How was your acoustic set at Smugglers Records?
Isaac: It was good, its completely new to us. We’ve never done it before but this last week we crammed in a few and I recon we’ll probably do some more. It went down really well.
Laurie: We got in the sea next to the shop as well on the Deal coast. It was cold but nice.
Where else have you been lately?
Isaac: We did two gigs in Nottingham … wait when is this going out? In a month? Oh well then we’ve been all over, we’ve been everywhere!
Laurie: All around the world! America, Serbia… With the in-stores we’ve just been going around the UK.
How did the Bethnal Green life drawing come about? That was awesome!
Laurie: So apparently there are usually these press playbacks that we weren’t really aware of so you can show everyone the new album. Usually they’re quite awkward affairs of people sitting in a room. So our team were talking about interesting ways we could do it and that was one of the ways. We really loved it and wanted to open it up to fans to win tickets as well. We liked the fact we were sat in silence and noone could talk to us so they actually had to listen to the record. Some of the other ideas would have got in the way of the actual playback.
How did you choose the artist teacher who gave the class?
Laurie: She’s great! We just hired her in. She’s called ‘London Life Drawings’ so we got her to lead the class.
The album is great – the idea of fear and love comes from a teacher -tell me about that experience and why it stuck with you.
Isaac: It was a teacher at college. I don’t really know how it came about or why it was relevant to the class. After I left it just really stuck with me over the years. The saying ‘acts of fear and love’ kep twoing and frowing between me and Laurie for a while. Then Laurie said “What dnes that actually mean? Where does it come from?” I told him the story that a teacher once told me there’s no such thing as hate, just acts of fear and love. Straight awayLaurie said “Thats it! Thats the lyrics and that’s the tune.
What were they teaching?
Isaac: I can’t even remember what the class was. I didn’t attend college very much. I didn’t know what the class was.
How did you get involved with Baxter Dury for the song ‘Don’t Kill Yourself’?
Laurie: We keep in touch, we were texting the other day. That came about because he was gunna talk about us on BBC 6 Music and he chatted to Laurie because he was playing ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie’ on 6 Music. Then after that Laurie text him when we were in the studio and said “We’ve got the studio for the day if you want to pop in.” so he did.
Laurie: We’re massive fans of ‘Happy Soup’. (Isaac: It’s like my favourite album) We listened to it so much that he was a dream collaborator. We’d written this song already and it sounded to us like a Baxter Dury song so we just asked him to come and jump on it.
Can you name some of the drummers in the Chokehold video?
Gorilla Cadburys Phil Colins
Our label boss did it which was quite funny
We dressed someone up like Joey Jordison
All of your videos are really different and funny. DO YOU COME UP WITH THE CONCEPTS?
Laurie: We usually do come up with them but for Chokehold – the guy we always use, Phil who’s done our last four or five video – he came up with that and we really loved it. We worked on it together but ‘Cut and Run’ was all us.
You worked with the producer for this album who did Royal Bloods album so how was it working with him?
Laurie: Well he produced our first album then Royal Blood. So they nicked him off of us. We really love the sound, we love working with him and we have a good relationship. Lots of people were saying “Who do you want for this record?” And we didnt want anyone so then it dawned on us that we should go back to him. A lot of our friends were saying to us how much they liked what he did with our music. Hes like a third studio member of our band. We really ley him in. He doesnt really write with us but he really helps structure songs and pushes us so its really great.
You were over in Brussels for therecording?
Isaac: Yes ICP studios which is amazing. It’s so cool its like a residential place so you live there eatthere work there. You can fully immerse yourself in it.
How long did it take?
Laurie: We did a three day stint in London, a two week stint in Brussels and then another ten days. All in all it was about a month of recording.
You’re already on your third album do you feel like you’re churning them out quickly?
Isaac: For us it just feels natural. We’re just doing what feels natural.
Laurie: It’s slow compared to The Beatles!
Yeah one in the morning, one in the afternoon.
Do you keep a lyric book?
Isaac: Its usually just off the drafts on my phone. My drafts folder is full of lyrics.
I do have a lyric book but I don;t write in it as much as I should do.
You’re both ambassadors of the music venue trust, can you tell me about that?
Isaac: Jason Dorham got us involved. He’s well into it. We fully support the cause.
Laurie: We asked them what the most endangered venues were and we ended up going and doing a small tour where we played four of them. We went to Pontypool and Dunfermline, played small venues just to sort of give them a bit of exposure and help out where we could.
Endangered venues tour
‘I Would Drive 500 Miles and I Would Drive 500 More and Then Drive 126 More’ Tour Dates:
22nd July – Arts Centre – Colchester
23rd July – The Dragonffli – Pontypool
25th July – P.J Molloys – Dunfermline
28th July – The Booking Hall – Dover
I want to ask you about a few of the tracks on the album:
‘Bugs’ really goes back to simplistic punk rock but also got that funny edge as well. Where did that song come from?
Isaac: I can’t remember how it first came about, Laurie had been playing that bass riff for quite a while and we’d been jamming it in soundchecks and stuff. I can’t remember when the lyrics started.
Laurie: A lot of it came together when we were in that writing session in Brixton. You had “two arms, two legs, two faces” for ages. They get pieced together over a long stretch of time. We’re always writing little bits. That was one of those songs that’s hard to place, it was sound checks and stuff, little bits got added slowly.
Isaac: Magnolia was one we wrote in a little session just before we went into the studio.
Laurie: That’s the only song that didn’t change structure. We pretty much had that completely written and done and we just wrote it in two hours.
Isaac: We wrote that in the same session, it’s just about a bloke having a midlife crisis and he’s lost his way and forgotten the important things in life. It’s an honest portrait of a lost man.
SLAVE LABOUR SIDEBAR
The meaning behind the name of the band is people being slaves to their working life and finding a way out – What slave jobs have you done?
Laurie: Worked in the Odeon. That was the worst out of all of them. They’re shit to their staff. The one I worked in, in Maidstone, you should be ashamed.
I made milkshakes in Blendini. I had a Saturday job at a timber yard. That was quite nice but still mundane.
Isaac: I worked in Topshop, which was pretty mundane to be fair, I worked in the stockroom. I met some nice people there though. I was a care worker from the age of 17 until we got signed. Which I actually loved to be fair. I can’t complain about that job.
Now you’ve become successful do you keep a lot of the same people around to keep your feet on the ground and remind you what your music is about?
Laurie: We’ve got each other and our families.
Isaac: We would never let each other get big for our boots. We wouldn’t anyway.
Laurie: Our music is like big by a standard. But it’s not that big so that keeps us quite grounded. We’re not getting private jets anywhere. We’re quite real people and we do everything for ourselves.
Isaac: We still feel the same as when we started.
What was it like playing London Olympic Stadium with Foo Fighters?
Together: Just mad!
Laurie: Mind blowing, the fact that people play gigs that big is incredible.
Isaac: You just can’t comprehend it, it’s so weird, just huge! It’s like a festival.
Laurie: Yeah he’s the nicest bloke. What everyone says about him is true. It’s just so nice to hear from his mouth that he liked our band and he picked us to support him. We’re playing with them again at their festival in San Bernardino, CalJam in October so I’m excited to see him again hopefully.
Because you’ve got 2 members on stage you don’t seem like the kind of band to say “We don’t know how to write any more songs in this format – we’ll just get backing tracks” you wouldn’t do that would you?
Isaac: We’ve played to a bit of track before just like a drum beat. I feel like we might get other musicians onstage with us like session musicians.
Laurie: We’re not gunna run out of ideas. I feel like we’ve just hit our stride the way we’re writing songs in the format we do. I feel confident that if we had to we would be ready to go in and start writing again right now. We feel like we’re in a really good place and there’s a lot of ideas left over from the last record as well. We’ll be like this for a while.
Are there a lot of people along the way that you’ve taken inspiration from or famous people you’ve notice who’ve lost their way? That have been a warning sign to you
Laurie: I think nearly all the band that we started out with in the scene that maybe we could have been included in have split up. That’s definitely been a sign of how hard it is to keep going. Then you have people like Wolf Alice who are from a completely different kind of world. They’re a few steps ahead of us so they keep us seeing the direction to go in. It’s nice to have people who are still pushing forward that we’re friends with. So there are definitely a few people we’re still friends with who are inspiring.
You’re bigger in some countries than others, what’s that like?
What countries have you been to that you’ve had a big shift in audience?
Isaac: Russia is pretty big for us. We can play to a couple of thousand people in Moscow and St Petersburg. That’s quite mind blowing considering that we’ve not spent that much time there.
Isaac: Yeah its mad.
Laurie: But then if you want to still come and see us at an intimate venue, come and see us in the states, we’ll probably be playing at like small clubs to like 50 people.
Some of your videos are very Mighty Boosh – are you fans?
Laurie: Definitely! That show was our comedy for our generation.
Isaac: That definitely inspired us.
Laurie: They were the kings of it and they were icons. They were the first people that did something really visually stimulating as well. It was funny and contemporary. I love Noel Fielding so much. I met him, he’s such a nice person.
You’ve got music left over so are you writing another album yet?
Laurie: We don’t feel like we’ve ever fully done an album campaign properly so we want to really smash this. The first bit of time we have off after we’ve spent time with our families, I definitely want to go and write music again and go in the studio. But we’ve already been in the studio since this albums been finished so we’re always doing stuff. It’s gunna be organic. We’re not gunna rush it.
How hard is it to balance family life when it’s so hard to have any routine?
It is hard but you just have to keep remembering how privileged you are and I’m really lucky to have a supporting family. My partner is amazing, she holds it down.
So when you come off tour when’s the next time youre off work?
Are you gunna be like “What do I do?!”
Isaac: Yeah. Yeah, you’ll be like hyping it up too much and then you won’t end up doing anything.
Laurie: I have a list of things I wanna do but in reality I’ll probably just watch TV with Bart.
Are you working on some art at the moment?
Laurie: Yeah there’s some stuff coming out next year that hasn’t been announced yet. I need to get some time to paint but yeah I’m always working on my art.
One last question: When you’re outside the music industry and you’re a fan its easy to be judgemental. When you’re on the other end of that how do you deal with social media and the way people are?
Laurie: I think we chat to each other about it. You get affirmation from your friends and family. If anything has been particularly harsh I usually just talk to Isaac or Emma about it. People are always gunna slag you off.
Isaac: That’s just the way it goes. You’re not gunna please everyone. I think you have to just remember that.
Laurie: We see the humour in it.
Isaac: I think it used to bother us more. You can play with it sometimes but more often than not its better to just never give people the satisfaction. There’s no point.
Isaac: I think my opinion on people who are in some sort of limelight has changed a lot. And also I’ve learned never to judge people on first impressions. Because you might meet someone who’s famous and think they’re a dickhead but they could just be having a bad day. People forget that you’re a human.
Is that what ‘Photo Opportunity’ is about?
Isaac: I guess so yeah.
Have you met all of your heroes now?
Isaac: We’ve met a few, we still haven’t met Robbie yet. We chatted to him over email and online but we haven’t actually met him yet.
Laurie: We met Johnny Marr recently which was pretty wild. Surreal. It’s also amazing to hear that they’re into what we do. It’s really incredible.
Stand out quote:
“We’re not getting private jets anywhere. We’re quite real people and we do everything for ourselves.”
This is where Isaac met his friend Lee who came on tour with them as a merch man and ended up being ‘The Mantaray’ who became a mascot of their live shows.