2005 era quotes on The Human Body EP. More quotes on the Interviews 2006 page here
Interviews in alphabetical order: Comfort Comes, Knave Magazine, Skinny Mag, Stereo Effect.
Comfort Comes: Tom White: Well, I kind of thought, what with me and Alex going off and doing the Brakes record and coming back to the band anew, a lot of other people might be doing that as well, so I’m definitely looking at it as a kind of re-introduction. Musically it’s about as close to a perfect middle point between our previous two records as you could possibly imagine. To someone who’s never heard us before – Psyched-Out, Beat-Up, Real-Life, Non-Cynical, More-Chord-Changes-Than-Pete-Doherty-Could-Manage-In-A-F******-Lifetime….. and it rocks.
Knave Magazine: Quotes from an interview Tom posted on the Brakes message board, November 2005
K: Which bands made you want to make music?
TW: I guess when we were really young, like anyone, you just get hold of whatever your parents have got lying about the house – I have to say, The Beatles were probably the biggest influence on us for a good while, especially Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road… then, of course, you start reading the f****** NME!!!
K: You were very young when ‘Holes In The Wall’ came out, did the fame go to your heads?
TW: I think it confused us for a while, but it didn’t take us long to realise that it was all rather fleeting… you carry on making music, and people still love it as much as before, but I think the whole industry buzz thing belongs to new bands, and once that honeymoon period is over, as far as the press is concerned, it’s time to knuckle down and get on with making decent records.
K: What’s the best thing about being in a band?
TW: I have to say that, as some dude in some band, it’s been a f****** privilege to have got to travel the world – South Africa, Australia, Japan, New York, Europe – it kind of blows my mind thinking that I’ve been to more places than my folks!
K: Are any songs on the new EP going on the new album?
TW: Well, we’ve had our third album written and ready for about three years now, but what with all the shit that went down with our old label after the second record, I guess we kind of wanted to see if our skills were still up to scratch!! Also, we’re both advocates of songs being released as soon after they’re written as possible, and we had a chance to do that with Truck Records. To answer your question though, probably one or two, though the third album is rather sweet as it is!
K: Who influenced you on the new EP? The songs seem more epic. ‘Cold World’ is a lovely, catchy song. Is there an art to making the perfect pop song?
TW: I don’t think anything influenced us particularly on this EP. I definitely put a lot of time into orchestrating “Everybody Wants”, and I think that song achieves a kind of size, sound-wise, that we hadn’t reached before. As far as there being an art to writing pop songs, I think, as a writer, you’re either in one of two categories – writers who let the writing happen unconciously, and writers who force their work into a certain shape. I think by writing unconciously, you let influences in that you would perhaps sneer at, were you scrutinizing everything you write down, and, for me that is the key to writing something that truly reaches out to people.
K: Can you explain the artwork for the EP?
TW: All of the sketches on the sleeve are from an 1800’s medical journal that my friend Mervyn (who we design all of our sleeves with) had lying about his house. I was just looking for something that added to the meaning of the title, but also took it into a different, darker place.
K: Why did you call the new EP ‘The Human Body’?
TW: I just felt that human life has become a rather disposable thing in modern times. I’m not religious at all, but I guess I wanted to say to people that I think the human body is beautiful and, in a way, sacred, and that you can hide behind your faith or your f****** money or whatever dumb shit you think matters, but there is probably not anything more to life than this one.
K: You swap instruments a lot, which do you both enjoy playing the most?
TW: I guess, like most musicians, we both kinda like twatting a drumkit now and then!!
K: Do you write together or alone and is there any sibling rivalry?
TW: We generally write alone. For both of us, writing’s the hard part, and getting to a place where you can let yourself go and just write whatever comes is always tough, but when you do, it’s a huge release, and that’s when you write your best stuff. Sibling rivalry?? Are you kidding??!!!!
K: Do either of you suffer from stage fright?
TW: Actually, I find the smaller the show, the more nervous I get. Recently, we did a couple of tiny little acoustic shows, and I was nearly puking with nerves before the first one. Of course, supporting Oasis in front of 40,000 Mancunians was a doddle!
K: What would you be doing if you weren’t in a band?
TW: Probably studying art – that was the only thing, apart from music, that I was even vaguely attracted to at school.
Skinny Mag: Tom and Alex talked to The Skinny before their gig at Cabaret Voltaire.
‘The Human Body’ is your third release. What’s changed musically in the last two years since ‘The American Adventure’ came out?
Tom: I don’t know. I think the biggest change was between the first two records and ever since then I don’t think we’ve really achieved exactly what we set out to do with the second record. We really kind of wanted to get what we attempted on that record right. The EP’s kind of done that in terms of how we’re recording stuff. Seeing people’s reactions to those two records and how they are different, it should have worked in ways that it didn’t on our second record. I think the EP and the stuff we’ll be recording for our third album perhaps will be more what people were expecting on the second record, but you can never tell.
You are with Truck Records now, how have you found being on an independent label compared to BMG?
Tom: They are quite small even for an indie so they are not massively involved in the way a major would – certainly not in the way BMG would. They basically just let us get on with it and it’s all exactly how we wanted to do it.
Alex: Yes, we delivered the record – basically the artwork, the recording and the mastering, we did the whole thing really. We delivered it to the label and that’s what you’re supposed to do. We never did that with BMG because there were lots of other people involved.
Tom: We both did the EP art although we didn’t actually use our own artwork we used drawings from a medical journal on the sleeve.
Alex: Tom had this idea of using the human body and the connotations of using anatomy.
What were those connotations? Alex: For me it was about being factual and removed somewhat. Tom: I thought ‘The Human Body’ was a pretty strong title for the EP and I also didn’t want to name it after one of the songs, I wanted it to be a little bit more oblique than that.
If you had to describe the new EP as a colour or a shape what would that be? Tom: It’s probably like a white circle.
Is it a shit business? Tom: No, once you get out of the business it’s not shit business. Alex: It’s so easy to get sucked into thinking about money.
Do you feel less pressure with Truck records? Alex: Definitely – there is no pressure really, we create the pressure on ourselves before a show, and we don’t have anyone breathing down our neck to get things finished. We arranged the whole tour, there’s no agent or manager we are basically just doing it ourselves.
A few more quotes from this interview…
Tom: I don’t think how people see us could split us up, it would definitely come from us. What’s the point in making music just to be judged on it? You’ve got to be doing it for yourself. If it was shit for us, if it was unrewarding and we didn’t feel like we were breaking any new ground, we wouldn’t bother.
Alex: We feel like we’re making important music – it’s not like we haven’t thought about it or made sure it’s got a high quality because that’s how we like to make records.
Stereo Effect: interview with Tom.
They tell us ESP produce their own records, do their own artwork and that Tom sings all the vocals on the EP of which they say: “…unabashed pop-madness, set to befuddle (and hopefully inspire) its audience once more”
Tom: It still confuses the f*** out of me, trying to define the kind of music we play! I guess at the moment, it’s trying to emulate Robert Wyatt, Pet Shop Boys, Neu and the Mission of Burma all at once, though that’s no pigeon-hole…
Tom: Of course I love playing with Brakes and it’s some kind of release for both me and Alex, definitely, but I write my own songs, and that is where my creativity lies, personally… I think art that has no external influence, or isn’t made ‘more palatable’ generally comes from a more honest place and reaches somewhere deeper.
We always make sure the instruments are full takes that last the length of the song – something I’ve always believed to be impossible to replicate using Pro-Tools or any other tricks. Also, I think rock and roll, or whatever you want to call it, needs to be seen again as an unquantifiable thing – too many bands dress up or record in a way that ends up “explaining” the song or idea they’re trying to play too explicitly, not just presenting it, naked, to an audience.
Stereo Effect: Do you feel your music progresses? What’s the difference between your music now and when you started?
Tom: The individual parts are certainly more complex than before, and I think our vocals are stronger now than on either of the previous albums, but the overriding feeling for me is that, more and more, we are able to compact our ideas into songs in a much more refined way, rather than just throwing stuff together.
Stereo Effect: I believe you have a massive backlog of releasable material, how did you choose the track-listing for this EP?
Tom: Like everything else we’ve put out over the years, you just look at what songs you’ve got ready to go at the time, what ideas for a sleeve you’ve got knocking about – it’s not as if you’re writing a novel. I guess we always just seem to have songs lying about at the right time.
Stereo Effect: Certain songs on here sound like they could be massive chart successes (Cold World, Kick In The Teeth) are you aiming to climb back to the top of ‘the market’? What are your aspirations now, having had such a large amount of success so early on? What do you think looking back on your past, and how does it affect what you want to achieve?
Tom: I think once you’ve been on a major, it’s very hard to give a shit about any of that stuff. The way you’re kind of offered this success and money as if they’re the things that matter here, we were naive to think that it was the right place for us, and we were wrong. Right now I’m just loving the fact that Brakes has kind of taken our minds off things whilst going through a bad couple of years, yet as soon as we went into the studio to have a go at some new stuff this September, we boshed out the best thing we’ve done so far, in five days!!