A couple of rate interesting and timely little questions here…
Katy asks "1. What are your thoughts about playing some gigs recently 'for / to impress the industry' and having to plead with fans to come along and support you? Especially gigs when you clearly wern't over enthusiastic about having to drive alllll the way down to London to be there, (ie Barfly), but have to put on a great show to impress certain people..."
NOTE: If people are wondering what (we) are talking about, it’s no secret that for one reason and another we’ve been working hard to get our next record out on a label. The reasons for doing so and the differences between self-releasing and all that are all very interesting but that’s another discussion. Let’s just put it out there that our last few London shows have had some people from different labels and other industry people coming down and checking us out. At the end of the day, a show is still a show, so we’re giving everyone a proper go of it (so it shouldn’t really matter at all to someone in the crowd) but that’s one reason why we’ve been so adamant about people coming and showing support at the last few.
Well, first of all, we are always enthusiastic to do a gig and we enjoyed that gig and pretty much find a way to enjoy all the gigs we do one way or another. There was a lot of trouble with the PA at the particular gig you are talking about so maybe some of that came across but I thought everybody had a great time. Playing those kinds of things is actually really fun and different. We like a challenge. I was probably kidding to be honest!
My approach to this kind of stuff is really the same as it's always been in that 'it is what it is' is my general philosophy. As well as being a shallow hellhole full of crashing bores and egotistical bellhops, the music industry is a business with people in there that are doing a good job. There are certain hoops you've got to jump through and brass rings you have to grab if you want to have someone come and risk spending lots of money on promoting you. That’s the end of it. You don’t go to someone-else's house for dinner and tell them they have to take their shoes off because you do in yours. It doesn't work that way round. We've kept the whole thing relatively quiet but anyone that follows us closely could probably figure out what was going on with us over the last couple of months. If that can push people into caring about us and thinking further than their own concerns about us that's great, but they don’t have to. I never liked those bands that acted like the audience owes them something because they've got on a stage and played a gig. So we're going to try to get people attuned and into the idea that we're trying to find a new home for our record and consider where things are going without banging everybody over the head with it. We don't want to take anyone's support for granted and we don't think anyone owes us anything. The reason it’s taken a while is that we need it to be right and we thank everyone for being patient. But if you DO care then it's a cool time to sit up and get behind us at the moment, because we're really THAT CLOSE to make this thing happen.
Ahem… Get your tickets HERE ladies and gentlemen.
2. How sucsessful would you like to be? I went to see Frank Turner at the Hammersmith Apollo a few months back. I remeber seing him years ago, on his own, on a barstool, with an accoustic guitar and an audience of about 40. This was a seated, over 5,000 capacity venue, with chilren, families and middle-aged women screaming 'we love you', but a sea of blank faces when Against Me opened the show. It was weird. Would playing sell out arena shows make you guys happy?
I too have seen Frank Turner sat on a barstool in front of next to no one and have seen him at Reading Festival where you can't get in the tent. We've had You Me At Six play before us and have a nightmare gig where their guitar broke and now they're HUGE. You've got to look at that and be inspired, not envious. It's cool to see.
“Would playing sell-out arena shows make you guys happy?” This question is a bit like at the end of Spinal Tap and Marty Di Bergi asks Nigel Tufnell if he could be a shoe salesman. The answer; “I dunno, what are the hours?”
It really is too hard a question to answer. Without hesitation I would say that if pretty much any band acquired that amount of success to headline that kind of show it would be a cool experience, obviously. But it's the other things that would come with getting your music out there to so many people that would be most rewarding I reckon. Having that many people singing that they're proud to be living in a land where we have the right to be who we are would be amazing.
Even if you look at interviews with me from 2006 I've always said that we are not a band that would be against being huge as a concept but I didn't realistically think that what we were doing was all that marketable because it was too crazy by design. That wasn't what we were trying to create. As time's gone on, we've evolved as a band and people and over the last few years we’ve had to think about where we’re going with this. Now I see the band differently than I did a few years ago in this regard. The new album is, in my opinion, heavier and more powerful than the old stuff but I also think it’s also hopefully more accessible. There's no shame in that, there's a skill in that kind of writing. But of course, you can’t always please everyone and even now I’ve noticed mixed reactions online to the new stuff from old fans. But we've always had that. Reactions have been very positive by and large. It's always difficult judging off a single before you hear an album anyway. It’s funny to me because I’ve seen kids citing ‘Piggy In the Middle’ as a classic dissing ‘Kids’ for instance but, to me, the riff and middle 8 on kids is heavier than any jog on the spot saxophone ska-core thing could ever be. It’s a different kind of energy and I love that youthful ska-punk madness but to be a big stage to see people bouncing to a rock riff is a different rush. That groove is completely different to our old stuff and, to me, way more 'heavy'. I read a Tumblr review the other day of us live when someone who was doubtful said he really 'got' Kids when he saw it live. If anyone’s got the impression we’ve tried to go pop, well, wait for the album. The raw and raucous energy of 'Ruff Guide' is another man's crazy mess. It's subjective at the end of the day!
Thinking about the old fans watching from the arena and losing that connection, it's weird. A lot of the times over the last five years, I've felt like our real fans have stood by us but we've, at times, felt like battered wives to the punk scene because it was so good to us as people and a band growing up. After people complaining 'Arcade Perfect' was too poppy we made (and wanted to make!) 'City Of Thieves' which was our love-letter to punk and in my opinion, our best album. But the best, punkiest moments of that album were ignored by our fans and largely not appreciated by the punk scene. In fact, all the kids that had loved Ruff Guide as teenagers and then got older didn't like 'City Of Thieves' but I have no idea what they were expected because if we'd have dropped an album with 'All In' on it in 2009 they'd have hated it. So, with that album, I realised that we were never going to please everyone. So we should please ourselves first and foremost and be what we set out to be when we started.
Sometimes you feel a huge sense of closeness and love for your fanbase and then sometimes you read some fan, or ex-fan or whatever, saying some stuff on the internet that blows your mind and you think ‘ah well, bugger what they think’. We literally have had messages telling us that our last few singles have got people back into us after not liking us for 5 years and then you get kids that used to love us talking about how we should have quit after Ben left. It’s all very hard to get to grips. It's impossible, you just try your best. With every person there are opinions about music that take in so many personal outlooks from their social circle and their age and fashion that change across time. Your band just slots into that. What represents heavy and underground and cool to a teenager in 2006 isn't going to appeal to them in the same way 6 years later if it's repeated, but the memory of it doing so the first time around will always remain like that. You just have to look to the fans you trust and believe in and take that with a pinch of salt. And remember to appreciate the good times that it does bring you!
Put it this way. I'd like to think that if a fan has ever enjoyed our music and what we've created at any point and saw us on stage now and we looked like we were genuinely having a good time and we were happy in what we were doing, whether or not they 'prefer the old stuff', I'd hope they could be happy for us. Call me an idealist but there we have it!
Happy talky talky happy talk. Talk about the things you like to do.
If you don’t have a dream. If you don’t have a dream.
How you gonna make a dream come true?