We sat down in Leeds with the band who came in at an impressive third on our countdown of 2019’s top albums, surrounded by inflatable footballs, to discuss the performative nature of bands, and the album that got them this spot.
The first album’s just an indie pop album with some bangers on.
What do you think of Leeds?
Last time I was here I missed my bus to get out of Leeds, had a great time though, it was actually really nice. I went to the Corn Exchange, went to this bar called Bad Apples … went to another one near the coach station. Leeds is fucking sound. There’s a nice John Lewis.
Did you go into the album with a concept in mind or did you just write the tracks?
Probably the latter. I dunno about you but it feels to me like a collection of singles, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that but it’s not like, a big picture for that one. Maybe for the next one we’ll go in with a big idea; I can tell by a lot of the stuff we’re writing already, we could piece together into quite the tapestry. But the first album’s just like … indie pop album with some bangers on.
Are you already thinking about the second album, then?
Yeah. We’re playing a few new songs already. Doing a change of direction, kind of. It’s a bit heavier. Typical indie band thing to do; go heavier on the second album. But yeah, we’ve got a lot of ideas that we’re trying to patch together into something. Hopefully it’ll be out … not this year, year after.
How did you decide which songs made the album – I read that you wrote dozens?
We wrote a lot of songs. Probably like a hundred. It was partly down to us but then also like, record label, management – everyone has their sort of say in which songs make it. I think its better to write as many songs as possible and just write the best ones. And I think that when it came to writing the album we all sort of agreed on which songs.
There’s some great songs which aren’t on it, and we’ve reworked them; hopefully they’ll make it onto the second album. The process was basically just what the fans reacted to the best, that we personally like and also what the label like because obviously they pay for it so I suppose its only fair they have a say.
You has a lot of fans involved in ‘July, At A Glance’: what was the motivation behind that?
It was such a random name. I sort of wrote a poem and then it was like, OK let’s put some music to it. Couldn’t think of a name for it, so we put it on twitter and Instagram. We just think its cool to give the fans a song that they think is their own, you know – like they’ve chosen the name. It was @nathan.wall2018 …. Is it 2019 this year, do you think?
Do you have any personal favourite songs?
‘July, at a Glance’, again, I really love that song. A lot of the newer songs I think we naturally prefer more, cause they’re new. I think it’s always like that as a musician, because you play the same songs every night so when you get to play something new its exciting. It used to be ‘Shallow’, but now it’s ‘July, At A Glance’.
A big part of your life as a band is obviously performing; do you ever feel as though that performative nature crosses over into your everyday life?
It can do, yea. Especially if you see fans out and about. I think my personality on stage and with the band is kind of different to what its like when I’m at home, you know, having a cup of tea with my mum and my girlfriend. So I kind of put on a little bit of an act, because I think that’s what people want. It’s weird. There’s a weird kind of pressure about that, because you don’t want to disappoint people, but also … imagine I was just walking down Liverpool dancing like a fucking idiot. It’d be ridiculous wouldn’t it.
If I’m at the dinner table I’m always tapping. Always singing and sort of … playing some music. I don’t realise I’m doing it.
Your lyrics talk a lot about disillusionment despite the really happy sound; would you say that 2019 has been more happy or melancholic for you?
Overall? It’s honestly been ups and downs. I think I started off the year ina really bad palce; I’d moved out from my mum’s house and I was living this stupid lifestyle and it was cold all the time, and I just felt shit and all I had was fast food. But then we released the album and started touring it, got into a bit of a routine and it started going up a bit. Summer was great but I hate winter, so I’m feeling a little bit sad at the minute. I think generally, I’m happy.
When it comes down to all these bands hopping round in Hawaiian shirts and boots now, singing about cocktails and shit then that can fuck off as far as I’m concerned.
Do you still miss Japan?
Yes. Every day. It was fantastic. Great place, fucking unreal. It’s just a different world; so, so, so much better than the UK. The supermarket sushi is the top level shit. And the crowds … they’re really respectful. They don’t dance, they’ll just stand there, and at the end of each song they’ll clap, and that’s it. They also clap if you say something. Like if you make a shit joke between two songs, instead of laughing they just clap.
Can you talk us through the story behind ‘Green Eyes’, it seems of a slightly different tone to the other songs on the album?
It’s the first song I wrote, when I was 15. It was after my grandma died. I go on all sort of metaphors on that song, but it’s a sad one, basically. I was sat on the balcony of my mum’s house writing this. ‘Cause I turned really vicious, afterwards. I was really horrible for a couple weeks, and the green eyes are my eyes.
Do you wish to shed the label of indie moving onwards or are you quite happy with it?
It depends what you think indie is. When it comes down to all these bands hopping round in Hawaiian shirts and boots now, singing about cocktails and shit then that can fuck off as far as I’m concerned. I just wanna write tunes that make us happy and that our fans like.
I don’t really believe in anything being a genre. I think every band’s different, I don’t believe you should be pigeonholed into one genre. I like being on an independent label, and if that means being indie then we’ll be indie.