Part industrial, part spiritual and birthed in the dingy basement of a disused pub-cum-creative squat, the south London five piece have gained a reputation for their energetic live shows and artistic edge. They play Manchester White Hotel (22 October) and Leeds Belgrave Music Hall (23 October).
Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
I suppose our sound is a mixture of things. Krautrock, psychedelia, and some more pop/rock sounds. But it’s hard to describe it in terms of genre – those terms are always going to be generic. We’re all influenced by a range different things, from PJ Harvey to Can. Radiohead and Massive Attack are pretty important for us. One of the best things about being in this band is that as individuals we like quite a wide range of musical styles. Techno, classical jungle, noise, ambient – it’s all in there somewhere.
How have you evolved as a band over the years?
Well, the roots of this go back a long way to when Nick and Isabel played as a duo in a pub basement. Gradually others joined, and the current line-up came together almost two years ago. We play together as often as we can, and the way it is now is very much a product of those hours spent in the rehearsal room. In that time we’ve explored a lot musically. We’ve also gained a lot of experience in playing lots of gigs. Stylistically we have moved through quite a few phases, sometimes writing really heavy droning music, other times almost pastoral. Once we learnt the entirety of Maggot Brain start to finish, we learnt a lot from that.
Were there any alternative band names before you arrived at this one?
For a while we were called ADA. And we spent quite a while looking for a replacement for that. It’s hard to choose something when so much is already taken!
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Well, we’re actually on tour right now with the Glass Animals in North America. But amongst touring were finishing up making the album ready for release next year. It can be hard to keep up with writing and practising when there’s lots of gigs on. It’s a difficult balancing act. Touring is more of an R&D type of experience. It’s a good moment to spend time listening to the albums you’ve missed, and reading all the books you can carry with you.
How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
We don’t try to sound like the crowd. Sure, we have lots of influences, but we’re also influenced by each other. It’s important to keep track of how you’re feeling rather than mimicking what’s already been successful.
What’s on your rider?
Tell us about your worst live show.
We’ve had plenty of difficult ones. We played one recently in Ireland when a lot of what can go wrong went wrong. It was raining, we were drunk, and the sound on stage was, shall we say, not helpful.