The Last People on Earth
words: Richard Waller
pics: Phillip Rhodes
November - December 2004
Beards n dresses n neo-psychedelia n rubber gloves n tunes that sound like summer? it can only be...... THE LAST PEOPLE ON EARTH
If you’ve never heard the music of, or even witnessed The Last People On Earth at their best, self-proclaimed “neo-psychedelia”, fuelled live shows, you could be forgiven for expecting them to be the final survivors of a cannibalistic tribe. Nor are they, with aliases such as Egg, Sheikh, Numsee and the strangely normally named, Paddy, the next carnation of Tweenietubbies. And they certainly are not a death metal band. With a name derived from an obscure comic book, your impressions could mean absolutely anything at all. Whatever impressions you could possibly make from this, don’t rely on them. For those of you who don’t already know, you really should find out what it is that makes the band special. The Last People On Earth are a band that need to be seen to be appreciated.
Returning to the live arena after a bit of a quiet period, due to a break in a vitally important drumming arm, they’re back and looking for action, although, judging by the dresses, I’m not sure exactly what kind of action? I’m invited to the top-secret Bat-Cave-esque studio of The Last People On Earth to chat about the band.
I arrive to find Egg and Paddy sat casually in drag, talking about the whole George W. Bush fiasco and as normally as possible, offering kind, accommodating gestures whilst we wait for the arrival of Numsee and Sheikh…
“The less people know about the studio, the better. It’s our little hideaway,” I’m told to keep the location under my hat. So I’ve resorted to burying my hat.
The studio is more like a flat. The place truly does have everything you could need to live and everything a band could need.
“I actually did live here for about a month. It was brilliant. So chilled. Beautiful” confirms Paddy.
The Last People On Earth were formed two years ago from parts of various local bands. Numerous line-up changes later, and the current line-up had formed. Any band should really appreciate having a professional recorder, a computer technician and a budding promoter playing in it.
The four-piece have been friends for a long time (“We’ve all been playing around for about 10 years now”), and following other band break-ups, it seemed like a natural progression to form The Last People On Earth. In a time when the music industry seems to be going through something of a desperate renovation, something better is sorely needed. The Last People On Earth have arrived to provide that with their own unique brand of… well… whatever it is.
Influences are found everywhere for a band like this. The guys claim kinship with the likes of Colosseum to Wishbone Ash, Ted Danson (?), absolutely anything with Hammond organs, and even the Hammonds soundtracks at the Ferensway chain store, as Egg insists. Any two of those are bound to create a strange concoction. Musically, their songs tackle a negative narrative and couple it with positive, upbeat and catchy compositions. The well-constructed debut album, “Sounds Like A Tiger” – the title I’m told being, somehow, a send-up of The Beach Boys classic album “Pet Sounds”. (It is now available to buy from their site.)
For a debut album, spanning 21 tracks, and 78 minutes, material certainly isn’t short by anybody’s standards.
“We believe in giving people value for money” claims Paddy.
“We’re writing songs all the time. We might as well try and get them heard rather than let them sit on a shelf.”
So now come the plans of world domination and breaking out of this old town. Just as you expect though these guys have a plan. “We need to get our stuff distributed. We need to get ourselves heard more. Yeah, join our mailing list for a free CD.” says Sheikh.
“We’re not in this for the money. We’ve got our own money. We just wanna cover our costs. We know how the industry works. We’ve seen people who’ve been signed, flopped and ended up owing the label. You might as well get a bank loan. It’s the same thing really.”
Unfortunately, what these guys hold in originality and talent, they lack in commercial achievement and publicity seeking.
“This is the closest we’ve got to a publicity stunt really” says Sheikh looking down at his frock.
“We should perform like this,” suggests Paddy.
Numsee looks coy. Not so keen on the idea of wearing a dress at all, never mind on stage. He gets back to the football commentary on the hand-held radio. What the band claim they really need is a good manager, and a distribution deal to get things really going. That’s the sad reality of the industry.
“You can polish your turd.” contributes Sheikh. “When someone with a marketing background can turn up and create a successful band out of an average one, bands that actually are good are at a disadvantage.“
“We don’t get into scenes. Scenes don’t last. We’ve all been in bands over the last ten years or so. We’ve seen changes.”
The times they are a-changin’. And The Last People On Earth, if there’s any justice in the industry, should really be a key element of these times, and future times.
The Last People On Earth are certainly not a “cool” band. They’re almost anti-cool. Just look at the pictures. Egg with his itchy tights, Numsee with his hair taunted by Chesney Hawkes fans (say no more), Sheikh with his pretty dress, curtseying, and ,of course, Paddy, with his beard and pigtails. Numsee however, easily wins the bands cool stakes in his unfortunate recently recovered broken arm incident… I’m told that the man is something of a show off on a bicycle, chasing ladies around the streets of Hull. I’m also told to inform you that the broken arm occurred during a rock n’ roll crocodile wrestling competition, Draw your own conclusions by all means, but it’s probably best to leave it to your own devices. Please forward any rumours to the usual address…
Live, The Last People On Earth offer a very worthwhile experience. There are songs you can dance to, songs you can laugh at, songs you can reflect on and just songs you can plainly enjoy. The raw energy that pours from the stage as Paddy leaps around shaking his head in wild rock and roll revelry and strutting with his bass. Numsee beating his drums to an inch of their life. Egg swapping easily from guitar to Hammond and giving it what for and Sheikh being head of noises. It just all works so incredibly well that whenever you see them you fee like you’ve just seen something special and leave with a slightly smug feeling of ‘I was there’.
Live they totally transform their sound. Much like Fonda 500 who have way more punch when they play live, many of the tracks that are beautiful and gently surreal become all out crunching madness. Heavier, darker and stronger it’s the songs you love but different and still great.
They joined the bill of the Sandman launch gig at The Adelphi last month. Sharing the bill with previous Sandman cover stars, Fonda 500, The Paddingtons, The Favours, Turismo and Emma Rugg, the night was deemed the best gig so far by the band. Paddy, as ever the perfectionist of the band insists on technical difficulties.
Having recently headlined the popular “Sweet And Sour” night at The Welly, the band are arriving in a whole new territory. When you consider that the headlining slot at the weekly “Sweet And Sour” franchise is an accolade shared locally by rising artists such as top-twenty fixtures, Kasabian, Quentin Tarrantino favourites, The 5678s and the promising Bloc Party, it’d be nice if The Last People On Earth joined, or even surpassed them.
However, the band are somehow struggling to find gigs back home.
“We’re getting the impression we’ve overstayed our welcome. We need to get out. Get the word around a bit”
And to think that we could’ve lost The Last People On Earth to become reincarnated as a Beatles tribute band under a lucrative contract in Japan? Be thankful that money isn’t everything to these guys. All being well, there’ll be much more to come. The future is looking up. The band have everything they need. Each member has their own equipment, useful sideline business ventures, great songs and, above all importance a sense of humour.
So, if you’re passing through Sheffield on 17th December, pop into The Grapes to catch the guys with a new audience. Check out the website, below for more up and coming gig confirmations, the odd free download, mailing list and to get the album.