Artist: VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMEN'S CLUB
Label Mates: The Strokes, Arcade Fire, British Sea Power, Super Furry Animals,
Sufjan Stevens, the Delays, the Libertines, Fiery Furnaces.
Here's the deal. Here's the BiG DeaL. That
shitty three-piece you've been in with your mates since Year 8 eventually managed
to get some daft industry type to hand over a blank cheque and to tell you were
going to be famous. Very famous. You wouldn't have to talk to your former classmates
at school. You wouldn't have to get up early. They only thing they didn't tell
you was that music was more than just writing songs and shaking your balls on
stage. It was about being there on time. Releasing something on time. It was about
being famous on time.
It was also about having the brazen audacity to push out as much frenetic, schizo noise as you could possibly get from just 3 speakers. Fierce, belligerent, stupid, crass, charming, delinquent, peculiar, irritating, irrelevant, surreal, silly - The Victorian English Gentlemens Club are all of these and so is their self-titled debut which has just been released on Fantastic Plastic – home of those lovely Guillemot peoples – and a credible and imaginative homage to all that bonkers, space alien, Pixies, Talking Heads, B52s, Breeders (and that band that scored a hit with that song ‘Candypop’ sometime in the early nineties) thingy, in addition to owning no immodest stash of silver bullets, backward bicycles, and impossible sightings of their own. But what do you expect from titles as timelessly erratic and daft as ‘Stupid As Wood’, ‘Tales of the Hermit Mark’ and ‘My Son Spells Backwards’ and songs about folks who wear coloured glasses to school (to school)?
Based in Cardiff (though thankfully not Welsh), and fresh from supporting The Mystery Jets, The Wedding Present and British Sea Power (amongst others) the two gals and one boy trio have previously released two singles of vibrant prickly pop, ‘Tales of Hermit Mark’ and ‘Amateur Man’/’Ban the Gin’ and the current album has been lovingly produced by Gareth Parton responsible for releases by Go! Team and The Pipettes.
“This band are not afraid to make music with a tune, tunes that will insist upon
loitering in your head long after listening. The peculiar rhythms and song
structures exemplify their desire to make music that is uncompromising
and intriguing. Often the melodic choruses are cut with stark, discordant verses full of time and space. And the closer you look, the darker it gets. There are no songs about love on this album.”
Ladies and gentlemen,
I give you VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMEN'S CLUB. Signed. Sealed. And shouty.
How did you get signed?
Emma: We used to drive down to London for gigs. One time Fantastic Plastic said they were going to come down to see us- but the hire car broke down in the fast lane! Luckily we got another gig soon.
Louise: I had to call 999 and everything. I thought we were going to die. Maybe it was an omen about the record industry.
Adam: We repeatedly sent Fantastic Plastic our demos, as they were our favourite label. They came to a show, had a chat, and that was it.
Did you have any other labels biting at your heels?
Emma: We weren’t interested in getting signed to a massive label - we knew we’re never going to be that kind of band. So we didn’t take them too seriously.
Adam: No, we wanted creative freedom with enough financial support, so we didn’t bother with majors or local labels either - we’ve seen to much talent wasted.
What would you NOT be prepared to do to promote yourselves?
Emma: Nakedness. I’m not sure whether that’d be putting people off actually. Maybe we could get the next album sponsored by Cadbury’s like Anthea Turner did at her wedding.
How famous would you say you are right now?
Emma: I would say I’m definitely the most famous female asian drummer in a Cardiff three-piece at the moment. In Wales we have a lower standard of fame. Stuart Cable (the drummer from the Stereophonics for those who don’t have welsh channel 4) is our version of Paul McCartney.
Live circuit or showcase? Did you do it the hard or easy way?
Adam: We drove from Cardiff to London every week or so to play gigs for no money, I hate these idiots who claim they were signed after their first gig, its all rubbish.
Emma: Live definitely. I think bands tend to be rubbish unless they play often.
How did you blow your advance?
Emma: We did it in classic style: we bought a bottle of champagne and drank it in the practice room.
On signing was there anything you were asked to do that you didn’t want to do?
Adam: I wouldn’t do any thing I didn’t want to. Fantastic Plastic aren’t like that, if we were prepared to change for some sort of fame they wouldn’t have signed us.
Louise: Its been great, sorry, no scandals. I heard horror stories from other bands, a+r men in the vocal booth and such.
Who was the last band they said they wanted you to sound like?
Emma: I think our label were more concerned with the album sounding like our own demos, not changing our own sound too much.
Adam: Yes they were obsessed with getting a named produce to capture what a 30 pound demo had got, which was difficult.
How much did getting signed rely on being tied to a scene?
Adam: There is no scene that we are in, to my knowledge. I don’t tend to get on with many bands.
Emma: Or bandmates either, Adam. Our scene was more of the M4. Being a Cardiff band getting signed in London makes it much less sceney. We’re aliens all over. We’re not even Welsh.
Daftest story they’ve ever invented about you for the press?
Emma: I wish they had! I love pointless lying. We once convinced the record company that Billie Piper was our biggest fan.
Adam: They believed it too. They thought she had come down to our gig, I guess like the time Spuggie from Biker Grove came down.
Louise: Once someone thought I was going out with Adam.
Does your label or your management support or discourage unruly rock n’ roll behaviour?
Emma: We’re quite ruly really. Ruly yet alcohol-driven.
Where’s the strangest place you’ve been asked to do publicity?
Emma: We once played a lesbian benefit gig in Cardiff church. The vicar came round to try and persuade us to come round to Sunday Service but he didn’t seem to mind us drinking beer in the church.
Have they made you tour with anyone you didn’t like?
Adam : We have got on with all the bands we have toured with, although I don’t always like their music. We have been pared with some strange bands.
Emma: I tend to like either the music or the people or both. Very rarely neither, thankfully. The next tour we’re being supported by bands we really like which is a pleasure.
Ever burned a copy of an album put out by your label for a friend?
Emma: No. We tend to sell the promos on ebay instead.
What was the last major decision your label or your management made that you didn’t like?
Adam: These are good questions. They usually suggest things that we think are bad but in the end they are usually right.
Here’s the deal: you’ve made an excellent record and some unscrupulous hack handling the press release is about to screw it all up with some grotesque misuse of our mother-tongue. What words would YOU use to describe the release?
Emma: Do you have a copy of our press release? We pretty much wrote it. Generally we find something a journalist has written that sums us up, then we rip them off. Everyone’s happy.
How many years do you give yourself in the industry?
Adam: It worries me how many big bands become label less, Eighties Matchbox for example. Bands these days go hot as quick as cold.
Emma: I give us enough time not to be afraid of public fickleness. Although no babies on tour, for sure.
How dirty a word is the ‘industry’ to you?
Adam: We are lucky with our label. I was expecting some ‘Nathan Barley’ character being our best mate for a week. A lot of this goes on. A lot of labels fail bands by not having any money, which is bad.
Emma: I often wonder how the music industry exists, how any money is ever possibly made. It’s bizarre. But I guess for every small label putting out music they believe in there’s some TV talent show to make all the money.
If it were all to collapse tomorrow would you go back to your old job?
Emma: I was lucky in that I still at art school when we got signed. So if my occupation was being absorbed in making pointless things for my own pleasure then hell yeah. It’s just like being in a band really.
Louise: I’m going into plumbing. Got the transit already.
'VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMEN'S CLUB' -
Out 28.08.06 on Fantastic Plastic Records.
'IMPOSSIBLE SIGHTINGS OVER SHELTON' (Single) Out Now!
Nosey Bastard for Crud Magazine 2006©