The Manchester four-piece’s bassist and lyricist Nathan Mcilroy talks to Big Issue North about taking himself less seriously ahead of their show at Salford’s Eagle Inn, 25 March.
What informs your music and songwriting?
I think you’d get a different answer from each person in the band. I write the words, yelp a bit and play bass like Stuart Sutcliffe. The lyrics are mainly about drinking, guilt and feeling powerless to change anything, be it the political situation or my own narcissism. Luckily, the lead singer, Jack, wraps it all up in nice melodies to make it palatable. Otherwise it’d just be me reciting suicide notes onstage – in floods of tears.
How have you evolved as a band over the years?
We all used to play in a group called Frazer King who, for all their faults, could not be accused of following musical trends. Still, we were young and could be quite petty about more successful groups – which was a shame because I think the spectacle sometimes distracted people from the music. Now, I find all the aggro between bands and musicians really tiresome. Everything’s been done before and far better. Plus – it’s not like there’s any money to be made. If you play music now, you’re doing it because you feel compelled to. Chances are, it’s gonna be to the detriment of your mental health and your bank balance as well, so it makes sense to club together and focus our ire on the Tories. There’s more important stuff going on in the world than the insatiable egos of insecure musicians. God love ‘em.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Still at the finger-painting stage and proud of it.
What’s on your rider?
I think you’re giving us too much credit. We usually share a few warm cans between us and are grateful if we break even. That’s the reality for a lot of bands, even the relatively successful ones. Although saying that, if any budding promoters are taking note then Guinness goes down very well. As does whisky and food that’s still retained some vitamins.
Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
You’d have to ask people who know me about my litany of embarrassing incidents. I’ve had an untold number of rock bottom moments but the upside is it gives you a selective memory. The most surreal experience that has happened was probably when, aged 19, a man who I’d never met broke into my gaff and tried to attack me and my mates, interrupting a Come Down With Me episode. The police operators refused to believe us and, several frantic calls later – after he’d turned the gas on and was breaking the bedroom door down like Jack Nicholson in the Shining – the police finally showed up. It didn’t help that it was Sunday night after a long weekend and we were all baked.
What song do you wish you’d written?
This Is The Day by The The or anything by Leonard Cohen.
What’s your worst lyric?
“Here come the chosen flock, fighting with all they’ve got/ Suspicion and belief, and promises of tax relief.” It’s probably not the worst but the second line sounds like we’re advertising Amber Leaf when, in fact, we’re more of a GV band. In case you were wondering why our voices are so sultry.