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Indie rock band The Carnabys are set to release their third album, Too Much Never Enough. Here lead singer Jack Mercer tells Big Issue North why the band are donating all pre-sales of their album to Music Venue Trust, and why the industry needs to boycott “fast food music”.

Tell us about your work with Music Venue Trust.
Music Venue Trust is an organisation helping to keep grassroots venues across the UK alive and thriving, which unfortunately is something that needs a lot of support. In the last eight years, a third of the UK’s venues have closed down and haven’t been replaced. It’s important to us particularly because these grassroots venues are vital for honing our craft, playing to fans, playing across the country. Playing such venues is how acts such as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Who, Adele, Ed Sheeran and David Bowie honed their craft. Without these venues we will never have artists such as these again.

Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
We’re an indie rock band. Though we take influence from everything from soul to hip-hop to rock to jazz. If we were to describe our sound there’s not really any one band you can compare us to.

How have you evolved as a band over the years?
Coming from Twickenham we’ve always been a part of the local scene, playing in bars with loads of different local musicians. It’s great! It’s given us the chance to learn how to play live, perform, and hold a certain etiquette with other musicians. Everything we’ve picked up from the local music scene is vital to what we do now.

Were there any alternative band names before you arrived at this one?
No, not for this one. We didn’t have a name until we decided on the Carnabys, although I was in a school band when I was 13. We were called Mary Had A Little Gun. Shameful.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We’re always writing and focusing on the next thing. It’s all pieces of a puzzle at the moment, but we tend to put it all together when focusing on a body of work as a whole.

How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
With difficulty, especially in London when you’ve got so many bands in so many venues every night of the week. I think it’s time for people to take interest in proper music though. We need to boycott over-produced, fast food music. It’s cheap, quick and nasty, churning out artists (or puppets) for a few singles or an album and dumping them, and instead, focus on artistry. Bands and artists that write their own, cleverly written, strong material and give them the praise they deserve.

What’s on your rider?
Rum, beers, fruit, a lizard man, Harley Davidsons, and for some reason we’re always given a fuck load of hummus.

Tell us about your worst live show.
Hah! Luckily I can say that I don’t think we’ve ever had a disaster show, apart from this one time. We were about 17 years old, playing covers in pubs, etc, and we got asked to play this all-girls school prom – happy days. But when you’re young, you can’t really hold your drink all that well. We did the first set, then had an hour’s break where we were the only ones able to take advantage of the bar (they thought we were of age, you see.) So we proceeded to engulf the whisky, beers and wine they had. The second set was so shambolic it was almost funny. One of us had to get off stage to throw up. But we were young, we’ve done it now, the mistake has been made and we’re not gonna do that on stage again any time soon.

Saskia Murphy

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