MEET THE SHOWSTOPPERS...
Songs From The Shows are a four piece band featuring ex-untitled1961 bassist Steve and ex-Time.Space.Repeat drummer Ania, along with bassist Jim and guitarist Ben. The four of them make an unpredictable and dynamic wall of noise that recalls the likes of Sonic Youth, Shellac, Slint, Joy Division and The Cure. Having said that, it is very much its own and therefore out of step with just about everything clogging up the stale turd we know as contemporary music. This four piece will be trendsetters and it is with great pleasure that we witness them headline the first Trail back at home. Don’t count on seeing them in venues like this for long though; London itself isn’t big enough for them, let alone one of its many music venues…
Last time we saw Steve, you were playing in untitled1961. Tell us about why you disbanded, how SftS came about, and how you all got together?
I think '61 had just gone as far as it could. We'd all developed hugely in terms of our playing and what we wanted from music. Sadly we only had time to explore one direction, despite the fact that we wanted to go in three different ones. So we all went our separate ways. Thankfully it was an amicable split, and we're all still working on projects together now.
SftS came about in the last days of that. I know Ania from her days in Time. Space. Repeat., who were going through a similar thing. Ben and I used to play together in an instrumental band called Inemuri, who had also just imploded. Jim we found online through basschat.co.uk. And then it turned out that he knew a few of the people who'd become my mates through '61, and we went from there.
Your line-up and instrumentation differs somewhat from the norm, i.e. having not one but TWO basses going head-to-head, what inspired that?
I don't think it's THAT different from the norm. Even the Cure had two basses at one point. I think most people miss the fact that the bass is really two instruments - it's part of the rhythm section, and one of the melodic string instruments. So by having two, we can explore both options. Or both be rhythm instruments at the same time when we want to scare the shit out of someone. Jim and I are also really different as musicians, so the tonal options with both of us on-board are pretty much endless.
A rather dull question but leading on from the last, what would you say your primary influences are?
I'm not going to name bands. Ugh. The main things that unite and excite us are:Complicated electronicsThe gorgeous bar staff of Big RedBadgers (and some other furry mammals)Volume Amstel (from Big Red)Nachos (from Big Red)Bass (or basses)ContrastHolloway, and especially the Islington Arts Factory.
There is a much darker vibe than that of Untitled1961 and Time.Space.Repeat (drummer Ania's former band). Is that intentional or is that simply how it came about?
I don't think that was intentional. These are just darker times. It's harder to find work, money is tight for everyone, and we have the threat of a Tory government coming in and sticking their noses in the trough all over again. It's hard to write happy music in a city run by a son of the privileged establishment, whose only qualification appears to be an appearance on "Have I Got News For You". And don't even start me on the blood-sucking mess that is the Olympics.
You (Steve) and Seb (untitled1961) run a clubnight called Duel In The Deep at Catch in Shoreditch. Tell us about that...
The typical London gig experience is as follows:
Play with 3 or 4 other bands. Maybe even 5. All dreadful sub-indie nonsense or smug singer-songwriters and their unpaid session musicians.
Argue about who was meant to be bringing which bit of kit because bands consider themselves too important to reply to an email, and their drums too precious and delicate to be used by anyone else.
Fail to get a soundcheck because someone takes an hour and a half to get the right amount of delay on their vocals to cover up the fact they can't sing.
Your mates get charged 5 or 6 quid on the door, despite the fact that there's no way they would want to see any of the other performers.
Promoter pockets all the money, slipping out during the last set so he doesn't have to pay anyone.
Duel is just meant to be the opposite of all of that: Interesting bands who are trying to do something a bit different, intentionally blended together, helping each other, and getting paid all the profits from the night. We think it's time that musicians started taking control, rather than letting everyone else make money from our music.
There is plenty in music at the moment worthy of hatred - but tell us what irks you particularly....
There are so many things to choose from...I'm intrigued by this new 'Union' that a bunch of multi-millionaire pop stars are setting up. There's already a union for actual musicians. It called the Musicians' Union. You'd have thought these guys would have been able to Google it. I think it's a bit of a stretch that these bajillionaire bands, and Robbie Williams, are looking for public sympathy as they try and screw more money out of their labels. And why are they angry with their labels anyway? It's the major label marketing budgets, focus groups, influence over radio playlists etc that made them famous. If it weren't for their labels they'd still be playing circuit gigs and driving round in old vans.
And Radiohead, proving that 'bands don't need labels' with their internet release? Fuck off. All Radiohead did was prove that once you've had millions spent promoting you, you can sell records using free PR instead of paid-for advertising. There are thousands of bands out there making music ten time as interesting as Radiohead and giving it out for free on MySpace. These are the guys changing the musical landscape, not some bunch of pampered poshboys with an Aphex Twin album in their back pocket to rip off later.
You knew the deal guys - sign up with the devil, he'll make you rich but he'll also fuck you in the ass. You're whores, and you knew you would be whores. Don't expect us to give a shit. You foul the cultural waterways we have to swim in every time you squeeze out another turd of a record, so don't expect anyone to pay you even more for a privilege.
Finally, the obligatory dull kiss-off....what is next for you?
Songs From The Shows have got a good-looking gig coming up at Barden's on November the 12th, and will hopefully get into a studio before long. We're also working on some material with an artist called Gethan Dick, which should be fairly stunning, and very different from a lot of what's out there on the regular gig scene.
Duel in the Deep has a very loud line-up on November 11th with Batrider, who are coming up from New Zealand! Seb and I also have some very-exciting secret plans coming up for the Duel Xmas special. Watch this space. And start planning your festive outfits. You're going to need them.