Friday, August 25, 2006

A Friendly Chat With...The Victorian English Gentlemens Club

We've been going on long enough about The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, but a quick primer: they're a trio, Adam Taylor (vocals/guitar), Louise Mason (vocals/bass) and Emma Daman (vocals/drums) by name, they're based in Cardiff where they met at art school, they've been compared to the Fall, Wire, Pixies, Breeders, Cramps and B-52s, Mark Lamarr has played them on his late night Radio 2 show, they claim all their songs are about "death, sailing and alcohol" and their debut album is imminent. Now, read on...

How would you describe your sound?
Emma: Prickly pop. That's what someone else once said, who knows, could've been you? I thought it was apt anyway so decided to lift it.
Louise: It's a bit frantic, a bit aggressive, quite empty, but with hooks and tune. A mildly paranoid three legged jackal.

What's the band's story so far?
Emma: Once upon a time three good for nothings left various bits of provincial England for Cardiff. Even worse they went to 'art' school and so met through a common desire to seek attention through noise. We wrote our songs too short and played them too fast when we gigged too quickly. Excellent.
Louise: We've been together for two years, by together I mean intensively - every day, to the point where people get genuine panic when they see us individually.
Emma: Yeah, we're not exactly a band who just meet up for tours. We're all taking it in turns to type one letter each right now.

How do you write?
Emma: Usually Adam comes up with a rough guitar line and melody, then we take it to the practice room to make things up and shout at each other. Unless at least one person boils with rage then it's unlikely to be a good song.
Louise: Quickly, I'd say - we make short, fast songs so we can make more of them. No time for solos.

Are we meant to read much into the odd structure of the lyrics?
Adam: All the lyrics make sense, they're not cool phrases. I'm not trying to be mystical, they're stories and observations. Hermit Mark was about an alcoholic I used to deliver to when I worked in an off-licence. He wee-d in a bucket, he's probably dead now. Impossible Sightings Over Shelton is about a mental home, and Under the Yews is about dead babies.
Emma: Are they odd? They seem perfectly normal to me, we're not into automatic poetry or anything. Some songs are perfectly simple to understand, like Ban the Gin, which is about banning gin, in the 18th century. The lyrics aren't a code that you have to crack.
Louise: I don't know how some bands have the cheek to release such terrible lyrics, yes, bed does rhyme with head, but don't use in a song.

Where do you see yourself in terms of the continuous post-punk 'revival'?
Louise: I'd far rather be associated with post-punk than artrock - post punk was massively exciting, all the bands I love - The Fall, Wire, XTC. I think lyrically we relate to post-punk goings on - that detached, spectatorism - 3rd party observations, rather than personal relationship relating.
Adam: I'm not really into post-punk, I love Chairs Missing by Wire, but overall I prefer the Beatles, to be honest. I think we sound more like the Beatles played badly.
Emma: Our influences come from loads of different times, but we might get lumped in with Gang of Fourists just because of the current musical climate. I think if you listen to our music you can hear the influence of a lot of bands, particularly early 90's bands. And everyone knows genre labels suck ass.

We seem to be getting tipoffs about really good new Cardiff bands every week at the moment. Is there much of a consciously growing scene?
Louise: Who are they? Tell me? I like Gindrinker and Future of the Left, any more? *
Adam: The good Cardiff bands at the moment are ones who will probably not be known outside of Cardiff. There are some making a stir like the Automatic, a power ballad band for teenagers. The Glasgow scene seems a lot better, bands who have a real interest with their competition.
Emma: Yeah, the Welsh scene isn't so independent from England as the Scottish scene I think, probably due to money! In Cardiff there is probably is some kind of a scene where everyone's bonking and snorting but if there is we're not part of it.

* For what it's worth, we've featured Los Campesinos!, Yossarian, People In Planes, Swipe and Leave The Capital as well as Future Of The Left in the last couple of months

What did you grow up listening to, and what have you been liking recently?
Adam: I grew up the standard way will a healthy dose of Nirvana. I then discovered bands like the Pixies, Jesus Lizard and Sonic Youth. I'm not loving any current bands - which is a good thing as if they'd thought of something good, there is always the temptation to want to copy.

What are your future plans?
Louise: Another cup of tea.
Emma: We're touring the UK in September and October, then hopefully abroad by the end of the year. But we're still writing - this album won't be the last you've heard of us.

Many thanks to Adam, Louise and Emma. Their superb self titled debut album, produced by former Chatter Gareth Parton, is out on Monday 28th July on the ever great Fantastic Plastic label. For tour dates and so forth visit their website and/or their Myspace, from where we stole the photo.

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