Hi Matt and thank you for sparing time to chat with us.
Glad to. Thanks for asking.
Could you first introduce yourself and tell us how your musical presence came to be?
It’s the old, old story: this never-ending mission to be heard and understood, in other words I’m obsessed and not many people get it, but so what. It was time to move on from making lo-fi electronic-based stuff on my own, playing acoustic guitar in nice clean coffee shops and being called “quirky”…Time to get back on a real stage in unhygienic surroundings and yell at people, so I found a bass player (Stephen Parker) and a drummer (Barney Guy) on the circuit here in Brighton. Luckily, I was able to drag them into my world.
How would you define not only your sound but the creative character of the band?
The sound’s just pure emotional disorder: I can’t make feel-good music. The band’s focused on delivering the songs as tightly and urgently as possible, just keeping it sharp, but there’s a lot of room for personal expression…Which is how it should be… It rocks, but there’s something in there that isn’t… quite… right.
Are there any previous musical experiences for yourself or band members and how have they been embraced in what you do now?
Stephen’s a solo artist himself, used to be in a thrash metal band, can play pop covers; he’s at home anywhere on the music spectrum. This means he comes up with these fantastic basslines, the kind it’s great to listen to just on their own, but really rock in a very direct way. Barney does a lot of session gigs in about 500 bands, as with most drummers, so he’s likewise slick and versatile. This cuts out a lot of flab, we can zero in quick on what works. They bring pop smarts, enhance the actual tunes, but without sacrificing the more out-there elements – it feels quite spontaneous, which is always good. We’re all very into keeping the energy levels high.
Is there a particular process to your songwriting?
I put myself into some kind of self-hypnotic state and rough out the songs, and then write down the chords for Stephen, and away we go – just smash through them until they take a fixed shape. It’s open to any changes the others want to suggest; I’m not sentimental about my own ideas, because I’ve been doing this long enough now to know that you can always create more; I just wait a while for my subconscious to throw something out. It helps to think of song structure in story terms – prologue, opening paragraph, cliff-hanger, that kind of thing.
Would you tell us about your latest release?
“The Seizure” EP is three tracks recorded pretty much as-live by the band, at Church Road Studios with Julian Tardo… plus a final DIY track, featuring Mik Hanscomb of Junkboy on 12-string acoustic. He played drums before Barney then had to drop out and concentrate on making his own album, but we’d also done a few gigs as a duo playing acoustic arrangements of some of my older material. We had one new number, the first thing I wrote after getting out of rehab, which it seemed like a nice idea to include, for contrast to the other songs. They were done loud and raw with the express purpose of showcasing the band. It’s a rock record, brash and nasty, rather than the sort of introverted DIY head music I’d been putting together at home. Also, it was nice to let someone else think about the technical side for once. I’m not exactly hung up on audio quality – I recorded an EP using a mobile phone and some freeware a few years ago – but it was refreshing to work in a good studio with an expert.
What are the major inspirations to its heart and themes?
I keep coming back to addiction, because it directly affects me, and also it seems like practically everyone’s dependent on something, physically or emotionally, to help them through this life. So that’s an underlying thread, even if it’s not spelled out – there’s no preaching or Important Social Message – and it tied in to the idea that it’s hard nowadays to be honest, when there’s so much pressure to present yourself as a viable product for everyone else to consume, while you’re picking them apart in turn. I’m no longer a youth, so it’s also about expressing this discontent in a way that’s age-appropriate and concentrated. That sounds like an ordeal to listen to, but the idea was to put this into really driving, powerful music and make it a cathartic experience, rather than a gloomy slog through My Big Thoughts. So it leads up to a sonic outburst – a seizure, obviously – then ends on a calmer note.
I am always intrigued as to how artists choose track order on albums and EP’s and whether in hindsight they would change that. What has been the deciding factor for you or do songs or the main do that organically?
It varies with each project – the last album had a theme, the stuff before that was more of a patchwork, but in each case I try to have a consistent tone or atmosphere running through the whole thing. As mentioned above, the idea was to vent all this stuff and then torch it. So by the third track, we go abstract, just obliterate it all in a glowing cloud of plasma (I also play with various free improvisation wizards in Brighton, and wanted to apply that method to a rock song)… Then after the seizure, all the discords and harsh sounds, you get the spaced-out calm, which calls for acoustic guitars and deep trenches of weird reverb. It’s meant to be an interesting virtual space to visit, as opposed to just a collection of songs.
What do you find the most enjoyable part of being in a band and similarly the most cathartic?
For context – I used to find getting wasted and stumbling around the stage the most enjoyable part, it’s embarrassing to admit. At first I suspected I couldn’t perform without chemical help then found I could, but chemicals made it so much more fun… then it wasn’t fun anymore, just a flimsy cloak for my own dysfunction. But nowadays, I make a point of enjoying all of it. The whole process – the satisfaction of creating something, shaping it then blasting it out live: the expression of a whole complex of thoughts and emotions. Notice audience approval doesn’t really figure – communication’s the important thing. Also, it’s a way to spend your existence that doesn’t involve chasing around after money or power and then dropping dead in a premature heart explosion of bile and regret – not the way I do it, anyway.
For anyone contemplating checking you out live give some teasers as to what they can expect.
Sarcasm and sudden loud noises… Something that’s unsettling but in a good way, stimulating, like watching a horror movie – but without horror-type lyrics or anything like that.
What has been your most thrilling moment on stage to date?
Hate to burst this bubble, but on the whole it’s difficult to remember, or at least describe, those kinds of peak moments. It’s not like I’m up there sacrificing a live deer with my teeth every night – that, we can agree, would be memorable. It’s easy to describe the fuck-ups and disasters, but very hard to express how it feels when everything really flows and time stands still. Besides, it’s better to think even more thrilling stuff’s yet to come.
Do you have live dates coming up?
Wed 16 Oct, Eight Miles High @ Brunswick Cellar Bar (Brighton) – w/ Seadog & Fane
Wed 6 Nov, Rossi Bar (Brighton) – solo – w/ Junkboy & Jako
Sat 16 Nov, Biddle Bros (London E5)
Sun 24 Nov, Gladstone (London SE1) – solo
Sat 30 Nov, Grub Club @ Global Cafe (Reading) – w/ The Mirror Pictures + Adam & Elvis
Tue 3 Dec, Bloc (Glasgow)
Wed 11 Dec, Green Door Store (Brighton) – w/ Adam & Elvis + tbc
What else can we expect in the near future?
There’s an album’s worth of new songs I’m working through with the band, hopefully to record next year for release in late 2020, with a few guest musicians and a broader palette. More gigs (was hoping to expand into Europe, but now it’s a question of waiting to see how the Brexit fallout’s going to settle). A 24-hour magic ritual in an underground car park…(Not really, but that would be cool.) A fucking nervous breakdown trying to keep all those DIY plates spinning, probably; most of the time, I barely know what to expect myself.
What are the major inspirations to you sound wise and as a musician?
I was ruined by listening to Lou Reed and The Fall at an early age. Whatever it is in me that’s distressed, that’s not at rest, responded instinctively to stuff like that… found a way of making sense out of the world in it… and soon enough I was compelled to try and pass that on. I like the sound of raw electricity, loud guitars or acid synths, whatever – doesn’t matter how it’s conveyed.
And finally what song or release would you say was the spark to your passion for music?
It probably started with some silly pop song that injured my brain in childhood, but it’s not clear. Most musicians, deep down, are started off by the most random, silly stuff that they probably can’t recall or wouldn’t acknowledge (so even if I knew, I’m not sure I’d tell you).
Many thanks once again; anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for listening – it’s good when somebody makes the effort. I guess people just have to be willing to meet me halfway.
Pete RingMaster 11/10/2019
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