Clark Kent a.k.a John Clay has a tendency to conduct interviews on camera, however, sometimes conducts them via a Facebook thread instead. And here are his recent conversations with Lucie Barat and the Au Revoirs and revered indie two piece The Banquet Years.
LUCIE BARAT AND THE AU REVOIRS
John Clay: OK, ready for your first question? 1) Do you feel the cheapening of pop music and thus the derision of it is down to any social economic factors? How do these factors affect your band? Yeah man, we’re getting deep on this shit.
Lucie Barât: Wow… I should point out at this juncture that I had a fairly heavy night last night. I don’t think social economics should effect the quality of music though…
JC: Care to add to that Paul? Perhaps point out said factors for the readers?
Paul Coleman: Sorry for the delay! Well, sadly I don’t really understand the question but I’m happy to hold yours and Lucie’s coats while you grown-ups talk?
JC: It’s a bit of a head scratcher, but yeah, people have less money, there is an ever pervasive feeling of ‘everything’s been done’, and with music being freely available online musicians find it harder to make a living. Do these factors affect the band in anyway?
LB: We’re all Del Boys at heart – been in the game for years scratching about. It’s always been hard to make cash really unless you get a bumper deal but then you’re in the press machine becoming a human brand and then there’s more to think about than just the music. We just make stuff that sounds interesting and relevant to us and hope it might affect other people in the same way. If we make money from our songs, well, that’s good as studios are freaking expensive!
JC: Ha! On the subject of branding, do you think there is anyway of escaping the branding aspect once a band accrues a certain level of exposure? Andrew, share your thoughts?
AW: Yeah I suppose it’s very useful to have that recognisable brand to get behind. But by no means mandatory, that’s just marketing.
As much as we may dislike labels and pigeonholes, you do need them if you want to sell the thing.
JC: With so many distractions, having a brand might be seen by labels as a must. Perhaps the trick is to own a vibe/look that doesn’t feel spiritually cumbersome? Paul?
PC: The better the brand, the more people will be willing to invest in you. The music, however, has to remain credible, otherwise the brand would be pretty much worthless eventually.·
JC: Excellent answer Paul. Congrats on your last gig playing alongside Lois and the Love! What was the name of that new track, and is the stutter/heavy bit that bookends the tune a nod to more rocky future?
LB: The new song is unfinished, we shouldn’t really have played it. We’re fond of the odd heavier mid 8 or breakout section but really we’re not a rocky band. More rock n roll (with bollox as Cammy would add) we’ll be back to the drawing board with that one I think! It was an old riff that’s been knocking about for ages. One of those songs that’s had to be worked at rather than writing itself. The best ones write themselves…
JC: I loved it! Lovely to see a band stray from their set! Do you feel it’s hard to find gigs with similar sounding bands? Your stuff is so original. Dare I say, Indie Funk? Jesus … slap me in the face for that one. Just come on over and slap me.
LB: Angsty indie funk! I’m partial to a bit of funk and soul. I like the heaviness of the new song, it’s the chorus melody that’s bugging me… But I guess that’s more a rehearsal room discussion yeah. We get put with a lot of indie rock but we’re not as rock as that. Doesn’t bother us though, we’ll play with anyone good and friendly.
JC: Cool! OK, penultimate question. recently I’ve been musing about the cliquey nature of guitar band gigs. My theory is that bands seem to have a lone wolf mentality, whereas Hip Hop/dance artists don’t. On a typical Hip Hop album you get tons of featured artists … this sends out a signal to beginning artists that it’s all about a collective mentality. Look at the majority of many a rock album. Just look at the track listing. Should we be surprised at the flakiness of gig goers when they leave after the bands they’ve come to see have finished their set? I’ve been guilty of this myself, but it’s not a routine happening on my part. Many others have what I call the ‘football club’ mentality – a blind loyalty which seems to permeate the atmosphere of an event. Question/rant over. Discuss!
LB: We’ve tried, with our night, to get something inclusive going with bands just think you’re a promoter – not many of them really got what we were going for. We recommended white room and Lois to Zach for the Nambucca night because we have played with them before and liked them/wanted to play with them again. I think if you get used to seeing a couple of bands together you definetly share the love, it’s a night out isn’t it and a scene… But you can’t force a scene. And there are SO many bands out there.
JC: You’re right, no forcing ever works. Best to trust in a few that have your back and actively take advantage of social networks and vids that parade that kinship. That’s my enduring philosophy anyway. I like the fact that you guys promote other bands the way you do! One last question, but I’d like to hear answers from the others first (somebody pass the question along to Cammy, fuck it – I’m involving him)! Last question: Which bands motivate and inspire you on the scene at the moment?
LB: From Cam – At the moment I like bands that are doing something unusual like Everything Everything… Bands that still take their influences from a wide range of music and bands from the past. To be honest, I don’t really listen to new music but out of the bands we’ve performed alongside I would rate Lois and the Love very highly – good musicians and performers. Very entertaining. Also White Room – they are a talented bunch of young lads, it would be a shame if they didn’t get a shot. I think somebody’s gonna nab them…
JC: Thanks Cammy! Lovely talking to you guys!
Video for ‘Fallen’ will be released on 17th July (exclusive preview via God is in the TV).
Watch Clark Kent interrogate the band on Clark Kent’s Rock and Roll Revue here:
John Clay: O.K, here we go …
Hey Arthur, Mark! It’s been ages since I saw you live. Are you still a two piece, or has the line-up expanded?
Arthur Schipper: Hey John! Thank you for having us. It’s always really great to talk to you. Yes, we are currently still a two piece, though we’ve been collaborating with other musicians both live and in recordings since you saw us live last. We’re a two piece to the core, but love working with other musicians and artists whenever the opportunity arises and when there is chemistry.
JC: Who played the drums on the new single? I take it you played all the guitars Arthur?
Mark Watt: If you are referring to ‘Timbuktu’ that’s Rodrigo Young, he was in the band from the early days, he played drums in most of the gigs we played in London.
AS: Mark plays the drums and pads on AZRAEL which we released before that a few months ago. Yes, I played all the guitars on TIMBUKTU and AZRAEL, except bass guitar, which is also Mark.
JC: Excellent. What’s TIMBUKTU all about?
MW: I sometimes put some cheeky guitar tracks into the recordings, but I don’t tell anybody haha!
JC: Tell me about the message behind the song, it certainly sounds heartfelt.
AS: TIMBUKTU is about a lot of things! It’s most literally about starting a band and going on a beautiful journey with others through the power of art and music. But it’s more generally about overcoming resignation and submission, and taking one’s destiny into one’s own hands through art and music. I think that’s what a band is all about. It’s about creating beauty with others, and going on a journey together, bringing along as many people as possible along on the journey, and reaching great heights together.
JC: That’s great to know, as I’ve met a number of bands who aren’t interested in the journey, just the golden arches of some money stuffed destination. Penultimate question: Mark, seeing as Arthur is out of the country for some time, it would be great to get a vid interview sewn up. We can do parts 2 and 3 with Arthur upon his return to the U.K.
AS: Yeh, that’s a really interesting point. I can’t really speak for other bands, but for us, art, artistic integrity, and the sincerity required of honest artistic toil come first. I don’t think one can connect with people in the way that music is supposed to and has the potential to if artists don’t prioritise that journey over these other considerations – real wealth comes with creating something beautiful, whether or not it’s also massively commercial. Perhaps more personally and fundamentally, I think that if a band thinks about those golden arches first (or solely), then they can get lost and stuck in that place of resignation and submission I was talking about, even if they hit some sort of success in those money terms. The creative spirit is a delicate thing. One must nurture it and help it flourish. And what feeds these spirits is, as I said, quite individual. Some creative spirits feed off of dreams of extreme luxury (which it seems to me are rather unrealistic dreams nowadays). Ours feed off of many other things – though we welcome everyone and anything at our banquet table! Especially in hard times (financially, emotionally, etc.), it is imperative and so important to try to fill that table with all the riches that life has to offer – much of life is beautiful, fun, and fulfilling, and it is to be enjoyed both individually and communally. I guess that is one of the take-home messages of the song and the band.
JC: I concur! When’s your album coming out?
AS: Well, the album which is entitled ‘Vortex’ has been available to buy digitally for a couple of months already. But the physical, proper release is hopefully sometime in August. It’ll come out on CD, but ideally, also on vinyl and cassette tape, which is my personal favourite medium. It’s going to sound really great on vinyl and the artwork makes it a truly beautiful object to have. As well as the music, we’re really proud of the artwork which is done by us in collaboration with some great artists (e.g., the American abstract painter Benjamin Pritchard, Welsh designer Ami Powles, LA-based photographer Samantha West). But the physical release, in any form, is contingent upon the album selling enough copies digitally (all the sales go straight back into the music, artwork, and things like printing out the vinyl, which requires investment that we don’t have at the moment). We don’t want to push the release back any further than August though. We need people and fans to help support us and our mission by buying the album digitally first and helping us spread the word, before we can release it the way it’s meant to be released. Sadly, it’s impossible to afford otherwise.
JC: Well, ‘TIMBUKTU’ is pretty damn good and you guys have a tenacious way about you – that’s for sure! Thank you for your time fellas. And for those reading this, press play on the video below. Get into The Banquet Years!
Clark Kent a.k.a John Clay is a writer and oft reviewer of underground bands based in London and sometimes, further afield. He plays guitar and sings backing vocals in Maxine and the Minions and also currently co-manages the punk rock band B Movie Thieves. He’s probably listening to their new E.P ‘Deal With It’ right now. The rumour of his two hour sleeping regime doggedly persists him, although he has not attempted any clarification of said hearsay.
Pics of Lucie Barat and the Au Revoirs by Simon Sarin
Pics of The Banquet Years deserves this blurb:
Photos by Laura Watt Photography and Samantha West Photography; Painting by Ben Pritchard; Design by The Banquet Years