It's a manic monday. I can't be arsed going all hyper like I normally do and people are really bugging me. Not the best frame of mind to interview a succession of hardcore bands gracing Middlesbrough with their rampant blazing punk scores.
As I reach the venue I feel compassion for all of the farm animals being transported down the M25 in their millions, cooped into Hot, confined, crowded spaces amidst the rest of thier kind. Which is exactly what's going on here.Joe, Fig 4.0's (figure four) front man idles in and proclaims with quite a convincing tone (giving the suggestion he may have played in some of the smallest and most crowded venues in the country) "Wow! Big isn't it?!"
I may be the front man but I'm not the bloody spokesperson! Joe defensively puts, it's the kind of self-depriciating humour that I really didn't think I'd find tonight. So I open up and start asking them about their past and the bands name itself...
Isn't there about five or six other bands around the world called figure four? Surely there's something at fault here! I thought you were original!
NO! Well, I mean we have a creative re-working of the name. It's actually now FIG 4.0 now. 'Like a science book, yeah!' (Matt butts in, the bassist and girly singer for the band, ironically, he is the largest bassist I've ever met). Andrew; lead guitarist; resumes: I think it's probably just that most lame punk bands use Figure Four as a desperate hope to boost themselves really, that's us to a tee.
You've written a lot of songs about hating emo, emo kids and the emo culture, you haven't by any chance got something against emo have you?
'On The Streets Saving The Scene From The Forces Of Emo' was actually written by Matt, even though Joe usually writes the lyrics. 'I'm not really an emo hater though!' Matt admitts defensively. 'I actually regret writing the song. It's just they don't do it DIY which doesn't seem all that genuine to me, I haven't got too much against emo's really.' 'NOT ENOUGH SWEARING!' Shouts Steve, FIG. 4.0's drummer, from out of nowhere. 'Not close enough to Slayer...'
Well, who would you compare yourselves to and what would you describe yourselves as? I don't really like putting people into genres, so at least this way, you're the ones classing yourselves...
We get described as hardcore, but we don't really think that's what we are. I know we are fairly hardcore, but we certainly try to be the more punk side of it. I guess a fast, shouting-loud-punk-band. We do bits of both, much as it's useful for letting people know what we sound like, it does cordoun off a lot of originality that you've worked for. We have the odd 'Slayer' vocal added in from Andrew, a nice lot of Metallica feedback and Pig slides oh yes! An obvious comparison would have to be 'Kid Dynamite'. We really like a lot of San Fransisco thrashy bands. Andy likes Zeke, but when you've heard one song...well, that's all you need! There's also a band called 'Stockyard Stoicks' from New York that are so desperate to sound English that they consequently sound as though they're lost somewhere out in the mid-atlantic.
I hear you recently played at the 'Arc' in Stockton, yet another venue up here, what was that like?
It was...all right yeah. There was some pull-out audotorium seating there. 'Echo Echo Reverrrb'. We couldn't start playing until after half nine because there was a Latin Dance class going on before we came on stage and there was a....performing arts group who had all of the microphones. It was all a little surreal with paper halls and wooden floors, yeah, it was all right.'
We talk about 'Parmos', a local Middlesbrough dish, which is quite legendary due to the fact that no where else in England is stupid enough to accept the scrap meat that goes into them. Talk shifts back onto bands as I ask: Is there anyone you want to plug?
'Driven Down'! They're like a naive, fresh, hardcore band, but they really don't know what they're onto. It's quite sad that they're getting better. Their drummer's never listened to a hardcore band before which is just great. And to top it off they've got a completely unintentional eighties feel to their music. They're from round here, and that's what makes us happy to be here tonight!!
FIG 4.0 Are playing next at the 'Too Much Music, Too Many Bands Fest' at The Rocket, Islington on the 22nd September and their new album 'Action Image Exchange' is out now on Bombed Out Records