Hope of the States
Interview by Sheraz Qureshi
"A band formed a good few years back, their
birthplace of Chichester may not equate in your eyes to the spawning-ground
of legends, but if one thing is set to be achieved from the 'States
all-encompassing greatness - it's that prior-laid conventions are set
to be dutifully crushed... they are one of the UK's most daringly avant-garde
cum post-rock alt-forces" Drowned in Sound
How did you all meet each other?
We are from all around, me Sam and Ant used to drink in the Same pubs
in Chichester, we got Mike through an advert, Paul used to be in a band
with Sam when they were teenagers, and little Mike was a friend of mine
from university-he brings a certain Essex-ness!
I've read that the band were named after a 1930s paper on the state
of the mental health system in the US, but what was it about that paper
that led to you deciding to adopt its title as the band's name?
It all sounds like a very pompous name but at the end of the day it
just sounded cool. When we started there were lots of 'The' bands and
we just wanted to be as far away from that as possible.
I have to ask this because this fanzine was originally inspired by
the Manics. What was it like supporting the Manic Street Preachers last
year, did you get to talk to them much, and are you fans of the band?
They were brilliant and really nice guys. It's pretty scary supporting
the Manics as their support bands go down notoriously badly, but we
seemed to go down really well and they said we had the best response
for a support band ever. I guess we have similar ideals or a similar
outlook musically, so I guess their fans can connect with that. They
are really nice guys actually, and have said some really nice things
about us. I respect them greatly.
What was it that led to the band moving away from post rock?
I don't think we were ever as post rock or as pompous as people thought.
We may have taken some of the sonic from those bands but underneath
it all there was always a song, and maybe we have just found more of
a focus on that. We could make albums of Black Dollar Bills type songs
forever but you have to progress.... I guess it is just about things
not seeming stale to us- we get bored too easily!
Looking back on the lost riots is there anything that you wish (from
an artistic perspective and from a promotional perspective) was done
There will always be things in retrospect that you would change about
a record, but that will never change. I am very proud of The Lost Riots
and it was a real snapshot of us at that time.... it felt like we were
not a part of any movement at the time and looking back on it I realise
how far out we were!
Can you tell us about the title track to the new EP? What is the song
Blood Meridian about?
Blood Meridian is a pretty important song for the album... when we did
our demos in a barn last year it was the song where all of our ideas
come together, and kind of gave us an idea and a direction for the album.
Its about lots of things really, like our songs always are...largely
it is about us.
Why was it released in such small quantities and on vinyl only?
We have been away for a hell of a long time, and we don't really know
where that time went! We just thought it would be nice not to throw
our first new song in 2 years in peoples faces, kind of build it up
again. As for the vinyl- we just thought it would be a nice little collectable
for the fans thats all.
I read an interview in the fly, and in it, you said that some of
the tracks on the new album contain five or six guitar parts. I may
be naïve to ask this, but is it going to be a problem to recreate
We tend not to think about live until we get there. There are 5 or 6
guitar parts on some songs but you can kind of pull it apart in rehearsal
and find the most important ones- the ones that get across the right
feel of the song. I think we have always gone into gigs with the idea
that it doesn't have to be the same as the record, it's quite fun for
us to interpret the songs in a different way.
Why is the new album called 'Left'?
On the first record we didn't name it until the day before the deadline
- we just thought that we would try and get a bit ahead this time and
I think we had this title about 6 months before we finished the record.
It just seemed to fit... it kind of picked up on the sharpness and directness
of the record - it just felt right.
From a lyrical perspective, what are the main themes that the new
album deals with?
On the first album every songs had ten different themes, although the
themes were carried through the whole album. The new record probably
has about 5 different themes in every song. I guess in a way they are
much more personal, they are about us and about our friendship and about
being in this band.
Can we expect anything as direct as the red, the white, the black
and the blue?
Yeah.... we kind of focussed in on this record - tried to remove anything
that didn't have a reason. I think there are only a couple of songs
on the whole record that are over 5 minutes, and they needed to be that
long - a lot of the new tracks don't. We even have a track with Jesus
& Mary Chain drums that is just over 2 minutes of spit and bile.
Would you be able to talk about some of the influences that have
been fed into this second album, whether its experiences youve had,
literary influences, films, anything?
I don't know what Sam was reading at the time, but there
were a few bands that some of the band were listening to that may have
had an effect. I was listening to a lot of Mary Chain and Dinosaur Jr,
but as a group we were listening to a lot of Dylan and early New Order
(it's not great but Movement sounds like a band in transition). We listen
to lots of stuff really, I guess it all has an effect... there is a
part where Ant tries to make his guitar sound like Squarepusher! As
for films... we watched Warriors a lot - its a 70's gang movie, we want
that New York street gang mentality.
I love the type 2 error supplied visuals. Are there any plans to
include some of the video projections used during the live shows as
an extra with the new album itself?
None of the new album actually has visuals yet - we didn't really want
to go on the first tour and hide under them and we just thought it was
time to stand on our own two feet! Loads of people I met said we didn't
need them anymore... having said that we will probably have some new
ones by the next tour. As for the album - there is gonna be a half hour
film of us over the last couple of years that will be included... we
soundtracked the whole thing the other day with some new tracks - it's
looking pretty good!
Which bands do you feel a particular affinity with?
There are bands I like and bands who I am friends with, but I kind of
like the feeling of being a little bit out there on our own.... it feels
a bit safer.
A lot has been written about The Libertines and the extent to which
they interacted with their fans, but in many ways - through things like
the dust rackets and the fugitive and refugee nights, the relationship
that you have with your fans is even closer, my question is - what's
it like having such a loyal and hardcore fanbase, what does it mean
to you, and why do you think they have connected to your music in such
a passionate way?
It is great to think that people care so much... We never grew up wanting
to be 'rock stars'- it still feels weird to me that people buy our records
let alone care so much! I guess it is the idea that people can feel
part of this with us, they can feel that this affects them. Musically
we have always talked of friendships and being close to the people around
you, I guess people have connected with that and maybe the passion that
we try to put across.
What have been the highlights of being in the band so far, and what
do you feel you have left to achieve?
I think the greatest part of being in the band has been the touring....
it was great touring America. The last date of the tour was in New York
and we played to 1500 people - it was an amazing experience to feel
that you could play to that many people outside of the UK. Japan was
pretty amazing too... you can be in any band and you get 'The Beatles
walking of the plane' kind of feel. Its weird but I guess you have to
experience it at least once!
We have loads left to achieve.... I think as a band we have a great
position to evolve from - I never want anyone to know what our next
album is gonna sound like... keep people guessing.
And I think this will be a good question to end on, what gives you
The hope that one day they will change the fuses in my flat so I don't
spend half my time sat in the dark
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