1. In a
recent interview, when discussing the current state of The Music Industry,
Morrissey was quoted as saying, "There aren't many bands who are
unique." Do you agree with his comments / did you feel this way
before forming The Long Blondes?
"Yeah, that was definitely one of the reasons why we formed! But,
I do think that there's more going on in music now, than there was 3
or 4 years ago. Because when we first started, there was nothing particularly
in Sheffield that we were really into - apart from one band called Pink
Grease, who sort of inspired us to start as well! They were the only
band that me, Dorian and Emma, used to go and watch. Because we all
used to DJ and we'd play records like Blondie and Roxy Music, but there
were no bands like that, who we wanted to go and see. So we thought,
"Well we may as well just start a band for ourselves" - the
sort of band that would interest us, and the sort of thing that would
entertain us, and a gig that we would actually want to go out and spend
money on! But as I said, there are a lot more unique bands now, and
there's more and more coming out all of the time. Even though they've
just had the NME cover, I do really like The Horrors, I think they're
really cool - they've got that Nick Cave thing going on! And the Klaxons
are good as well, we're playing with them in York next week (smiling)."
2. The Arctic Monkeys' I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, has
just been voted as "The Greatest Student Anthem Of All Time"
in a poll run by the NME - but which song best reminds you of your days
as a student?
"Um (thinking), a student one is difficult - it's probably easier
to say one from my teenage years, which would definitely be Disco 2000
by Pulp! I used to go out to the Chicago Rock Café in Bury St.
Edmonds with all of my friends, and that was the song that we had all
of these dance moves to, and we'd sing to each other (smiling)! It was
1995 at the time, and 2000 just seemed like a million miles away. Because
you know when you're young, a year is such a long time, but now, it
goes so quickly (laughing), it's terrifying - I can't believe that was
actually over 10 years ago!"
3. Is it heartening for you, to think that your songs, will now become
a part of the soundtrack to many peoples' lives?
"That is like, THE BEST REASON for ever being in a band! If we
can do what Pulp and Suede and Elastica did for me, when I was a teenager
- if we can appeal to people and mean something to their lives like
that, and become kind of a soundtrack to their growing up (pausing).
A lot of our songs are aimed directly at speaking to a teenage audience
I guess? Or, people who are going through the changes that come with
(pausing), you go through so many different changes between the ages
of 15 - 25, and we've just kind of been through that and come out the
other side, so a lot of our songs are really aimed at those people.
So yeah, totally, that's another reason why we do it (smiling)!"
4. The Long Blondes share a genuine love of music, and certainly
seem to have that 'last-gang-in-town' mentality. Is it fair to say that
you're all kindred spirits?
"Yeah (laughing)! I think all of the bands that we admire and love,
have always looked like proper bands - they've always been mates who've
just formed, because they like music, and they have that gang mentality
/ gang feel about them. Bands like The Smiths - they look like a gang!
Pulp - they look like a gang! They obviously weren't musicians, they
just formed because they were friends from the City, and they were a
little bit bored (pausing), the Arctic Monkeys - apart from kicking
the bassist out (laughing)! But that was the reason that I kind of liked
them, because they looked like this gang of scallies (laughing), and
everybody wanted to run away and follow them! They've got such a young
fanbase, and that's obviously why. But, we're just 5 friends - we weren't
musicians and we didn't know how to play - we started because we were
sick of doing these temping jobs, when we finished University. So doing
the band, seemed like a really good, fun and creative option as a hobby
for ourselves. We never thought that it would lead to this! So I think
that's kind of where the gang thing comes from as well, because we would
have gone out and hung around together, and still dressed the same and
still looked the same, even if we weren't in a band (laughing)!"
5. Continuing with this train of thought, you used to work in a Vintage
Clothes Boutique in Sheffield, and are renowned for your cool style
and fashion sense. But who for you, have been some of the sharpest dressed
bands and artists over the past few decades?
"Thank You (smiling)! Suede. Pulp, again (laughing) - I always
talk about them in interviews, I must stop (laughing)! Um (thinking),
The Strokes always look pretty good, I do like them. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
look pretty good as well - but there hasn't really been a stylish British
band though, for a long time, and I think that that's a kind of hole
that we want to try and fill a little bit. If we can (laughing)."
6. As a Sheffield band, you said that you "feel a kinship with
The Steel City" and in many ways, you've now become torchbearers
for its musical future, by continuing the lineage left by great Sheffield
acts in the past, such as Pulp. What was it like meeting Jarvis Cocker
at the 2006 NME Awards?
"Terrifying (laughing) - he was really nice though! We went backstage
afterwards, and we all had our photographs taken with the Kaiser Chiefs
and The Cribs, and Jarvis was supposed to be in the middle as some kind
of 'Godfather of the Yorkshire Scene'. But, I had never spoken to him
before, and I was just standing next to him, and in the photograph you
can see that I'm looking up to him in awe (laughing)! I mean we still
hadn't spoken, and then afterwards, he just turned around and looked
at me, and offered me a menthol cigarette (laughing). It was one of
the greatest moments in my life (laughing)!"
*I say to Kate, that The Long Blondes are now labelmates with Jarvis*
"Yeah, we are (smiling)! Hopefully, we'll get to play together
before the end of the year as well. I know he's doing a run of dates
and it's been suggested, but we don't know for sure yet. Maybe, fingers
7. You want to write what you call "classic pop songs,"
and "at the very centre of the band, is your writing partnership
with Dorian, which conjures up ambiguity in the gap between male and
female perspectives." But what are your lyrical inspirations and
is writing a cathartic process for you?
"Yeah, definitely, but it's actually Dorian who writes most of
the lyrics. I mean we both write, but because Dorian's the songwriter,
he sort of does both in tandem, and then he'll bring them to the rehearsal
room and I'll scan them and do the melody and stuff. But if he doesn't
have lyrics for a song, then he'll give me the bare bones of it, and
I'll do the structure and the lyrics. So, there's 2 very distinct ways
in which we write, but I know that his influences are kind of similar
to mine anyway. Obviously there's the musical side, which I've already
talked about - enough (laughing)! He's also inspired by '60s British
Film and Books - he really loves Alfred Hitchcock films, and so do I
- the song Appropriation (By Any Other Name), is directly inspired by
the film Vertigo. There's just lots of different things really. I mean
there's lots of literary references in the songs, like with my song
Madame Ray, which is about a relationship between the photographer Lee
Miller and Madame Ray - she was Man Ray's assistant in Paris for a while,
and they referred to her as Madame Ray. So that's where that comes from.
She's one of my heroines, because she was a really strong woman and
she seemed to lead loads of different lives - she was a model and she
was very stylish, but she was also very intelligent and driven, and
I greatly admire that (smiling)!"
8. Can you remember where you were, and how you felt, when you first
heard one of your songs on the radio?
"Ooh (long pause + thinking). No (laughing)! I'm just trying to
think? Jesus (laughing)! I think it was probably listening back to the
Steve Lamacq session that we'd done - listening back to it in the van,
petrified, incase any of us hit a bum note, which obviously we did you
know (laughing)? So, it was more of a nerve-wracking experience than
a fun one. Sometimes, when I'm in Topshop, our video will come on and
that's always a bit weird (laughing). I was with my mother in Topshop
in Oxford Street, and our video came on, and she was like jumping-up-and-down
and going to the woman behind the counter, "That's my daughter
- that's her over there" (laughing)! So she gets really excited
about it, but I'm more like (pausing), it's a little bit weird and embarrassing."
9. The Long Blondes adore films, and I remember reading a review
once which said, "Their songs combine kitchen sink drama with flamboyant
movie star escapism." If you could have starred in any film, which
one would it have been?
"Wild At Heart by David Lynch (without any hesitation)! I want
to be Lula (laughing), I mean she's great and she gets to kiss Nicolas
Cage, which is a bonus (smiling)! It's all set in Midwest America, and
they go on this road trip to Louisiana, and they meet all of these weird
people along the way. I always fantasise about doing something like
that (pausing), in fact, me and my boyfriend are going to drive to Nashville
in November (smiling)! So yeah, I'll say Wild At Heart, because it's
so cool and stylish (smiling)!"
10. On a similar note, if you could join any other band for just one
night, who would it be?
"Does it have to be a current band?"
*I say no, that it can be any band in the history of popular music*
"Um (thinking), there's so many that I wouldn't mind joining for
one night - it's a really difficult question. Um (long pause + thinking)
- I can't imagine being in another band though, do you know what I mean?
It's really difficult to think where I'd fit in? I would've loved to
have been Nancy Sinatra and sung with Lee Hazelwood, but no one could
do that better than Nancy did. I suppose if I could have been in another
band, or at least been a fly-on-the-wall and seen a band, I would've
liked to have seen Guns N' Roses (laughing)!"
11. What posters did you have on your bedroom walls as you were growing
"Again, Guns N' Roses (laughing), Madonna and Led Zeppelin! Then,
I tore them all down and replaced them with Suede, Pulp and Elastica
- and that sort of stayed forever really (laughing)! It was listening
to the first Suede album that really kind of changed everything for
me, and in my opinion, that's still one of the best debut albums ever
made! But, it did go pretty shit for them towards the end - and The
Tears, I just didn't even want to hear that album, because I knew it
wouldn't be a patch on Suede."
12. You recorded your debut album with Steve Mackey, and although
his production has given your songs more of a fully formed, well-crafted
pop sheen, they still retain the new wave edginess of your early recordings
- was this important to you?
"Very much so, yeah, that's exactly what we wanted to do! And Steve
really understood that, because he's obviously come from a band background,
and he was in Pulp for 11 years. So he knew where we were coming from
in that respect, but he's also been like a pop producer - he did the
M.I.A. record, so we knew that he'd be able to bring that high level
of production to the songs, without losing any of their character. Because
we didn't want to just completely change (pausing), I mean a lot of
our early recordings are quite um (pausing), basic (laughing)! We didn't
have the money or the means, we just did them all in an evening after
work - most of them - in a small recording studio in Sheffield, with
a guy called Alan Smythe, who's an engineer. So that's why they all
sound (pausing), they've got a lot of character and people like that
about us! All of those 7" singles capture exactly where we were,
and what stage we were at musically at the time, and we wanted the album
to reflect that you know? We want the album to show where we are now
and how we've moved on, but also to still keep the essence of what those
songs sounded like, when they were actually written and what they meant
to us. Hopefully, it has done that (smiling)!"
13. Like the best bands, your b-sides are also of a consistently
high standard - is this partly to reward loyal fans who buy all of your
"Yeah and I think again, that that's coming from us being music
fans ourselves. Because when you buy a single, you don't just want there
to be a live version or a remix on the b-side, you want it to be a totally
new song, that nobody else has heard and nobody else has got, and it's
not on the album. I think it's important not to have b-sides on the
album - although we've put Lust In The Movies on there, but, it HAD
to be on there you know, because its become a live favourite! But, for
the most part, I really, really like bands who do unique singles, like
Suede did you know? Stay Together was never on any album before the
Singles compilation, and it's just such a beautiful and incredible song
- the full-length version is amazing! They used to release 12"s,
as well as the CDs and 7"s, which no one really does anymore, and
one of the b-sides on a 12" vinyl would be a song like High Rising
- which is from So Young and is just incredible! To The Birds as well,
which is a b-side on The Drowners. But those songs and those formats,
are exactly the kind of thing that we want to do with our b-sides. Unfortunately
now, because of the way The Music Industry works, you have to release
3 separate formats, so you can never have all of the b-sides together
in 1 place, which is a real shame I think, and I know people would like
to have that. But, it's just sort of a cost thing and you have to do
what they tell you (laughing)."
*I mention that I heard a radio interview with the Manic Street Preachers
in 2003 - where James and Nicky were discussing their b-sides compilation,
Lipstick Traces, and Nicky stated, "I think it's a great British
trait, because when we were asked to compile our own favourite b-sides,
I thought of all my favourite American bands, and they just don't do
"Yeah, like The Strokes for example, they often only have live
songs or demos of album tracks. It's ok, but you're kind of cheating
your record buying audience if you do that. The 7" single as a
format (pausing), it's coming back a bit now, but not everyone has got
a record player, so for the people who do want to go out and actually
buy 7" singles, it's worth giving them something else. It's very
fan-orientated that opinion, and that's what we're all about (smiling)!"
14. Judging by The Long Blondes own record sleeves, I would imagine
that you're all avid record collectors yourselves, and also appreciate
their aesthetic appeal?
"Absolutely, absolutely (smiling)! And again, I don't think there's
been a band for some years, that has really thought about the b-sides,
the artwork, the video, the image, the style and the music, as one whole
presentation of what the band is about, and what the idea of the band
is about! It's like giving your fans a fantasy world to escape in to,
that you can only associate with The Long Blondes."
*I say that I once read a critique of The Smiths and their music, which
considered how they "created a whole world / subculture for their
fans to inhabit: one populated by depressive teens, poets and cultural
"Definitely, and Suede did it really, really well too (pausing),
sorry for going on about Suede (laughing), but they did do that really,
really well and so did Pulp! Pulp had this glamorous representation,
or seedy glamour I guess, of what Sheffield was, which is kind of why
I went to Sheffield in the first place. Because I listened to the words
and had this idea of what it would be like, but, it's not like that
at all (laughing) - so we created our own fantasy world instead (laughing)!"
*I tell Kate that I really love her paintings, and also ask her how
long she's been painting for / if The Long Blondes artwork is typical
of her style*
"Ahh, Thank You (smiling)! I've been painting forever - I did A-levels,
but the paintings on our sleeves, have been developing while we've been
doing the band really. I really love painting the 7" single covers,
because I think the more you think about that as a size limitation -
that you have to work within that format - then you start thinking about
what works on a graphic level. But also, I really like old '50s film
posters and pulp fiction novel covers, and that's where a lot of my
inspiration for the paintings comes from. So I'll take images of film
stars like Diana Doors and Faye Dunaway, and then I'll paint them in
the style of old film posters or book covers, but also try and remove
them from that context, and put them in a more modern space. Like with
the album cover, I've got Faye Dunaway, but she's leaning up against
a Ford Cortina, so it's really out-of-synch (pausing), that image of
her is from Bonnie And Clyde, so she would have been leaning against
a 1934 Ford Fordor. But I've put her dramatically into the future!"
*I mention that I also really love the band's logo, and that its retro
feel, reminds me of the old Top of the Pops logo*
"Yeah, yeah (smiling)! I didn't do that though, Matt Bolton from
The Sugars designed it. It looks nice - it's cool (smiling)!"
15. Interestingly, some music insiders believe that the importance of
albums may diminish in the future, due to the increasing popularity
of downloading specific songs. Do you think this is feasible?
"Um, I don't know? I think downloading and the Internet is a really
good thing, I mean it's a very positive thing for bands, as it makes
you incredibly accessible, so you can reach a much, much wider audience,
than you would necessarily otherwise do. So that's a good thing! But,
it probably ruins the whole tracklisting (pausing), I mean we spent
a lot of time thinking about the tracklisting, and the running order
of our record, but I know that some people may only download the songs
that they like, say 4 songs, and not the whole album. So yeah, it kind
of defeats the object - but if they want to do that, then that's fine.
But hopefully, we'll have enough of a fanbase that really gets us, and
gets what we're trying to do, and will want to buy the record and have
it exactly as we intended it to be. I'm sure there'll always be people
who want to have that as an object, and I think we're one of those bands
that will attract that kind of fan anyway (smiling)!"
16. Siding with tangible records, what's the one LP that everyone
"Cowboy In Sweden, by Lee Hazelwood - definitely! It's my favourite
17. When playing live, do you feel a synergy between the band and
"Sometimes, it really depends (pausing), I mean this tour has actually
been amazing! 99% of the shows that we've played, the crowds have been
so up for it and it makes a massive difference to how you feel on stage.
If you see people singing the words back to you and dancing around at
the front, then that makes me dance, it makes Dorian move - we all just
feel so much better about the gig, if people are up for it (smiling)!
You do get the odd cynical crowd I suppose, people who are just there
out of curiosity, who've maybe seen us in the NME and say, "Let's
go and see what this bunch of poseurs have got to say for themselves."
Not everyone's going to like it and not everyone's going to get it,
but you know, that doesn't matter. If we play a gig, and like 2 people
go away and they buy the record, then that's great (laughing)!"
*I say to Kate that I think it will be a lot more than that*
"I'm sure it will too (laughing)
I hope so (laughing)!"
18. What would be your dream gig, if you could choose 1 headline
band and 2 support acts?
"Whoa (laughing) - you keep asking me these difficult questions
(laughing)! The headline band would be (pausing), I guess, um (thinking),
Jesus, it's really, really hard (laughing)! Um (long pause + thinking),
headlining: Roxy Music - as they were in the late '70s. Us as the main
support maybe (pausing), actually, I wouldn't put us as the main support,
I would probably put another band as main support (thinking), someone
like the Shocking Blue. Then us, and then The 1990s - we're on tour
with them now and we just love them (gushing)! They're my favourite
band in the UK at the moment, they're absolutely amazing!"
19. You've now played shows in the UK, Europe and the USA - but have
there been any particularly memorable places for you?
"I loved going to New York - we played there in June this year,
but we also played there in June 2005. That was like the first time
we'd really kind of been away for a while, just the 5 of us together,
and it was so exciting to go somewhere like New York (smiling)! None
of us had ever been there before, and we really felt like we were kind
of stepping in to the unknown, and we didn't know how people were going
to react to it - but we sold out every show! People knew who we were,
they knew the songs and (pausing), I met my boyfriend (laughing)! So,
that was a really big thing for me (smiling)! I think that was kind
of the moment, where all of us just stepped up a gear with it as well,
and everybody realised it WAS actually going somewhere, and we DID stand
a chance of getting signed, and we were a really good band! So, everybody
just started putting a 100% effort into it, whereas before, it was still
kind of like, "Well, maybe I'll go to Art School and do something
else?" Reenie was thinking that maybe she'd train to be a vet -
but then that was the moment I think, that kind of changed everyone's
minds and brought us all together, and made us think, "No, this
is what we're going to do with our lives (smiling)!"
20. For young musicians thinking of starting a group, what is the reality
of being in an unsigned band?
"It's loads and loads of hard work! I mean the reality is, you
can't just sit around in a practice room jamming for 4 hours, and get
wasted. If you do that, you'll never get anywhere, and that's not the
way to write songs you know? You need to be quite strict about it, and
if you've got a space hired, that's your money and that's your time,
and you've got to really, really, really practice hard, and, do as many
gigs as you possibly can
whilst working (laughing), which is what
we did! You know, I used to drive the van - I used to drive us up-and-down
the M1 to London, and we'd get back to Sheffield at 4 in the morning,
and then we'd all have to get up and go to work for 9am. So it was just
like leading a double life for 2-and-a-half-years. But it's worth it
21. Dorian said that "signing to Rough Trade Records, was a
fairytale ending for you all" - but what are your hopes for The
Long Blondes' future?
"More like a fairytale beginning (laughing)! Well, I really hope
that the record is well-received - it's out in 2 weeks time, so it's
quite a nerve-wracking period for us. Because we've obviously poured
our hearts and souls into doing this for the last 3-and-a-half years,
and now it's like judgement time! We have to wait and see what people
think of it, but I really hope that it's well-received and then next
year, we'll be touring a lot more, and hopefully, maybe doing like a
big support tour, and then our own tour again. Starting the second album.
Hopefully going to the States, Japan, Australia - just all those things
you know? But, I hope we can have a crossover effect to the mainstream,
to reach a wider audience. I mean we've never made a secret of the fact
that we want to be a big band, we want to just be the 5 of us, but be
as big as we possibly can - we're not going to change in anyway, but
hopefully people will like it! There aren't enough bands who have total
control over everything that they do, and Rough Trade's really good
for that - but most of the bands that do, are on Rough Trade (laughing),
do you know what I mean? So if we can have that mainstream success,
and still retain the essence of what The Long Blondes is, then that
will be our highest ambition (smiling)!"
22. Lastly, chips or cream buns?
"Cream buns (without any hesitation)!"
*I remark that most girls usually go for cream buns*
"Really (smiling)? It's terrible to be such a clichéd girl
A very special thanks to Kate,
Dorian, Emma, Reenie and Screech, to The Long Blondes' Tour Manager
Nik, and to Becky @ Darling Department, for all of their time and help.
You don't have to say you
love me just because you can
You don't have to stay forever, I've got other things to do
Dine out on it or keep it to yourself, just remember: try everything