“Dancing” by Standard Fare
Whilst “Big Music” continues to exhibit the sort of head in the sand, Neo-Luddism that makes Ted Kaczynski look like an enthusiastic advocate of new technology, and by pursuing a policy that continues to successfully alienate their target demographic, it’s the smaller indie labels that continue to show the big boys how it’s done. And really it’s not rocket science, the formula’s quite simple; Don’t threaten to cut people’s internet off, discover great new music and deliver it in a format that people want and are willing to buy. Yorkshire label Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation have been around since 2003 and by treating their customers like grown-ups and offering them something that is both collectable and aesthetically pleasing they are still able to successfully sell physical products, along side their digital brethren-as Darren of Thee SPC says “Our music is not merely an accessory for your mobile phone” …So whilst ex-bandwagon punk Fergal and his industry chums threaten litigation and suggest that the government form a “creative industries cabinet committee”( how like, anarchic! ), Darren knows ultimately it’s the quality of the music that really matters-everything else is merely garnish, a compliment to the main course. Bizarrely “Big Music” doesn’t seem to get this simple concept and generally continues to serve up the equivalent of a beautifully presented steak dinner, minus the steak. Thee SPC, on the other hand, have never been a label to release standard fayre, and their latest release “The Noyelle Beat” by erm, Standard Fare is no exception😉
Standard Fare are Emma Kupa, Danny How and Andy Beswick, adopting a collective moniker which is somehow endowed with an air of northern common sense, reliability and is reassuringly unpretentious. Of course there will be puns a plenty regarding the bands name but there’s certainly no doubting that Standard Fare’s wonderful album “The Noyelle Beat” is a mightily impressive debut. It’s a collection of songs that the band say really started to take shape after performing at a music festival held in Noyelles Sous Lens, France, which Danny describes as the moment “where we felt our sound came together.” Many of these songs went on to form the basis of “The Noyelle Beat”, as Emma explains “we felt we wanted to carry some of the energy from that time into the album”. Recorded in just six days, the album has a raw untamed quality and vibrancy that just can’t be manufactured. In fact it’s the sort of natural uncontrived sound that many hugely successful artists often attempt to recapture, as if to remind themselves of why they got involved in music in the first place. It’s a perfect snapshot of a band brimming with ideas, enthusiasm and energy who have found their voice, a voice informed by real life experience, and whilst these may not have always been happy experiences they have doubtless, been character building ;) “Our main influences are relationships,” they say, “these songs are often what we wanted to say to someone at the time but couldn’t articulate. There is often a fine line in the nature of relationships and friendships. And there are many emotions and situations common to both. But since the songs are often based on true experiences it is good to retain some vagueness about who they are about.”
Whereas every Tom Dick and Florence are intent on becoming “electro-mystics”, Standard Fare are reassuringly John Peel old style indie, with pristine Orange Juice style guitars allied to a singularly romantic kitchen sink sense of melodrama much beloved by the likes of The Smiths. You may also detect a hint of the Long Blondes, Belle and Sebastian or even a less saccharine version of Camera Obscura, but despite theses musical reference points (intentional or not) the band manage to stamp their own unique sound all over this marvellous album. Darren from Thee SPC tells us that after the band had made contact regarding the submission of a demo he had a quick listen on myspace, was more than impressed and asked if they could send him every demo they’d recorded! “ I soon found out they had more than enough ace material for an album, I acted really quickly and signed them up right away.” His faith has definitely been justified, as “The Noyelle Beat” will surely feature in many of the “best of” lists” at the end of the year . The band have just returned from SXSW and so we caught up with them, just before jet leg kicked in….
VP: What’s your background story? How did you all meet up and form “Standard Fare” ?
Dan: We all played in separate bands, Emma in ‘The Daisies’, Andy in ‘Pocket Lemon’ and I played in ‘The Boring Mortals’. I got to know Emma when our bands played a gig together and when the bands stopped we started playing. My brother also played in ‘Pocket Lemon’ and when we needed a drummer, he suggested we ask Andy.
VP: Would you say you all share a similar taste in music or do you all bring different influences that inform your collective output?
Andy: Our music tastes do over lap, I’m influenced by what Emma and Dan bring to the band too.
Emma: We all have an appreciation for a lot of different types of music. We all like some of the same bands (especially some of the bands we’ve been playing with the last year or so like Nat Johnson and the Figureheads and Allo Darlin’) but we also have different tastes like I’m more into some of the older rock/pop stuff like Fleetwood Mac and Sam Cooke and Dan can be more into punkier stuff and Andy has a wild taste and is currently liking some drum ‘n’ bass.
VP: What made you decide to relocate to Sheffield?
Dan: Andy moved to Sheffield to study at Uni and Emma moved to York to study whilst I was still living in Buxton, we’d decided we still wanted to play as a band and Sheffield seemed like the middle point to do it. We had a rough idea what Sheffield was like but it was only really when we started playing there we realised it had so much going on with so many great venues and bands to play with. I’m glad we did it.
VP: Your debut album The Noyelle Beat is released on 29th of March , and it has to be said, is bloody ace, is it true that you recorded it in just six days ? Was this due to financial constraints or are you just really quick workers?
Andy: Thank you, it was a combination of us and Alan at 2fly, we had most of the songs all practised and ready to be recorded so that helped, Alan’s Ace at what he does too and is quite particular about the process.
VP: Emma, you’re mum was apparently a member of The Poison Girls, has the fact that she’d been involved in ‘the biz’ made you aware of possibilities and pitfalls?
Emma: Yes I suppose it’s always seemed possible because I know my mother did it. She’s been a great role model of going for what she wants to do.
VP: How does the song-writing process work in the band?
Dan: Originally either me or Emma would bring an almost complete song to the band and the other two would add their parts, but the last year or so we’ve been writing more as a band, starting from some chords or a drum beat or a guitar riff. It’s nice not knowing how the song is gonna sound.
VP: What have you got planned for the rest of 2010?
Dan: We’ve just got back from our first tour in North America, we had a great time and played some really nice little venues. Over the next few months though we’re doing a session for Huw Stephens on Radio 1, we’re playing our first Scotland gigs in July and also around that time we’re playing a few festival spots such as Indietracks and Farmfest, which we’re really looking forward to.
VP: You’ve been featured on 6 music yourselves what are your views on the BBC’s proposals to axe the station
Dan: I think it’d be a real shame to close one of the few national avenues that lets people hear smaller bands they might not otherwise discover, and likewise it cuts down the routes bands like us have for reaching those people.
VP: Which new bands have impressed you over the last year?
Dan: Mexican Kids at Home, The Runaround Kids, also, although they’re not that new, they were still new to me and impressed me no end – One Happy Island
Andy: Yeah, Mexican kids at home are really good and I saw the Exlovers in Sheffield a coupla weeks ago and really enjoyed their set!
Emma: I’m really liking Allo Darlin’ at the moment.
VP: Name five songs you wished you’d written
Andy: Graham Coxon – People of the Earth, Jimi Hendrix – Little Wing, the Specials – Too much too young, the Seahorses – Love is the Law.
Dan: I’ll throw in ‘Hall of Mirrors’ by The Distillers and ‘J.A.R.’ by Green Day
Emma: ‘Only in the Past’ by the Be Good Tanyas, anything from ‘Tusk’ or ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac.
“Fifteen” By Standard Fare
“Philadelphia” (audio only ) By Standard Fare