If you had to describe your music in a sentence, what would you say?
In a world where the only music that exists is Joy Division, we want to be Led Zeppelin.
Have you always wanted to create music?
I can’t pinpoint the moment I knew, but I read guitar magazines for about seven years before I ever picked up a guitar as my father was an avid reader, so I guess I must have always intended to play. It wasn’t til I was about 15 my mother showed me how to play Seven Nation Army. I’d drive her mad playing it constantly; she always said if I worked as hard in school as I did at guitar I’d achieve anything I wanted, but all I wanted to do was to play. Singing is something I only started a couple of years ago when we started the band. I really struggle with it, but it got to the point where the struggling was worth it [for] being able to express myself.
Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially inspired you?
I remember the first time somebody gave me Nirvana’s greatest hits when I was about 10 and that being something that really excited me, like everybody I guess. But when we started the band, it was all the Trashmouth Records stuff that inspired us; we had years of beige indie dross and all of a sudden there was a vibe of ‘scattiness’ that really appealed to us all [as a band]. But since those days we’ve found our own thing that’s away from that. We have no intention of replicating anybody else. Besides, that scatty sound dominates the underground scene now, it’s kind of funny.
Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?
I’ve never been the kind of musician who learns loads of other songs, generally speaking I make music to express myself rather than to imitate. However I have recently recorded a solo EP and on that I cover I See A Darkness by Bonnie Prince Billie. The first time I heard that song it was an epiphany – somebody else had just explained to me how I feel on the inside better than I could myself. Mind blowing.
What do you think is the overriding influence on your songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture of all of these?
I’ve become kind of anti-politics in music lately, it’s all too easy to oversimplify just to make people agree, and if we’re honest these things are more nuanced than you can explain in a catchy chorus [so] it kind of seems irresponsible.
However, my writing is intensely political in its own way. I think the act of writing a lyric and setting it to music is inherently political. Writing about being unhappy or happy, hungry or full, awake or asleep, that is political because when you are describing any state of being, the question becomes why? And this inevitably reaches back to politics. So, I guess the way I write is political but using emotions as the language of my politics. For example, Fabric – the new single – is written about a moment of realisation that perhaps the person you consider yourself to be stands at odds with the reality of your situation. Like, you may consider yourself an ethical person, but being from the west and the privileges that entails kind of means you are directly benefiting from somebody else’s lost potential. And then you have the history of England and the things we have done to get to where we are and all of a sudden just by belonging to a nation state you can’t be an ethical being? I don’t claim to have all the answers, most of the songs are more like investigations.
If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?
We’d love to support Fat White Family, we’ve played with a few of our musical heroes now and it’s always great fun. I think the Fat Whites have intrinsically changed British guitar music culture, it seems like everybody is ripping them off lately, but their live show is incredible. My dream slot however would be to support Iceage, I think they’re one of the absolute greatest contemporary bands.
Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what makes it special?
In Liverpool, District is my home turf, I put on a lot of shows there and, full disclosure, Jayne and Eric who run it have been two of my biggest supporters for years, I owe them more than I could ever repay. The sound there is phenomenal for a band like us, the big open space complements our layers of noise excellently.
Why is music important to you?
It allows people from across the world to unite over shared emotions, you can play music that expresses how you feel in a way that words never could. Then when you combine lyrics with music it just becomes infinitely expressive. It is also a puzzle one can never solve, which appeals to the analytical mind.
Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido Lito! readers might not have heard?
Jamie: The Glow Pt 2. by The Microphones.
Ben: Peasant by Richard Dawson and Tiny Tim’s greatest hits.