In today's Bands in Lockdown interview, Mark Glenister speaks with Katie and Greg from Sit Down, who recently released their Nice One EP, which you can listen to / buy here.
Firstly, how are you both?
K: Doing alright considering! We're in lockdown on other sides of town, but as it's just the two of us it's pretty easy to keep up to date with planning and writing and sending demos and such back and forth so all in all not so bad.
G: Yeah coping ok. We’ve always been quite good at working remotely together; most of the vocals for the new EP were recorded by Katie on an iPhone and sent across to me to mix.
Do you have a daily routine, are you learning anything new as everyone else seems to be?
K: I don't really have a routine as such, but I'm trying to do yoga or go out for a jog every day, so that's been good at keeping me sane. Although the days are starting to slip by pretty quickly now as it all starts to feel somewhat normal. I've been learning to play guitar online (although I'm too impatient and find it far more fun to just mess about without knowing what I'm doing and see what comes out. I've also been creating some fun simple synth tracks and experimenting with production.
G: I guess I’ve just been doing what I’d normally be doing, holing myself up in the studio and trying to make as much music as I can. But I do try and get out for a solid walk or cycle everyday, and a little morning meditation always helps to keep anxieties in check.
Are you seeing this lockdown as a time to be creative? And has it changed the way you view the industry?
K: It's a weird one because overall it's what most creatives dream of, right? Having endless time to just create without having to worry about working or trying to pay the bills etc. But with all this freedom comes the restrictions that make it so frustrating, like you can't just jam together on something and see what comes out, or get in the pit in a sweaty basement and experience music that transports you somewhere else. But at the same time there's something to be said for the fun of finding a way round the restrictions and just doing it anyway, which is why we dropped our new EP in the middle of lockdown which sounds like the worst idea imaginable haha.
G: I’ve often felt I work best when I have some limitations, like having work commitments or time constraints, as it gives me focus to try and use my time well. So in this current situation of endless free time, I’ve had to really remember to pace myself and not burn out trying to use every second to be creative, cause I know it’s just not a realistic expectation.
Photo by Bridie Florence
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? How has this impacted your side projects?
K: We've thought about it, and due to the nature of our sound there's no way we can really do like a 'stripped back' version of our songs, so we decided not to any livestreams or anything. But that's part of the reason we dropped our EP in the middle of this, so we can offer something new and hopefully exciting to fill the big void left by the lack of live music. We also followed it up with an Instagram chat about the record and Q&A which was really great fun. We only intended to do it for about 20 mins but we ended up staying online and chatting to people for like an hour and a half!
G: In terms of side projects, it’s always just been either of us making music by ourselves so not much has changed there. Before all of this we were trying to put together some gigs to perform some side project stuff, but like everything, that’s now been put on hold.
With the lockdown being extended, does that affect plans for tours, singles, albums?
K: We were lucky in a way that we'd only just started planning the EP when all this madness happened, so thankfully we didn't have to cancel that much. But while it's of course a terrifying time for everyone to live through, it is super scary to have essentially staked your entire life and future on something that could crumble at any second. It's another reason why we dropped this EP when we did though - with the future so uncertain, we could've ended up waiting forever, so we just thought fuck it.
G: Also, as it turns out, much of the EP is a lot more complex than anything we’ve done before, and will take a bit of time figure out how to play live properly, so the freedom of just releasing it and not having to worry about performing it anytime soon was actually quite refreshing.
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?
K: God yeah, of course. From playing so much ourselves I've kinda found myself going to less and less gigs over the years, but I tell you what, as soon as everything is back up and running again you can catch me at every and any gig under the sun.
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?
K: It may be a cliche thing to say, but it's a simple fact that without people giving us the time of day that they do, we'd be absolutely nothing haha. We're forever humbled and grateful for each and every person who interacts with us and listens to our music, and it can't be understated the impact just buying a t-shirt or a 99p download makes. Even just a passing comment or email from someone who says they see what we do and appreciate it, is unbelievably impactful to us and that support is genuinely just as affirming as someone buying merch. We're also making more of an effort to do the same for other bands and venues and spread the love, as we're all in this together.
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 in 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?
K: I definitely think there's a lot that should change in the way we perceive a lot of modern society after this. The fact that so many are finding themselves anxious for lockdown to be lifted and to 'go back to normal' say's it all really. Whether these changes will happen and will last is another matter that's somewhat out of our hands, but I know for sure that this experience has had a profound impact on the way I live my life, think about myself and just my general attitude. Without downplaying or disregarding the circumstances in which this time has come about, I am grateful for this time which has allowed us to slow down and take stock of what matters in life.
G: Yeah same here, it’s cliched but I’ve definitely learnt a lot about myself, as I think many people have. Spending all day with yourself with little to distract you really let’s you find out what’s going on in your head.
Next up: Mark Speaks with Talk Show (UK).
What We've Been Listening To This Week...IDLES, Squid, Bilk, Courting, Kooba Tercu and the Owed Summer, Stay Home and Group Therapy Compilations
Links to music/articles in blue
This week has mostly been spent listening to three great compilation albums - Owed Summer from Joint Effort / Sour Grapes Records, Stay Home from Independent Musicians Against COVID19 (which you can read about here and Group Therapy Vol 1 (which you can read about here). Profits from all three compilations (120 tracks across all of them!) will be donated to NHS charities as well as music charities so you get to help some very worthwhile causes as well as get some great music added to your Bandcamp collections.
Another album that really merits talking about is Proto Tekno by Kooba Tercu, released on Friday by Rocket Recordings. I won’t go into too much details as you can read about it here, but it is rather special and already a contender for album of the year.
On the singles front we profiled the new single by Courting and had an interview with front man Sean yesterday which you can read about here. Needless to say, ‘David Byrne’s Bad Side’ is yet another top tune from the band that bought us ‘Football’ earlier this year. Another promising young band Bilk released a new single I got knocked out the same night as England, which sees them returning to their punky roots with great effect.
Possibly one of the most keenly anticipated new singles of the week was ‘Mr Motivator’ from IDLES, the lead track from their forthcoming album. Judging by some of the comments on one of the IDLES Facebook groups, opinions of the song have been split, with some loving it and others dismissive. Comments from the detractors included a suggestion that the song is a pastiche of the band, that it’s got a ‘crap chorus’ and so on. Personally, I think it’s superb, a real rabble rouser, full of energy and a great taster for the album, although I've only started getting into the band over the last year or so. We also had an interview with Mark Bowen of the band last week, talking about in how he’s finding life in Lockdown, which you can read here.
Last but not least on the new releases front is the new single from Squid, Broadcaster. Broadcaster reveals a more electronic, experimental side to the band, perhaps giving some indication of why they signed recently to Warp Records. It’s very good though. Broadcaster is to be released on 10-inch vinyl, with previous digital single release Sludge at the end of the month. We’ll have to wait until sometime next year for their debut album though.
By Jon Milton
Those lovely people at Rocket Recordings have an amazing knack of unearthing talent from across the world. Gnoomes from Russia, Och (and others) from Sweden, Lay Llamas from Italy and so on. Their latest offering is Kooba Cercu of Greece and their new album ‘Proto Tekno’ which might just be one of the albums of the year.
Proto Tekno manages to bring together krautrock, psych, industrial, electronica and more in a soundtrack to an imagined dystopia, which they describe as ‘a potent and pulverising collection of incendiary jams fuelled by the modern age yet transcending it with vicious style’.
The album starts with the thrashy ‘Benzoberry’, a powerful mix of early Dinosaur Jr, Killing Joke and Nirvana submerged in feedback, with the Killing Joke influence continuing in ‘Cemento Mori’ like a present-day ‘War Dance’ having a ruck with the Chemical Brothers.
Filter Feeder provides a change in direction, away from post punk and rock to industrial percussive beats and grinding bass, as a momentary release from the deep immersion, which the powerful dirge Qasan draws you straight back in with its hypnotic tribal drumming and chanting.
The chanting continues with Kamehameha and Fair Game, low slung bass, percussion and noise combining wonderfully. Penultimate track Boiler is harsh and hypnotic with final track Puppy Pile like an awakening from a trance.
I love the way the album ebbs and flows, the inventive drumming driving the music and allowing for the range of sounds to come together. Music really takes centre stage in Proto Tekno with vocals used both cleverly and sparingly throughout. This makes for a proper listening experience, a shamanic journey through sound and space.
Proto Tekno is different, excellent and an album that stands out amongst the crowd. You can listen and buy it here.
By Jon Milton
Contemplating David Byrne’s Bad Side is not something I’ve readily done, but I guess on reflection there’s a lot to be concerned about. He’s freely talked about being a French speaking Psycho Killer, burning down the house and being wicked and lazy. He also has friends, a lot of them going by the sheer volume of collaborations he’s made over his 50-year recording career. But why is he the subject of the new single by fresh-faced Liverpudlian indie starlets Courting?
Courting’s front man Sean explains that the track is more about class tourism and the petty prejudices that exist in Britain today, with David Byrne as the protagonist, known for outspoken views on those that are not polite, ‘hating on the casual racists and general nasty people who you encounter on a day to day basis’. The same people that, in the current lockdown would be ‘undoubtedly going down the beach with their mates, protesting about the other people who are doing the same, and claiming they’re the problem’.
DBBS is the third single from the band, who released ‘Not Yr Man’ last year and ‘Football’ earlier this year, with the latter gaining a lot of attention, so much so that in the week of DBBS being released they’ve managed to appear on Steve Lamacq’s show, which Sean describes as ‘feeling really good and an absolute honour’.
DBBS is another absolutely top-quality tune from these four lads from Liverpool, and one they are particularly pleased with, and rightly so. Normally you’d expect them to be out touring with the single, but instead the band have been using the lockdown to focus on writing and demoing new songs and being creative. For Sean ‘the real shame is that we can’t play the new tracks live which is the best bit’ although he remains positive, describing how the lockdown ‘feels like we’re all united in a lack of things to do right now, so it’s hard to complain’.
Up next for the band is ‘either an EP or a reality TV show, whichever comes first’. Personally I’d prefer the latter, but either way Courting are definitely a band to watch out for.
You can listen to David Byrne's Bad Side here.
By Jon Milton
Another great compilation raising money for NHS Charities and The Music Venue Trust. Group Therapy describe themselves as 'a London based collective working with the aim of bringing previously unheard music from a range of incredible talent to your homes during lock down and beyond whilst raising money for charity' and they've done a great job with this release.
For just £7 you get 65 demo's, remixes, live versions, covers and unreleased tracks covering a really broad and intoxicating array of music. The album starts off chilled with Porridge Radio and then builds momentum slowly, taking in lo-fi indie, post punk, electronica, experimental and more, finishing with the charming Platonica Erotica tune, fittingly titled 'The End'. Highlights for these ears are Treeboy and Arc, Sleep Eaters, The Lounge Society, Mystic Peach, Pet Shimmers, Dirty Streethearts, Sorry, Ricky Stanstead & Seamus O'Reagan, Hotel Lux, Lice, PVA and POZI, but that is literally just scratching the surface.
Since the album was released 24 hours ago the album has raised £2k already for charity, which is a great achievement, and if you haven't already put your hand in your pocket and grabbed this beauty, you can do so here. This album and the Stay Home and Owed Summer compilations that I spoke of yesterday make a great soundtrack for the bank holiday weekend for an extremely modest outlay, and they contribute to a great cause. Its a no-brainer: aural edification and support for a good cause, what more could you ask for?