How do you rate the Somerset music scene? Any plans to move to Bristol? Or London?
I dont know if there’s a Somerset music scene as such, or maybe there is and they ignore us. There are some really good bands emerging like Beta Civilian, who slice genres of music together in a really cool way, like maybe Curtis Mayfield crossed with JUSTICE. I think there’s a quality to Somerset that reminds me of some of the rural southern US States I visited. A laid-back sleepiness maybe, but also a kind of dark energy. It feels kind of isolated but self contained, some of that goes into our themes. We’ve got plans for tours around the album for the next six months, so home probably won’t exist too much…
What’s the thinking behind the name?
Ask a six year old to come up with a name and this is what you get!
Your new single is called ‘Businessman’s Guide To Witchcraft’ – a curious title, what’s that all about then?
We have a track on the album called ‘Killer Inside Me’. There is a brilliant but nasty book by Jim Thompson that inspired it. When we first got going last year, some guys involved with a really old school R&B label from Jacksonville picked up on it. This label goes back to the days of Stax and have put out some real legends in the past. Their pedigree is amazing, but today they are quite conservative and religious and liked the sound but asked me if I would change the lyrics. This was never going to happen so that’s as far as it went. But I did understand the whole problem about a track with an arguably louche attitude to murder. So, Businessman’s is the opposite.
It was recorded in PJ Harvey’s studio in Bristol – tell us more about that…
It’s co owned with John Parish I’m told, and it’s a great place. It’s a weird underground labyrinth in St. Paul’s with lots of garlands and fairy lights and a cool old mixing desk from EMI Studios. Ali Chant is the engineer there and he’s amazing because he’s an avant garde musician first and foremost, so we were always trying new things. The whole thing was done in five days as I didn’t have much budget, but that was what I wanted for the first album. To capture as much energy as possible and nail things in the first three takes.
You recently got a Q track of the day and were featured in The Guardian – how important is the music press to you?
It’s how people hear about a band these days and we’ve been really lucky so far with the support we’ve got, especially as we don’t have a rich label throwing advertising spend at the press. In fact, we have no advertising spend at all as far as I know! But there are still people out there willing to write about something they feel passionate about. At the end of the day it’s opinion, and if you choose to put your hat in the ring, you have to take and respect it, good or bad. Bad stuff always hurts, but that’s life! Though factually inaccurate comments are obviously really annoying.
You’re signed in the States, well done you, how did that come about?
This came through Paul Artrocker, who has been really supportive of us from our early days. He knew the label through his work with the Black Keys and felt it might be a good fit. They liked the album, offered us a deal and that was it. They were the only label we spoke to so again we were very lucky in avoiding that ‘hawking it around’ scenario. I immediately liked their attitude, roster, and the fact they didn’t ask us to change any of the music.
How does poetry fit into your lyrics?
More literally, I really seek out American nursery rhymes and chants. They have this weird creepy, obtuse undercurrent in them. Kind of blues-ish. The track ‘Jellyroll’ on the album borrows a phrase directly from an old Louisiana one. That whole sugar and bitterness thing… I also love the gothic imagery in poets like Poe and Emily Dickinson.
If you could compel people to listen to one song of yours, which would it be and why?
Viodrene, ‘cause it’s long !! Well, long for us!
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