Mint Magazine Interview | Fanzine
One of my first nights out as a newcomer (for the 2nd time) in London was catching a gig by the jangly noisers Fanzine along with their pal band Gross Magic at the Old Blue Last. I really enjoyed both bands, so I politely introduced myself to them after the gig was over. As it happens, in a ‘small scene’ of a cosmopolitan city, I came across those guys several times at gigs, parties and what not. I figured I’d have an ‘on-the-record’ chat with them before I headed back to Buenos Aires.
You just released your 7 inch and you’re in the process of recording the album? How’s that going? Tentative release date?
We don’t have a release date yet but it should be finished in the next couple of months. It’s sounding really good and we’re very excited about it. We just need a bit more time to polish it all up as we’re recording it ourselves and it’s been quite an intense learning process for us, sort of a one step forward and two steps back kinda thing. I think we’re confident with how it should sound now though and it’s really coming together nicely.
You get good harmonies, how is your writing process? Who comes up with the lyrics/melodies? Do you jam a lot?
Me and Ed write the songs, sometimes together and sometimes separately. Ed’s the one that has the ear for harmonies, he’s really good at it. Usually our songs come more from fairly solid ideas either of us have, but occasionally songs like Funeral (an instrumental we finish our live show with) come out of jams. It’s just one big guitar solo really.
I really enjoyed the video footage on Tough and I observed that it was the same director for LA (Jacob Perlmutter). How did hook up with him?
We know Jacob through friends and just got in touch about him doing a video for us knowing he was a very talented guy. The Tough video was all this footage he’d shot out of a train in India which just looked lovely and serene. We thought it was great, but for LA we wanted something a bit more tailor made. When we approached him about the idea he happened to be going to LA the following week so we wired him some money and let him do his thing. We were really happy with how it turned out.
Have you guys been to LA?
As far as LA is concerned it was really just a lyric that stuck, and the song sort of became about running away somewhere you don’t belong to forget your troubles. And one look at us makes it very obvious we don’t belong in LA.
I read somewhere that some people think you’re an American band and you also have that kind of American slacker indie jangly thing. How do you feel about band comparisons (what I’ve read on several websites so far: Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, Weezer. Also Teenage Fanclub, but they’re Scottish)?
I think it’s wonderful being compared to such great bands. For some reason the whole 90s revival thing has become a bit of a dirty word, but I don’t see why. We’re just playing the music that we like. I think it’d be childish to freak out about journalists giving you shit about it because at the end of the day we’re just having fun, playing music. The fact that we like Teenage Fanclub and not Kasabian just means it’s gonna come across in our music, I guess, and we’re fine with that.
What do you think about the 90s revival thing happening in London (Yuck, Male Bonding, Gross Magic, Old Forest, Mazes, Novella, Honeyslide, Throwing Up etc)? Do you think it exists or is it press hype?
Nah, I think it’s pretty accurate really. I guess we’re all part of the same generation of bands and we share some common ground musically, with 90s guitar rock being a cornerstone. I guess I kinda look at it like British blues enthusiasts in the 60s all sharing a similar vibe because that’s the music they’re into. Except not nearly as good, obviously.
So what about the love for Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters? Which effects do you use? I definetly hear a Big Muff and some Rat maybe?
Ed uses a Mexican Jag that’s really great, and up until recently I was using a Mexican Jazzmaster, but I’ve switched back to my old ’78 Fender Bronco, which I love. It’s short scale and I’ve put humbuckers in it so it packs a real punch. Great tremelo on it too – never goes out of tune. As far as effects are concerned we both just keep buying new stuff when we can and editing our pedal boards as we go. At the moment I use a Tube Screamer, Hot Cake and Big Muff along with a Memory Boy delay. I also use an envelope phaser a lot, which I’ve really been getting into. Ed uses similar stuff but a couple of really nice phaser and chorus pedals he’s got and a Love pedal distortion, which is really nice.
Did you go and see a lot of live shows when you were kids?
I went to see bands a fair amount when I was a kid. I was really into Nu Metal so my first gig was POD at The Astoria. Obviously I was a kid so couldn’t see bands in bars, but as I got older, I did more. I wouldn’t really call myself a massive gig goer but I enjoy seeing bands, especially friends like Gross Magic and Old Forest.
What are you listening to these days?
Recently I’ve just been listening to The Mars Volta loads so I really wanna see them again now. I’ve seen them twice and it was mind blowing both times.
I recall you wearing a Napalm Death tee, and then there’s a promo pic of you with an Iron Maiden tee are you much of a metal fan?
Bits of NWOBHM stuff like Maiden and Judas Priest, but we were always more into American stuff like Pantera, Metallica, even Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses. And I think it was a Cannibal Corpse t-shirt you saw me in. I prefer Carcass but I’ve only flirted with Grindcore really. I just love the artwork.
Since you were born and raised in Stoke Newington/Dalston, when did you start feeling that your neighbourhood was changing? Do you think it’s a little bit trendy/silly?
I guess so but it’s better than it being really rough. I remember it when it was a lot dodgier, especially round Dalston. Even though it’s a bit trendy or whatever, it doesn’t really affect anything negatively. If anything, it makes you feel a bit safer on the street knowing that there’s a bunch more people dressed far more ridiculously than you are when it comes to drawing unwanted attention.
Were you sad when England lost against Italy at Euro 2012, did you really expect them to reach the finals?
None of us really expect anything from England ever to be honest. They’re pretty rubbish, aren’t they?
Is the Arsenal – Tottenham rivalry more important to you than the national team?
I know Ed and Kit are diehard Arsenal and Tottenham fans respectively, but I’m more of a casual Arsenal fan: I’m sad about Van Persie leaving, but am hopeless in football conversations.
Did you enjoy the Olympics? Bolt knows how to party…
Ha, he clearly does! I thought the opening ceremony was really great, actually. Like most people I was pretty sceptical when I heard Danny Boyle was doing it and it was gonna involve children dancing around the countryside, but it was really great I think. I’m not too fussed about sport but it was quite fun to watch and it didn’t bring London to a stand still like everyone was worried it would so no complaints really.
London bands people should check out?