I take a few minutes out of my day to chat to a band which seem to be turning a few heads live in Leeds at the moment and with an album on the way from chinchilla & On The Bone Records can they provide the beef........
So cows what's the deal here then. Stripy knitwear, wailing casio keyboards, chunky guitars and pounding drums. It's all a bit excitingly impressive really. How did you get together and create Cowtown?
hils- I like casio's. i used to live with shieldsy and we had a practice cellar so we would mess about. I was playing guitar but spending all my alone time playing with my casio and then jon nash said 'why don't you play casio if you like them so much' so i did, and nash played guitar (even though he was mostly a fantastic bass player at the time) because he is real good at it. Then we were cowtown.... that was in about 2002, this year we got steevsie. That came about because he sang a fall song with us for a special fall party for johnny strangeways and then he came to sing one of our songs and it was good. Also, he is top dancer!
nash - When i met hils and dave they we're pretty much fully commited grungers. They had some pretty strange ideas as to what constitutes party music....it made me wonder what kind of parties they had been attending and weather or not i'd have liked to have been there. Steevsies a natural born wonder. He's the jason newstead of the band (though no-one had to die in a freak bus crash for him to end up in the band). He's all new'n'shit, straight out of the cellophane. Definately a good dancer and a fine addition to the team.
hils - hey! i like to think we were more stoner rock!
nash - you were stoned but you weren't stoner rock.....
I can hear some deerhoof, beck, devo and even kraftwerk (kraftwerk may well be just me though). It's different and fresh and dare I say.trendy maybe? You appear to have strong connections with the DIY scene in Leeds as well. So, what are your ambitions musically?
hils- my greatest musical ambition is for prince to one day write a song for cowtown to play. Steevsie wants 25% (whatever that means) and i think shields would like to eat food everyday and maybe play giant drums in a stadium rock band?
nash - I'd like to play with Prince......that'd be sweet. I'd like to support They Might be Giants and maybe the B52's....just imagine that. I'm almost definately influenced by all the bands you mentioned and i try not to let it show......so i ain't doing to well there.
We've have super strong ties with the DIY scene here in Leeds (strong like an oxe i tell thee) but, like everything else, it evolves and becomes different things to different people. I love living and playing music in Leeds. I promote shows here, put out records, put together festivals and parties, make posters and shirts....that sort of thing. I should mention that this is done under the guise of CHINCHILLA which is a small group of friends that play music and try to have as much fun doing it as possible. Here is our website address if you are interested in finding out more......www.chinchillaweb.co.uk
Can you tell us a little more about your debut album 'Pine-Cone Express' soon to be released by On The Bone Records & Chinchilla. When's it out and what can we expect from it? Oh, and why the name?
hils- i can't explain why. 'pine-cone express' sounds like the thing you need to get a pine cone fast, it's kind of like nature but still bad ass and future at the same time.
nash - the record will be available from the beginning of november. It will be coming out on three labels. Chinchilla will be taking care of the cost of the cd release, Goldenlabrecords (they put out or second 7" single Slice of Ketchup/Crab Pamphlet) will be helping out with a vinyl release in January and we have plans to put out a single with On the bone so they are helping to get the album distributed digitally as a pre-emptive strike.....it's all very strategic.
Will a single or singles be released from the album or is this just a one off project?
nash - the single will be brand spanking new efforts all featuring the lovely steevsie on vocals. The album took a while to finish and naturally things have evolved over time. Consider 'pine-cone express pre-stevsie and the single post-steivie...thats the best i can explain it. I assume the single is a one-off project.....On the bone only put out singles....i think???......for more on that interview James Brown (godfather of grunge not godfather of soul).
You seem to have more gigs than stripes in your clothing for the rest of this year. Can we take it that this is your favoured part of being in a band or are you simply trying to get your name out there to push the album?
hils- it's just been working out that way recently. We get offered shows. we try to be picky and space them out so people don't get sick of us but if they seem like they might be fun and with good bands then we do it because it's fun to go to play and go to places and see bands and meet people.
I don't think theres a favourite part of being in a band for us in terms of playing/song-writing. I think that both these things need each other. So far it seems to have worked out fine without us really thinking about it too much. Sometimes i think it would be nice if we didn't have jobs and could spend loads time on everything but then i think maybe that's too easy and that's why maybe bands who have label monies often do a not-so-good second record or split up or whatever......
nash - we like to get out and about. For me doing a band, like promoting gigs or putting out records, is about creating your own fun and your own entertainment so you don't have to rely on the crappy events and bars most people are happy to frequent. As a general rule most bands are pretty fucking dire so it's nice to try and be good. Playing live is total mintness but if i knew more about making records then maybe i'd be really into that....who knows? I'm pretty happy when i'm playing well and it's a fun gig....maybe even happier than i realise.
I witnessed you playing recently in Leeds and I have to say it was a whopper of a live performance. Fantastic is the word actually. Are you all in it to win it or is this simply a laugh with a few friends?
hils- thanks! we've always tried to play like a ninja fightng team - fast and punchy, fun. I've only got a short attention span so i need for things to be happening all the time. I think it's the same for shields, he can't even sit still and he's always jiggling about. We always seem to play a little bit faster live because we're excited.....also nash knocks us about if we don't play good.
nash - thats right, i keep everyone in line. If we get sloppy i like to slap peeps about a bit. I'd like to think that being in it to win it and having a few laughs are essentially the same thing. We love our freinds and we like winning! Hopefully we'll win and still be friends.
Who writes the tunes and does your wardrobe?
Nash - Cowtown conjure up the magic. Andy crane and his ontourage of library assistants do our wardrobe.
So what's next? Are you writing the second album or do you have other projects to concentrate on, as it would seem you all have other bands you play in as well as Cowtown.
Nash - we're pretty close to having a new record of material but you know...one thing at a time. We'll be doing this single for On the Bone sometime soon and then we'll probably try and tour europe again.....thats always good.
We also have plenty of other musical projects on the go. Steve plays in Pifco, an ongoing two peice party band project with his girlfreind and housemate Mary who also plays drums with D'astro (a tape release is available on chinchilla records). Dave sheilds occasionally plays with grunge legends Monster Killed By Laser and Orphans. Up until recently Hilary used to play with the fantastic Beards and i believe both herself and Dave plan to relive there youth in a side project Chicken and Ham. It's part grunge fantasy, part hip-hop reality. I play drums in a band called tigers! and a new project called G-Fang aswell as the occasional performance with the highly underated pop trio Brown Owl.
Name me three different cows.
hils - i believe i can answer this one;
cow yun fat
nash - cow yun fat? thats racist.
hils- why is it? a cow can be many things, including a film director. Don't oppress me.
Can you give us a good reason to buy the album and see you live other than it being obviously common sense to do so?
nash - you may commit your time and money to a less worthy cause and later regret it.....no one wants that, least of all us. The albums a reet hoot i tell thee!
hils- also you will get to own a piece of fantastic artwork by the lovely dave bailey that is sure to be a treat of colour and magic for your eyes.
Pine-Cone Express is released via On The Bone Records (digital), Chinchilla-tone records (cd) and GoldenLabsrecordings (lovely vinyl) from November 5th 2007 from all good record stores and online.
Words - Chris Lowe