Music Q&A: Aliens

A new project between film maker Tim May and Del Amitri's Iain Harvie, Aliens are gearing up to release their first EP, Lockdown

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What informs your songwriting?
Iain: Aliens started very simply one Saturday afternoon with a couple of song ideas. At the time Trump was campaigning to get elected; random, urban suicide attacks seemed to be almost a daily occurrence; Syria was imploding; the people of the UK had, in what looked to us like an act of collective madness, voted to leave the EU. Personally, I have never overtly addressed politics in my writing but Tim started writing lyrics as a way of trying to respond to what was going on in the world, sometimes directly, sometimes obliquely. As more people have become involved in the project those themes seem to have resonated with them.

Have you recruited more band members?
Tim: Aliens is not really a band in the conventional sense. It’s more like a project. I always try to involve other musicians, film makers, animators, graphic designers, photographers – anyone who gets the music and the drive behind it.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?

Tim: Artistically makes it sound very grand… I’m working with a couple of directors to put together some videos and graphics that we’ll project at our next gig in London in early September.

What’s on your rider?
Iain: A copy of the Morning Star and good Scottish breakfast tea.
Tim: A decent red wine and some chewing gum. Not to be consumed at the same time, obviously.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Iain: When you have been on as many stages as I have and have fallen on your arse repeatedly, forgotten the chords to tunes you have played a thousand times, played an entire song in a different key from the rest of the band, it can be hard to choose. Being asked by a TV director to dance with Frank Carson, the Nolan Sisters and two blokes dressed as boiled eggs on Blackpool Beach in the rain at 9am springs to mind. But then again, slipping over on a hamburger in Hamburg is pretty much the definition of embarrassing and surreal.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Tim: Can I pick two? Five Years by David Bowie and Gimme Shelter by the Stones.
Iain: Fuck the Pain Away by Peaches.

What’s your worst lyric?
Tim: There’s loads but hopefully most of them don’t get to see the light of day. The American author William Faulkner said: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Some screenwriters and journalists say: “Kill your babies.” What they mean, I think, is cut out anything that you might feel personally attached to but doesn’t advance the story or the argument. I try to approach lyrics in the same way – but there’s always some that slip through net!

Lockdown is released on 3 September. Aliens play live at 93 Feet East, London on 7 September

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