Tom Short, guitarist for the four-piece Manchester alt.rock outfit, talks about their forthcoming EP ahead of a launch party at Deaf Institute on Friday and admits their home city is not as exciting musically as other northern cities at the moment.
What’s an Easy Kill?
That’s a lyric taken from a Heatmiser song [Elliott Smith’s old band]: “Because I’ve always felt like an easy kill.” I think we were all quite attracted to that name as it’s quite melodramatic but not in a Morrissey kind of way. It’s also a Sylvester Stallone film that comes highly recommended.
What are you guys up to at the moment?
We are currently in the run-up to our EP launch at Deaf Institute, with a London launch to follow on 11 March. We haven’t been that active live lately, but it feels like we’ve been crazy busy. Getting to a point where you can play a venue that size obviously takes a while and so we’ve putting a lot of energy into our live show. Similarly, trying to launch an EP physically and make sure it’s up to scratch takes a long time. I think we’re happy with the results and hope that people will be as well.
How would you describe the sound of the EP?
It’s definitely got a strong singer-songwriter element to it, just in terms of the fact that Theo [Tobias, vocals/guitar] places a lot of emphasis on his lyrics, and it’s very driven by his guitar parts. We used to struggle with balancing that element with writing songs as a band where the temptation is to jam out in a room, as loud as possible. Gradually we have realised that you don’t have to go loud, and now that we have a fifth member it’s basically impossible to do things that way. Using keys, samples and backing vocals, and thinking about song structures more I think we’ve started to find a sound that’s warm and engaging without having to rock out. We’ve called it doom pop in the past and I think that sums it up nicely – there’s a melancholic aspect to the lyrics, but we’re also pretty obsessed with pop songs and hooks and don’t want to abandon that format by any means.
So would you say that singer-songwriters are your biggest influences?
I think there’s a fairly broad mix. Some of us listen to Swans, Jon Hopkins, Nick Drake – an endless list but I think we’re all influenced to some extent by bands from the US post-alt scene where there’s a big emphasis on dynamics and atmosphere, and wanted to translate that into a situation where that music complemented vocals and lyrics rather than the other way round.
Where does Manchester fit into that list? Are you inspired by the city?
We love the city – the rain, the food, the extensive bus network – but I wouldn’t necessarily say we are greatly inspired by it at the moment! Musically things feel quite stale compared to Sheffield and Leeds where there are really active scenes at the moment. But then you see good promoters like Family Tree, and plenty of good bands kicking about, and you hope that eventually will lead to something good happening on this side of the Pennines again.