By Jon Milton
One of the exciting crop of bands emerging from Liverpool these days, post punk upstarts Eyesore and the Jinx take a wry look at human behaviour in their new EP ‘The Exile Parlour’, observing the effects of alcohol and other stimulants on groups of individuals, Brits abroad, fetishism and entitlement across its four constituent parts.
Produced by Daniel Fox of Girl Band, it’s their first vinyl release, and for a vinyl feti- (ahem) lover like me had to be snapped up, the mixture of artwork, 10-inch grey vinyl and four great tunes far too hard to resist. It’s on one of them crowd fund campaigns too so doubly worthwhile – have a look here and see what I mean / get yourself a copy.
I spoke with vocalist/bassist Josh, about the EP, and whether lockdown had fuelled more observations…
Nightlife chronicles the particular nuances of Liverpool’s nocturnal revelling – is this a picture you see repeated across other cities across the UK or is there something unique about your home turf?
I've not really had too much of a chance to sample that much of the UK's nightlife, I'm a bit of a shut-in these days to be honest (lockdown aside), so I couldn't really say for certain but there are definitely similarities to be seen in some other cities, particularly in the North.
The idea for 'Nightlife' came from a specific street in Liverpool called Seel Street, where there's a tangible change in the atmosphere of an evening, and it transitions seamlessly from a relatively normal eating and drinking spot, to utter bedlam. It's very much the eye of the storm in Liverpool and a place where various different factions of the local nightlife tend to meet. So of a weekend, you get a bit of a gross melting pot of hen/ stag parties, students and some locals, and after a few drinks and other bits and bobs, those different groups tend not to get along very well and it all suddenly gets very tribal, which is where the subject matter for the track and video came from.
Leisure Time considers the wonders of British holiday makers abroad, and their unique approach to blending in with local people and culture. Did you draw your inspiration from personal experiences, and if so please elaborate?
Believe it or not, I don't relax very well. So I tend to struggle a bit when I'm on holiday. I'm quite fidgety and don't really know what to do with myself. This obviously isn't typical of all British holidaymakers, but I think there's definitely an element of that, in the 'brit abroad', which started the thinking behind 'Leisure Time'. I nabbed the title from an American family who were having absolute murder one evening when I was on holiday a few years back. Can always can count on the yanks for a decent quip.
What topics do the other two songs on Exile Parlour cover?
There's a pretty broad range of topics that run through the EP, but it was only after it was finished that I realised there was a thread running through the four tracks which centred on people's changing behaviours particularly when pursuing pleasure. The second side of the EP was where I got the chance to experiment with narrative songwriting for the first time, so the other tracks are a lot more story based than any of our previous releases.
I wanted the title track to involve the subject matter of the earlier singles, to establish a bit of link between our earlier output. Those earlier tracks focused more on isolation but, I wanted to look at it from a totally different perspective than I had done previously. So, isolation as a form of fetish was naturally where it led (it is a thing by the way, though I wouldn't advise googling it, if you're in work). The story of the track is set in an online fetish forum for people with a fetish for isolation, amongst other things.
The final track is one that we've had for a very long time, and only really bring it out in the live show on special occasions. It was written around the time that the Harvey Weinstein story first broke. It was impossible not to be appalled by the stories that emerged around this time, and unnerved by the similarity in the various accounts. It goes without saying but those that came forward and continue to come forward to this day, to tell their stories are some of the bravest people around, and I/ we have nothing but complete admiration for them.
The song itself recounts a sadly all too familiar story of a powerful man who abuses his position and is ultimately undone by his own sense of entitlement, and is quite rightly held accountable when he thinks he's above accountability. .
The vinyl for Exile Parlour is a thing of beauty. Who was responsible for the design?
This is the work of our good friend and collaborator Mat Greaves, who does all of our artwork and even did the video for 'On an Island'. You can see more of this work here: https://www.matgreaves.com
What’s it been like working with Daniel Fox?
Working with Daniel was great. We're all massive Girl Band fans, so we were a little star struck to begin with but once we managed to get over ourselves it was all good.
We've worked with quite a few other artists in the past on some recordings and I think previously we've underestimated how important it is to work with someone with a similar temperament as ourselves - we're not the most outgoing bunch - and Daniel definitely made it a lot easier for us in that regard.
Whenever we got together he'd turn up with a huge suitcase, which he was adamant you could fit the body of a small person or child in. I never did get round to asking him how he knew that.
Given the observational nature of human behaviour in your songs, has the pandemic provided you with much new material? If so in what ways?
Not massively to be honest, no. I've got the immune system of a pensioner so I've unfortunately had to shield for the majority of the last few months so I've not really had a great deal of contact with other people. There's only so much you can write about the Hermes man who never gives you enough time to answer the door. Our political overlords however, have provided ample material with some of their performances in recent times. They're always very generous like that.
How have you found navigating your way through lockdown?
It hasn't been too bad, to be honest. It was only after lockdown started that I realised I'd been unknowingly self-isolating for the last few years. The only difference being the last few months have been government mandated. I've found myself having a lot more time to read than usual, which was a bonus. Currently making my way through 'The Plague' by Albert Camus - apt reading for a pandemic.
What’s your three-year plan for the band?
We're not really a three-year plan type of band, and I feel like that's going to be the case even more so now in the wake of the pandemic, and what feels like an almost inevitable second wave. I think the plan for the immediate future will be to start work on an LP.
We've accumulated a fair old bit of music in these last few months, and the months prior to the lockdown so I imagine the rest of the year will be spent trying to make sense of what we've made so far and put it into some sort of cohesive bit of work. That, and navigating a global health crisis should keep us busy for a while at least.
The Exile Parlour EP is out on 24th July on Eggy Records. You can order your copy here