Tuesday, 26 July 2016

in conversation with Those Handsome Animals

2016 has seen the return of Those Handsome Animals, with new music released and their own Hoxton-based club night.  I posed a handful of questions to lead singer and guitarist Thomas Millett ahead of the latest installment of their Prolific Lover Club this Friday at Zigfrid Von Underbelly...

I’ve followed Those Handsome Animals since the very beginning and it's been a sporadic trajectory, would you care to share a potted history of the band and introduce yourselves?

Me and Gav (vocals and guitars) started making music together in 2010, we were a 3 piece then with Gav on the bass, which is hilarious because he’s a way better guitarist than me. We was making music that was more akin to the Cure at the time, heavy reverbed dream pop but we got a bit bored with it, everyone sounded like that at the time (think The Drums). 

Gavin went traveling for a while and we just stopped making music for 4 years. After that whopping break we got back together, turned off the reverb, and decided harmonised guitars and power chords are the way forward. We was hell bent on sounding like no one around today. We recruited Thomas Beavis on Bass (a colleague of Gavin's) and most recently Derrick Carter (a uni friend of mine) on Drums. Together we have become almost brutal in sound, but trying to do this in a way that’s not been done before.

When I approached you about reviewing your latest single, you commented that you was moving away from the pigeonhole of 'indie', is indie a dirty word? Where is the band's sound heading now?

It’s not a dirty word, it’s just not right for us. 

When we get press everyone says we sound like various random 00’s indie bands, but the truth is we sound like none of them. We’re influenced by some of them sure (**cough** The Cribs), but I don’t feel part of it. The fact no one can unanimously describe us the same makes me think we're onto something new. 

The band’s sound is constantly being refined with each release. We have two guitars in the band, so we make the most of it, in songs like Rant Wildly and Right Fit For the City we both play lead. I hate guitarists that just play chords and the other solos, it’s boring. 

We’re now working on Hits vol. 2 - which has some new developments for us, mainly Gavin taking lead vocals on a few tracks. He’s got a deeper voice than me so we’re getting a bit of a Strummer / Jones vibe. We’re also working on acoustic stuff that is heavily influenced by The Faces, for too long acoustic songs have been wimpy... no longer.

Your lyrics have always held a down to earth, kitchen-sink drama quality that I've found relatable and fascinating, who do you hold in the highest regard in terms of songwriting?

I like characters, oddballs. For me my favourite songwriters are people like Jarvis Cocker, Black Francis & Jeffrey Lewis. 

They are themselves and write songs only they can sing. Everyone can write something generic (and most people do), but these guys have no intention of doing that, and neither do I. They don’t pretend to be anyone else, I like that. I see way too many people that seem fake fronting bands, It’s all style, but not with these lot. That rubbed off on me, I try to write as honest as I can, and then bury it under alliteration and imagery. 

Fun fact: We got our name from Jeffrey Lewis’ song “Slogans”.

Jared Leto; musical output or cinematic output?

Oh god, his cinematic output everyday.

The world finally gets to the witness the full unveiling of Jared Leto's turn as the Joker next month... If you was tasked with providing a new soundtrack to a Jared Leto movie, which would you choose?

Can I choose Fight Club? He’s not really the star but he’s in it. 

I’ve been working on a lot of instrumental stuff lately, it would soundtrack one of those fight scenes perfectly. Think Fuckin in the Bushes, but with a ridiculous amount of guitar harmonies in it.

Those Handsome Animals play Prolific Lovers Club @ Zigfrid Von Underbelly on Friday 29th July

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Major Lazer - Cold Water, single review

What better accompaniment to the sunshine than a brand new Major Lazer song...

But sadly, now that Thomas Wesley Pentz has one of the worlds most famous pop stars on speed dial after playing a key part in the career gentrification of Justin Beiber, Cold Water sounds more like a cross-promotional branding exercise than it does the manic Jamaica-centric electronic hybrid of old.

Ed Sheeran's fingerprints are all over the songwriting and the blueprints for world domination are highly evident in a mere three minutes.  Top flight producers, song writers and pop stars, plus emotive Love Yourself-style guitar and a tried and tested laid back summer vibe, draft in Lean On's breakout star MØ and you have a winning formula beneficial to all involved.  There are still some tell-tale elements of fusion that flow through the track, but it feels less like a new Major Lazer song and more like a new track primed for Beliebers with Diplo once again on production duty.  

It's not a bad track, not by any stretch of the imagination, and it will no doubt be unavoidable for the remainder of the summer, I just hoped that with such creative forces at play that we would be hearing boundaries being pushed rather than this bankable safe bet.