Leicester-based post-hardcore experimentalists Public Relations Exercise are one of those bands whose name has frequently popped up in conversations on the East Midlands underground scene for a while now, yet veterans they most definitely aren't.
Although the core of the band (vocalist Martin Smith, guitarist Lloyd Carter, drummer Danny Starr and, a wee while later, bass-man Tiernan Welch) first came together sometime in late 2003, it wasn't until the addition of one-time Queen Mary's Revenge guitar player Spencer Baggotts 18 months later that the five-headed beast they are today came into being.
Currently signed to ace Nottingham independent label Field Records, their split seven-inch single with LaFaro ('Subteniente') caused a major surge of ripples at the back end of last year's red-hot summer, and April 2nd sees the release of their debut long-player, Come You Are Safe, We Are From The Bombs.
With a mouth-watering DiS show next month alongside Lovvers, The Smears and The Lucida Console, we spoke to P.R.E. bassist Tiernan Welch about why they don't wish their name to be written in that abbreviated form amongst other things.
PRE are already a band of their own – what's it all about?
It's all a bit annoying to be honest, a bit unfortunate for us. To be fair I've listened to them and they're good at what they do. It's a good set-up to be honest, with the girl from Comanechi... (PRE profile)
I don't think people could ever confuse their sound with yours, though...
No, definitely not! I think that's one plus point.
So how did the story of Public Relations Exercise begin?
We'd been playing together as a four-piece for about a year and a half, but I guess we started taking it seriously at the tail end of 2005 when Spencer joined. We'd just been to see Bullet Union a few weeks beforehand and liked the idea of having a right and left guitar sound rather than just straightforward dual-sounding guitars. The dynamic really is something else. Spencer is the yin to Lloyd's yang.
And the name, Public Relations Exercise...
It came from a message on Radiohead's The Bends actually. I think every band has a message, and the name just became synonymous with how we see ourselves communicating that message. When Lloyd and Martin first started writing together they had some hilarious names - One Prick Tony was one that springs to mind - so I guess we needed something that would become more familiar and look good as an abbreviation… until now!
Although you're probably better known at the moment as operating in the post-hardcore/post-metal scene, your songs aren't exactly set in stone in terms of following any particular direction or specified norm for any one genre...
Yeah you're right. I think if we said we had a strict pattern for song-writing it would be a complete lie. I think all five of us are very strongly opinionated individuals and it's this tension that creates the fusion you can hear in our music. I'd even go as far as to say that although we all like each as people, we don't really get on. Musically at least...
The songs do sound really complicated, to a non-musician like me at any rate.
I guess you could say the whole process is quite conflicting, and a lot of that is caused by the guitar dynamics between Spencer and Lloyd. One will come up with an idea, and the other will add something that might not sound straightforward at first but when the rest of the band add their two-pennies-worth it suddenly feels right. To us anyway! I guess you could even go as far as to say we've created our own sub-genre: Bastard Rock!
Next month sees the release of your album, Come You Are Safe, We Are From The Bombs. Are you all satisfied with how the record has turned out?
I think we're all a bit surprised at how well everything came about, particularly as we had everything recorded live and mixed within the space of about ten days. I think we've surpassed our expectations, and what we thought we could achieve with this record. To have so much rage contained in one piece... I actually listened to a mastered copy the other day and I really think this is our The Shape Of Punk To Come. I'm that confident with it.
Which songs particularly stand out on the record for you?
I think 'Catalyst' is the most obvious one in terms of simplicity and even radio-friendliness. It's certainly got the potential to be the lead single. Also, the final track, 'Eleven', was probably the most memorable and satisfying to make as it was a real group effort. We were still writing the finishing touches to that song on the day we recorded it!
Do you see the band moving even further left of centre (as it were) in the future?
Definitely, yes, although I wouldn't like to say where to. I think our most recent material is more progressive, maybe similar to Pelican in some ways, not that I could ever see us becoming an instrumental post-rock band. I'm sure Martin, our singer, wouldn't approve of that for starters!
What about the scene in your home base of Leicester?
I think Leicester has an excellent scene at the minute. It's very unified, regardless of genres, and there's a vibrancy and strength about it that you probably don't get in some towns and cities. I think the only thing wrong is that sense of apathy from punters, who seem to only come out if a big band is playing the De Montfort or somewhere. I mean, I saw volcano! play here last year and there were probably no more than 12 people in the room, yet Kasabian could probably sell out every night of the year at any venue of their choice! There are some great promoters working their butts off in the city though, such as Rockfood and Pineapster, and I think Leicester is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves.
Finally, are there any bands out there you think we should be casting an ear or two towards?
I've got to say Tired Irie, You Slut!, Maybe She Will and Dobermann. Also Fight Fire With Water, Her Name Is Calla and redcarsgofaster. The list is endless, I'd better shut up now!
Public Relations Exercise release their album at the end of February through Field Records and play the following dates:
10 Nottingham Junktion 7 (Drowned In Sound show w/ The Smears, Lovvers, The Lucida Console - more info HERE)
22 Huddersfield The West
23 Lincoln The Bivouac
26 Leeds Mixing Tin
1 Southampton Unit 22
To find out more about Public Relations Exercise visit their MySpace.