Experimental Music Love

January 8, 2008

The Cribs Interview 10/12/05

Filed under: Features,Interviews — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 5:40 pm

The Cribs are one of the leading lights of Northern England’s booming music scene, and as a hectic year of touring with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs and Maximo Park ends, Brig managed to catch up with singer and guitarist, Ryan, just before their riotous set at Glasgow QMU to discuss being in a band with his brothers, being the 13th coolest man in music and mirror balls.

Experimental Music Lover – How have your previous gigs in Scotland been?

Ryan – We’ve played here a few times. Every time we play is a well good gig. I can’t wait for it. Gigs in Glasgow are by their very nature, always a lot more fun.

EML – How’s the tour been so far?

Ryan – It’s only a three date tour. London was fucking crazy, Leeds was fucking crazy, but I know this one will be the best. They’ve totally sorted us out on this tour, they’ve made the stage look really tacky and cheesy, we’ve brought out a glittery curtain and mirror balls and play 80s music throughout the night, it’s like a school disco. It’s going to be a really good night.

EML – It’s been a pretty good year for you guys. How do you think 2005 has gone for The Cribs?

Ryan – We’ve worked a lot. Way we’ve worked, when we first started we had the choice to sign to a major label, but we didn’t. We didn’t have any money to advertise or anything, so we’ve just been touring constantly. We’ve got a hardcore fan base now. We’re pleased it’s gone so well this year. Done it without advertising, only had a couple for the singles cos we don’t have any money. We’ve been told we’ve sold as many albums as bands ten times the size of us. We’ll probably start on another album probably over Christmas. We’ve already written a few songs. Looking forward to next year and hope it carries on. it’s been a gradual kind of thing with us as opposed to some bands. I’m more pleased it has been like that. we’ve got people who’ve been with the band for 3 years. They’re more devoted than fans of bands who’ve got big off the back of two singles or whatever.

EML – You’ve had good critical success as well, like The New Fellas coming 11th in NME’s top 50 albums of the year.

Ryan – Yeah. It’s been quite nice. NME is the magazine people listen to at the end of the day. SO I’m glad they understood us. Even though it’s not been commercially the biggest album, but the fact it beat the likes of Coldplay and Oasis, it’s nice they understand what we’re trying to do.

EML – What did you think about coming 13th on their Cool List?

Ryan – That were funny. The whole context of that is really bizarre. After it first happened everyone was like “you’re on the cool list, I bet you’re well pleased” and I was like well I’m not really. I was never really that bothered. The bizarre thing about it, I think is that all the thing about The New Fellas is that you don’t have to be cool, fuck all that, it’s all bullshit. It’s weird how saying that has made me the 13th coolest person. It’s just weird. The whole concept of cool is weird. It’s just a bit of fun really, but it’s nice to be recognised in some ways. Maybe not being cool, but at least being interesting.

EML – You’re not a band that goes for the whole fancy suits and tie look. Is that important, keeping your image down to earth?

Ryan – I am fucked for clothes at the moment. We did this gig at ULU in London, and I got this new t-shirt for my birthday form some girl. People bring clothes for me to gigs. I can’t shop for clothes. If I go shopping, I’ll stand around and fuck about. Someone gave me this the other night [points to t-shirt currently wearing], I really like this. But someone gave me this t-shirt for my birthday and I proper loved it, but that night at the ULU, it was a couple of nights later, I had my trousers ripped off, I had my t-shirt ripped off. And since that happened, NME printed a photo of it happening, and now at every single gig we do, people just come and try and pull my t-shirt off, and that’s I get all these bruises [his upper arms are completely black and blue]. I’m getting really stressed out now. I’m going to have to start wearing that I don’t like whatsoever on stage, or am going to have to depend more than ever on hand me downs. I’m sure people will bring more. Someone brought me one tonight. As long as that ratio continues – at every gig someone brings me a t-shirt – then people can rip them off me if they want.

EML – You’re one of a number of great new bands from the north of England. Are you proud of this new wave of Northern acts?

Ryan – It’s a weird situation. In a lot of ways I am proud, I think anything that takes the spotlight off of London for a while is a good thing. In London there’s a lot of crosskicking going on, I’ve seen it. Cos all the bands, record companies and journalists drink in the same kind of place really. Anything that comes out of London can’t fully be trusted. A lot of bands in the north are just doing it for fun, because they love it. I do like it in that way. But, when we first got signed, we were from Wakefield, and we played in Leeds and we received a lot of hostility, there was a lot of “I can’t believe there’s a band from Leeds got singed and we don’t even know them,” and all that kind of shit. But now, since Leeds has started doing really well with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, everyone’s like Leeds has got it so good, but we got so much fucking shit in the early days that I find it really hard to swallow. But I am.. I hate to use the term New Yorkshire, but in some ways I am proud of the fact that there are some good northern bands around. I mean Arctic Monkeys are one of the biggest bands in the country and it just shows that you don’t need to be in London, you don’t need to be on a major label, you don’t need to be kissing arse to be successful, and I think that’s definitely a good thing.

EML – You’ve had both Bernard Butler and Edwyn Collins producing your records. What was it like working with such esteemed figures of the music industry?

Ryan – It was amazing like. We were working with Edwyn for 3 months, it was just before he got ill. In some ways it was better fun than being on tour. We were just spending all day making this album for 3 months, and everyone said to me “Whatever you do, don’t go on the piss with Edwyn cos he used to be an alcoholic and he can drink alright,” so the first thing we did was get him pissed to see what happened, and from then on it was a really good vibe in the studio. Every day everyone just had a laugh, we did most of the recording on the night when everyone was loosened up and getting pissed. It wasn’t like making a record, it was more like everyone just having fun. We had to tell our record company that it wasn’t finished and we needed more time cos we were just dragging our feet. And Bernard was friends with Edwyn, so when Edwyn got ill and we needed to record another song, we’d already met him already and he was like “Alright, I’ll do it.” We recorded in the same studio with the same people, but obviously Edwyn wasn’t there. It was all kind of the same. We weren’t in the studio with a face like a smacked arse that don’t care about what he’s doing, you’re just down there having a laugh. I think that’s why the record has a kind of laid back vibe cos we were juts having a laugh. It was really really good.

EML – Your music has elements of pop, punk, indie and rock ‘n’ roll in it. You must have some pretty wide influences growing up.

Ryan – When we were growing up, our mum were into The Beatles and that so that’s what we got into. When we became teenagers we got into punk and it was all Sex Pistols and Ramones and stuff like that. We started messing about playing together cos we had nothing better to do. The good thing about punk was, we had instruments but we couldn’t play them, and for punk you didn’t really need to know that much. We’ve still got tapes at home of just playing Ramones songs on our bedroom before our voices had even broken. After that we got into stuff like all the cool rock star stuff like Sonic Youth. We’ve started doing alright in America now, and Sonic Youth have said they’d be up for working with us. That’s just crazy. You really can’t get cooler than working with Sonic Youth so am really hoping that that works out.

EML – I’ve read that you all started playing together before you were even 10.

Ryan – That’s been kind of exaggerated. That was the first time we played together. But we’d just made a drum kit out of one snare drum and biscuit tin lids. It was just a laugh – we were just twatting about at a party. We did start actually playing properly when we was about 12 or 13. I don’t even know when I went through puberty but it was about the time that we started playing together. And we was well young. It didn’t get serious till about 2001, we had written some songs and we just thought “Should we record these somewhere?” We originally thought they sounded really good. We got offered deals before we had gigs. It was at the time of the rise of The Strokes and The White Stripes and record companies were looking for something different, but we’d being doing that stuff for years. We sent our demo off to get one gig, but instead of getting a gig we just got record companies ringing us up. I went thorough this phase when we were at college, but we never bothered going, and I started saying I’m not going to set an alarm clock in the morning cos at 9 o’clock another record company would phone us up and they actually did for 2 weeks. So that’s how it all started properly happening and we thought we’d better start practising now.

EML – Have any of you been a bands without your brothers?

Ryan – We were in other bands at college and that, but we didn’t like playing with other people. It don’t matter how well you get on with someone, well maybe, I don’t know, but there’s always the chance that they could come in and go “You heard the new Chilli Peppers’ album” or whatever, and you’d be like “alright, fuck off.” It’s good cos we’re into exactly the same kind of music, and there’s no egos in the band at all.

EML – Bands with siblings are notorious for arguments. How often do you guys argue?

Ryan – It’s weird. We didn’t used to, but maybe a bit more now we’re getting more professional. They literally last two seconds though. We have an argument and then just forget about them. Even the big ones only last about an hour. It’s really no big deal.

EML – The second album was a bit of a progression from your more poppy debut. There was more of an edge and songs like “Hey Scenesters” were a bit more cutting lyrically, criticising false and shallow people. Was this a conscious move?

Ryan – It wasn’t exactly conscious. It was more a natural sort of progression. The first album, everything was different back then. We’d never really left Wakefield, and we just recorded the songs and everything was all sunshine. Then we started going on tour around different cities and we started drinking a lot more. The first places we went to after Wakefield was these big cities. We were playing these indie nights up and down the country and it was almost like being in a schoolyard with the cool kids in their fancy clothes and with their expensive hair cuts, and it was just fucked up. I’ve noticed that NME are using ‘Scenesters’ a lot now to describe those sort of kids and I found that quite interesting.

EML – Do you have a word of advice for any up and coming acts out there?

Ryan – Well don’t let…

EML – I said a word.

Ryan – Dignity.

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