Tuesday, 11 November 2008

New favourite band

Hello? Anybody home?

I know, it’s been a while hasn’t it? I’ve had important reasons for staying away though, and important ones for returning too. Here they are:

A while ago I was recommended to listen to a track called ‘Suffragette Suffragette’ by Manchester-based band Everything Everything. Yes, things do seem to happen twice in their world. The song kinda washed over me at first, then as I was dusting my knick-knacks later in the week it came back into my head and so I re-played it, video and all. Thank goodness I did. Listen to it at once and be glad:

The hilarious yet somehow touching closing refrain notwithstanding I think this band represent a ‘bright new talent’ ™. Some sparky journo has written that ‘This band incorporate the best bits of Foals and British Sea Power but possibly with Peter Gabriel somewhere at the helm forcing them into weirder territory than either plain old indie or math rock will allow.’ I’d say amen to that.

Went to see them live at Deaf Institute, where I now live it would seem, to see if they are worth their salt. They manage to pull the whole thing off live with magnificent panache, acute harmonies and the best drumming I’ve seen since the Wire gig . . . and it’s only a year since they first played together. I’m pinning great hopes on the album when it arrives. ‘Suffragette …’ (sorry I simply haven’t time) is their first single, out December 1st. A couple of the lads are working in caffs and pizza restaurants at the minute and it's no place for them. Listen to the last minute of 'Weights' (on their myspace) and tell me that something sublime isn't happening. This stuff should be Arts Council funded. More please.


Dave Haslam said...


I’ve seen Everything Everything at all but one of their Manchester gigs this year, I’ve had the demo going round in my head for months, they’re in my top 12 MySpace friends, and I snuck into Channel M to sit at the back when they recorded their first session for TV in July and I’ve engineered it a couple of times so that I’ve bumped into some or all of them in the street and we’ve talked bollocks about music.

I don’t quite know what’s come over me. I’ve always been happy to listen to new bands and to encourage them, even if I’m not particularly impressed. But it’s one thing to give some encouragement, it’s quite another thing to indulge in a little light stalking.

I think it’s because I’m genuinely intrigued by Everything Everything. I like the fact I can’t quite work out where they’re coming from. I like the fact that they’re not pastiching other bands, and I like the way Jonathan defines their sound as “Not like something we’ve heard before, but something different”.

I get a sense there aren’t any particular limits, or models as far as the band are concerned. I’ve tried to tease out some influences of Everything Everything’s and there’s all kinds of stuff in there. I know they listen to lots of music, and I reckon they’ve absorbed the best of everything (yes everything), but then they create something unique, something very EE, with the word explosion, the vocal harmonies, the crispness of it all, and Micky’s jazz-banging drumming. As Jezza says; “The songs have a certain signature, a certain thread.”

I was talking to them about how someone will want to pigeon-hole them at some point. Maybe someone in a music paper or someone in a record shop (should they be filed under “lit rock”, “symphonic surf punk”, or “new minimalism”?). Al from the band said “Well, Dave, you’re talking about nomenclature.” I liked that. I’ve been interviewing bands for twenty-five years and no musician has ever said ‘nomenclature’ to me (has any rock guitarist ever anywhere used that word before?).

The songs fascinate me, especially the words – the lyrics can be witty, and a bit cryptic, and I’m sure there are some grand idea and other great words in there, and some surreal stuff too – but I like the rhythm of the words too and the delivery of them, and those Everything Everything harmonies. Above all, I like the way that, despite the complexity, the songs are catchy; there’s something very cool and immediate about them. Especially ‘Suffragette Suffragette’ and ‘Come Alive Diana’.

There are some good stories too. The Hexham thing, for example. Three of the band grew up there, near Hadrian’s Wall. Jonathan tells me he had Roman ruins in his back garden. They came here to Manchester – which is like the centre of the universe, obviously - but no-one in Manchester has Roman ruins in their back garden.

I’m not sure I picked this up correctly, but they’ve talked about bands they’ve been in before, and apparently Jonathan was once in Chaffinch, and Mother Hubbard (this may be true and they may have been big in Hexham). I can imagine Jonathan being in bands before, even bands with rubbish names like that; I can imagine him making weird films in his back garden, avant-garde horror films set among Roman ruins. But I’ve never spoken to him about it, so my theory about the film stuff might be wrong.

Jonathan, Al, and Micky left Hexham, and they’ve settled in Manchester where there’s a different kind of history – not Hadrian and his centurions, but Joy Division, the Smiths, Doves, and Elbow - and they seem excited in some ways by all this history, but by no means suffocated by it. Manchester has become like a ‘cauldron’ in which they could create their magic, I once suggested to them. Al again found the right word; ‘crucible’. That’ll do; a crucible - a place characterized by the confluence of powerful intellectual, social, musical, and political forces,

In Manchester the three Hexham boys met bass-player Jezza, and they shared a house on Burton Road in West Didsbury. There’s a touch of ‘Stella Street’ about West Dids; their house was a few doors down from comedy actor John Thomson. And a couple of times every day Paul Heaton from the Beautiful South used to walk past the house.

They’ve moved a short distance away now, but they used to rehearse in the basement of No. 235 Burton Road, hang out and listen to music. Some of the old vinyl lying around was useful; Jezza remembers skinning-up once on a Beautiful South an album sleeve. I imagine some time shortly afterwards he might have bumped into Mr Heaton shopping in Somerfield, and realised “Oh, I’ve just skinned-up on his face”.

Happy days.

They all are, they all will be.

Gregling said...

'Come Alive Diana' is amazing actually, I keep trying to 'work it out'. I think one of the things I love is that the music is incredibly SERIOUS, in that it's so carefully constructed, every little piece is carefully arranged and placed just so, and then they're not afraid to write funny lyrics over the top to give the whole thing a different dimension.

Apparently the 'Weights' demo which is my absolute favourite (listening right now...) is all just Jonathan. By himself. Doing everything. I can't even believe that.

I spoke to Alex about just the thing you mention, how journalists need to signpost new bands with old bands to give people something to go on, it's almost like a standard way to write. When I used to do music reviews the Eds would love all that: 'Bowie and Scissor Sisters trapped in a lift together ..' all that kind of bollocks. The BSP/Foals thing is therefore my fault, but I am deeply smitten with both of those bands so it's meant in kindess!

We might go to the Channel M recording later this week for a sneaky peek.

Love the story about skinning up on a Beautiful South LP. Nice to know they're good for something. Ha! I jest.

Thanks so much for reading sir.

Anonymous said...

Err . . where do you think the name Manchester comes from ? "Chester" in English place names always indicates the presence of a Roman fort (etc), so loads of people in Manchester will have Romans in their back yards. No such faux-pas in E-E lyrics !

Jonathan said...

Please note that (anonymous, above) wasn't an irate member of the band - it was my freaking DAD! sigh...
Thanks so much for the support, it's brilliant.

P.S. it was a Housemartins LP if that makes any difference. I think it does...

Gregling said...

Well Dave has had a history lesson in that case. Marvellous.

It makes a huge difference. Although Morrissey's quote springs to mind: 'If The Housemartins are our nearest rivals it's no wonder I'm so confident.'