Tuesday, 6 March 2012
The Kabeedies - Interview
It’s half an hour before the first band of the night, Onions, are due do go onstage at the Deaf Institute, and The Kabeedies have just found out that they don’t have a promoter. ‘Craig [band manager] has just told us we have to promote it ourselves, so Rory is having a bit of a panic…’ drummer Fab tells me, as he leads me through the maze-like corridors to the backstage band flat.
It’s the last night of the ‘Soap’ tour, and fab and guitarist Evan are pretty positive. ‘The last few [gigs] have been amazing, London, Brighton, Leicester, Leamington Spa.’ Evan tells me. I’ve never been to Leamington Spa. ‘It’s actually really nice! We were quite worried about it but it’s like really posh’ fab assures me, ‘there’s this massive group youths that are actually interested in making it better’ adds Evan. ‘But they do all wear Hollister and Jack Wills’ adds Fab. Well you can’t have it all, I suppose.
I first encountered The Kabeedies’ through hearing one of their early singles, Lovers Ought To on Huw Stephens’ old late night show on Radio in 2008. I saw them supporting Esser at Lancaster Library in October of that year and fell in love with the infectious choruses and harmonies that define their early sound. I’ve been a fan ever since. The name? A word made up by a friend used to name anything from cigarettes to money. However, when supporting CSS they found out it meant more than that. ‘They told us that ‘kabeedie’ in Portuguese means ‘coat hanger’, so our name to them was The Coat hangers.’
As it is the last night of the tour, I ask them if they have anything special planned for the evening.
Evan: ‘Oh yes. I’ve got serious plans.’
Fab: ‘But they’re not particularly acute. You’ve haven’t really got ‘plans’ just the general plan of ‘let’s get really pissed!’’
Evan: ‘I’m going to see if I can lose my mind. Like actually; people say that a lot but I’m really going to try and lose my mind.’
Fab: as soon as this show’s over I think we will probably descend into an alcoholic nightmare and run around Manchester.
Evan: ‘I’m going to be doing a lot of shouting tonight- friendly shouting, though, not aggressive.’
‘Soap’ is their second album to date. I have just asked them how making the second album was for them, and whether they encountered the stereotypical ‘Second Album Syndrome’. But we don’t get far. ‘I can’t think about anything else apart from what Evan has just put on the computer now.’ Fab apologises. The distraction is a picture of a man wearing ‘a dick suit’ as Evan so eloquently puts it. A bodysuit covered in a multitude of fabric phalluses. ‘They’re quite red aren’t they…apart from that one. That one’s just really sad. Poor guy,’ muses Fab, pointing to a fabric penis which is placed just below where the man’s nipple should be. ‘That one’s his real one, that’s why it’s not red!’ quips Evan, which, if true, would be very anatomically confusing.
Evan: ‘Erm, what was the question?’
Fab: ‘Second Album. I found it so much better. Because the first album was just a collection of all the songs that we had, and this one we kind of had, as Evan put it last night, Carcasses of songs, and we built them in the studio around string sections and brass sections. It was so nice to work with so many more musicians, and have really accomplished players on it, rather than us complete idiots who don’t know how to play any of our instruments. It felt bigger.’
Evan: ‘It did. And they’re more songs. The first album was kind of ideas that we didn’t really know how to make into songs, and the new album they’ve become, without sound like an… idiot, piece of work that we’ve made together. So yeah it feels like it’s kind of just… better. It’s just better.
Did you change the song writing process on the second album?
Evan: ‘In parts, like, the last track on the album I made just on a computer. There’s electronic drums and a reversed mandolin part…’
Fab: ‘Our producer was a massive, massive influence. He would help us with the song writing
Evan: ‘Yeah he was a… what’s the expression?’
Fab: ‘Guide, philosopher and friend.’
Evan: ‘no… filtering out the crap.’
Fab: ‘A crap filter.’
Evan: ‘He was our quality control, I think. So if you don’t like the album it’s his fault!’
One of my favourite lyrics from the first album, Rumpus, is from Petroleum Jelly: ‘And even in a villain’s glove, you’ll find Vaseline’, which is a reference to Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck. Are your lyrics influenced a lot by literature?
Evan: ‘That’s a really weird coincidence, someone mentioned that today! Yeah, I’m probably--’
Fab: ‘It’s really funny as well because you would probably the last person to use literature in your lyrics.’
Evan: ‘Yeah, I don’t read very much, just cos I’m really ADHD. I read a page, then pick up another book. I’ve read the first 20 pages of a thousand books but probably finished a handful. I think that came from the movie, with John Malkovich.
What else inspires your lyrics?
Evan: I think we get inspired by different things. Fab’s lyrics are quite heavily political, Rory’s lyrics tend to be about hating people and I’m the only one who really writes love songs. A lot of my lyrics tend to be based on things I see, like the smallest thing, I’ll try and see if I can make it into a song, and then while I’m trying to make that thing into something, I end up getting a massive opinion on it, but I may put in love as well, kind of accidentally… but my songs are about to get depressing…
Fab: You came and said to us once: ‘I’ve just noticed that old men and women, you don’t see them making out on the street.’ And I was like that’s a pretty weird thing to notice and you were like ‘YEAH! I GOT REALLY ANGRY AT IT! WHY DON’T THEY DO IT?’
Evan: ‘I like when you see an old couple that’ve clearly been together since they were kids, so many years, and they’re sitting eating a meal, and they don’t speak. I love it. Like, they’re comfortable with each other. He’s wolfing down his food, and she’ll just watch him for a bit.
Fab: ‘And she wipes away a bit of food from his mouth
Evan: I love it, I think you don’t have to talk. And they’ll just occasionally have alook at each other. See, there’s the next song, right there!
So what about the tour bus? Who’s the most annoying? (that old chesnut)
Fab: ‘You. (Looking at Evan.) Definitely.’
Evan: ‘Me. Because I’m very ADHD, so I can’t sit still,’
Fab: ‘As you can note by the way he’s just playing with his fingernails and rocking on his chair! [Evan folds his arms and tries to sit still.] You said the infamous quote of ‘I don’t really deliberately annoy people it just sort of happens’. When he’s sort of beating round the head with a chair it’s like ‘I’m not doing it deliberately, it just sort of happened… this chair just fell in to my hand and then into your face.’
What’s on the stereo on tour?
Fab: constant afrobeat.
Evan: Lots of afrobeat. And… Turbo Fruits- we were listening to today’
Fab: ‘Really good band. Um… We have mostly really bad music in our car at the minute.’
Evan: ‘But I’ve been putting a lot of Toots & The Maytals on at the moment’
Do you think that influences your music?
Evan: ‘Yeah. We’re a bunch of middle-class white boys playing the—‘
Fab, interrupting: ‘I AM NOT MIDDLE-CLASS!
Evan: ‘Yeah, African music influences us definitely. But so does all that stuff, like Turbo Fruits and garage rock and stuff. Because… I dunno. They’re well good at… bridges. That’s what I like. Riffin’. They’re good at Riffing.
This influence can clearly be seen on Soap, an album which shows a progression in the band’s sound. They have become tighter as a unit, and their sound has matured from the very charming but possibly rather naïve sounding 2 minute jangly indie-pop songs of the first album. But some reviewers haven’t liked the change so much. ‘I don’t like, with reviews where if you’ve changed too much, it’s shit, I hate this expectance of reproducing the same crap. And then people say ‘It’s the same as the first album!’’ Evan tells me. It’s almost as if a band can’t win in that respect. ‘I constantly, constantly Google myself’ admits Fab, ‘I could go through a hundred reviews and if one is bad, then it’ll piss me off.’ Evan has a different take on it though, ‘This is going to sound like nihilism or something, but I don’t really take good or bad reviews on board, because it’s just someone’s opinion, and the whole thing with music is- I mean, look at what the best song in Britain was last year. One Direction, and it just make it clear that the majority of people are idiots…’
Towards the end of the interview, Evan is distracted by the guitarist from The Covelles’ (the second support band of the night) guitarist, who is showing off his huge tattoo of a pole dancer. ‘If you look closely you can even see her camel toe’ he reliably informs us. This leads a long discussion and comparison session about tattoos (including the word ‘PIZZA’ written on Evan’s arm in ‘old pen’- ‘that’s my next tattoo’).
The night unfolds to be a highly enjoyable one, and there needn’t have been the panic about promotion that there had been earlier. The Deaf Institute is one of the nicest venues I have ever been to, covered in quirky wallpaper, with the staged decked in classic red velvet curtains (one of which Evan uses as a towel at one point during the gig). The crowd are up for dancing and The Kabeedies are on top form, really looking like they want to be there, with lead singer Katie dancing all over the stage and Evan doing his trademark jumpy-shuffly dance. Highlights of the set are South-American infused ‘Santiago’ and ‘Come Out Of The Blue’ which both get everyone dancing. Oh, and there is plenty of friendly shouting.
The Kabeedies seem like a band who, though wanting to gain some critical acclaim for what they do, are having a damn lot of fun doing it. Their new sound shows that they are able to evolve as a band too, and make some awesome music in the process. ‘Soap’ is out now and highly recommended.