Carolyn(Bannister - bassist) was sitting down so Som(Wardner - lead singer/guitarist) went to join her, and we followed.
We all shake hands, and the interview begins....
Pam: How have the tours been going with The Manics, Feeder, and you'll be touring with Ash next month. How have they all been going?
Som: We don't know how the Ash one has gone yet! The Feeder one has been really good actually, really good.
Carolyn: We've actually enjoyed it.
S: Probably the best one we've done so far, cause the crowds have been excellent, really cool. We don't really expect people to know who we are when we do support, but the crowds have known who we were and its been really warm.
P: What was it like with the Manics? Was that a big thing for you?
S: That was kinda the opposite almost.
C: Not as bad as it could have been, thats the thing.
S: Yeah I mean there were some Manics fans who came to see us on this tour who had actually discovered us through the Manics tour. They kinda followed the Manics all the way down and they said we were the support band that got the best reception. Ha, yeah Starsailor got bottles chucked at them! Yeah, and Elbow were booed off or something, but we didn't get anything like that, its just one night there was moshing so that was a great response, but the second night...Yeah, they were a shit crowd
C: We didn't expect...I mean I'm a long term Manics fan and I've been in many Manics crowds so we knew what to expect. Some bands get crucified, we didn't get crucified.
S: But, hey we're outselling them in Japan, thats probably what they hate us for!
P: How are you handling the success of Finelines in Europe? Are you surprised by it and the large fanbase you seem to be gaining?
S: Well, definetly.
C: Its quite weird when it's selling stuff in other countries which we've never been to.
S: Like Japan.
C: We're like, how the hell is this happening to us? We're looking forward to going there, but its a bit weird.
S: Its been out in Japan for like two weeks or something and its sold 6000 records. Its outsold the Stereophonics and The Manics, which were out on the same day on the same label, which is just absolutely bizarre.
P: Is there any news on a release date for the album in America?
S: We haven't got a deal there yet, we're just talking to like five labels at the moment, and we're gonna release it later this year. It will probably be a slightly different version of the album, I have a feeling, mix wise and stuff like that, and then we'll go and tour that probably early next year and then go on holiday!
C: And then, and then, and then, and then!
S: Hahaha, you're gonna have to spend 3[months]...America is so massive its quite scary
P: I read from various interviews that while you were making the album you were going slighty crazy. Is it a lot easier now?
C: Yes! Its a lot easier now!
S: Yeah, that tour which we did with Mansun, it was shit cause we wren't prepared, our minds weren't in it, our hearts weren't in it, but this tour is great cause we wanna be here and we're having a lot of fun.
C: Its difficult trying to record an album at the same time.
S: I mean, we still have other pressures of B sides and things like that you know, but its not the same as your debut album type of thing.
P: For the B side on Grounded, you've covered Madonna's 'Oh Father'. What made you choose that particular song? I've heard it, I love it.
S: Its a damn good song I think, regardless of all the pop cheese.
C: I think it came on in a pub one day, or was that another song of Madonna, and we all went 'Oh this is nice'.
S: Seth and I talked about it when we first met actually. We said it was one of our favourite songs. It was actually Seth that brought the tape along. We were kinda struggling to find a cover and I was suggesting lots of more and more underground bands.
C: And Seth was like 'back in ten minutes', drove home and came back with Madonna!
S: Haha, yeah and we were like "you are joking?"
C: He was like "give it a shot".
S: And then he put the song on and I was like "Of course, this song is brilliant", and it turned out really well. We all really wanted to do it, and you can tell, that's why it turned out so well. I met Eugene Kelly like a little while ago and he kept thanking us for covering Breakfast. He's such a humble guy, he's really sweet.
C: Yeah really sweet.
S: But that's a brilliant song.
P: You are going to be releasing you're 5th single from Finelines. Do you feel under any pressure to start thinking about a new album?
S: Thinking about the next album. Ooh, I don't think I'll start that until late next year, thinking about it that is! No, I don't know, I'm gonna start thinking about it quite soon. Then probably recording it, erm, it will probably be summer next year I should imagine and then it will be out late next year or something like that. It normally takes 3 months since you finish it for it to actually come out. So realistically it will be late next year. Especially since the record seems to be going quite well, around the world. We're not gonna have much time to do it[the new album].
P: People describe you very much in terms of your influences. Do you feel you've been pigeonholed or do you think you've managed to avoid that?
S: All bands are pigeonholed. I like that quote, I didn't actually say it, one of you guys did (pointing to Carolyn). Someone asked us to describe our sound, and was it you?
C: Haha, oh yeah.
S: Yeah, a pigeon in a hole.
C: Oh no, that wasn't me then, was it?
S: They said "can you describe you're sound", and you said "we sound kinda like a pigeon in a hole".
C: Haha, I can't remember that at all.
S: Haha, I thought that was genius! Who said that? Was it you or Seth?
C: What was that for?
S: It was probably Seth, it's a Seth comment actually. It's a good one actually. Yeah, I think all bands get pigeonholed, but I mean I always say this, life is part of that, its all about kinda inspiring and being inspired, and credit where credit is due. We've never really shyed away from the bands that have inspired us. And that has kinda, like you know, that has been easy bait for like people who don't like us to go 'oh, they're just a..'. Cause I've always said I've been inspired by Nirvana, '[people have said]Oh the album just sounds like Nirvana', it doesn't sound anything like Nirvana!
C: Or Hawkwind or something. You get some strange ones.
S: Yeah you do get some strange ones.
C: Like you sound like Roxy Music, we're like what? Hmmm? Listen to the album again, which bit do they listen to?
S: Oh people are gonna say we're just Nirvana clones or something just cause they've read the press, and we have actually read a few articles, like some regional stuff or whatever, which is really so amusing. They haven't heard the album, they don't know anything about the band, all they've done is read the press. And its not just regional, some of the major publications have been just as guilty. You can see they like the album but are begrudging towards us for whatever reason, they've read things, maybe they don't like me for things I've said or whatever. And I've been misquoted massively.
C: Ooh, its not nice when that happens.
S: "Everything begins and ends with Nirvana", I mean, when did I say that? I couldn't have meant it in that context. Its very bizarre.
P: What do you think about the current state of the music industry? Napster is a massive issue at the moment. Do you think it's a good thing, or not?
S: We don't really care. We don't earn any money from it. We don't really care. I think Napster's quite good cause it reaches much further than you think it will, you know. When you start a band you don't think like people outside your town are gonna hear you. And suddenly there is like Napster getting it across.
C: And you're gonna have like your demo cd or if you're just starting out as a band, next to some really famous band. You're on the same par, its all a level play thing!
S: We've got Hungary, Berkina Faso, all these people who have downloaded it from Napster. They wouldn't probably have access to these records I wouldn't imagine, not as easy anyway, they'd have to import it and all that kinda fuss.
P: "Fuck ur morals....i have my soap?" What exactly DOES that mean?
Som and Carolyn both just look at eachother for a minute, grinning.
S: (to me)What do you think it means?
P: I don't know. Someone asked me to ask you that!
S: Haha..hmmmm. (to Carolyn) I guess you're waiting for me to reply?
C: Haha, its your quote mate!
S: Its just one of my little things, just one of my little things
P: Just one of your little things.
P: Not gonna elaborate on that?
S: Just one of my little things.
P: Haha, OK, fair enough.
P: Always, being your biggest single to date, got you a stint on Top Of The Pops. What was that like for you?
C: Hmm, strange old experience wasn't it?
S: Funny, yeah, you know, we didn't give a shit that it was like[Top Of The Pops]...a lot of people were like 'oh no Top Of The Pops' you know.
C: Snobbish about it.
S: All those purists that we were talking about! It was actually a lot of fun, lots of little disco kids who were about 10 trying to mosh! It was really quite funny! It was alright actually. With the first take we did of it, Rav broke through his bass drum skin which has never ever happened before and so we did another one. It was probably a good job the first take wasn't used cause I was laughing.
C: Haha, yeah looking around going hahahahaha!!
S: It was actually just ridiculous, but it was great. We're doing it again in a couple of weeks, for Grounded. Yeah they've asked us to come in. Before it charts, so I guess they're quite optimistic.
P: What has been your biggest success so far?
S: In what way?
C: I suppose finishing the album, getting it actually finished.
P: OK, well what has been your best show to date?
S: Best show? Thats difficult actually. We've had a string of good ones with Feeder.
C: Good show with the Deftones in Scotland.
S: I was always hoping that we would get to that level where you, you know, where you won't get any worse. You've got this quite high level and you won't step anywhere below it, cause we were like fluctuating a lot in the early days. I was hoping that after playing a lot you get to this kinda plateau kinda thing.
C: Where you can start to relax.
S: Yeah and you don't have to worry, you will always have gigs of a certain standard, unless your voice blows or something or things break. Oops, I said it, damn!
C: Touch wood.
S: But, we've had some awful ones with Mansun especially.
C: The worst one we ever had was in Liverpool.
S: With Mansun yeah.
C: No, with King Adora.
S: Oh yeah, that was the pre-Mansun tour, same thing.
P: What happened there?
C: It was just terrible. I believe my bass stopped working half way through.
S: It did on that whole tour didn't it? Haha, Everyday.
C: Yes, ok!
S: Erm, but yeah, the good ones have been with the Deftones in Edinburgh.
C: Festivals are always good.
S: Reading and Leeds was fun.
P: Are you playing any of the festivals this year?
S: Yeah, we're doing the ones we enjoy the most. Reading and Leeds, and T In The Park. Loads and loads around Europe, and Japan now. Its gonna be the first time we play in front of people who have got our stuff in Europe and Japan, so it will be quite cool.
P: What do you think of the bands today? Any favourites?
S: I'm a big fan of the Deftones.
C: Yeah, good call.
S: Other bands at the moment? Trail of the Dead's really good, yeah Trail of the Dead's good. I'm not so keen on Overated R, but I don't buy everything. Oh Terris are brilliant!! Haha, my arse!
C: Outstanding band!
S: I'm really funny about the music press, cause they expose you to these kind of[bands], the same bands, like At The Drive In, Queens Of The Stone Age, Trail Of Dead, you know, its like go away! Suddenly its almost like that Terris thing, with the front cover and all that.
C: Makes you think they're all the same aswell, and you think 'oh yeah, one of those lot', all meant to be the next big thing.
S: Its quite amusing. Those bands do nothing in America, its really weird. They're really kinda suprised at how much requisition they get over here and press and stuff, because we've spoken to them and we've played with a couple of them. And they like 'well we've got nothing in America, its just here'. But Amen are really good, they're one of the best live bands I've ever seen. Yeah, have you seen them?
P: No, I've haven't seen them no.
C: We even saw them in a record shop and they even rocked there.
P: They just look, freaky! I've seen the videos.
S: Its the most intense thing. The thing is, yeah all that kinda stuff can be quite comical when you can take a step back. When you're in the live senerio, you do end up being involved in the whole thing and then you suddenly realise what Amen are about. And its kind of, you know, its intense. You know, I couldn't ever ever imagine the Sex Pistols being as intense. I remember sitting there watching, thinking this is the most intense thing. First thirty seconds on stage, you know he had already almost killed his drummer. He chucked his mike stand behind him and it landed on the drummers head. His drummer was drumming half like knocked out of consciousness, it was amazing. Don't know if Ravi will quite appreciate that!
C: Maybe not, haha!
S: I've chucked guitars at his head before by accident. Yeah, I've almost killed him! But then again I've still got a scar on my head where he almost killed me.
C: Well, Ravi almost killed himself one night. We were soundchecking and he stuck his drumstick in his eye! Haha!
S: Haha, that was a classic!
C: There was dead silence.
S: Absolute classic! Suddenly the song just stops and there's Ravi with this thing in his eye!
C: It was alright though.
S: Its a bit like Harold, King Harold or whatever.
C: And a bit Spinal Tap aswell.
S: It was very funny.
P: Have you had anything weird happen to you on tour?
C: Generally things tend to go wrong mostly.
S: There's been lots of funny, weird things really. Today was such a weird day, I got the maids from our hotel knocking at my door asking for my autograph, which is very bizarre.
C: Did you?
S: Yeah, I told you. You imagine Robbie Williams will get something like that. And there I was, half asleep with electric hair as I call it, and like opened the door and was like 'they're trying to kick me out aren't they, I've missed my wake-up call', and they're going 'oh, can we have your autograph'. And within like 30 seconds afterwards I've got some random person ringing me up, who's got my number. Got my number at a gig, and some guy used it as a chat-up line, 'I've got Som's number', and gave it to her. She had it for a year and a half and now she finally decides to phone me because I'm famous now, she said! I thought that was quite amusing.
C: Its like 'Hello, you don't me, no you don't'
S. Haha, 'No, I don't, get off the phone'. Bit bizarre.
P: Who do you look up to? Who are your hereos?
C: Almost everyone else. I'm really short!
S: Oh, ba-boom. You should be the drummer with jokes like that!
C: I know, I'm terribly sorry.
(Som's phone starts to ring, so he leaves for a minute)
S: Oh shit there's a call, sorry.
Ian: Thats alright, I can actually hear it cause it buzzes on mircophones when mobiles go off, so I knew it was coming.
C: We get that on soundcheck all the time. Like 'what's that crazy noise?' and someone's phone is just about to start ringing.
(Som returns, but Carolyn has to leave for soundcheck, question gets lost)
P: What is next for the band?
S: Err, European festivals and things like that. Europe with Ash and that kinda thing.
P: Next weekend you're playing the Astoria. You were supposed to be playing two nights, and I only found out the other day that you're not playing the second night.
S: So did we actually. Erm, I don't know who's fault it was, more like a lack of communication type thing than like a pointing fingers type thing. Erm, yeah we thought, cause that it said like all April dates, so we kinda presumed which is probably bad. Presumption is always the mother of all f**k-ups! So I think everyone like who did the internet site and all that kinda stuff[got it wrong]. And even the press, it said in the press all April dates. But it makes sense also when you have two shows, that in London you swap the support. I mean we did as well when we did ULU. We had a different support for the second night. So I mean, I did ask. I did double check, cause I was like 'no way, the Astoria twice, that won't really happen' and its not happening. But yeah its a bit annoying actually.
P: Like a lot of fans on the messageboard are trying to get tickets now for the Saturday.
S: Err, I'm sure they can probably swap them or something. Is it sold out the first night?
P: Yeah, first night's been sold out for a long time, second night only recently.
S: God, it would have been better to play the second night then really because that would have been the night when people came to see us, oh well!
I: Its happened.
S: Yeah, it's really annoying, bit concerned about that, gotta get things right. Its not really fair is it?
P: It happens.
P: Last question. How have you reacted to your new-found status as sexiest guy in rock?
S: What, haha, that's a load of rubbish!
P: You've got a lot of supporters.
I: (pointing to me) She's probably the ringleader!
S: Hahaha, erm, oh, they obviously haven't seen me in the morning! Oh, we, the whole band are actually quite camera shy really. I don't know if you've seen the new video.
P: Yes I have, very good.
S: You like it?
S: Cool, yeah, have you noticed there's not much of the band in it?
P: Yes! Thats the first thing I noticed...where are the band?
S: Yeah we don't like[the camera], even in the Always video we said that we didn't really want to be in it. We just wanted it to be that script with the crowd watching and we appeared in the crowd. The script was kind of manipulated to put us in there. Bit annoying, and we didn't want any pictures of us on the album, like people have asked us to put a picture of us on the front, and I just think that's so cheesy. Like 'hey'! Like you can express more with a piece of art than just a cheesy little picture of the band and even if you notice all the pictures of us have been fucked up in a great way, haha. I'm quite camera shy, everybody else is. Yeah, we're not too keen on videos and things like that.
P: Was was it like with Vincent Gallow?
S: Well, with Vincent it was a good thing cause he's like famous, so the cameras tended to drift off towards his direction. It was quite nice, we could just hide in the background. But yeah, it turned out well. I thought the video was quite interesting.
P: He's a great actor.
S: He's cool
P: Well that's it.
P: Thanks a lot.