem
to be saying that you shouldn’t try to conceal your true identity,
inspiration etc just to conform. Would that be accurate or is there more to
read between the lines?
KV: Absolutely. You should also be clever though. You have to adapt,
that’s different from conforming. Like a chameleon. Just like what I said in
the video. Think of it like this: what’s more important? Making 10 good EPs
that no-one will buy (all verging on the avant guard as you called it) or
perhaps put out a less difficult record, which will probably get you noticed
and will give you the backing you require as an artist to eventually make
those 10 super-cerebral records?
I still haven't answered that question; I am still
debating with myself. But it's clear that I am at a crossroads.
SB: so is the kind of kooky delivery an attempt to
cover up? Or conversely, an attempt to come clean about the real Kat Vipers?
KV: it's just a bit of theatre, its me being playful and flirtatious
with the camera. The real Kat Vipers. What a contradiction. I suppose I just
feel like time is passing and I am not anywhere near I thought I would be by
now. Its just old age; it's me being harsh on myself.
SB: So you’re currently based in London – what was
the reason for settling there?
KV: I suppose I was looking for a place open to new ideas, new trends, with
a considerable tradition in cultural breakthroughs blah blah and also a
business/financial centre, where the ideas meet their realisation, where
anything can happen…oh sorry that's America.
SB: Streets paved with gold I hear?
SB: So although practically it must be easier doing
shows in London, do you also find it difficult to get shows in smaller,
perhaps less illuminated provincial towns where promoters are unwilling to
try something new?
KV: Yes, that's very true. I did play Bristol last night, where everyone
in the audience knew the songs, I did an interview straight after the gig,
the BBC was there, small crowd but so completely into it. I am playing Bath
on the 26th, and I think it will be pretty awesome too. You see, it depends
on the promoter. I have had the fortune of working with Big Jeff in Bristol
and Gareth/Go Ape in Bath and they have both done so much plugging it's
And then you play London and 5 people turn up, and they
don’t even know who's on. Seriously, I think I am going to stop playing
London as much as I used to!!
The audience last night spoilt me rotten.
SB: As a fellow sceptic I'm interested in your views
on the current music 'scene' In your interview in The Mag (2005), you have
strong views on the current state of contemporary music and the general
malaise in the music industry for rooting out new talent and ideas.
KV: Yep, still feel the same. By the way: always a sceptic, never a
cynic, please write that, it's important.
What can I say, when will the industry wake up and give
real artists a chance, I don't quite know. You would have thought that by
now they would have gotten the message, but clearly it's falling on deaf
ears. Ironic, being the music industry. How many more plastic pop tunes can
this world consume? Enough is enough!
SB: I hope this doesn't sounds like a rude question
but In making such a deliberate attempt not to follow the beaten track how
would you answer people who might criticise your music for being contrived?
KV: You mean pretentious?
SB: Well more so that in deliberately reacting
against the mainstream it's easy for people to say you are in fact creating
a parallel 'mainstream' or at least a 'substream'
KV: That's inevitable. When you are "revolting" against any authority,
you’re only bound to create/contribute to a movement/wave
That's always the risk with making "idiosyncratic”
music. Half the people think you are amazing and the other half that you are
a pretentious idiot. It's a risk that I am happy to take. I think my music
is interesting, it's fresh. Yes admittedly you’ve got to make a bit of an
effort with it sometimes.
SB: What is your method of writing? Your lyrics seem
to have quite a Romantic quality about them – do they form the inspiration
for the music or do the words come afterwards?
KV: Usually the music comes first, then the lyrics follow and develop
together. The musical idea always precedes though.
SB: You’ve played piano since the age of 4, you’ve
played piano in some of the finest music schools in Europe and you also
teach piano; could you imagine a time when you would record an EP which was
not piano based?
KV: Absolutely. I think the next CD will be the beginning in that
direction. You know what I was thinking the other day? Of writing everything
on the piano and then arranging the songs for the guitar eventually - not
for this next CD, sometime in the future. That's such a task, because
obviously the 2 instruments are completely different, the approach when you
teach them/learn is not at all similar. The sound of course and attitude
differs but it would certainly be a challenge. Maybe one day
SB: Well maybe more immediately, what are the plans
and hopes for Kat Vipers for the next 6 days, 6 months and 6 years?
KV: I just want to keep on writing more music; I would like to put out a
couple more EPs, eventually bring the music to a wider audience.
With regard to the new EP I am recording it in the
summer, we are now in pre-production. It's going to be a black CD. Don't
want to tell you more about what that means.
I mean literally black. Bluesy, Jazzy. I just don't
want to give away too much
SB: Will you play all the parts yourself?
KV: Not yet....come on, I am only the pianist. Don't shoot me please.
SB: Just wondered if your megalomaniac tendencies
had crept that far yet!
KV: No, I think I’ll never pull that off.
I am going to try a Miles on the new CD. There will be
a children’s choir, and a gospel choir. And foot stomping. And a very cool
SB: Does the stomping require special boots?
KV: No, just very cool platform heels and a wooden floor
SB: I hope you take photos of the recording session
KV: We will definitely. Of me making an absolute fool of myself! Only
kidding. I am so looking forward to it though
Can I tell you something else?
SB: You may of course
KV: Today I said goodbye to a really good friend, we decided that we
will not be friends anymore and it's a record about that friend in essence.
It's the only thing I could do to say thank you and goodbye and good luck
and I am always going to be grateful
SB: Sounds like another Vipers contradiction -
deciding not to be friends sounds quite calculating and mechanical but to
write about it is obviously a very emotional thing
KV: It wasn't really a decision, more of a necessity. You know when you
slowly start forgetting why you were friends in the first place? Because
thing have turned so sour, that every nice memory is lost. Perhaps distance
will help us remember. But in the meantime I’ll just make this EP
SB: Let's end by getting a little frivolous. If you
could have any two musicians take part in a celebrity wrestling match who
would it be and why?
KV: Arrgggghhhh, that's so hard. Ok let me think…
SB: It could be tag team -more than two if you like,
a battle royale?
KV: Marilyn Manson vs Trent Reznor and Lilly Allen and Amy Winehouse
That was random but I really like them both (i.e. Lily
SB: But it wouldn't hurt for them just to feel a
KV: Probably not!!
Lewis Carter caught up with the
band just before their recent gig at Southampton Joiners and found out their
thoughts on pet monkeys.
So how does it feel to be on tour?
Sam: To be honest we don’t remember what its like to be off tour as we
have been touring for around 6 months and only had 2 weeks off for Christmas
but even then we played a couple of gigs back home in New York.
Nader: It seems that we never get longer than a week off at a time.
Sam: Yeah as we were supporting Albert Hammond jr and jet as well as our own
tours and obviously some where better than others.
Where do you feel is better to play?
Sam: I actually prefer to play in the UK but we have recently had a lot
of success around Europe.
Nader: Yeah we had fun and some really good gigs in Germany, Holland and
Switzerland. Japan has also been really good for us.
Sam: Recently we have been getting a lot of press via radio and most of our
new press whilst touring across Europe.
What makes your live shows so special?
Sam: It makes it a lot more enjoyable when you can see the crowd
standing there in front of you and they know all the words and are screaming
your name, which makes it a lot easier to enjoy the music for the fans and
Nader: It makes it a lot easier for us as the band enjoy live shows and our
music is always made so that it sounds good in live shows, we never make
songs that we won’t be able to play live.
What will be the moment when you know that you have
made it big?
Nader: It always changes as it started with wanting to be the main act at a
gig, then it became wanting to go on tour after that it became getting a
record deal then a tour bus where all ‘big steps’.
Sam: I think there will always be another big step when we feel that we have
made it big but there is always another big step straight after.
Nader: our next big step will be different in different places as we want
the new record to sell well but it should sell best in Europe, we want it to
sell well in the UK and America so that can be our next step.
How has the album been selling?
Sam: The album has really done well across Europe and extremely well in
Nader: I think we would like to be able to sell a few more records in
England since we have toured now so more people will know of us hopefully.
Do you feel that the press and public have liked the
Nader: The fans seem to have really enjoyed the album and seem really
appreciative of it.
Sam: yeah we have had good reviews and lots of good comments, which is
always a good sign.
Nader: I think that we have to now try and get more people to buy the record
as most people that buy our record have probably seen us live and heard a
lot of our music.
Are you really heroes?
Sam: Ha ha not at all, we definitely not heroes if anything I think we
are all a little insane
Who are your heroes?
Sam: We all have really different types of heroes, as mine are more
classic rock like the Rolling Stones but the other members of the band like
completely different music.
Nader: There is always music that we all agree on and can listen to together
on the tour bus.
Sam: I think we like the same kind of core bands but we all kind of branch
off in completely different ways.
Do you consider your sound to be UK, US or unique?
Sam: Well it is hard to say as some people say we sound very American,
some say English but I think we are very unique.
Nader: We are probably a little bit in the middle as we don’t try and be
anything other than ourselves.
Describe the band in 5 words.
Sam: Hard working
Have you got any festivals planed for this year?
Sam: Well we have quite a few arranged or in the pipeline for Europe and
America but nothing for England as of yet but we are hoping for Glastonbury
(Sam and Nader start laughing)
Nader: Yeah it would be awesome to be able to play Glastonbury
If you where able to be proper rock ‘n’ roll divas
what would your requests be?
Nader: I would definitely want a masseuse
Sam: Lots of Drugs I guess
Nader: Somebody standing at the side of the stage waiting for me to come off
and hand me a freshly rolled joint
Sam: There are probably loads off things that we would as for but at the
moment we are happy with a crate of beer and a couple of bottles of whiskey.
Nader: Recently they have been giving we some papers from New York, tomato
juice and olives so I guess my next step is to ask for a full bloody mary
Sam: It just feels really good when you ask for something a little different
but not overly expensive or hard to get and then you get it.
If you had a pet monkey what would you train it to
Sam: What do you mean if (as he rubs Nader on the head) I would train it
to make me laugh
Nader: I would train it to play the bass for me
Sam: Basically Nader would train a monkey to do everything that he didn’t
want to and that would probably be everything, as Nader never wants to do
anything like putting his shoes on, making his coffee.
Nader: I would teach it how to roll a joint for me
click on thumbnail for full size image in new window
noticed that in your reprinted lyrics in the later album sleeves, the word
‘God’ is never written. Is that to follow the Hebrew tradition?
That’s definitely a Hebrew tradition, Aaron [vocals] is about 40%
Jewish..that’s his Dad..and his Mom is Muslim and so Aaron and his brother
[Mike, guitar] are somewhere inbetween, trying to be Christian- so with that
clash..I think he just has a reverance for God, no matter what religion.
They have a little bit of a spiritual bloodline thing going on- like Aaron
doesn’t eat pork out of respect for his mother. They’re just respectful,
There’s definitely a musical progression through mewithoutYou’s latest cds.
What do you think that was mainly due to?
I think it was because we’re all getting a bit older..I’m 26, and I’m the
youngest in the band! Back when we started we were all way into punk rock-
just heavier stuff, like kind of thrashy music. It’s fun to play, but then
when you get older…you just want a change, and I think with songwriting
theres only as much heavy stuff as you can write with your metal band, or
your hardcore band before you say ‘alright, I just want to pick up an
acoustic guitar.’ So I think we’re just trying to be better at songwriting,
putting that before completely rocking out. And I mean, if the songs are
good, with all your emotion and guts put into it anyway..If you listen to
A-B of Life [mwY’s first release] it was really raw, but now we’ve bridged
that gap. Right now we’re definitely playing more of what we want, we throw
around a lot of ideas trying to use different instruments, strange and funny
things. You can only play so much in a certain style before getting bored
with it, so why not try and mix every style? It gives you room to grow.
A-B of Life, leading up to more recent records like Brother, Sister you seem
to have moved from subtle mentions of God and faith to direct references. Do
you think that your lyrics are open to interpretation our that you’ve now
pushed yourself into a corner that only God-fearing fans feel they can
Good question. If you ask any dude in the band how they feel on any given
day, you’re gonna get a different answer. I think the universal idea of
faith and God is that no-one knows whats out there for sure, and the older
you get the more you try to figure it out for yourself and the more you this
‘wow, it could all be bullshit, or it could be something amazing’ and every
day you wake up feeling something different. I think there’s direct things
on A-B Life- “jesus, have mercy on us”- that you can’t really deny Aaron is
trying to get a message across. Whereas now, he’s more ‘I don’t know what’s
out there, I don’t have the answers but I know how to be a good person and
if I can teach and show people how to do that- be it through God or the
Koran or anything.’ He’s really into everything, but he seems to identify
most with Christianity. At the same time he likes..whats the one book, I
always forget the name..the Hari Krishna holy book. He’s just interested in
spirituality. I think it’s good for people to get in touch with that because
a lot of people just sing about girls, and going to shows and stuff. And
there’s so much more to life- you’re alive! And not enough people stop to
think, not why we’re here, but that its
we’re here- as we get so caught up in the cycle of going to work and paying
everyone in the band share the same faith?
Not at all. It’s kind of funny, because people in the States especially get
freaked out when you say ‘no’, and they’re like ‘what do you mean,?’ It’s
pretty wild for any average two people to believe the same thing, let alone
five. I think we all know what we’ve learnt in the past and now as adults we
don’t ever stop trying to figure things out and be complacent with just
living. I mean, Gods always on my mind even if I’m just considering whether
or not he exists, or I’m reading or praying- just even reading Nietzche,
someone who denies the existence of God completely. I think it’s good just
to try and soak it all in. I don’t know..its tough, especially now..You
heard it here first, we’re having trouble in the band when it comes to
connecting on that level. I know some people in the band- cough Aaron cough-
think its really important that we’re all on the same page, because he has
this really grand vision. But it’s tough, and it’s kind of pushing and
pulling the band in different directions.
with regards to that, does everyone in the band agree with what’s being
Actually, Aaron asked us all that question just a few days ago. “Do you guys
feel like you can back up what I’m saying?” Everyone just kinda sat there. I
think..I totally back Aaron up because I think he’s a very intelligent and
creative person, but sometimes I think ‘wheres he coming from?’ Ultimately,
if he was just making blanket statements and quoting from the Bible I think
I would protest. But he has his own spin on it all, using metaphors and when
you hear the whole story in context of the record it’s like ‘okay, now I see
what he’s talking about, I believe in what he’s saying.’ But that has been
our toughest struggle as a band staying together, this issue.
six years and three records, do you think that staying together as a band
has become easier or harder?
I think you get more comfortable, you start thinking ‘this is my job, this
is my life’ and it’s how I identify myself, just like being an accountant or
a doctor only I’m a musician. It’s actually starting to get kind of scary,
like what happens when this ends? You have to think about it, because at
some point it is going to end..whether it’s tomorrow night when we’re all on
the plane ride home and it’s like ‘I hate you!’ ‘No, I hate you!’…No, that
won’t happen. But it will end sometime, and you’ve gotta try and prepare for
that when it does. It’s like a marriage, you wanna keep it together best you
can for as long as possible because it’s a good thing, you’ll always
remember the good things about it but no band’s indestructible and it’ll be
hard to walk away when the time comes. And there’s always like this promise
of you-might-tour-with-this-band or you-might-be-on-Conan-O’Brien..it’s
always like that little carrot dangling in front of the horse’s face.
Something I’ve always noticed that’s strange is that in UK magazines,
they’ll always mention mewithoutYou as being musical legends, but not saying
anything else or writing past that..
Yeah, I don’t know why that is..even in the States a lot of magazines have
like a weird reverance for the band but..because, like the kind of people
they’re trying to sell their magazines to might not like our band, the
younger kids. It’s a tough..we’re more of a band’s band. Like, when we’re
touring with another band or they see us play it’s an instant click. I like
it when musicians identify, and think that your band is awesome and in the
end that’s worth more than a mention in a magazine. And alternately, though
it would be nice to make lot’s of money but I’d rather be recognized as a
good musician and not just a band that has ‘that killer song’. We like to
focus on a whole record, like when we wrote Brother Sister it was like
‘we’re going to fill these spots, we’re going to put the Spider Songs, we’re
going to mould it around that’ rather than ‘oh I have a song!’ ‘no, I have a
song!’. It started off as more of an idea that we worked around.
you guys have a specific process when writing a record? Like do you all sit
in a certain room and work together, or do you all go your separate ways and
collaborate towards the end?
What we usually do is get a warehouse for about a month and did 9-5 pretty
much every day, and we used to practice at least once a week at home but
when you’re on that daily schedule it starts off harder, but then the
writing just flows out of you and it becomes almost natural. Like ‘well,
this is my job’ and you become excited about having parts written to add on.
I hope that’s how we do it next time too.
you have specific goals for the future with the band and personally?
Goals with the band…we try not to have any expectations because then you’ll
just get let down. When you’re a young band you’re always promised all this
stuff that never happens, but you get excited and stay up nights dreaming
about it. Just things like I said before, like going on Conan O’Brien or
whatever..you always get these calls like ‘this could happen’, and then
you’re just disappointed. I wish I’d never even known that. I think our
goals right now are not to kill each other for one..because right now
tensions are kinda high- and two, try and love each other, three? Just take
this as far as we can. I think our new goal is to make a new record that’s
wildly different from our other three records. It’s always one day at a
time, it’s a fragile thing. You never know.
you ever get pissed off when the basis of an interview is more about the
religious aspect of the band rather than the music?
Me, yes. I know Aaron could talk about the religious aspect for six days
straight, like sitting crosslegged on a rug with his shirt off and not
eating, just talking about it. But I’m more on the music half. Sometimes
you’ll do these interviews where they don’t ever mention the record, or even
the band. What about our music? We are a band, ya know. I love making music,
and I love talking about it. That’s why I’m here now, chatting with you. I
think music is the one thing that transcends gender and race, and should be
for everybody- that’s something that religion sometimes doesn’t cover.
You’ve got some strange musical happenings in mewithoutYou..do you think all
the creative progressions in the band have spoiled you as a drummer?
Yeah! I’m so happy with what we’re doing..like I said with A-B Life, theres
only so much you can do with that kind of music. I kind of hate to name
names, but I kind of have to..bands like Underoath their style never really
changes…bands like Hawthorne Heights- sorry if you like them [both parties
grimace] bands like that are a one-trick pony, every song seems to have the
same structure. We have a lot of freedom to do whatever we want musically,
so we’ll have a song like A Sweater Poorly Knit, or a song like Wolf Am
I..one is a straight-up rock song, while the other is a soft folk song. I
think that’s the beauty of being in mewithoutYou. I could put an African
drumbeat over a song, and it’ll work. I think if
Hawthorne Heights tried that then their fans wouldn’t like it so much..We’ve kind of
trained our fans by changing what we’re doing and so they’re more accepting.
So yeah, I think I have a lot of freedom in my bad. If I was even in another
band, it’d have to be something even more trippy and weird. I am spoiled!
It’s like a dream come true..I say that kind of joking, but I’m actually
you steer your kid toward any particular faith, or let them pick n choose?
I like that idea. I think ultimately a kid can’t really understand the whole
concept- no-one can. You eventually learn to question everything. I don’t
know how I’m going to raise my future kids spiritually. I think about it all
the time. I mean, I was raised Catholic and that seemed kind of harmless but
that doesn’t seem to work for everybody. It’s a hard decision, because what
if I have a wife who wants to read our kid the Bible every night? I don’t
want to deny her that, but how are you supposed to have conversations with a
kid whose not old enough to understand that there’s going to be a time when
they’ll have to think for themselves, because at that age they’re being told
what to think. You can brainwash anybody at any age, not even just
religiously but politically too. I’m freaked out by it constantly..like, do
you ever play that game Lemmings [or Zoombinis]? If theres one dude telling
you what to do, all the little creatures just follow. Just in little ways.
When you’re writing a song, do you focus more of what you’re feeling or on
I’m more of a live-show kinda guy, so that’s where I think it really comes
through. I think the attitude that bands should take..its like, I want
someone who comes and sees us play, seeing me play drums..just one person to
walk away afterwards and think ‘shit, now I want to play drums too!’. We
want you to feel what we’re feeling and want to do what we’re doing, cus its
all the vocal layering and different instruments on the record, does it ever
frustrate you to not be able to recreate that accurately live?
Sometimes I don’t even notice..I heard the recording of Catch For Us The
Foxes for the first time in two years the other day and thought ‘whoah?
that’s what we sounded like?’ because it’s nothing like the way we play it
live. Some guys in the band want to play each song perfectly each night, but
you’ve got to remember each show is an individual, different moment in time.
What we’re about to play tonight at the Water Rats [Kings Cross pub] should
be for those 150 kids in the room, not for everybody else who has come to
see us play before that. Imagine being one of those fans who follow bands
around the whole tour, how bummed you’d be if it was just the same thing
every night. We don’t have a set list..someone will start jamming and
everyone will notice the opening and join in. You don’t want it to be a
monotonous job, like going to an office and opening your email- that gets
old pretty quick. One time one of us actually started playing C-Minor, and
the other half of the band thought it was the beginning of Tie Me Up, Untie
Me and so they kicked in with that, and the two songs were playing at the
same time at one of our biggest shows of the year in LA. I couldn’t tell
what was going on, no-one could, but it worked and we all hooked up in the
chorus. No one in the crowd even noticed we were playing two songs at once.
having religion such a focus point of the band an advantage or disadvantage,
especially in America?
It’s definitely kind of weird, especially with the whole ‘Christian nation’
or whatever that means. Sometimes I feel like we’re the minority! There’s
two roads you can take when you’re a band in
with any kid of theology incorporated into your music..Theres a whole scene
where you can get paid $30000 dollars per night to play churches with the
same kind of bands. But we decided that was too easy- preaching to the choir
literally. People usually decide ‘screw that, they’re a religious band’
before even hearing us, but then they see us live and think ‘actually,
they’re okay’. Good music is good music. I get kind of bummed out because if
you talk to someone and theyre friendly and intelligent, it doesn’t matter
what they believe in or what theyre music taste is, they’re still the same
nice, smart person. There is definitely this weird, creepy underground
Christian rock scene where people will only listen to that kind of music, it
represents them. But I think you should always be challenged in what you
believe in, because that’s how you form your own opinion of faith, your own
all have interesting varying shades of facial hair..was that planned?
Er..yes, actually. At the beginning of the tour, every single one of us had
a beard. We just like the feeling…what can I say, I like the Grateful Dead a
lot! But we realized at the beginning how hairy we all were, so Aaron shaved
his into this weird thing, Chris gave himself that moustache, Dan’s got
those crazy sideburns…I’m the only one with the real deal anymore but I
might just fuck with everybody’s heads and shave it all off.
takes priority in the recording process, music or lyrics?
It’s tough..you want your music to be totally awesome but you always want
good lyrics that people can connect with, otherwise they wont listen, so
they’ll be like ‘the lyrics are great!’ and then they’ll hear the music- or
vice versa, some people just focus more on the music. For me..it’s a
combination of both. As a rhythm section player I want our music to be the
best it can possibly be, and I trust Aaron…Because he always has a panic
attack at the beginning of recording, freaks out and says he has nothing
written. But then the first day of studio you’ll hear all the songs he’s
written and its like ‘huh, I thought you said you had nothing!’
Tik Vermooten & Willa Culpepper
Just before playing a packed gig
at the Nottingham Social, I had a few minutes to chat with Air Traffic's
guitarist Tom Pritchard in the downstairs closet parading as the backstage
You've just come from Newcastle, how was your trip?
Really good actually, it’s the first time we've been up there and played
a proper venue. It was somewhere called The Cluny which is a really nice
place to play
What kind of things do you have on your rider?
Well when we first did a proper tour we had loads of rubbish and by the
end we all felt ill, so this time round we've got plenty of fruit and
How is the reaction to the single so far, both from
fans and the press?
It’s been really good from both, the fans are really taking to the song
live and the press seem to be picking up on it nicely too
You probably get asked this a lot but who is
Charlotte is a girl that one of the guys used to have a thing for, she
didn't feel the same and it kind of fizzled out like these things do
Does she know the song's about her?
Oh yeah she knows
I bet she'll be going round telling everyone
*laughs* No doubt
So, how did the band thing start for you guys?
We were all at school together and formed a band there, it didn't really
kick off until we did a few gigs in London and people started to take notice
Which bands have influenced you most?
We all like bands like Coldplay and Supergrass, but we all have our own
favourites too, I love Radiohead and Dave likes his singer/songwriter types
like Ed Harcourt
Who do you reckon you'll get sick of being compared
to first, if not already?
Well we get the Coldplay thing quite a lot already, but that’s just
because of the piano I think. We don't mind that one so much though, the one
that really annoys us is Keane
What’s the song writing process like?
Usually it’s from someone bringing in a particular riff that they like
and then we'll pick things up and develop the song from that
How did the EMI signing come about?
We did a few gigs early on in London and David Kosten came to us after
one of the gigs and said he liked our stuff, he helped us out with money for
recording and had some contacts that helped us.
Since you've been signed to a major do you feel
under much pressure to get record sales or are you pretty much left to your
It’s all come about quite quickly to be honest, so its still new to us.
they've not put any pressure on us so far, although i'm guessing that might
come later if we don't sell enough records!
What’s the local music scene like in Bournemouth?
There's a few ok bands but its quite hard as most of the gig venues down
there got turned into nightclubs so there's not really anywhere to play.
Do you know of any famous bands from Bournemouth?
No, I can't think of any at all. Although Alex James from Blur is from
Best opening song for a mixtape?
That’s a difficult one, I dunno, maybe "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling
Any bizarre and possibly stalker-ish fans?
We had this random woman in Ireland who told us how much she adored us
and how she'd do anything for us, that was a little weird
Are you seeing her again this tour?
*laughs* Who knows!
The single's coming out at the end of march and
there's an album in the summer? Is it finished yet?
Yeah, we've finished recording it and apparently its been mastered
Does it have a title yet?
No, but we have to decide by the end of tonight I think
Any personal favourites?
*laughs* I can't actually remember, we've got a list of them upstairs,
they're mostly song lyrics though
What was David Kosten like to work with?
It was really good because we felt he "got" us as a band straight away,
and he'd suggest things but it wasn't like he was telling you what you
should do. It felt more like he knew what you wanted to do but maybe didn't
know how to get across
When you look back in 10/15 years how will you
measure your success?
I think maybe other people will go on sales, but personally I think if
we got to headline something like Glastonbury that would be pretty amazing
Ok, one final random question; you have 50p to spend
in an old-skool sweet shop, what do you go for?
*laughs* Well we were obsessed with kinder eggs but they're 55p I think,
and not really old-skool. What about those pink bon-bons you used to get,
can I have them? or maybe those giant gobstoppers, you know the giant tennis
ball sized ones?
Marijne - you were in a band called Salad for many years and received
critical acclaim and had a solid fanbase in the UK, mainly on the strength
of your intriguing and engaging vocals (that's what drew me in first at
least). How did you become a part of that band?
Paul and I were going out at the time and he was a singing poet, he and his
mate Jim Moir (later known as Vic Reeves) used to get up at the Parrot Café
at the Goldsmiths Tavern in New Cross (run by the girl that went on to
become Telly Tubby Lala of all people) and perform on a weekly basis. I got
hooked on the art of performance poetry and eccentricity and basic art
student shenanigans back then, yep I was a poetry/comedy show groupie.
Incidentally our very first performance together ever was there and
afterwards I stood in the toilets doubling as the dressing room and vowed
never to go on stage again. So how did it start, well I heard a tape Paul
had made with an ex girlfriend singing and I got really jealous, as you do
when yr 20, so I said, all huffing and puffing, well I can do that too!
That was the start… we started writing songs and demoing them and we formed
a band called The Merry Babes. Did a few gigs, got a hardcore following of
mates and recruited Rob and then finally Pete and at that point became Salad
in 1993 I think. So yeah Salad was Paul and my baby really. But when Salad
truly came off the ground it was a democracy, we all had a say and we all
wrote. Paul and I are stil excellent friends we’re both married (to
different people, we split before the Babes became Salad but we knew we had
to give the band a go so we stayed friends. As far as I can remember we put
our relationship behind us and gave the band its all as we knew we had a
chance of recognition of sorts, we knew we had something special. That’s a
nice feeling, doesn’t happen often.
2. Have you always wanted to be a singer? Have you had any professional
vocal training or are you a do-it-yourself kind of person?
No I am ashamed to say that initially at the very start of my life I
never thought singing would be the way for me, I was very immature at 21,
and my ambitions were all in the wrong place I wanted to be famous…my
parents and friends weren’t impressed, but hey I was well ahead of my time
if you think about it. I now know better of course, but look at the culture
we live in today; what every young person seems to want is fame. I must
hasten to add that when I met Paul and started realizing I could write songs
and could sing, the lust for fame was taken over by the discovery that I had
a talent and could exploit it. I’d been looking for that for a while and
Paul brought that out of me, I am forever in his debt for that. After a long
break of making music, it makes me feel whole again, I write because it is a
way of expressing myself without any constraints. In a world where the media
tells you to do and be a certain way, it makes me feel totally like me,
untouched. Those are the reasons I now make music and sing and if 1 person,
a stranger who doesn’t owe me anything tells me they like what I do, it’s
enough of a reward. Going back to your question, did I always want to be a
singer…strangely enough at school I was in a band with yet another boyfriend
but I got chucked out cos I wasn’t a good enough singer, I got replaced by a
girl who went on to have considerable success called Misty Oldland, I
haven’t seen her for ages but we live in the same area and I’m having a
drink with her next week. Early on I took singing lesson with the famous
Tona de Brett, who was famed for giving Johnny Rotten singing lessons or at
least she attempted to. Whenever we toured with Salad I was the one not
drinking or eating diary before gigs and warming up my voice before a show,
really untrendy at the time, no other singers were doing it, I think again
it’s a very different story now. I knew it was uncool but at the same time I
made it cool to be uncool, I hope. My voice was very unpredictable and
didn’t always perform as I expected it to live so I needed to train it to
keep control. I still find singing live pretty nerve wrecking cos I don’t
know how my voice will react. I went to see Madonna in concert recently and
she has always struggled with her live voice but she sung beautifully, it
was strong and clear, I take my hat off to her. When it comes to song
writing I was very much a do it yourselfer, that way you get more
interesting chord changes and strange sequences and I think it’s what gave
Salad that edge. Idiosyncratic they used to call us when we started to demo
our songs, only cos we were breaking all the rules.
I actually never saw myself as a
singer. More a performer who expressed her art through song. It’s a shame
people saw me as lime light seeker cos of the whole MTV connection, how
wrong they were. While I was in the limelight I realized I wasn’t
comfortable in it. But boy am I glad I had the chance to find out…otherwise
I’d always be wondering about it, regretting that I’d never got there
perhaps. My advice for the day…always let your kids figure it out for
themselves, don’t tell them what to do with their lives I say…
3. At the height of Salad's fame, what were the vibes like? Was it all a
dream come true for you?
You know you want something really bad and then you think that when you
get there it’s gonna be just like you said, a dream come true. Well certain
elements were. The main one being standing on stage in front of thousands of
people singing along with your lyrics and being entertained by you. That is
something that money can’t buy and that for me was the absolute highlight
and where I felt most comfortable, on stage where no one could touch me.
There was also a camaraderie with the rest of the band that gave a
confidence that I searched for all my life. The only other place that felt
as strong was in the tour bus on route. If we had only been able to bottle
what we had on those nights shooting along the motorways, laughing our heads
off every night, we were a good team, we gelled; I think even more back
stage than on stage. Everything else was like, well you don’t know when the
height of your success is cos you’re always thinking there’s more to come,
more to achieve, and then before it’s too late you’ve already reached that
peak and on your way down and you forgot to enjoy it to the full while you
were there. Certainly of I could go back with the head I have on my
shoulders now I would enjoy it a lot more and I would deal with things
4. Why did Salad break up?
After having our hit with Drink Me, we took quite long time to release
Ice Cream our 2nd album with Island and we just thought, oh yeah it’ll do
even better, but of course it didn’t and after 2 singles off it we got
dropped. We continued to write and tour for another year without a deal but
things turned a little sour between us and our management and after a gig at
The Falcon in Camden I announced to the rest of the band that I was leaving,
that was Oct 1998. That was it really, we’d been worn down. Even though I
made the first move I think that the others were in agreement that it was
the right thing to do, get on with our lives. It sounds sad but for me
personally it was the best thing at that time. We’re all still good mates.
5. You are now an integral part of Cowboy Racer. How did you become
involved with this band - with Mike and E-da?
My good friend Debbie Smith, ex Echobelly and Curve (a meeting of minds
on a cross channel ferry in the middle of the night cemented our
relationship) knew Mike and knew he was looking for a singer to work with,
he collaborated a lot with other musicians. He used to be in Swallow, a 4AD
band. We met, played each other stuff we’d done in his studio in Camden and
started writing. He had loads of bits of music and I just sifted through
them, chose the ones I liked and started singing on them at my home studio,
and out of that came Hey Cowboy, Forever, More and The Go Between. It was
just us for a while we had a drummer called Dave Barb for a bit, ex Adam and
the Ants and Republica, but that didn’t work out, mainly cos I took a break
from music all together at that point and went and got a proper job. When
Mike and I started to work together again this side of the millennium Dave
had started writing books and Mike had discovered Japanese artist E-da who
is a gem. Mike and I just click musically he sends me stuff in mp3 form and
I sift through it just like at the beginning of our working relationship and
take a few that I like and start writing vocal melodies and lyrics and shape
the tracks into song shape, title them etc. send the writing back to Mike
and the eventually we record in his studio for real. We give each other a
lot room creatively and let be. We’re very fair, there is a lot of creative
freedom and that feels great. It’s even stevens.
6. What are your outside-of-music interests or is Cowboy Racer a
If only, I do a lot of other stuff, I make a mean leather handbag. I have a
workshop at home I sometimes have a stall at Portobello Market. I screen
print my leather first with my designs and then hand make collections now
and again. It’s a hobby on the brink of turning into a business. Watch this
space. At the time I am more interested in writing our album though so the
handbag space may not be filled just yet.
I’m also married and my lovely
husband gets a lot of attention of course, he's my other hobby.
I also cut the odd TV trailer now
and again. Having been to film school I relearnt the skill of editing and
now do that on a freelance basis for a bit of pocket money when it suits.
7. How are things working out for your debut album? Are you in the
writing stages now?
In my ramblings I think I may have
covered this question, we are writing and recording as we speak.
8. How did the song Yellow Horse end up featured in an episode of the
huge TV hit Grey's Anatomy?
An agent in LA who deals specifically with placing music with film and
TV hunted us down. He’d read an article in MOJO about where are Salad now
and got in touch. He liked our EP and literally the next thing you know
Yellow Horse is on the show and gets an airing of 18 million people in Oct
last year. Every email he sends me always ends with the hopeful lines…any
new songs??? We’re working on it I tell him.
9. I was also wondering about Debbie Smith, and if she would ever be a
guest performer on your album - or other people?
Interesting you should mention her…. Yeah, nice idea I think we need to
do that…I would love to do something with Terry Hall again. Debbie is in
fact a great matchmaker, she also found Salad Charley (girl) our 2nd
guitarist who joined us on tour for the last 2 years of our time together.
Charley went on to play with Gay Dad and is now an integral part of Spy 51.
Take care Marijne; I hope things are going great for you –
Things really are thanks!
Photo: Matt Anker, Select 1993
I've been a fan of Therapy?
since the album Nurse came out in the US way back when in the early 1990s -
and now their latest, One Cure Fits All, has been released, at least in the
UK. During all this time, the music industry, the press, and the world in
general have gone to hell - and not in a good way – yet somehow the band
members of Therapy? (Andy Cairns, Michael McKeegan, and kinda newbie Neil
Cooper – since 2002) have managed to survive and thrive musically through
fickle record labels, dead-eared critics, and departing band members -
creating punk-metal-noise rock songs, fuelled by catchy hooks,
controlled-chaos rhythms, and memorable lyrics - all with attitude to burn.
Hi Michael - I have this image of
you guys living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle 24/7 - not to dispel this, but
is it all hard rockin', drunken (or not) debauchery, and good/bad times?
Michael McKeegan: I suppose there is
a certain element of that kind’ve thing though we’ve definitely calmed down
over the years. We do like to hang out together and listen to music and chat
about all sorts of ludicrous things. It probably sounds bullshit but we all
take the musical side of things very seriously but the whole ‘rock’ thing is
so ridiculous it’s very important to approach some of it with a sense of
Where are you based? Do you all
hang out with each other on "non-working" days or do you go your separate
ways (ok, I honestly did not mean to sound like a Journey song)?
MM: Well, I’m in Belfast, Neil is in
Derby and Andy is near Cambridge so we don’t really see each other on
‘non-Therapy?’ days. It’s much better that way because it means everyone has
their own space and when we meet up we’ve got tons of news and new
experiences to share. Having said that we email/phone each other every
couple of days…I think it’s very important to have good communication with
the other dudes.
How would you describe your sound
to the uninitiated?
MM: Jesus, that’s a tricky one!
Umm...it’s kind’ve noisy with equal punk and metal influences but still
melodic and some songs have dance influenced beats. There are also darker
sounds with some creepy slower songs and unusual guitar sounds and
production approaches…everything that’s good about music we try and
accentuate in our records…
When did you each first realize
that you wanted to be in a band? Why did you want to be in a band then? Is
your reason to be in a band the same now as it was then?
MM: I was always into music and when
I was about 11 years old it seemed logical to go from listening to music to
making my own. I started off playing guitar in various bands with my
brothers and then met Fyfe (original T? drummer) at school. He’d just hooked
up with Andy and they needed a bass player so I was in, very simple really.
From there we just wrote lots of songs, did 2 demos and released a 7” before
we started to tour and get a lot of media attention.
The reason to being in a band is the
same now as it was then…to get excited about the music we create…again very
Ok, I hope this question doesn't
piss you off, but I want to ask about the band name and the question mark at
the end. Why is there a question mark? Does it relate to your music in
the sense that your songs are cathartic releases of pent-up emotions, ideas,
and musical tension and possibly a way of dealing with problems and crises –
or am I getting too analytical? LOL I guess what I'm wondering is if the
band name had significance when you decided on it, or if it has grown to
mean something after all you've been through, as a band and individually.
(And that has to be the longest, meandering interview question in
MM: No worries….the question mark
comes about because we fucked up the logo on our demo cassette (starting too
far to the right) so there was a gap at the end and it looked very amateur.
Andy had the idea to add the question mark in tribute to the 50’s style of
American diner advertising (Hungry?Thirsty?) and it really stuck from there.
The name has grown in significance
in that being in the band (and hopefully for those who listen to the records
or at shows) is a cathartic experience. You know, had a shit day, life
getting you down but the moment we start to play it’s like a lovely big
release. Some people play sport, some people take drugs, some people fight
in the street…we’re lucky we get to play music.
It seems, at least in the US,
that Troublegum was your breakout album. It has a smoother and richer sound
than your previous stripped-down, jagged eps and Nurse album. Was this
change in direction of sound a conscious effort or did it just evolve that
way in the studio?
MM: We knew we wanted to do
something different in the way that “Nurse” was a step on from the first two
mini-lps. Once we started to rehearse the songs we realised that a much
denser type of production would be needed to do the tunes justice. As a
result we took our time making sure we had the right sounds etc etc…
Have you thought about putting
out a live album? As far as I know, you haven't done that yet. That would
MM: We’ve always talked about doing
one but there are no immediate plans at the minute.
I see that you have Tour Diaries
up at your official website and that you've done the UK, Europe, and the
US. What do you enjoy about touring and what are the downers? Any crazy
(or good, or bad, or weird) story you'd like to recount here?
MM: Touring is a great way to see
the world, meet people and play our music to people. We’re quite social as a
band so we tend to try and check out the cities and the local music/arts
scenes. Plus it’s always cool to try different types of food and drinks. I
never understand bands who only like to eat McDonalds on tour…
Talking of food, there was a bizarre
incident in Italy about 8 years ago where we found a caged chicken in our
dressing room. When we asked the local promoter he said it was requested on
our ‘hospitality rider’. We had to explain that it was roast chicken to make
sandwiches NOT a live one for some kind’ve bloody sacrifice.
Pretty much everyday is a crazy
surreal day with many odd characters lurking about. Downside of the tour is
there’s never enough time to sleep, we’re always moving onto the next town
and it can be really hard if you get sick on tour. Cold/flu’s are always bad
but the worst I’ve ever had is food poisoning…bare in mind there’s a no
shitting rule on tour buses…so that isn’t fun on a 12 hour overnight drive.
One has to swallow one’s dignity in those kind of circumstances.
When I first heard you on college
radio in the 90's, Fyfe was the drummer in the band. I'm just curious as to
why you parted ways.
MM: Fyfe left early 1996 as he
didn’t like the touring aspect of being in a band and to our knowledge
didn’t want to play rock music anymore. From what we gathered he planned to
pursue a more techno type thing but I’ve heard very little about him/the
How did the compilation album So
Much for the Ten Year Plan (2000) come about? Did you pick out the songs
yourselves or did the record company want to put out a "Greatest Hits"
MM: Our old label announced they
would be releasing it and we could either participate or not. Either way it
was coming out so we got involved, chose the tracks and added a couple of
I've been lucky enough to hear
some of your covers, like Breakin' The Law (awesome!!) and Teenage Kicks.
Do these covers (or others) appear on any of your albums?
MM: No, the Priest cover was on the
b-side to our “Nowhere” single in the UK and the “Teenage Kicks” track was
on a limited 7” (1000 copies) we gave away as a freebie at two shows in
Dublin/Belfast in 1992. I think it’s pretty easy to get versions on the
I'm a bit behind on your musical
catalogue, being that I live in the US and have to buy some of your albums
as imports. I only recently picked up High Anxiety (2003). To make up for
lost time I've been playing it non-stop - it’s a full-on sonic blast of
guitar and drums, wicked lyrics, and emotional range. I'm lovin' Hey Satan
- You Rock, If It Kills Me, Not in Any Name, and Rust. Speaking of Not in
Any Name – Andy sounds like Lemmy of Motorhead on the part when he exclaims
"Here we go, don't count me in." Was that intentional?
MM: Glad you like “HA”, return to
form with Neil ‘super’ Cooper on those bitching drums. Re:”NIAN” Big
Motorhead fans are we!
The US is hopelessly behind
(well, the US record industry) in supporting some great bands and releasing
their albums, especially from other countries. Your latest album, One Cure
Fits All, is out now in the UK; is it available in the US?
MM: Unfortunately neither “Never
Apologize Never Explain” or the most recent album “One Cure Fits All” have
received domestic North American releases. We find this very frustrating as
we’ve always had very constant and loyal interest from the US…there were a
few things in the pipeline but we got let down at the last minute….bummer.
We live in hope though!
How do you put up with each other
through all these years?! I mean, it's wonderful that you're not at each
other's throats...or maybe you are?!
MM: I think over the years we just
got closer and more into what we’re doing. At last with Neil we have a very
solid trio of like minded individuals who play for ‘the team’ as opposed to
try ‘solo glory’. We do disagree on lots of things but I think it’s that mix
of ideas and personalities that makes the band sound the way it does, I feel
it’d be a bit dull if we all agreed on everything all the time. It’s nice
when we work hard on an idea or concept together and no-one gets bent out of
shape if they don’t get it 100% their way.
How did you decide on playing
bass? Do you play other instruments? Have you tried or do you want to try
your hand at song-writing or singing?
MM: I fell into bass by default as
no one in my first band wanted to play that particular instrument. To make
the band work I offered to do the bass and sing (badly). I play regular
guitar badly as well and contribute lots of musical stuff to Therapy? as
Ok, sorry for this totally
personal question, but I was wondering if you are all in relationships
(wife, girlfriend, other) and if it's a difficult balance to be in a band
and also be in a relationship.
MM: We’re all attached men and of
course it can be very hard to be away from home for long periods. Thankfully
we have very cool, supportive wives and girlfriends.
How can fans of yours or the
sonically-curious purchase your albums and related goodies? Can you please
add your official website address here? Thanks!
MM:You can get our albums at most
good online stockists (Amazon/Hmv/iTunes) or from our label at
www.eagle-rock.com. All other info can be culled from
www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk which has video/rare tracks/tour dates etc
etc etc up there.
Ok, that's it for my questions!
I apologize for the eye-strain, the head-scratching, and the annoyance - but
I really, really love Therapy?! I need Therapy?! Hey Therapy? - You Rock!
MM: Nice one, thanks for your
support and the interview. Mx