Prego call London home, and it’s where they can usually be found – in pubs, on stages, writing songs; exhibiting the standard band eyeing a breakthrough sort of behaviour. The difference here, though, is that the quintet is a genuinely likely-to-make-it proposition: they’ve choruses the size of new-build Far East skyscrapers and breakdowns as skin-prickling as the finest instrumentalists out there in post-rock land.
The band can be broken down into five constituent parts – Edd Simpson (vocals, guitar, omnichord), Christian Wieland (guitar/keyboard), Will Leslie (guitar/keyboard), Caspar Williamson (bass) and Paul Jennings (drums) – but it’s the sum of these components that comprises what’s most intriguing about the band. Anyone with preconceptions based upon that surname and the relationships that come rushing to mind should step off here: the scope of this music will, undoubtedly, leave you shellshocked into an inability to breathe.
Prego have impressed DiS to the extent of us chasing them to play a gig for us; as it happens, they’re now lined up to play two, which we’re totally thrilled about. The first is on Saturday April 14, at our once-a-month DiScover Club at Notting Hill Arts Club, London, with Eugene McGuinness and Youthmovies. Click here for further details.
Questions kindly answered by all five members…
When did the band form, what material is presently available for our exchange-for-cash transactions, and what's the best sandwich filling each of you can think of?
Edd: The band formed in 2004. I moved to London from university with some tunes looking to start the band, and having begged and borrowed musicians Prego was formed and started doing some gigs and recording a few demos. Over the last two-and-a-half years the line-up has changed a lot, with the band having an overall membership of 14 musicians. The final line-up came into being in June 2006. In April 2005 we released our debut EP, 'Primaries', on a small Scottish indie called Adorno, and we've just re-issued a few copies which people can pick up from our MySpace site. Best sandwich filling is, without a doubt, chicken mayo and bacon.
Caspar: The worst sandwich filling I can think of is pork, hummus, couscous and brie. Seems stupid doesn’t it, but I made it and it’s fucking nice.
Paul: I actually joined in mid-July 2006 - a whole month after Edd remembers! – and it’s been full steam ahead since then. Sandwich wise, it’s all about Italian Chicken, but it has to be on granary bread or forget it.
Will: I don’t like sandwiches. I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat them, but they posses an evil ability to look larger than they really are, which under the circumstance of extreme hunger is wholly unjust. But if I had to choose a sandwich I would select the one with takeaway lemon chicken and egg-fried rice filling, and throw away the skanky bread protecting the precious fruit inside.
Seeing you live it's clear that there are a good few post-rock influences in the mix of Prego's sound - is this a fair comment? Are you fans of any bands in particular, that definitely do influence your own music?
Edd: There are a lot of post-rock influences within the band, I'm personally greatly inspired by the likes of Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Rós, The Album Leaf, Jeniferever, Youthmovies and 65daysofstatic. The intricacy and beauty of many of those bands combined with the ability to blow your balls off at any moment is what gets me going!
Caspar: I like Echo the Dolphin.
Will: I like Echo, too. (Isn’t it ‘Ecco’? – Sega Ed)
Paul: I think that we are all inspired by the bands Edd has listed there, and that comes through in our music. I think that is the common ground for us. We all have other endless personal influences as well, of course. We actually think that Christian is a closet metaller. This he venomously denies.
Christian: I'd say bands like Mogwai, Sigur Rós, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and even Isis certainly influenced us in one or another way. I personally prefer using the term ‘Ambient Rock’, though.
That said, there's plenty of pop there, too - do you hear Prego as an accessible band, albeit one that can rock the heck out when it's necessary? Do you make music to scratch a chin to or to nod a head vigorously to?
Edd: I think that pretty much sums us up, actually. Our influences range from indie-rock bands to more obscure post-rock and lo-fi music. What gets me is melody, whether it's a six-and-a-half minute epic or a three-and-a-half minute pop song. I think we are an accessible band, but then so are many post-rock bands: the issue isn't accessibility of the music itself, they just don't get heard because what gets played on the radio is so constricted to a formula. I think song-heavy post-rock is pretty much what we do, it's kind of a contradiction in terms, but if it makes people more aware of many great post-rock bands we will have certainly achieved a goal.
Caspar: Yeah, that’s a good point. I can see why people bring up the post-rock influences, but the majority of our songs are under four minutes long. I’m not saying you can’t have a four-minute post-rock song, but there are already so many amazing bands making ‘post-rock’ music and doing it well. It’s not a sound we are trying to emulate; it’s more that our music has an epic nature to it live, and we share that in common with certain bands. I think what we do is a bit more to the point and immediate, so yeah, it is more accessible.
Christian: Post-rock bands mostly tend to sound like they are jamming out their songs rather than working to a certain structure. One never knows what to expect. More recently, though, I have been getting into a lot more song-based music, bands and musicians who do write to a certain formula. In my opinion Prego are the perfect balance of the two: a bit of structure, a bit of chaos. Much like life in London itself.
Will: I’m going to see Aled Jones on Friday.
You were picked as one of Rock Sound's tips for 2007, and have received positive press elsewhere too of late - does this year look set to be The One, do you think? Do you feel as if Prego are on the edge of making that breakthrough necessary to go up a few steps, etc.?
Edd: Yeah, 2007 has been great so far, and it's nice to be getting some recognition. Things seem to be falling into place and building at the right pace. As a band we certainly feel ready to go and make a great record that we'd be exceptionally proud of. We're gonna be releasing a single in the summer and I guess it's just a case of continually re-assessing where we are – hopefully if people get excited then things will progress quickly, but you never really know. I think all we can do is keep playing shows, writing tunes and with a bit of luck or judgement things will fall into place.
Caspar: If going up a few steps means that we no longer have to play on the same bill as covers bands and bands consisting of rappers and cross-dressers then I’ll be happy!
Will: Edd’s being modest – he really wants a guitar-shaped swimming pool. I’d be quite happy with a house made from amps and a stereo space echo, and a ride-on robot dinosaur guard dog.
I understand you're looking for votes to play V Festival. If you want to plug your cause here, do go right ahead.
Edd: Very kind! Yeah we've entered the Road To V competition. I think it would be a great opportunity for some decent exposure for us, so go to www.roadtov.com/profile/11511 and give us your votes!
Caspar: I’d rather be playing the upcoming ATP! Latitude Festival is another cool one – it’s like a mini Glastonbury with coloured sheep! And it’s in Suffolk, where me and Edd are from!
Will: I've never been to a festival and don’t know anything about these things really, but as long as we don’t have to use the toilet, and they don’t let Edd use the toilet, I think it will be fun.
You've a few other free-entry shows coming up after April 14's DiScover bash - presumably you do sometimes get paid!? Is it becoming more and more difficult to say yes to free shows, as every band's gotta cover their costs at least, right?
Edd: Obviously hiring vans etc costs money, so you've gotta weigh it up really. But on the free shows that we've got coming up we're playing with some really cool bands who we admire and respect so that's a massive incentive in itself, and if it's free there's likely to be a greater turn out, so although we may not be being paid we're playing to a crowd which is a hell of a lot more important. We'd much rather be playing to a room full of people and being paid nothing than being paid to play to no one, or to people who don't really wanna listen anyway.
Paul: Plus we are getting a load of free beer, so we were never gonna turn it down.
Will: Yeah, free shows are much preferable to whoring ourselves to dancing monkeys who have an anal fascination with Snoop Dogg.
Christian: As a band in London or, as it seems, in the UK in general you will have to play a lot of shit venues and deal with a lot of shit promoters to get where you want to be. People are spoiled for gigs and playing a show in London is like meeting your worst critic. Gigs we played outside the city seemed a lot more relaxed. Everyone in Prego feels very confident about the great response we have been getting over the past couple of months though, and it seems like we have passed the ‘London test’.
What sort of fan base are you generally attracting? Are sceptics regularly bowled over by your live performances? I know I was unsure what to expect from the band prior to seeing you a while back at The Water Rats. Do you think the band makes the most 'sense' live?
Edd: Definitely. We do have, I think, quite an epic live performance, and I don't think any of us feel that's really been captured on record yet, and it's really important that when we do our first album people will hear it and expect a massive live show. I think you can never really grasp a band fully when you haven't seen them live, so I think if you've only heard us on the stereo then come and check it out.
Will: I don’t know if people are bowled over, but it’s impossible to tell in London most people look like manikins. but I agree with Edd that our sound is more true live than on any recording so far.
Christian: When playing live we tend to put a lot more energy into playing the songs as well as the performance itself. We recently recorded with Guy Massey (Manic Street Preachers, Spiritualized) at Battery Studios and I think he managed to capture that raw live energy just fine.
What does the rest of 2007 hold in store for the band on the release/live dates front?
Edd: Well, we've just been in the studio with Guy and Mark Williams recording our debut single 'Cause and Resolve', which is pencilled in for release at the end of June, so we're excited about getting that out. Then we'll be planning a tour around the release, which will be awesome. We've got some of the summer festivals in the pipeline as well which will be great, and then we’ll probably look to put something else out later in the year. We're just trying to slowly build things up and get our stuff heard, and hopefully get people excited about what we're doing. It's all looking positive at the moment, we'll see what happens.
Caspar: I’m just so excited to be playing with some of my favourite bands over the next few shows and hopefully more in the future. I can’t wait to go to other cities and play to new people and other people who are fans of the band but can’t get to London. Every time we play outside London it’s the most gratifying experience - people generally seemed to have much more of a hunger for live music because they don’t get to see it everyday. That’s always nice.
Will: I've seriously got to get my amp fixed - I can’t turn the reverb up to ten anymore, and I can’t tell you how much it pisses me off. I need to get more delay pedals too, and make some cool switches so I can go from sensible echo to mega echo. I’m also worried that my guitar neck is bending and it’s making me nervous, and I’m scared to tell anyone in case it becomes true. We need to record all the new songs as demos, and to try really hard not to play gigs on Wednesdays too much, ‘cause Natalie (Natalie? – Ed) doesn't like that. Also, we’d like to play a few big shows, with mental sound systems. That would be fun, as it just doesn't feel loud enough most of the time.
Prego play the April DiScover Club, at London’s Notting Hill Arts Club, on the 14th; their forthcoming single, ‘Cause And Resolve’, can be heard in its demo form on the new DiS Radio DiScover podcast – click HERE to download or stream.
For further information, please click to the band’s MySpace page. It is here.