Leeds-based Eureka Machines' debut album Do or Die (2008) showcased some of the best independent good-times rock music England has to offer. After around three years of solid touring behind it, slowly building their profile with a staunch DIY ethic, the band are about to do it all again with their stunning second album, Champion the Underdog, due for release in May on Wrath Records. We caught up with the bands' incredibly hard-working front-man Chris Catalyst (Sisters of Mercy, ex-Antiproduct) ahead of the first round of gigs to support it.
Contact Music: How would you describe to those who may be unfamiliar with Eureka Machines what you sound like and what you do?
Chris Catalyst: We basically decided to form a band that we all thought would be our own favourite band. I suppose it's pop music with noisy drums and naughty guitars.
CM: In the last 3 years since Do or Die, you have done a LOT of touring, both headlining and opening for acts as diverse as Jackdaw4, Electric 6, Stiff Little Fingers and The Wildhearts. Have there been any moments that really stand out as highlights?
CC: Honestly these days it's as much about the camaraderie of hanging out with three of my best friends as playing tunes. Gig wise the things that spring to mind are the stuff that made a night different, like the time my trousers fell down in Bristol, or the time I went onstage dressed as the Pope in London (during the Papal visit of 2010). More generally certain piss-ups afterwards have been fairly momentous.
CM: Are you looking forward to getting out on the road and playing the new music?
CC: Always, as I said before, it's a privilege to play music I like with three of my best mates. I'm hopeful that some people come to see us, and if they don't, that's no worries. We play for the people that have turned up rather than those who haven't. The driving is sometimes pretty tedious, but we listen to good tunes and play Travel Family Fortunes.
CM: How important is live performance to you as a band?
CC: It's everything to us. We work hard on being as good as we possibly can be.
CM: Between the relentless touring with both Eureka Machines and the other band you're in, Sisters of Mercy, how did you find time to write and record this new album?
CC: With great difficulty at times. It was a case of fitting it around everyone's lives, and wives. It took longer than I expected, but it always does.
CM: The new album covers a vast array of styles. Are there any songs on it that stand out as your favourites?
CC: Songs are like children. Once you've given birth to them, you can't really pick a favourite. I'm probably most proud of the second half, as that's the stuff we've done live less. So I'm less sick of those songs.
CM: I can hear a lot of different influences in there, especially The Wildhearts and The Cardiacs. Are there any other bands you feel have helped shape the band's sound?
CC: The Wildhearts and Cardiacs are two of my favourite bands, and it's been an absolute honour to work with various members of each band over the years. I think everything you ever hear is an influence on your music, there's a lot of Beatles in it, too. I also really love Supergrass, Strapping Young Lad, Roxy Music, early Oasis, Bowie, The Stranglers and Mansun, and I think there's moments of each on there.
CM: Sisters of Mercy are playing Sonisphere, are there any plans for Eureka Machines to play any festivals this summer?
CC: Unfortunately, we don't have an agent, so it's pretty much impossible to get on festivals. However there's been some interest from a few places, so you never know. I think next year we might be doing a few.
CM: Eureka Machines are a band who rely almost solely on your fan base to spread the word and help promote the band. What can fans do to get involved and do their bit?
CC: We completely rely on the support of people to spread the word about us. It's a two-way thing, without people's help, we could do nothing. We don't earn any money from Eureka Machines, but it just about pays for itself. It'd be nice if people who like us shared the music with their like-minded pals, so that we can afford to make another album and keep going. As it stands, we just about scrape by. It'd be nice to be able to do it for a living.
CM: Beyond this May tour for the album, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
CC: I've got to write another album at some point. Eureka Machines will be doing some more gigs, and I've got some interesting stuff coming up with the Sisters, so we'll see. There's no particular rush.