Continuing our series of interviews with bands during lockdown, Mark Glenister spoke with James Cox of Crows at a socially safe distance, and asked him about dealing with lockdown, how it’s impacted the bands plans, and plans once life returns to ‘normal’.
Firstly, how are you? How are the rest of the band as well?
Bonjour, Yeah I am doing OK, thanks for asking. Everyone else is doing well too, all healthy and staying as positive as we can.
Do you have a daily routine, are you learning anything new as everyone else seems to be?
The first three or four weeks of the lockdown I found myself hugely uninspired, both creatively and artistically. I think the combination of missing loved ones, the daily news and just a continuous feeling of dread really did a number on my productivity.
I spent a lot of time in the garden just trying to dig out some pent-up energy and tried to stay as physically active as I could and that worked as a good distraction for a bit.
Gradually I was getting more and more frustrated that I wasn’t doing anything creative, basically guilt tripping myself for letting this rare ‘free-time’ go to waste. I then also realised that, for as long as I can remember I have always complained about ‘being too busy’ and never having a real break to decompress or unwind and reset my brain. Always complaining I don’t get enough sleep or have the time to do anything other than work. So, once I told myself its ok to relax, I settled in and began feeling much better. I think it’s completely fine if your using this time to do absolutely nothing, If you are learning a language, baking or crafting that’s amazing too, well done, but if your just getting out of bed, putting some clothes on and getting through the day, that’s just as good. We’ve got to get through this anyway we can so adding massive self-induced guilt for not maximising productivity is the last thing we need. Get up, drink lots of tea, and just remember we’re here to stop people getting sick and to help our health service cope with this tragedy.
Photo By Nicola Kill / selfexposed.co.uk
Are you seeing this lockdown as a time to be creative? And has it changed the way you view the industry?
Thankfully last week I had a sudden surge of inspiration and creativity and I ended up writing loads of music over a few days. It was a really intense burst of productivity (which is rare for me at the best of times) and I found I had space to actually process things that I hadn’t done for 10 years or so. My entire adult life I haven’t ever had the time to step back and do so and let it come out naturally and freely without worrying about a time constraint or other distractions. I was very thankful for that, but honestly like I said it doesn’t matter how you have used this time, just as long as your remaining positive and even just attempting to do new things, successful or not, doesn’t matter. If you told me in January that I’d have made 4 birdboxes and bee hotel by the end of April I’d have told you to fuck off.
Similarly, to every other industry across the planet right now, it really is impossible to say what the state of the music will be after this. It’s nice bands are adapting to it with the whole ‘live stream’ and listening party explosion, everyone is wanting to keep people engaged and entertained. After all we are entertainers at the end of the day, and people now more than ever, need entertaining. We’ve just got to wait and see how we come out the otherside. One thing I hope will come is more community and, I know this word has been thrown around a lot but solidarity. Rarely is the entire world on the same page, let alone the same book, so fingers crossed we’ll carry some of the positive things people are doing onto the next stage. Touring is such a massive part of the functioning of a band so without it, same as everything else, the chain is broken so we need to be really careful to not let it become irreparable.
As a band are you doing anything for the fans? A lot of online gigs and Q&As seem to be the norm for a lot of bands, how easy or difficult is that for you as a group?
Trust me, we’re working on it. Trying to do something that is equal parts interesting, enjoyable and of some actual quality is key though. I don’t think people would particularly enjoy an acoustic version of Silver Tongues, that’s just my opinion, maybe they would! But as with everything we do, it’s got to be something we’re proud of and to the standard we do everything we do with. No point doing something for the sake of it, wanting to do something that is fulfilling for our fans and ourselves is the aim.
Last time we spoke, you had just come off stage at the Peckham fundraiser and were preparing for SXSW – how does that feel a few weeks down the line? Any positives to be taken from it?
God, it’s hard to describe the feeling we all felt when we found out SXSW was off. I was at the pub about to start a DJ set and our manager Cal called me and broke the news. I was so angry/sad/upset/distraught/furious all at once. Then I got heinously drunk to forget about it. Gradually over the next few weeks, and the severity of the pandemic became clearer, we were able to calm down and realise it was obviously for good reason. It was just so hard because SXSW really is something you work towards your entire career and we were going to get an American label and booking agent out there. Finally having a chance to go to America and prove your good enough to take on that territory, show you’ve got something to say. We had finally made it and made it because our fanbase believed in us so much that they raised the money to fucking get us there! We weren’t going on some record label or publicist’s dime; we were going because people believed in us as much as we did. The circumstances of us going were so pure and positive that that’s what made it hurt so much more but also what helped us get over the heartbreak.
Hopefully we will have our chance again next year, and maybe it will end up being even better for us.
Also, you were in the middle of getting the second album promoted, is that on hold now? And are you still excited by the new album?
The album is 95% finished. We’ve just got to stick a few extra bits on it then get it mixed and mastered. The virus meant we were unable to get to the studio to complete these last bits just yet as Jith is soon to be a daddy and we didn’t want to put his partner Caroline at risk in anyway, we have been really strict about social distancing as there are definitely more important things to worry about right now. It took us five years to bring Silver Tongues out so as long as its quicker than that I’ll be happy.
We are really proud of this album though and we are desperate to get it out but definitely don’t want to rush it. We also obviously want to tour it, as some of the songs are itching to be played live so at the moment we’ve just got to wait it out unfortunately.
As a fan I know how much I miss going to gigs, for the music and for the social aspect, is this something that you miss as well?
Fuck me, I miss gigs.
My entire life is revolved around live music so it is really painful. Its’ hard to see all my friends who work in the sector suffering too, weather its, venues, promoters, artists or sound engineers. It’s really hit everyone hard and moral is quite low. Hopefully when things get back to normal there hasn’t been too much irreversible damage to the infrastructure, I know we’ll definitely be hosting a shindig to kick things off (as soon as its safe to do so obvs)
How important are your fans at this time, I know and I speak from experience, a lot of merch is being purchased to help bands, and I know you have a great connection with fans generally so are they an important aspect of getting through this?
It’s definitely reaffirmed how lucky we are to have the fans we have. We have an incredibly loyal and dedicated fan-base who I know must be hating the fact we can’t be active as much as we do. The lack of content we can put up and give to fans is also frustrating, but like I said before, I’d rather give something good than any old shite just for the sake of it. You also don’t want me posting a million pictures reminding you of really fun gigs you cant go to anymore. I can guarantee all your favourite bands are hating this just as much as you are so stay strong.
Despite horrors of this pandemic, the lockdown seems to have a created a lot of really positive community action, and for once social media is being used mainly I a positive manner – Do you want life to return to normal once this is over, or would you like people to be using this time to evaluate their lives and start be part of communities and positive social change?
Its been incredibly interesting to see how things have unfolded. Essentially our only access to other people is the Internet and social media, so now more than ever people are engaged with what everyone else is doing. The nomination culture is thriving and thankfully it’s with more positive and creative connotations like exercising and music swapping, as opposed to “neck a pint of dog-food and vodka” haha. Lots of charity is happening thankfully and definitely needed during this time so I’m glad to see giving becoming trendy.
But yeah, despite the obvious tragedy of the enormous death toll and the incompetence of our government’s handling of the disaster, people generally are getting through this positively and will continue to do so. As much as I hate the way our politicians and media are using war terminology for everything, and it’s sad that what truly brings everyone together is tragedy, I’m glad some of the divide that’s been ripping us apart recently is being mended, even slightly.
Just got to see what the world looks like on the other side.
Call your family and Stay safe x