“Sheffield’s Loveliest Band?” Monkey Swallows The Universe Interview

“Little Polvier” By Monkey Swallows the Universe

Not all bands from Sheffield have a Simeon derived moniker, those that do however, are not all noisy little urchins , take Monkey Swallows the Universe for example with their acoustic indie pop. It’s intelligent, its well crafted and its all very lovely and rather moving with songs that cover the whole emotional gamut, love, jealousy, pirates,apathy, imaginary friends, and death ! Their bittersweet tunes have drawn comparisons with the likes of Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura and Mazzy Star. The more you listen to them the more you release what wonderful songs they write ,that this is music from the heart by real people and this is music that matters.

They have been described as as “something special” (Stylus Magazine), “big big news” (Rough Trade), “boss” (Richard Hawley)”Capable of haunting, tear-prickling acoustic beauty…more than worthy of any – and everyone’s respect and attention.” (Drowned In Sound)

Originally a two piece with founding members Nat Johnson and Kev Gori the band expanded in 2005 to feature Catherine Tully on violin, Andy George on cello & Rob Dean on drums.

In 2006 the band released their debut album ‘The Bright Carvings’, with “Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation” , their latest critically acclaimed album “The Casket Letters ” released on Loose records, is out now and to quote the guardian “If they don’t get some sort of mass media coverage and fellatio for this album it could be a good reason to set fire to your passport and move to Sweden.” I would have to concur in the strongest possible terms , its a wonderful album and really should be in any self respecting music fans collection . We had a little natter with this exceptional young band……

VP: How did the current line up come together ?

Nat: “We met Cate, Rob and Andy through the same bunch of friends that had forced me and Kev to play gigs in the first place!”

VP: MSTU ? Isn’t that the name of an episode from the old and reassuringly bonkers Japanese show “Monkey”? Are you fans ? Have you seen Albarn’s Operas based on the legend/TV Show ?

Nat:” Kev and I are fans – we were watching it when forming the band. We think Albarn owes us free tickets to his show”

VP: Your latest album “The Casket Letters” has just been released did you find recording it easier than the first album “The Bright Carvings”

Rob: “It was very similar actually, both were recorded in a bit of a hurry although the actual recording time was spread out a bit more this time. There’s a lot more instrumentation going on on this album, the first one was basically Nat & Kev’s guitars then little bits the rest of us have added (Cate, Andy and I had not been in the band for very long at that point), while the new record has a much more ‘full band’ sound. The recording was all quite straightforward though, no major disagreements!”

Andy: “It was recorded piece by piece a few songs at a time and then fitted painstakingly together at the end. The instrumentation was more comprehensive this time and therefore it was often more complex to record although we had more experience after the first album and Alan Smyth at 2fly had worked with us before and so knew what to expect. It’s always enjoyable playing around in the studio!”

VP: You have been called “”Sheffield’s loveliest band” and your sound has been called “ravishing” , how would you describe it ?

Andy: “Folky indie-pop.”
Cate: “Melodic and pretty but usually contemplative about dark things like death.”

VP: What or whom take your fancy from the current music scene?

Andy: “The Howling Bells and Au Revoir Simone.”
Rob: “David Thomas Broughton, Fanfarlo, Richard Hawley, The Arcade Fire, Muse, Joanna Newsome, The Decemberists, The Shins, Bright Eyes
Sheffield bands: Smokers Die Younger, Fury of the Headteachers, Champion Kickboxer.”

VP: If music is the food of love who would you say are the indigestion ?

Andy: “The Horrors. Little Man Tate.”
Cate: “James Blunt”

VP: Aren’t two of you qualified primary school teachers ? What do you teach , any plans for Jack Black “School of Rock ” type lessons?

Cate: “Yes, I’m a primary school teacher and although it’d be fun to do a Jack Black type lesson, there isn’t much chance during the school day as there is so much to cover already. Maybe one day though…”
Andy: “Yes – Primary so a bit of everything. I use our music in lessons sometimes but it’s pretty hard to teach the cello to 30 kids at the same time!”

VP: Reality TV ? a great way to spend a night in or the televisual equivalent of removing your brains via your ears with a knitting needle ?

Andy: “The latter”

VP: Txt spk ? RU4 or against ?

Cate: “Against, what’s the point of writing ‘woz’? It has the same number of letters as the proper spelling. Get it right. ”
Rob: “Absolutely against. You don’t even need it in texts anymore cos of predictive text.”
Andy: “4 but not in the classroom!”

VP: Highlights of your time together thus far ?

Andy: “Festivals”
Nat: “Yeah, definitely the festivals, though we’re sick of camping now!!”

VP: What have been your favourite films of the year ?

Cate: “Blades of Glory”
Andy: “Hot Fuzz”

VP: Pick five of the most ridiculous words in the English language (eg. Johnny Borrell is a genius)

Andy: “Iraq is better off now”

 

Links

On Myspace

Official Site

Click banner to buy the album

 

VIDEO

“Science” By Monkey Swallows The Universe

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“We Are Not A Girl Group, Right? ” Slow Down Tallahassee Interview

“So Much For Love” By Slow Down Tallahassee

Thank god for digital radio, thank god for the internet. Whilst listening to the radio over a family meal, Steve Lamacq mumbles the intro to a new release by a band whose name he appears to pronounce as Slough Darn Tally Ho Sea. What the……? That can’t be right? I must have misheard , tis indeed a rather strange name. The ensuing song left me mesmerized with delight , pure pop perfection with a killer bass and fuzzy guitars, I was in heaven. But who the devil was making such a delightful noise ?

Knowing that if Lamacq announced the bands name again at the conclusion of the song he would deploy his usual unintelligible style of enunciation. This normally resembled somebody wearing a sock on their tongue, in an underwater cave, with all the clarity of a poor soul who’d recently suffered a stroke, and, who had duct tape plastered across their mouth, therefore I took decisive action. I dashed to the radio to read the scrolling digital panel, from this I was able to discern the following words ” So Much For Love” By Slow Down Tallahassee ” certainly not your average name. At this point I concluded I must put into action my famed powers of reason and apply Sherlock Holmes style logic. Convinced this was an American group I resolved to investigate the matter further.

Within minutes I was online and chatting to the band, (who are actually from Sheffield, Ooop North, by the ‘eck , England, The UK !) ordering the single and falling in love with their sound….and I think you all will too.

I am honoured and humbled to present a world exclusive , yes SDT’s first ever interview. But be warned they are Yorkshire Women, plain speaking and to the point, they say what they like and they like what they bloody well say !

VP: We all know that Tallahassee is home to Wakulla Springs State Park one of world’s deepest freshwater springs it features glassbottom and river-boat tours, swimming,as well as nature trails, and of course fine dining, but where on earth did lads and lasses from Sheffield come up with the name Slow Down Tallahassee?

SDT : It came to us in a simultaneous nightmare, and we knew at once that we had found our purpose. The initials look great on the back of a well-worn leather jacket, and we had already spent a long time dreaming of scores of other meaningless words to put our own stamp on. These are the right ones. As a result, we have made lots of Tallahassian friends.

VP: My favourite single of the year so far “So Much For Love “ was released on “Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation” label and has been available since February. Are their plans for any more releases in the coming months? What are the chances of a Christmas song?


SDT: Christmas song? Slim to none. But Thee SPC will be releasing our album, hopefully preceded by a single, sometime after we finish recording them.

VP: What’s in the water in Yorkshire these days, so many good bands, (yet so much flooding)? Any bands aside from your good selves you’d tip for the top?

SDT:We like Gas Club, Navvy, The Parallelograms and The Millipedes.

VP: A lot of predominately female bands starting out in the music biz, state that its still quite a sexist industry, have you encountered this, and what can be done about it apart from a swift kick in the cobblers?

SDT: There’s definitely a lot of bollocks, a lot of assumptions and double standards concerning the way women in music should behave. We’ve always had a lot of support from male and female promoters, though, who have found us via Myspace or through the single, and we’ve only ever felt the need to prove ourslves as musicians / performers, rather than as ‘girls in a band’. It’s slightly annoying to always be classed as a Girl Group, as though being predominantly female places us within a certain genre. We’re a rock’n’roll band!

VP: The Spice Girls, positive female role models or vapid meat puppets?

SDT: The very notion that they have to be either one or the other is one of the assumptions with which women in bands have to contend. Women in music, particularly working class women, aren’t allowed any ambiguity, and are often expected to justify everything they sing. Or wear.
I used to dance to the Spice Girls, drunk and underage, in clubs in Blackpool and I have no regrets. (VP : I’m not sure youth is a valid excuse ;) Anyway I preferred “Shampoo”)

VP: Can you all remember the first records you bought?

SDT: A Comic Relief single for me (Nicola) but my first proper record was Stay Beautiful by the Manics on 12 inch vinyl.
Rich’s was Farewell My Summer Love by Michael Jackson.
Claire’s was The Ten Commandments of Dance by London Boys, or Man Machine by Kraftwerk.
Rachel is unavailable for comment, but we’re guessing it was The Sisters EP by Pulp.

VP:Do you agree that the Internet “ is destroying good music” as Elton John suggested, or is he just a silly elitist, technophobic buffoon with an amusing wig?

SDT: Hey! Leave Elton alone Von Paps, YOU BIG BULLY!
The Internet is allowing good, non-mainstream music to thrive. Without Myspace, Last FM etc, we would never have been found by people in Japan, Taiwan, Israel and the US at this stage in our musical career.

VP: As you’re from Yorkshire, do you know Sean Bean ?

SDT: Of course we do! Everyone in Sheffield knows Beano.

VP: Finish the following sentence, Simon Cowell is a ……

SDT:Waste of space. (VP: Which is the correct answer)

VP: .Sum upSlow Down Tallahassee’s style up in five words

SDT: Soundtrack To Apocalyptic JD Movie.

They are a very fine band , go and rejoice and buy their records. ” So Much For Love” was on the loveliest thickest coloured vinyl I’ve ever seen. It was indeed a thing of visceral beauty and its now available on CD.

JOIN THEIR GANG, AND YOU WILL NEVER BE LONELY AGAIN.

Links

On myspace

Buy the CD Single

Thee SPC Website

VIDEO

Soundcheck Lancaster Library

By Axico Music Video