Still Corners, Interview
Interview with Still Corners
London dreampop ensemble Still Corners might be a new name to many, but their story actually began around four years ago culminating in the 'Remember Pepper' EP a few months later in the summer of 2008. Since then, line-up changes ensued - the most significant being the addition of Tessa Murray on vocals in place of the band's original singer - and a couple of excellent seven-inch singles ('Endless Summer', 'Don't Fall In Love') later, they've steadily become one of the most talked about outfits on the circuit, having recently inked a deal with legendary Seattle label Sub Pop.
Their debut long player 'Creatures Of An Hour' is set to be released on 11th October, with the band currently enjoying an extended tour around some of Europe's finest festivals. Indeed it's at one of these, the inimitable Latitude Festival, that we find ourselves sat in a backstage portacabin over-indulging in far too much vodka and JD with the four-piece - Tessa Murray, Greg Hughes, Luke Jarvis and Leon Dufficy.
Drinks and conversation topics in full flow, let us begin.
Who formed the band and when?
Greg: Basically, I formed the band and then put out an EP in 2008. Over time we started playing live shows together so I guess that's really the point where we became a proper band. We basically picked up Luke (Jarvis, guitars) along the way and then went through a bunch of singers until I met Tessa (Murray), randomly I must add! I was trying to get home one night, and I got on a train to London Bridge - well I thought it was but it stopped at Kidbrooke.
Tessa: I think on the sign it said that it stopped at London Bridge? We must have both thought the same, and I remember being on the platform and saying to Greg, 'Did you get on the wrong train too?' and then we had to wait twenty minutes for the next train back to London Bridge and ended up chatting. About a year and a half later, I joined the band.
Greg: Tessa was sending me demos, and eventually I asked her to join the band.
It's almost like some kind of brief encounter-type fairytale.?
Greg: I guess it is!
Luke: It was literally a couple of months before we put 'Endless Summer' out.
Tessa: Since then it's been pretty much the same line-up.
Did it feel weird at first singing songs that were written and I guess to some extent, designed to be sung by a different singer?
Greg: I wouldn't say they were specifically written for any one person.
Tessa: He's asking me because I'm the one singing! I don't really find it that weird, because I've been singing other people's songs all my life. There were a few tweaks that we needed to make so that they made more sense to me, and there are a couple of others from that period which I'll never even attempt but generally it's fine.
There certainly seems to be a lot more depth to the newer songs than the ones on 'Remember Pepper'. When I listen to the likes of 'Eyes' or 'Endless Summer' I'm reminded of people like Broadcast, Lush, the Cocteau Twins, Mew even. I guess there is an element of that whole shoegaze sound to what you're doing in many ways?
Greg: (laughs) I'm not sure whether we want to be classified as a shoegaze band. We all love Broadcast and the Cocteau Twins, but I don't know if we're really that genre specific. A lot of people have us down as this dreampop band but I prefer to just call us pop.
Luke: I guess all of the bands you mentioned have that same ethos and vibe and I think we do share some of that so in a way it's inevitable that we're going to be placed in that group. I wouldn't necessarily say we're that similar to Broadcast, but then at the same time it is quite an honour to get mentioned in the same breath as any of those bands.
Tessa: The best comparison was U2.!
Really? So who was meant to be Bono?
Tessa: Me I guess! They must have seen something in me that reminded them of Bono!
Luke: I don't want to be The Edge!
Tessa: I guess that's the thing with us. We do get compared to so many different artists and with some you can kind of understand where they're coming from and then with others, it's more a case of..what?!?
Greg: I suppose in a way it's good that people compartmentalise us because as a result it gets people listening who've probably never heard our music before.
Leon: It's easy for people who do like us to try and influence their friends to listen as well I guess. If I were to say to some of my friends 'This band sound like Broadcast' or whatever it would definitely help make their minds up as to whether they'd bother listening in the first place. There's nothing bad about that.
Tessa: It's a tool.
Going back to the shoegaze thing, there does seem to be quite an underground scene developing in label with labels like Club AC30 and Sonic Cathedral also running their own club nights and bands like Echo Lake and Tripwires releasing excellent records this year. Do you feel any sort of kinship with any of those people?
Greg: We're good friends with Echo Lake.
Leon: I'm not sure whether we have the same musical lineage as all of those people. I think we all probably originate from the same place but in many ways we're also quite different to one another. There is a kinship in that we all like each other's bands, and we've seen Echo Lake play several times.
Greg: Musically we're not the same, definitely not.
Although you've received mostly positive reviews and comments from the music press in general, do you think it's fair to say that a lot of the attention focused on Still Corners has been generated purely by word of mouth?
Luke: Absolutely. It's been quite organic.
Tessa: We haven't had a massive press machine working for us.
Luke: We didn't even have a PR until recently.
Greg: It's all just kind of happened really, which is good because we haven't been thrust into the public eye too early, and therefore had a good couple of years to hone and develop our sound.
Luke: I think it's fair to say that we grew as people along with the band.
You've recently been taken on by Becky Randall of Warmest Chord Management. Do you think having a manager has also helped the band gain attention in some ways?
Greg: Definitely. I think having someone like Becky on board has been massively advantageous to us. When she first came along she admitted to being really into the band, and although she wasn't the most experienced person in terms of artist management the fact she genuinely likes us made a huge difference. She's really passionate about what we're doing, and when she started contacting numerous PR people it helped get the band onto bigger blogs, which opened even more doors, so yeah, Becky has been quite important to our development. We don't really know anyone in the industry. We've just spent the last few years going our own merry way.
It must be quite surreal that most of you have been playing together for a good few years now yet only just started to come to many people's attention.
Greg: I think the reason why it's taken so long is because we've finally found the right people to be in this band and everything just connected. We spent a long time looking for the right singer but that didn't stop us writing and trying out new ideas along the way. When we found Tessa it was like finding the missing piece of a jigsaw, and when we recorded 'Endless Summer' we all knew instantly that this was the band we'd always wanted Still Corners to be.
You've recently signed a record deal with Sub Pop. How did that come about and what made you choose them?
Greg: We'd just released the 'Don't Fall In Love' seven-inch for The Great Pop Supplement and for some reason that sold out in a day, about 700 copies or something, which was miraculous for us. Then we got an email from Sub Pop saying they really liked our band, and it wasn't long after that they flew over to see us play, and after that they asked us if we wanted to do something with them. Obviously we were all really excited and thought, 'Fuck yeah! Let's do it!'
Are you all big fans of the other artists on Sub Pop's roster?
Greg: Of course, I mean most people talk about Nirvana and that whole grunge thing, but I like a lot of the newer artists there like Shabazz Palaces.
Tessa: .and Beach House too for me.
Luke: The Shins too.
Leon: I'd say that at this moment in time they're probably the greatest label around. Everything is quality, all killer and no filler.
Was there quite an A&R scramble to sign your band? I recall seeing several industry people at your recent Great Escape show in Brighton for example.
Tessa: There were hundreds of people throwing loose change at us while we were playing!
Greg: But seriously, I don't think I'd describe it as a scramble. There was interest and people did come and speak to us and various conversations ensued from that.
Tessa: There were a few offers on the table but it's not really something you're aware of in a great way. Someone else deals with the business side of things.
Greg: We're more about just plugging in and playing. We're not really part of the game or whatever you want to call it. We're enjoying being in a band and being able to make music, and that's why it seemed natural to sign with Sub Pop because they have no expectations beyond that either.
How many shows have you played with this line-up?
Greg: We did a tour of the US in March, and that was like, eighteen shows so I'd say in total somewhere around fifty.
Tessa: I thought we'd done loads more than that? I started playing with the band in April 2010 and we've been gigging constantly since then.
Your debut album 'Creatures Of An Hour' is out in October. What can you tell me about the record and will there be any older material on there?
Greg: The oldest songs on there are 'Endless Summer' and 'Cuckoo' off the seven-inch we did last year. There's another single coming out at some point off it, although we're yet to decide what that will be.
Luke: In terms of our recorded output 'Creatures.' pretty much consists entirely of new songs, although a lot of them we've been playing live for a while now.
Greg: We are going to redo some of our older material at some point with a guy we know which may come out either as a bonus edition of the album or separately later on.
Tessa: Apparently Japan loves bonus tracks so maybe it will end up on that edition of the album?
Greg: Who knows? We're just gonna keep cruising along and experimenting as we go.
Do you see being in this band as ultimately being a career?
Greg: I don't know. It's not something we talk about although the prospect of work scares me! We've all had routine dayjobs and now we're spending more time on Still Corners trying to be the best band we possibly can be.
Leon: I think if we ever got the opportunity to do this full time we would go for it and see what happens.
Greg: I'm a great believer in taking everything day by day rather than thinking ahead because it's a great feeling just to enjoy what we're doing now. If you concentrate too much on the future you'd end up spending the whole time worrying about it.
Tessa: I think in many ways we've already surpassed our expectations. Just to be playing at a festival like Latitude today is simply amazing, and I think if you'd asked us last year if we'd be here and signed to Sub Pop we'd have probably said no.
The album 'Creatures Of An Hour' is out in October on Sub Pop Records.