Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Zulu Winter - Interview

After several high profile support slots for Friendly Fires and the Horrors London indie up-and-comers Zulu Winter are heading into festival season on a high. In my first interview for Sound Influx I had the chance to question the quintet about misleading the Proclaimers, the reason you should watch Panorama and why we should expect a more left field follow-up. Read on…

First off, where did you get your unusual band name from?

Our friend Kev is a big Proclaimers fan and he was at one of their shows a while back and got talking to one of the brothers and told him he was in a band, which he wasn't, and when he was asked what the band was called he said 'Zulu Winter' for reasons we are not sure of. So to prevent him from being found out as a liar by one of his idols we thought we would name the group Zulu Winter. We've had no word whether the Proclaimers approve yet!

Was there a particular moment when you got to together as a group where you thought ‘there’s something special here’?

Definitely, we were in the practice room and nothing was really happening and then we started jamming what would become 'Let's Move Back to Front' and we all knew that this was the way forward.

‘Language’ was released pretty rapidly considering that your debut single only came out in November last year. Does that mean that you’d already written all the songs for the album written by then? Did any of the tracks change during the recording process or did you already have a pretty strong vision of how you wanted them to end up?

That's correct. We had written and recorded 75% of the album by then. We spent around 18 months just locked away in our practice room thrashing things out and recording when we could. Some of the songs were developed a lot in the studio, particularly 'People that you must Remember'. That one originally started out as quite an enormous song, but we weren't really feeling it and when Will [Daunt – vocalist] had finished the lyrics it didn't seem to fit the mood of the song so we tried to make it a lot more delicate and work on the atmosphere of the song a lot more and now, for me it’s one of my favourite songs on the album.

I always like to ask bands this: What kind of music were you listening to whilst you were making ‘Language’? And do you think any of that fed through into what you ended up producing?

As there are 5 of us there were a lot of different influences thrown into the pot. I think we all tried to get our influences in, but you've got to remember there's 4 other people who will always be a lot more influential on the sound then any another band will be.

On ‘We Should be Swimming’ and ‘Words that I wield’ there were a few phrases that reminded me of the Wild Beasts or Morrissey, which seem to me to be the kind of artists that only Britain could produce. Do you think that this a particularly British record? Was there anything in British culture you specifically set out to address?

I always think British band do melancholy better than other countries. Maybe something to do with the weather!

I first came across Zulu Winter on Radio 6 Music. What was it like when you first heard one of your tracks playing on the radio? And have you ever come across your music in an unusual location?

I heard 'Silver Tongue' on Radio 6 one morning when I first woke up which was quite a nice shock. It's a little strange hearing yourself on the radio. I actually heard 'We should be Swimming' on a Panorama documentary which I think was about nurses not getting enough pay, which was pretty unusual.

For a relatively young band you seem to have toured all over the place. What are the best venue and the best crowd you’ve come across? And what are you looking forward to in the summer festival season?

We played a show at 'Botanique' in Brussels which is set in a Botanical gardens and we played in an old theatre round. It had a great light show and a really nice atmosphere. We’re really looking forward to Festival season. We've already played Field Day and No Direction Home festival which were both really exciting, and its great as well because you can go and check out other bands that you want to see.

You’ve also just had a run of shows opening for Keane. How did that come about? And how did you find playing larger venues?

Not sure how it came around. I think they'd heard of us and asked us to come along. The main thing I like about larger venues is the sound, the systems are generally better quality but I do like the intimacy of smaller venues.

What is the best gig you’ve ever been to and why?

The first big gig I went to was when I snuck into Glastonbury and saw David Bowie playing on the man stage, I will forever have the image of the crowd jumping in unison to Rebel Rebel etched on my mind.

Have you already started writing songs for a second Zulu Winter record? What direction do you see a second album moving in?

We've got loads of ideas and a few songs a bit further developed which we're looking forward to working on soon. We're talking a lot about David Axelrod [jazz-psych composer] style drums at the moment, but you'll have to wait and see.

Finally, you decided to name your album ‘Language’, how many languages can you speak between you? And could you teach me a phrase that’s come in useful for a band touring the world?

Pathetically I think we're all pretty rubbish with languages. I know a few insults in Dutch strangely and a little French and Spanish but that's about it. I probably need to learn the phase 'sorry I've forgotten my passport' when talking to boarder officers.

Max Sefton

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