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interviews - 2009


 

Charlotte Hatherley

Eloise Quince talks to Charlotte about the launch of her new album, musical influeces and beans on toast.

Hello Charlotte! Firstly, you must be congratulated on the success of your new album; it seems to be acclaimed by many publications. How does it feel to be properly recognised as a solo artist now?
It feels great. I still feel like I’m outside of the industry in my own little world as I am independent and have my own label, so for the record to get noticed at all is an achievement! I’ve been touring with Bat For Lashes for the last 8 months, I’m looking forward to concentrating on the solo stuff now.

‘New Worlds’ is musically as close to beautiful canvas landscape of colours as you can get. Was it the intention to make it an almost visual experience?
I wanted it to be a ‘live’, spontaneous and vibrant record, and the references to colours was a way of bringing the music to life. It wasn’t my intention to make it a visual experience at the time, and I’m very pleased if it has turned out that way!

What do you feel was the biggest influence on you whilst you were recording ‘New Worlds’? How were you inspired to ‘think outside the box’?
I wasn’t listening to any contemporary music at the time, my influences were mostly from painters like Kandinsky, particularly his colour theory, and from Alex Ross’s amazing book ‘The Rest Is Noise’ which introduced me to a lot of classical music I hadn’t been open to before. Instead of recording an elaborate album, which I tend to do, I was inspired to cut away any fat and make as few overdubs as possible. I wanted it to be instant, honest and vibrant.

This album is described as your ‘coming of age’ album by many. Considering this is your third album, do you think this is fair play?
Sure, why not? I think it’s my most assured record and I have just turned 30, so yes it is a coming of age.

How did you find working with Rob Ellis?
I love working with Rob and have used his many musical skill on all three records. Not only is he an amazing drummer, but he is a great collaborator, producer and friend.

How is the tour going so far?
I’ve just finished an 8 month tour with Bat For Lashes and am finding it quite strange to be at home! I’m very sad it’s over, but very excited to be able to give my solo work my full attention. I’ll be doing a few gigs in November, but the real touring won’t start until 2010.

What was your favourite album when you were growing up?
Generation Terrorists by the Manic Street Preachers

Working with Bryan Ferry must have been a wonderful experience. Who has had the greatest impact on your musical career?
I generally love musicians/bands who have come from an art school background, so Roxy Music/Eno/Talking Heads/Captain Beefheart/Devo/Kate Bush/Lou Reed/Blur. David Bowie is my idol, and has had an impact on me musically, but his influence reaches me in books, film and art. He opened a whole new world for me when I was a teenager.

Who is your favourite dead musician?
George Harrison

Which living musician do you admire the most?
Kate Bush or PJ Harvey. I aspire to the longevity and control they have over their careers, and to the ambition of the music.

Can you tell us what the near future holds for Charlotte Hatherley?
Beans on toast

Some musical quickfire questions...
The Rolling Stones or The Beatles?

The Beatles
Queen or David Bowie?
David Bowie
Duran Duran or Roxy Music?
Roxy Music
Oasis or Blur?
Blur
The Clash or Joy Division?
The Clash

And finally, the ultimate question. Where were you when Michael Jackson died?
Covent Garden, massively hungover

Thank you for your time, and good luck with the album.
Thanks very much!


The Boxer Rebellion

With their newest album 'Union' looking like one of the biggest releases of 2009, allegedly outselling both Kings Of Leon and Coldplay on downloads alone, The Boxer Rebellion's bassist Adam Harrison took a couple of minutes out of his ever expanding schedule to share a thought or three with Tasty, as well as explaining exactly what being 'the world's biggest indie band' actually means...

So, The Boxer Rebellion, is life good for you and if it is, what's making it so?
Life is indeed good for us at the moment- our second album is released on CD this Monday and we have had an excellent summer of festivals. We played Glastonbury and took several trips to the States. In the upcoming few weeks we'll be touring the UK and after all of this we still retain all of the rights to our record.

You've been together for 8 years, what keeps you going?
The love of the music. We've hit some real lows but have always passionately enjoyed playing and have always retained the belief that our music deserved to be heard.

What was it like supporting Gary Numan?
Great- he's a lovely chap and can still pull off a great live show!

How upset were you when Poptones went bust two weeks after releasing your debut album?
We saw the end a while before it happened so by the time we were dropped we were not surprised. It was still quite a blow though- our debut album was in the shops and had had great reviews but we had no money to tour or promote it. We all got jobs and started the slow grind of building ourselves back up again.

What can you tell Tasty about your licensing deal with HMV?
It's the first time that such a deal has been done. They essentially take the role of a strategic partner and take a cut of what they sell. HMV have covered all of the manufacturing costs and also provide support with radio plugging and press therefore cutting out the need for a traditional label set-up and allowing us to keep our rights and
control of the record.

So is ever signing a label deal completely out of the question?
I'd never say never. The industry is in a state of great change- at the moment the more traditional business models are not something that we are interested in and the conventional relationship between label and artist is not something we could easily return to but who knows where the current turmoil will lead....hopefully the changes will lead to a fresher, revitalised industry- we'd always be open to that.

I've heard you described as the 'world's biggest indie band'. Who are you definitely more famous than?
Not many people, maybe the latest batch of big brother contestants.....I don't know anyone who watched it... definitely not bigger than anyone else though....!

 

Jon Gordon


Lovvers

Shaun from the band answers the questions from Tasty's Eloise Quince:

Give us a short history of the band…
We formed in early 2006, we've played nearly 300 shows all over the world and released various records along the way.


How did the name Lovvers come about?
The name Lovvers was conceived around 2004 when my old band was considering changing its name, we didn't and i just thought it would be a cool name for a punk rock band, when the time came and we needed a name well we just went for that. Since then it's become a current trend to throw in a few extra letters,with wavves, nodzzz, mayyors.... (endless list) . So now we're getting some shit for that.

How is the album being received by the world?
Its not out yet so i'm not sure, we're still trying to figure out a US release so i guess when we get a response it'll only be for a certain percentage. As for reviews i decided the day we submitted the record to our label not to read them. I'm really happy with the record and don't want some journalist who listens to coldplay on a regular basis to tell me how a record should sound.

‘OCD Go Go Go Girls’ is an odd title for an album, how did it come about?
I think it has funny connotations, especially if you've ever had a lap dance. I think if you'd loaded your pants now and again then you'd understand.It's essentially referring to a certain type of girl that will or won't sit on your lap.
How would you best describe your sound in five words?
Five-Four-Three-Two-One's.

In your section on the Wichita website it says ‘at one show a girl was so confused/annoyed she wrote to KERRANG! describing this music as highly offensive, wanting to erase them from her mind.’ Do comments like that bother you?
Not really, this girl had some funny name which already painted some pictures in my mind, throw in the fact she was from Leicester and also a devoted biffy clyro fan. You get the idea, I just thought it was funny. If you times her by about 800 people then you've basically got the audience from those gigs. I guess if you play with a band like biffy clyro and you don't sound like them then there's gonna be people who'll react in a bad way. But these were the type of people that had tears in there eyes when biffy walked on stage or brought out the acoustic guitar for the encore.We had 4 days off between 2 separate tours and thought it would be funny, but it was mainly a weird, unsatisfying experience. Hopefully there was a few people who got it, but i think mainly people didn't know what to make of it.

Why do you favour your production methods over supposedly ‘smoother’ methods?

Well we've always recorded in a very traditional way, more so on our last record as the studio we used had a lot of excellent equipment which meant we didn't even have to switch on a computer. If by smoother you mean why don't we use cleaner more produced sounds, then that's because i think records like that suck and have no soul or personality.

Where was the best gig you’ve ever played?
Every place is similar in that we are there to play a show. One person's actions can make a place weird, great, terrible...... for example we were in Rochester NYC recently and a guy laid out a 12ft photo of his cock in front of the stage. He was very strange, the type who walks into a class room and kills a bunch of people, so i never thought we'd want to go back there, but the show turned out great and this guy just entertained us all night so we'll probably go back.

How did it feel doing the SXSW tour? Do you feel like you are more recognised now?
Not really, SXSW was great in the sense we got to see so many awesome bands and hang out with people we don't see that often for longer than usual. We're going head back there in 2010 so may be someone will recognise me? Most likely the guy at the pizza stall by emo's.

Any odd pre-gig rituals you like to indulge in?
No.

What is your favourite album of all time?
I don't have any favourites, i own a lot of records. I guess if i had to choose then any of the first 4 black sabbath records.

What or who is your biggest influence for wanting to play music?
Probably a combination of some shitty bands i don't listen to any more and my friends parents, they took me to a lot of shows when i was 14/15 years old. I think i wouldn't have gone to many shows without them.

Who is the best artist you have ever seen live?
I think the best show i've ever seen was KISS, i couldn't actually believe how good they were, it was like a rock opera, weird and amazing at the same time!

Where were you when you heard Michael Jackson died?
First night in my new house, no TV, no Internet, no Radio. Got a text from our guitar player Henry, can't say i was surprised. I thought it was funny; it basically took him dying for people to change there opinion of him. I feel sorry for the kids and i mean that in every sense.

What are the plans for the near future of Lovvers?
We are releasing quite a few records, we have this LP, then a 4 way split 7inch. We're featured on a flipper record that's coming out on domino soon, and we have also just recorded a 7inch at rear house in NYC with our friend from the band Woods. Asides from that we have a 10 week tour starting sept 17th, so we'll be busy till at least December.

What would you like to leave as your musical legacy?
Shows, Records and Heartbreak.


Telegraphs
by Jim Johnston

We’re to the rear of Fibbers, York, seated on a plastic school chair, surrounded by puddles and rented transit vans. We‘re joined by the chatty, flame-haired, femme fatale that is bassist Hattie, softly spoken and slightly nervous guitarist Darren, with a face and manner you just know will have every woman in the venue tonight queuing up for a turn to mother him, and other guitarist Aung, who‘s about to spit more deeply thought out, quotable sound-bites at me than a rock n roll cliché machine gun. Within a 100 yards of us, as the interview starts, is a man in a 3 point hat and 17th century dress, regaling a group of tourists on the York Ghost Walk, which has the band looking on with some bemusement.

Tasty: So you’re based in Brighton?
Hattie: That’s right, but none of us are from Brighton.
Darren: We’re all sort of south based. A couple of the guys, Sam and Darcy, are from Kent, I’m from Hampshire, Hatt’s from the south so…
Aung: All local.
D: We all sort of migrated there for the music scene and like minded people…
A: It’s quite a beacon for bands.

T: We have noticed quite a lot of new stuff starting to come through from Brighton, but nothing that we could define as a “Brighton Sound”.
H: Yeh, there’s quite a lot of scenes down there.
A: There’s a few driving scenes, hardcore and a big electro scene. But we’re quite separate from that. There’s still a symbiosis though between all the bands, like all our friends are in bands and they help us out, we help them out…
D: It’s a big community, everyone helps everyone out.

T: Do you feel Brighton has an influence on what you do and your sound?
H: Yeh, I think that wherever you’re from it’s going to influence the music in whatever way. I think that’s true of anywhere. Plus I think the other scenes do rub off on bands. I mean, we write way more miserable songs in the winter when the weathers so bad and we’re a little less productive, more melancholy… But I think all seaside towns are like that.

T: I quite like the idea of the seaside in winter.
H: Oh yeah? Come live in Brighton for a few months in the winter, in the rain and gale force winds (laughs).
A: Then again, I do quite like living by the seaside. I’ve always lived by the sea. I think it keeps you calm, ‘cos you can always see the horizon.
D: And it’s so easy to navigate your way around a city when there’s a definite end. If you get to the sea, turn round and walk back…
A: And we should talk about the seagulls.
T: what’s wrong with seagulls?
A: They’re vicious.
H: The bane of our lives.
A: Noisy, vicious, aggressive…
H: Yeh. We were on the pier the other day. There was this bloke eating some food and the seagull just flew in and took it out his mouth…
D: They just have no fear.
A: Yeh, you’re like, “I’m bigger than you, why are you not scared of me?”
H: They wake you up, on a morning they start screaming outside your bedroom window.
A: They bark, cover your doorstep in trash…
H: They shit on you constantly!
A: Well not me.
H: No. (said with more than a slight hint of bitterness suggesting Hattie hasn‘t been as lucky).
T: Maybe we’ll rethink the seaside idea then. What are the benefits of Brighton?
H: There’s loads of amazing bands down there.
A: And it’s quite competitive. The standard means the bar’s really high.
H: Yeh, I think if you go to see a local band in Brighton, they’re generally going to be better than bands in a lot of other places. There’s a really high quality of music coming out of there at the moment.

T: Given the changes in the industry over the last 5 or so years, where years ago you were heard, liked, got a record deal and then a record in the charts for success, these days the charts aren’t that big a deal…
A: I think they’re becoming less and less relevant. Most record companies these days will say that all the money is in live shows. And since the Myspace generation, with the A&R companies, it’s like a free for all, you don’t have to have this certain path… It’s a bit like coming out of the Dartford tunnel, there’s no lanes, it’s just (brings his hands forward and together, simulating the melee of traffic exiting the Dartford tunnel). Like Wacky Races…
H: I don’t even listen to the charts these days. I’ll maybe listen to Zane Lowe sometimes.
T: So how do you measure success if it’s not by chart position anymore?
H: I think for us it’s by people coming to our shows and the reaction we get. Like, for me it’s a more successful show with 100 people going absolutely nuts than 300 people not even… well not even not into it but just not getting so excited by it.
D: When you’ve played and someone goes away and makes a friend request to you on Myspace, and then you’re reaching out to people, it’s excellent. Better than just selling records and chasing chart positions.
A: Yeh, like these days I think you can gauge your success more by qualitative criticism rather than any number of zero’s on the end of your sales figures…
H: I think for all of us that’s entirely relevant, that success comes from us being happy with what we’re making. I don’t think you can have success if you’re not happy with what you’re making.
T: So where do you think you’re happiest? Touring, playing, writing or in the studio recording?
H: I love all of it and the thing is it’s difficult because we spend so much time touring, we spend so much time writing, and we’re doing it so often you sometimes start to get a bit tired. And we go to studios and it’s such an amazing experience but we don‘t get to do it that often. I love being in the studio, but then when I’m in there I wish I was out playing a show…
T: How long has the band been together?
H: About 3 years.
T: And have you been touring throughout that time?
H: Erm, no, not really. The touring has started mostly for us this year. We’ve taken it quite slowly, we haven’t wanted to push it really hard and really fast, we wanted to build it really slowly for when we were ready, and I think that’s really paid off for us. Because we’ve been around for a while now I think people are really starting to take notice. We haven’t wanted to be just a flash in the pan, but to make this a career. We didn’t want to just appear one year and then disappear the next.
A: A lot of it is to do with timing as well. We finished our album last year but were waiting for the time to be right. We wanted the album to be backed up by a touring schedule instead of just pushing everything straight away. Sometimes less is more.
H: Yeh. Sometimes I think bands push themselves into places before they’re ready. Once someone’s said no to your band they’re not going to go back on that 6 months later, so that’s the time you needed to be the best band you could be.
A: It’s also nice to not show all your cards.
H: Yeh. Do you know (she says this directly to Aung) that’s the first time you’ve spoken quietly ever and now you’re speaking sooo quietly… (Turning back to your interviewer) We call him Foghorn Leghorn because he’s so loud.
A: (Nodding in agreement) I generally shake the house down with my voice.
T: And now we’re recording you decide to be quiet! So on to the lazy journalist, clichéd question. If you weren’t doing this, what do you think you would be doing?
H: I, er, I don’t know personally.
D: I think music will always be a part of all of our lives, even if we ended, we’d still be making music, still be in bands.
H: The thought of doing something else depresses me more than anything! I’ve done the 9 to 5 jobs before and I will never, ever go back to that. It’s something that I just don’t want to do. At the moment music is all I want to do.
A: A few of us do day jobs…
H: Part time when we’re home (laughs). I hate it!
A: We’ve just starting demo-ing stuff, a lot of our new material that we’re working on. We probably can’t do this forever…
H: Oh, I can!
D: Even if it’s like me getting to my sixties, playing in some kind of old covers band..
H: Great, good for you Darren! See the flame’s still burning inside there.
A: There’s a fire burning in this one!
H: (mimicking Darren) “I really can’t wait to be 60 and unsuccessful, playing in a covers band!”
D: I’m just saying I’ll still be playing music when I’m 60. It’s part of my life and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to switch that off.
H: You do hear of people where the band doesn’t work out so they sell their guitars and stuff and stop doing it. I don’t think you need to stop doing it, I really don’t.
A: I have friends who had bands and have given up and I really couldn’t. I always have to be doing something.
H: Bit of botox and I’ll be fine to keep going.
D: Bit of gaffer tape round the back to pull your cheeks tight.
A: I’ll just need a chiropractor and I’ll be fine. (Aung admits to suffering from a bad back, the reason for which becomes apparent at the gig later. On stage he thrashes about like a salmon struggling upstream whilst fighting a bear. Definitely not good for the back).

T: The press releases, and your PR people, seem to making a big thing of the relationship between [Hattie and lead singer, Darcy] and the breakdown of that during the writing and recording of this, and plugging this as a very autobiographical record.
H: Yeh, it is. I think making sense of your own music is very important and it’s hard when you’re writing and playing it. It takes a bit of time before you can take a step back and understand it. This record really did that and that was a really interesting part of it for us. We didn’t really know what a lot of it meant and it took that time to make some sense of it and for us it’s really a good part of the album, and how it played a part in our lives and makes it a really big part of the record. Although parts of it are also about our drummer and a break up that he had, and the emotions that were really running high throughout the band as we were writing and recording that album. But I think there are things in there that anybody can understand.
T: (Turning to Darren and Aung) Probably something you two can answer better than Hattie, but how did the relationship breaking down effect the rest of the band?
H: We still fight whether we’re going out with each other or not (laughs).
D: Yeh, it just makes a heightened dimension to the band and it’s actually what we need, for people to be committed and have a desire to achieve something, and the fact that they can be together and achieve something and then when they’re apart still have that same pride and motivation to push things on. And a little bit of tension helps the creative process when everyone’s pulling in the right direction.
A: I think there’s something to be said for putting something of yourself in what you write anyway. If a lot of the content of the album isn’t deeply personal then you’re wasting your time.
T: It is obvious when you listen to it that it is a deeply emotional album but it leads to the obvious question of, if the relationship is done, everyone’s still friends, and life in the Telegraphs is good, will you have anything to write about for the next album?
H: I think that the second album is going to be even more angry and emotional because of that. You know, we wrote that album as we were breaking up, now we’ve got everything else to build on. Probably we’re always going to have stuff to write about, always. Darcy writes most of the lyrics but we write together quite well and his lyrics I think are just so good, he’s on a par with any lyricist, but I think he’ll definitely be able to channel some of the “being on the road with your ex-girlfriend” emotions quite nicely on the next record, I think you’ll all agree? (Darren and Aung laugh). And I think it made us a stronger band.
A: It’s a baptism of fire really, a test of strength.
H: Absolutely! And I think it’s going to be interesting to see what will be written about me, but we’ve got 6 or 7 songs… Often it takes a massive disruption in your life to give you the inspiration and give something new to your writing and I think now we’ve had that, after the record was made, its something that’s going to help us.
D: And if it doesn’t break you it can only make you stronger.

T: And finally, how would you describe the sound of Telegraphs?
H: I would say we’re just a rock band.
D: Loud!
A: Wear earplugs!
H: Yeh, we are pretty loud.
A: Emotional. Loud. Inspirational, melodic. Loud.
H: I think it helps that there isn’t one single band that we can all agree on liking…
A: Beach Boys! (Laughs).
T: You definitely don’t sound like the Beach Boys.
D: But I think that makes it interesting. If we were all deeply into one band then we’d end up sounding like that band but because we have such a varied taste amongst us…
H: Trying to figure out what to play in the van is quite interesting. “oh no, yes, no!” y’know? We’re not generally very rock and roll.
A: Usually just playing cards and watching Countdown.
H: We don’t watch Countdown! Please don’t put that in!
T: There’s nothing wrong with Countdown.
H: If you’re 80!

And that’s how we leave them, with a rock and roll argument on the merits of Countdown. The band go on to play a cracking live set which is, as Aung promised, extremely loud, and, no doubt hampered by the Champions League final playing in every other pub in York, played out to far fewer people than Telegraphs deserve to have listening to them.

Jim Johnston


Maybeshewill

About to release their second album 'Sing the Word Hope in Four-Part Harmony' John Helps from Leicester's Maybeshewill takes time out from their current tour to answer Shane Blanchard's questions (at 3am!)
www.maybeshewill.net

To the uninitiated, one of main elements of your sound as a band is the heavy use of film/audio samples within a lot of the tracks. What’s the writing process there – do you just watch masses of films and get inspired to write songs around tracts you like or do the songs come first and you insert a sample?
We’ve used samples on a few tracks, yeah – more so on the new LP. The songs and the samples tend to exist separately and then converge logically in most cases, but on the last album the second half of ‘Not For Want Of Trying’ was written around the ‘Network’ sample. Conversely with ‘In Another Life When We Are Both Cats’ the sample just happened to fit perfectly in to that point in the song after the fact – There’s a little bit of both approaches on ‘Sing The Word Hope…’.

We do watch a huge amount of films when we’re not touring – I think we’ve amassed a pretty enviable DVD collection over the years and pop culture in general tends to be a big part of what influences Maybeshewill – but I’d hate us to be known as “That band that uses samples”. It’s cool that people can latch on to them quickly – there’s definitely an immediacy to them – but I hope people see past them and see what we’re trying to say with them.

Ever fallen foul of any copyright issues with the samples? Have you ever thought about paying Abba a million dollars to sample one of their tracks and guarantee commercial success?!
No and no. I guess we’re not sure where we stand legally with the samples, but I hope no one would be petty enough to try and sue us for using them. In the grand scheme of things we’re a very small fish, and I guess we go unnoticed.

Commercial success has never been something we’ve aspired to, and I’m not sure sampling Abba would guarantee it with our racket going on behind! We’ve never really thought to sample music – perhaps that’s something for the next record…

You’re well known for being a DIY band, recording, mixing etc yourselves. So would it be fair to say that your definition of being a successful band differs greatly from just making stacks of cash? What would you say would be the point that you had ‘made it’ in your own terms?
Whilst we’ve been away this tour I read something on a forum or blog or somewhere that made me kind of change the way I thought about this band. Someone had written that we were “The Most Overrated Underground Band In Britain” – which may not sound like the nicest of compliments, but in a way I think it is. If someone sees us as a well-respected ‘underground’ band – even if they don’t like us themselves – then we’ve achieved what we wanted to achieve, and In fact it’s made even sweeter knowing that we’re pissing a few narrow-minded people off in the process.

We’re really proud that people recognise that we’re a DIY band, and putting a record out totally on our own terms is something we thought it was important to prove. I hate seeing bands scrabbling around for record deals, and needlessly sending out demos left right and centre – these days you can do it yourself so easily and if you’re good at what you do, or your music strikes a chord with people, then you’ll find an audience and you can build on that. A record label won’t touch you until they know they’re not going to have to do a lot of work to make money off you – and at that point you should be doing that job yourself.

Maybeshewill doesn’t make any money really – and we’re certainly not near the stage where we could live off this band – but we can support ourselves whilst we tour, and that’s all we can really ask I guess.

You’ve been touring like demons over the last year – presumably your DIY ethic is working and you can make a living out of performing your music nearly fulltime now?
Not at all – I sort of touched on this in the last question, but Maybeshewill funds itself – touring and recording and whatnot - and nothing else. The other 10 months of the year that we’re not on tour we have to work part time jobs to keep ourselves alive. It’s a really lame thing to complain about, I know, but if people bought the record rather than downloading it we’d be able to live off the band and get around to doing all the crazy tours that people are constantly asking us to do. We’re nearing 50,000 listeners on last.fm these days, but we’ve only sold a couple of thousand copies of ‘Not For Want Of Trying’. It’s awesome that that many people want to hear the record, but it is disheartening when you think what we could be doing with this band if people were prepared to part with a few quid. Fuck, I’m going to start getting the Lars Ulrich treatment from people if I carry on like this… We’re happy with doing this the way we are, but I think people wrongly assume that we live of the band. We don’t, and it seems a fucking long way off right now!

As a small, DIY independent fanzine we are aware, like you, of the unsettling way that the music ‘industry’ operates with pluggers, booking agents and all the other hangers-on associated with that. Clearly you think that a lot of bands are too interested in the trappings and rewards of the industry – how would you convince them that a more DIY approach is preferable? Any personal experiences that you could compare with?
I think the way the mainstream industry works is abhorrent, and I can’t see myself ever wanting any involvement with it. I think there are definitely a lot more trappings than there are rewards to be had and I’ve heard so many horror stories from friend’s bands with big deals that I don’t understand why anyone would aspire to it.

We took the DIY approach because we knew we could do things this way, and it was actually a much easier route to take than begging for a deal or a booking agent or a press agent or whatever. There are some awesome indie labels and agents out there doing great stuff for other bands, but I think most of the ones that we respect work in a similar way to us anyway, so at the moment we don’t aspire to anything more than we’ve got. The only industry contact we have is through Field Records, which is a one-man-operation based just down the road. They’re a lot of help, and they have a similar DIY ethos to us, so it works amazingly well.

It’s been well circulated these days, but a starting point for any band chasing a contract is ‘The Problem With Music’ by Steve Albini – it (should) put anyone off following that route through the music industry.

You have your own record label ‘Robot Needs a Home’ so what was the background with you hooking up with the excellent Field Records to release your albums? How active is Robot Needs a Home at present?
Robot Needs Home is sort of waiting for it’s moment to shine in some respects. We set it up just as a name to release our first couple of CDRs and our remix comps through, but at the moment it really is just a name to collect a few artists we love under one banner. We do CDR and free download releases for Maybeshewill, Buenos Aires, Death Of London and The Campbell Theory at the moment – all of whom are based in Leicester, but we’ve never had the budget to release anything properly – which is part of why we work with Field, but that’s not to belittle them in any way – we’ve been working with them since our first 7” single, and Tim is constantly supportive of what we’re doing. He’s put a lot of money in to this band, and did a lot of the press work for Not For Want Of Trying.

Sooner or later Robot Needs Home will get around to doing a ‘real’ release though. Perhaps sooner rather than later…

I watched Maybeshewill last summer and I’m sure it was four blokes that I saw giving the PA system a hard time by playing at top whack for nearly an hour. Talk us through the line up changes since then and how they have affected your music both on the new album and as a live sound.
Yeah, the two band members that have been in this ‘from the start’ so to speak are myself and Robin, but Jim joined on drums shortly after we recorded Japanese Spy Transcript so he’s been part of the furniture for a long time. We’ve had a couple of other people come through the ranks over the years. It’s hard work being in Maybeshewill, and when you’ve got to make a choice between keeping your job, your girlfriend and your degree on track, or get in a van and drive around the country for a month, I think there are only a few people out there that would choose the later option. Vicky is our current bassist, and she joined towards the end of last year. She’s holding up well so far and she fits in to the way we work perfectly.

Apart from the personnel differences, how would you say the new album (Sing the Word Hope in Four-Part Harmony) differs from your Not for Want of Trying?
I think STWH is a much, much stronger album, but maybe not as immediate as NFWOT. There were some really strong tracks that stood out like sore thumbs on the old record, and people latched on to that - but I think there was a lot of filler, and a lot of songs we wrote before we really knew where we were going. We still don’t really know where we want to go, but STWH is a cohesive work that was written in a very short time frame and consequently I think it holds together much better. It’s really satisfying reading forums and blogs and seeing that people are choosing so many different tracks as their favourites – We never got that with NFWOT. It was almost always NFWOT or He Films The Clouds Pt. 2. We really wonder how people would have reacted to this record if NFWOT had never existed…

STWH is a much more socially aware record as well, although it’s already been mislabelled as a political statement. We came out of six months of touring and finally got to stop and take stock of what was going on around us before we started work on the album, and I remember being literally terrified for a good few weeks. That said, the album has a pretty positive feel to it I think – Yeah we’ve been failed by our parents, governments and financial institutions, but we’re cutting our own path and there are a lot of people we can rely on to help and support us. It’s a call for change, but one that sees that there’s a lot of good going on – being on tour restores your faith in the human race because you meet so many people in music scenes around the country who are prepared to help you out with a floor or a shower or whatever – That’s sort of the idea behind Co-Conspirators, anyway.

There seems to be a strong group of bands in the Nottingham/Derby/Leicester triangle that have been big Tasty favourites for some time such as TEAM, Twinkie, Her Name is Calla, You Slut! etc. Assuming we have no secret passion geographically for the east midlands, is there something about the locality or the music scene in that area which lends itself to a certain sound or musical outlook?
I don’t know Twinkie, and TEAM have been dead for a few years, but yeah, your right. Calla and You Slut! aside honourable mentions would go to Death Of London (which is ex-members of the aforementioned TEAM), Minnaars, Buenos Aires, Diet Pills, Gallery 47, Peter Wyeth, These Furrows, Tired Irie, Kyte…. The list goes on. I don’t know if there’s anything about the cities in particular that make them strong scenes, but there definitely is that sort of vibe around at the moment.

It also seems to be a very cooperative and supportive scene to be involved in – is there anyone who has particularly helped you out along the way or who you would single out for the inaugural ‘Tasty unseen services to music’ award?
Fuck yeah – almost everyone in that list above has helped us, and I’d like to think we’ve helped them as well. Most notably Andy from Diet Pills is our touring engineer and helped loads with the album, Scott from Death Of London runs our rehearsal space, and Fraser DOL runs West and Bydesign with his brother Ross who made our video for Last Time This Year. Minnaars and Buenos Aires can always be relied on in a fix and are excellent drinking partners, and obviously we put a split 12” out last year with Her Name Is Calla. It’s a pretty incestuous little community we’ve got going on around here.

You’ve had big support over in Japan and toured there a couple of times. How did this popularity come about?
Yeah, that’s been one of the most exciting things about being in Maybeshewill. It’s a totally alien concept for us, and until we went over there last year we didn’t really believe there were people over there buying the records. XTAL, our Japanese label found us through Field, and we’ve been doing stuff with them ever since. We were the first band on the label, which was quite exciting and we’ve just agreed a release for the new record over there, so hopefully it’s a relationship that will be continuing for a while.

And how does it compare playing in Japan to the UK?
More people come to the shows…?

You spend ages touring around – what are your best tips for passing the time? Ever tried pub cricket?!
Crikey… erm… You learn techniques to kill the time I guess. I tend to retreat into my ipod, but everyone deals with it differently. The worst element of touring is arriving somewhere and having to wait around for other people, so we try and minimise that as far as possible. Sleeping works extremely well, and touring with entertaining chaps like And So I Watch You From Afar is vital. Cram eight people with a similar outlook in to a van and you’re never short of entertainment. We’ve not even come close to killing each other this tour, which is a new experience!

We see you are playing at the Good Ship on the current tour. What does it feel like as a band playing on a stage that is more like a squash court than a standard platform?!
We like the Good Ship a lot – They’re doing some great stuff there. Plus it’s really fucking easy for us to get to. I think there are two roundabouts on the journey between our rehearsal space in Leicester and the venue in London, so it’s a logical place to play if you’re not mega keen on driving in the city. The stage is a bit weird, but I like the sort of ampitheatre-esque feel of playing below the audience. It makes it a little more confrontational.

Finally, for anyone thinking about buying the new album, how would you describe it using only superlatives?
Newest, loudest, bluest.


Ane Brun

Despite having just released her fifth album, Changing of the Seasons, Ane Brun's music has only made it to these humble and somewhat behind-the-times shores recently from her native Sweden. We grill her on her latest album, her music, and why she decided to cover Cyndi Lauper.
http://www.myspace.com/anebrun

Scandinavia seems to be a hot bed for musical talent at the moment. Why do you think that is?
I live in Sweden, and here the music scene has been very vital for many years. In the last few years I guess people abroad also are discovering the wide range of talent that exists here.

Why did you decide to cover 'True Colours', and were you surprised by the positive response it got?
I was requested to record it for a short film, and I tried to do my own version of it. I must say I´m very pleased with the result and the respons from people, and even a little bit surprised, I guess. I recorded it in my studio in a short afternoon with the wonderful pianist Martin Hederos (the Soundtrack of our Lives).

What inspired Changing Of The Seasons, and your music generally?
Lyrically it was inspired by things that happened in my life during a couple of years before recording the album, but also incidents in the lives of people close to me.. Musically I wanted to keep it focused on the core of the songs, the vocals, the words and the melody. I listened a lot to the album 'The Letting Go' by Bonnie Prince Billy in 2007, and that was how I found the producer Valgeir Sigurdsson. I wanted that sound in a way, intimate, but with interesting arrangements.

What was the writing/recording process for it?
I spend 3 months during the summer of 2007 hanging out in my lovely studio in Stockholm. I stayed in during the hot summer days

Are you going to release your other albums in the UK as well?
I think they will released in the autumn.

How's the tour going?
Its going great! I am soon going on a European tour with some UK dates in April/May, and I am looking forward to that.

Why did you decide to form your own record label?
At the time, in 2003, I didn?t feel like beeing dependent on anyone else?s decisions when it came to my music. I knew it would take a lot of time even getting in contact with a record company, so I decided to spend that time and energy on doing it myself. My ambitions were fairly low before releasing my first album, so I was very surprised when it all turned out so well. My first album was released in 11 countries through a licence deal with V2 MUSIC. Since then it?s been natural to keep on doing it independently. The best thing about it is that I am totally free to release what ever when ever, and decide my own pace of things.

Why did you choose to sing in English?
I am mostly inspired by music sung in English, and genres with English lyrics. The sounds of the Scandinavian language is very different, and it would influence the music I am making a great deal. I also am a language-freak, and I love searching for ways to express myself in a foreign language. And last but not least, it?s great to be able to communicate with so many people who do understand English.

What artists are you listening to at the moment?
Joan as Policewoman and Fever Ray.

Is music something you see yourself doing for the rest of your life or are there other things you want to achieve?
At the moment I feel that I will be doing music for a long time. In what way, and to what extent, I don?t know.

What are your favourite songs to play live?
At the moment; Lullaby for grown-ups and The Puzzle.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
To follow your gut feeling. I try to do that every day.. It usually solves everything.

Catriona Boyle


Lau

With folk super-group Lau just about to release their second album, Arc Light, Catriona Boyle caught up with them for a dinner date in Nandos to discuss recording, writing, geo-thermal heating and a ‘trad-folk’ revival.

What was the recording process for Arc Light?
Martin- We had a great time.
Aiden- We started in a studio in a place called Cromarty which is in the Black Isle and we took what we wrote there. We went on tour, we kept thinking about it, but it’s very difficult to write when you’re on tour though, so eventually we got the last couple of days in November, and we took ten days in another artists studio in the Borders of Scotland in a place called Heriot and we wrote and did our pre-production there. From there we went into December, we recorded in a place called Castle South in Kaitland…
Martin – He’s just making it up… then we went to Loch Brachtihoo! We only go to tiny places.
Aiden- Tiny places that are really hard to say.

Did you write the album during recording?
Aiden- Partly. A lot of it was written where we did our pre-production, in Heriot.
Martin – We had a good ten days locked away from the world. And it was freezing outside. And there was snow everywhere. And the building had one massive glass wall, as is the modern way. So that was lovely, we stared out into the snow.
Aiden – And there was geo-thermal heating.
Martin – Yeah geo-thermal heating. Well it’s better than freezing. We all got quite excited about geo-thermal heating while we were there.
Aiden – There’s no controls really that we were aware of. It all was just set to room temperature.
Kris – 15 degrees.
Aiden – 15 degrees. Which is room temperature officially. It’s a scientific term. Like body temperature.
Martin – It was underfloor too. But anyway. It gave us a little happiness inside because the earth didn’t suffer for our heat as we stared out over the snowy borders.
Aiden – We didn’t have to turn up or turn it down. There was always hot water… Part of me has never left. Actually that’s true.

What’s your song writing process?
Aiden- Well one of us will come up with an idea, and then we would all contribute our own ideas to it and it would evolve into a Lau piece of music, rather than it being a Martin Green or Kris Drever piece of music so everyone has input. The starting point could be any of us.
Martin- The lyrics are different. Kris writes all the lyrics.
Kris- So far.
Martin – There’s a couple of songs that came to the album from other people, there’s a Lennon and McCartney song and there’s one song that was written by a guy called Les Rice. But the original lyrics Kris came up with. But the other things, someone will think of an idea but it becomes very three way quite early on in the game. We’re not very precious, are we? A lot of stuff gets dropped straight away, and loads of stuff gets chucked out for being rubbish. Of about equal measure. Although Aiden does get his tunes in…
Aiden – I’ve got an 100% success rate.
Martin – He’s only written two tunes.

You all have lots of other projects on the go, how do you find time to get together and make an album?
Kris- This is kind of our main thing, so everything else fits in around this. Everything’s planned at least a year in advance.
Martin – We’re very happy with this process. With the people, the studios we’ve used, and Calum, the producer, who was great. So I don’t think any of us will be very surprised if we follow a similar process next time. Calum had much more involvement this time seemed to be quite happy for more involvement next time.

How has Arc Light progressed from Lightweights and Gentlemen?
Martin – Its much ‘studio-ier’.
Kris – Well there was a process we went through with the first one and the live one which was kind of finding out what we sounded like in the first place, and this one obviously we know what we sound like so it’s much easier to make that kind of noise. It was written quicker.
Martin – There was a greater degree of deciding to do things in the studio, partly because we didn’t have time to gig it all.

What’s the concept behind the album’s artwork?
Aiden- I saw a scene in a film called Hallam Foe, which is set in Edinburgh, and there’s a scene with a welder and I thought it might be nice. And Kris always wanted to wear goggles.

Why did you choose to cover Dear Prudence?
Kris- We were asked to by Mojo magazine.
Martin- They did a commemorative remake of the White album. They had two cover mount CDs with various different people and different types of music covering the tracks. We nabbed Dear Prudence. It was first come first serve which track you got, and we got in reasonably early. We did it all in a day in the middle of a tour.

On the back of the album there’s a Scottish Arts Council logo – what’s that to do with?
Martin – The Scottish Arts Council helped with the funding. They have a recording grant you can apply for. They fund a lot of interesting music one way or another. You have to apply, they give the recording grant twice a year, and they help with money to make the album which is always helpful.

You played in Tokyo – how did that go?
Aiden- We’re going back in October for ten days, but we’re only doing one gig in Tokyo and for the rest we’re going into the country side.
Martin- We’ve been a couple of times. Last time we did five nights at the same venue which was great. They’re very quiet. They have their gigs at 6:30 at night.
Kris- That keeps a good portion of the evening free. Back to the hotel room. For practice.
Aiden – We’ve got a really good agent. For our record launch, we arrive there and there was a big box that had been sent to the venue – three bottles of champagne from our Japanese agent.

Will you be playing any festivals this summer?
Martin- Yes. Shrewsbury, a load of UK things. Beautiful Day. A quick trip to Spain, Barcelona and Madrid. Glastonbury’s getting chatted about at the moment.

Last summer was about ‘new folk’ – will this summer be about ‘trad-folk’?
Aiden– I think no. It’ll get to a point of media interest and then it’ll just kind of tail off.
Martin – Is new folk going to give way to old folk and we’re going to a proper hardcore banjos and bagpipes?
Kris – It would be nice to think so.
Martin – It would be nice to think so but to be honest a lot of what goes on in the Lau van is pretty hardcore traditional music. The banjo, unaccompanied haikus. I don’t think that’s true of many people. Of the fashionably dressed few fronting the new folk gigs, I don’t think they’re going to home and put on the McDonald brothers.

Catriona Boyle


Miranda Lee Richards

Miranda Lee Richards could’ve easily turned out as a scuzzy rocker – a Courtney Love or a Shirley Manson. Instead, despite dalliances with Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Jesus and Mary Chain and The Von Bondies, she turned into a fresh-faced bohemian folk artist, and the only white powder that features in her songs is fairy dust. We caught up with her as she releases her second album 'Light of X'.

What were your influences for Light of X, and your music generally?
If I had to narrow it down, I would say my top influences would be the poems of Emily Dickinson and Pablo Neruda; the lyrics of Patti Smith and Bob Dylan; the music of John Lennon, Mozart, Beethoven, The Velvet Underground, Sigur Ros, The Pretenders, Blondie, and 60’s folk rock groups like Fairport Convention. I love a lot of new music as well, but the acts I really relate to seem to have some similar influences.

Where did you record it?
In Los Angeles at studio called The Sandbox, which is actually no longer.

Light of X features a lot of lyrics about unrequited love and relationships turning sour, is this based on personal experience?
Some of it is, but some of it’s fictional based on stories I hear, or ones friends tell me.

Do you have any plans to tour the UK?
I do in May of 2009, dates TBA. Anyone who’s interested can visit my MySpace and web site for updates.

What are your favourite songs to play live?
Early November, Mirror at the End, Savorin’ Your Smile, Last Days of Summer, Hideaway, Life Boat, and Oddity…

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Do the things you’re afraid of doing first and just keep going…if you spend a certain amount of time dedicated to doing what you love (even when the going gets rough), you’re guaranteed to see a positive result eventually.

Your parents obviously had a strong influence on your choice of career, what do they think of it?
They are very proud of me, but actually my wanting to play music professionally came as a bit of a surprise to them initially.

You worked with a lot of musicians at a young age. Do you find this helps or hinders you when releasing records under your own name?
I think it helps to have the name recognition of having worked with certain more established individuals. In retrospect, these were just opportunities that presented themselves, not all of which were obviously good at the time. ?

Who else would you like to work with in the future?
I am very open to different possibilities; it would be cool to do a DJ type record with Ulrich Schnauss one day perhaps. I love getting out of my box and adding my vocal abilities to different types of music. If it’s a quality project, that’s what inspires me.

What was your favourite record of 2008?
Beach House, Devotion

Is music something you see yourself doing for the rest of your life or are there other things you want to achieve?
Most of what I would like to ‘achieve’ in life has to with music, as it is endlessly fascinating and challenging to me. Music is especially consuming with a release coming up, and there’s really nothing I’d rather do but be on tour at the moment (it’s been so long!). I’m sure that will eventually get old and I would like to settle down and have a family. One day, I would like also like to be in a position to give back to the world on a grand level, I would consider that quite an achievement. On a different note, I think it would be amazing to open a delectable restaurant or star in a soulful movie one day. But one thing at a time…

Interview by Catriona Boyle