Q: Describe the sound of Wild Beasts for people unfamiliar with the band:
A: The way I always describe it… when we set ourselves up as a pop band with all the beauty that that can contain, with all the competitors that that can contain have kind of been forgotten… if you know what I mean
So whenever I’m asked to describe us to say someone queuing in an airport I always say that we are a pop band… but it turns out we’re a bit more left field than that but we still want to be a pop band…
Q: What do you mean by ‘pop’?
A: Umm… that’s a tough one…
Well the thing is that is what pop music is all about… money… I suppose I’m thinking of The Beatles template through to someone like the Dirty Projectors… sitting there but sitting uncomfortably I guess… if that makes sense
Q: Tell us about a new band that has had an impact on the band lately…
A: As in how that album was made and how we came about it?
Well there was a record we kind of had on the slow burn… there’s this duo called the Junior Boys and they released this record called ‘so this is goodbye’… and I think Hayden picked it up and listened to it once and said ‘hey I reckon you guys should really listen to this’… and it kind of kept bubbling with all of us… and it would be like ‘yeah its ok, yeah I like it, yeah I really like, yeah I’ve been listening to nothing else, yeah it’s my favourite record’… and it kind of went on like that… and that sort of sound… they kind of have a throb… It’s very electronic but quite erotic… and that has been very influential amongst us
But very much so and now we all rate them amongst our favourite artists. They’re just quietly going along making some really exciting stuff
I think so… their new album especially
Well a lot of the track was influence by dance and electronic music… like we try to play things in short phrases and short repeating phrases which lock in so its not like different parts, there’s like a texture.
And also I think we ran with the sexual tendencies we had as well… and the way that there is a melancholy in it as well… kind of late night music. That’s like Junior Boys to a T… I think we have unavoidably picked some of that up.
Q: Favourite things…
A: I think I would say Gin and sparkling water… and Brockton folding bicycles
I said Gin and sparkling water… not together… separately… at different times of the day!
Oh it’s a drink you have to respect. We’ve just come back from New York and nobody in New York really saw the attraction with Gin… and we were trying to explain… that there’s something quite post colonial about Gin… there’s some kind of remnant about Gin and it has this sort of English decadence… and it tastes great. You can really ruin yourself though…
I’ve never really had a bad night on it… I reckon that if you can….
If it ruins you, it is so distinctive that you’ll never go near it again.
Q: So, it’s the image of sitting on the veranda swatting flies and getting your quinine levels up…
A: Well its more kind of gin alley… its more sort of eighteenth century London… losing your teeth low life… it’s quite nice
Yeah that’s it
Yeah, yeah, yeah… is gin the fashionable one? It’s like… Everyone goes for sparkling water. You don’t want still water… no of course you don’t want still water… you can get that from the tap! You know what I mean?
It sort of became a badge of pride when we were in Europe that we were embracing the other cultures… you know what I mean?
‘Yeah we like sparkling water… you know what? We like it … and we’re well travelled’
No… Hendrick’s Gin and San Pellegrino water
Well you’ve got to be a bit of a decadent about this, you know? if you’re being asked about your favourite things. You can’t always get these things but when you can, you should!
Oh… Brockton folding bicycles…
Hayden used to ride one of those to where he worked every day and basically we lived in quite a rough part of Leeds and basically people would just shout at him ‘g** boy’, ‘d*** head’, ‘nice bike!’… that sort of thing… and throw things… and he would just ride through it… and now look at them now! They’re going through a renaissance.
At one time it literally just fell apart on him… it literally just split in half on him on the road. The bolt came loose and it just collapsed on him… and I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen those videos of people who are running and whose legs just dislocate? It was that sort of… and then they just look up at the sky… it was that sort of situation. He was just completely unprepared for that sort of thing
Q: Isn’t it just that it seems more acceptable to you now that you spend more time in London?
A: Hahaha… quite possibly yeah.
I think that they are fine in Europe. We’ve seen them all over. We spent some time in Sweden, and they were very popular there… and Amsterdam as well… we spent some time there and they were very popular there
I’m trying to answer for all of them….
Well I think that Brylcreem has played a part in our band… I wish I had something weighty but it is still early in my day… so…
Well there are loads of books that I could say… and records… but it’s just not quite as much fun
Well I would have done but I had quite curly hair… and because I’m from quite a small town I never really had too much guidance on what to do with curly hair. So I just tended to use straight hair products… and it tended to look a right mess. And these guys could pull it off and use it effectively and I just can’t…
You don’t really get that no…
Q: Musical Map..
Our musical map of the world?
I remember when we first came out there was an article published about Kendal… about British Sea Power and about us… about there being this new centre of music which was just unbelievably funny…
So Kendal… even if only for that beautifully misguided article alone
Q: Has that landscape been an influence though?
Unavoidably yeah… more in a practical way than it has been in an artistic way in just that you have to have your ears open… you’ve got to be hunting for everything. And be open minded because you don’t have a choice, you just get what you’re given… you know what I mean?
Q: Scarcity makes you more resourceful and what is available becomes that much more important…
Dead right yeah… absolutely right…
And you need to alive to new stuff too as well because you really have to hunt for it
Q: (I push him on the idea that isolation in beautiful landscapes breeds great music…)
The more I’ve asked about it the more I want to run with it. Because its very beautiful and very gothic… the skies are very heavy and it rains a lot… but there is a sense of ‘whoa… look at that’
I suppose there is something of that in our music… but I don’t know…
I don’t want to say whether… you know? But I’ve been told a few times that you can hear the sky in it… and I can see that.. I can understand
I’d say Malmo in Sweden where we recorded our first album, which was very exciting. But it was a proper learning curve… we went there literally boys on holiday and we came away with an album in our hands so we really had to be kicked into shape. And the thing about Malmo is that there are something like 5 world-class studio-s within a radius of… around it… and it’s a town of around 200,000 people in like southern Sweden. It’s like Sweden’s third largest city.. And in a lot of ways it’s pretty unremarkable but for some reason it has become Sweden’s centre of music based around a few people who have done something good there… And its influence on our music has been immense. Like working with Tore Johansson… and getting good basically… like he really banged us into shape. So it was a huge influence on what we do.
I think that the Cardigans are the source of the big influx of recordings… I mean Tore helped write Love Fool which was the number one played song in America radio that year… and if you do that you pretty much set yourself up
Also Franz Ferdinand recorded some stuff over there…. And there’s a band called Little Dragon who have just released an album… they mixed their stuff in the same studios that we did. And I think that though The Knife are from Stockholm, they’ve had some stuff mixed in Malmo… So it’s a secret player
Haha… well I’ve been trying to Berlin and New York because they’ve had their time. They are amazing places but they don’t need advertising.
A third one… ok
Well this is the thing I’ve just got back from New York I was just trying to avoid saying it… ok lets say Austin. I know it has South by Southwest… but I had Austin described to me as a velvet rut… which is what musicians need
A velvet rut…
As in somewhere where… you might not be going somewhere but you are enjoying being there… if you know what I mean. And it has a huge array of music.
Take all the clichés of Texas and throw them out the window for Austin… it’s nothing like that. It is very bohemian and there are a lot of places for odd balls to kick… its also the second country music capital after Nashville… and Willy Nelson is from there… and all the studios around there are country studios which essentially just means that they are beautiful.
Yeah absolutely… and all sorts of records which you have never heard of but that other people have bought loads and loads of copies of have been recorded in those studios.
Country music just doesn’t translate to Britain I don’t think… but its fascinating non the less
Pretty much yeah…
Haha… I’ve just been to Williamsburg and its very cool and very silly. It’s a great place to be British.
Yeah… its fun. I like Williamsburg.
Q: Your dream CTRL line-up…
A: Oh man… do I have Carte Blanche… can I pick anyone?
Wow… ok well I’m going to pick Joanna Newsom which may or may not be fashionable but she’s one of my absolute favourite song writers and all that stuff about her being cutesy, stars and periwinkles and s*** is just not true. Her music is human and very forceful and very brave. I really, really like what she does… and she is just… unapologetic, it think, is the word.
Well that’s it. She just does what she does… unabashed… that’s really cool… that’s really good to see because she’s not much older than me… And I’ve seen her a couple of times and the first time I saw her I just thought, this girl is 2 years older than me and she’s doing things I couldn’t even imagine… and I just really needed to buck my act up once I’d seen her
Perhaps… I haven’t decided on the others yet but she should be high up..
Umm… I’m going to say Junior Boys again … but again… I haven’t even seen them live! Apparently they don’t use laptops at all like you would expect… they use old drum machines and old bass machines and sequences and stuff… and the good thing about that is that you’re not in control of that sort of thing and you are half expecting something to go wrong and you’re waiting for something to fall out of the chain. So that tends to excite me… its pretty good.
Also the fact that I want to see what they do… I want to see how they reproduce this sort of claustrophobicness they have…
Q: You share a label with them don’t you?
A: Yes they do… an EP just kind of falls into our ether and they’ve just finished a remix for it no less
I’ve just remember this but you’re right… I got an email yesterday and there is a remix I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet… that’s what I’m doing when I finish this phone call…
Q: Any bands that you want to draw attention to?
A: God… when you can pick anything you just don’t know what to pick!
Do you mean a new band?
A: Ok.. well I’m not sure they even count as a new band anymore… I have been to see The Invisible quite a few times… and they were obviously Mercury nominated which was an absolute bolt out of nowhere knowing the guys… but we have had to follow them before.
I don’t know if you have seen them play before but they are serious improvisers… used to be in the Fire Collective and used to play with Matthew Herbert and stuff and they are absolutely explosive.
But on top of that they have great songs… like great kind of Prince type pop songs… beautiful hooks… and yet they are all in 5/4 and 7/4… and the guy’s voice is just like butter… and it is just a wonderful, wonderful band!
Well I got the first Little Dragon record… these Swedish guys… which is exciting me greatly. And we’re taking a girl called Blue Rosie up with us on tour who is up from Bradford…
Yeah, we’re taking her on the whole lot. She’s something else… again it’s like you think its going to be sweet and sugary but its got some nasty stings in it… it’s very cool
Wild Beasts hit Glasgow Arches on September 29th for a rather exciting show curated by Phoenix. Support comes from uber-talented Blue Roses and the brilliant Paper Planes. One night later they pop over to Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire.
Their highly rated album is out now on Domino.
Interview courtesy of Topman CTRL
Pic: Euan Anderson Wild Beasts @ Stereo: Hinterland May 09
“After the Planes it was time to race up Union Street to Stereo for Wild Beasts, we make it just in time to catch the last 3 songs. The effort was well worth it and Wild Beasts turn out to be a definite highlight of the evening. Recent signings to the illustrious Domino label, this sprightly group of Northerners will be on many a folks radar by the end of this year.” Rokbun May 09