Your website describes Summer Lovers as “a summer soaked love song that hints of Dylan and Lennon” - would you go along with that?
Yeah that’s right, I forgot about that!
You’ve also got your debut album coming out at the end of the month, it must be quite an exciting time for you…
Yeah, it’s good. It’s taken a while but it’s got there, it’s nice
How long have you been working on the album?
It’s probably about…well I could have done it in about a year but I took my time and recorded it in about two years. I recorded most of it at home so it takes a bit longer.
I recorded it at home because, I’m originally from the four-track school of thought which is really amateur recording so you do it on the computer and you work on it at home so you tend to edit things and you’ve got more time to take over it. We find studios a bit daunting, I think we’re ready for it now but I think the way we’ve done it is just more fun and more lo-fi.
How many songs did you record and have to pick from?
I had a shitload of songs and Neil from Mint Royal, he’s the boss of the label, he came down and helped us choose. I mean I have quite a big say in it but they sort of hint at what they think would work. So I had about 17 songs and we got it down to the last 11 or 12 and we changed 2 at the last minute because if I suddenly write something that I really like then I’ve got to get it on the album. There’s a track called ‘Little Rock and Roll Ghost’ which only just made it.
Was it a difficult process?
Very! Luckily, they suggested a running order and that took a lot of work out of it. That worked, there was an A & R man called Tom who was very good and he sort of helped a lot with the running order and things. Neil can be quite harsh, in a good way, when it comes to helping trim a song down so it’s shorter. I reckon most songs are too long and I like short pop songs and that’s why all the tracks are about three and a half minutes which is good.
What has been the highlight for you since developing the band?
Playing live’s been one of them but I once walked into a bar and watched somebody dancing to one of my records and that’s definitely the best feeling you can ever have. It was three drunks and a lot of cool people just nodding their heads because they were too cool to dance. This one guy was just so drunk, he had four bottles of beer in his hands and he was just giving it licks. He was dancing to Summer Lovers actually which was amazing.
You’ve had some excellent reviews from the music press already, does this mean a lot to you?
Yeah, it does. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. I mean if they’d slagged it off I would have ignored them anyway because I’ve had to have unbelievable self faith in it anyway just to get it done, you know. I was doing it for no money for a long time so… but yeah, it’s fantastic. The fact that they like it just confirms it… you shouldn’t really listen to them but you just do what you think and that’s great that they like it.
Is there an overall theme for the album?
Yeah, it’s not really a concept album but there are a few themes - technology would be one of them - and I like to think there’s a sense of humour, y’know in things like Rubbish Robots and things like that, and also there’s love, I’m a big fan of that, and that’s it I guess. Oh yeah, and obviously things that piss me off like C-list celebrities and things like that, rubbish DJs… those are the themes really.
How do you find recording compares to playing live?
I think they’re quite different at first because on the recordings I’m actually playing a lot of the instruments myself and now I’ve got the band, that helps me write more up-tempo…actually this next record we’re working on is a bit more Blondie because it’s just that sort of thing but it’s quite different yeah. I love them both really, they’re great.
If your album’s ‘comforting like a bowl of smash’ (NME), what food type would you use to describe your live performance?
That’s the best question I’ve ever been asked! We’re big on food in the band. I’d say performance wise we’re like fish and chips with mushy peas – you know, a bit of a take out food. The NME Smash thing was the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about us. Well saying that, Smash isn’t actually that nice is it but we tend to always be talking about food a lot in the band, and drink, because every time we place somewhere we’ll go and try out the local takeaway places and me and Max, we’re both from the North East so we like chippies anyway – we’re connoisseurs of rubbish food now.
You’ve got quite a distinctive music style, how would you describe it?
Lyrically a lot of the press have said it’s very rye and that we’ve got a good sense of humour which I kind of like and I guess musically, I don’t know, there’s a few influences in there. There’s a bit of Bowie and Beatles there and there’s a hint of the French stuff like Air and Phoenix. I guess we are pop but it’s also got a bit of an edge, I like to think it’s in the same vein as someone like Simple Kid and people like that. People have said there’s a bit of Beck in there so I guess it’s kind of in that area. Not that I’m as good as them but that sort of bracket you know.
You chose to base yourselves in Manchester with Faith & Hope was this simply because they were the best label for you or were there other things drawing you to stay in the North?
Well I live in the North and I couldn’t leave Manchester because of my family and I love it. As much as I like it I wouldn’t really want to move to London. A bigger London label made quite a nice offer but with Faith & Hope I liked the people a lot more and they seemed to care more and they’re a good label. I mean not that we were inundated with offers but I’d say this was the most sensible one to take. And you know, they’re a good label. They’re a little interesting label. They’ve just signed a few other small acts and they’re starting to get a lot of interest for being a kind of quirky trusted little record company now which is good. The fact that Neil Claxton from Mint Royale is head is quite good because, it’s like, you really need someone who’s already doing it to give you advice and the fact that they’re all about 30 years old or late twenties is good as well.
If someone could only either see you live or buy your album which would you tell them to choose?
Buy the record… no offence band!
How have the album tracks been going down live, has the reaction been good?
Yeah! Technology everyone seems to like and Kill All DJs. There’s a big divide, the younger cooler kids tend to like the more electrical stuff but we noticed that the girls dance but the boys’ll just hang off the amps and nod their head and that kind of thing – so you just hope you’re doing the right thing!
Do you have something coming up with Badly Drawn Boy?
That’s actually with Rebelski, that’s The Dove’s guy, it’s not Beats for Beginners but what happened was I worked with Martin Rebelski, that’s The Doves’ keyboard player and he just got a deal with Twisted Nerve for his new solo record which is called “Stickers on Keys” and I wrote two tracks with him and one of them’s going to be a single but when he plays live, and he’s supporting Badly Drawn Boy, I’ll be singing live on those two tracks. I’ve never actually been a massive fan of Badly Drawn Boy, I like what he does and I liked what he did with the About a Boy soundtrack – something to talk about and Silent Sigh – brilliant but he’s more a friend of Martin’s than of us really but he’s good.
Where did you get your name from?
These are good questions… I used to live with some guys who were very into DJing and turntables and samplers and through that I, sort of, discovered samplers. Because I’m from a guitar background, and I was so rubbish, I used to say ‘I’m just doing Beats for Beginners’ and I loved that name and decided to stick with that but sometimes people can think we’re a dance band when we’re not.
Could you run us through the band, maybe tell us a little bit about each member, backgrounds etc and how you came to get together?
The first person was Max, the bass player, he’s the tall, Ramonsey looking one. We call him the punk, of lad. He does his own electrical stuff and he was in quite a frightening punk band I saw, but I liked it immediately and we had a mutual friend back in Whitby so I knew who he was. The next person to join was Spencer who’s our synth player and he’s someone I used to work with doing sound recording, he’s like a proper boffin, which is great. And then Lizzie plays piano and … strings on keyboard and she was playing Ghostbusters at a party one night and we were like “right, get her in the band” and then Dave, the drummer, is someone I knew from a previous band from Manchester but he used to be Bonehead’s drummer from Oasis and he’s just a good drummer.
Kill All DJs – anyone in mind?
Well Pete Tong would definitely be up there!