The north of England has quite the modern post-punk heritage: This Aint Vegas, The Futureheads, ¡Forward, Russia! and Dartz have each made waves of impression, albeit lapping at differing heights, and now Leeds-based Wintermute seem set to follow in said bands’ footsteps. With an attractive mix of pop hooks and jittery guitar lines, the four-piece are to release their debut single in October. ‘Gambling or Playing Cards?’ comes out on October 15 on limited-edition 7”, via Children No More.
The band is playing live to promote the release, obviously, and will call in at our own DiScover Club on November 10 for a set alongside One More Grain and Joe Gideon and the Shark. Odd bedfellows, you might think; not so, say we. All three are doing something great with similar elements and instruments, and all three couldn’t sound more different.
Comprising Dan Howard on guitar and vocals, David Hemmings on guitar and vocals, Chris Newbould on bass and ben Johnson on drums, Wintermute’s live reputation is also burgeoning; safe to say that come November surrounded onlookers can expect to leave the experience suitably impressed. Live dates follow the following DiScover questions, answered by Howard.
How and when did the band get it together, and had you been playing in other outfits prior to Wintermute?
The band started in mid 2004. It was the standard story of a bunch of guys meeting at Leeds University and jamming together, writing songs and gigging them around the city. We'd all previously been in various outfits of dubious merit in our home towns, but nothing like what we are trying to do in Wintermute.
What sort of comparisons have you attracted to date, and which are positive in your opinion? Are you of the opinion that comparisons to other, existing acts are helpful, or that they hinder the progress of an up-and-coming act?
We have had many a comparison, from quite specific observations like “Minus The Bear meets ATDI, with a dash of Interpol”, to safe indie comparisons like “a bit like Bloc Party”. I think comparisons are inevitable: it’s the easiest way for someone to describe to another person how something sounds. Plus they are fun – we kinda enjoy seeing what other people hear in our music. It’s encouraging that different people can hear completely different things in the same song, but I guess comparisons frequently say more about the person making the observations rather than the band itself. Which is why they can be both a help and a hindrance.
Is there a healthy scene in Leeds at the moment? Certainly with the likes of These Monsters, Paul Marshall and This Et Al making waves, there seems to be an underground about ready to explode…
The Leeds scene is incredibly healthy, and we are extremely proud to be a part of such a vibrant scene. There are so many bands that are quite simply awesome; you can get lost just trying to see them all. We're really happy that we can call a lot of these bands our friends as well. The one thing I love the most about the Leeds scene is the support that bands give to other bands. And it’s not just musicians: everyone gets involved by putting their own nights on, designing flyers, doing sound, recording each other and publishing ‘zines. I’ts an exciting place to be creative. The quality of art in Leeds is phenomenal as well, with guys like Nous Vous (link) producing the most mind-blowing work. People need to take notice!
What acts can you pinpoint as definitely informing the work of Wintermute? Are we talking US punk acts, or UK post-punk…? I’m hearing as much Joan of Arc as I am, say, Interpol.
I think we are probably more weighted on US stuff at the moment, what with bands like Fugazi, Minus The Bear and Interpol being huge influences. But British bands like The Murder of Rosa Luxembourg and Jetplane Landing are definitely worth mentioning.
You’re just about to release your debut single – what else is in the pipeline beyond that? Are you in any sort of position to begin thinking about an album?
We've been knuckling down and writing some really mad stuff for our debut EP, which will be out next year hopefully. The songs are twice as mathy and spazzy as anything we've written before, but they are also twice as poppy. It’s all about the balance, baby. We are really looking forward to putting together a great UK tour next year and gigging the new songs all up and down the country, and hopefully abroad as well. As for an album, if we could all get the time off work to record it we could do one right now! But realistically we are taking everything in steps. We're not gonna run before we can walk.
‘Gambling Or Playing Cards?’ is released on October 15. For Wintermute’s MySpace please click here. Forthcoming live dates as follows:
5 Hull Adelphi
6 Leeds Library with These Monsters, Worried About Satan
12 Norwich Arts Centre
15 Ipswich Fire & Ice
19 Leeds Brudenell Brainwash Festival
26 Middlesborough Spensley’s Emporium
28 Newcastle Head of Steam
29 Glasgow Bar Bloc
2 Leeds Idioteque
10 London DiScover @ Notting Hill Arts Club with Paul Marshall, The Gilded Palace Of Sin and Joe Gideon and the Shark (details)
Photo: Kevin Petch