words: Tom Goodhand
pics: Danny North
“We could get a lot bigger. The other day they offered us, well we keep being offered to go on Hollyoaks. Playing as our band. They’re like ‘we’ll write you into the script’. We were like ‘fuck that, you’re out of your fucking head!’”
Seeing The Cribs performing to a bunch of crap actors while you’re having your tea may sound entertaining, but just stop and contemplate that for a moment. The Cribs, probably the messiest band to have hailed from Leeds (well ok, Wakefield, but they’re happy to say they’re from Leeds) performing on what is quite possibly the world’s worst soap. It would be horrible.
Thankfully The Cribs are well aware of how ludicrous the offer is.
Ryan is especially vehement: “We have been offered stuff before that would help our careers. Like we’ve had important gigs where we could do really well, but we still get out of our heads and have a laugh with it, instead of being professional y’know. We don’t really care.”
It’s this attitude that means that as we chat to The Cribs they are perfectly content with going on stage in support of the Kaiser Chiefs, when a few months back it might have been the other way around.
As Ryan explains, “They wanna do well, they wanna get big, they wanna be successful, and they’re prepared to do things that we aren’t. They’re bigger than us because they wanna be. We don’t care about that, we never set out to be… We’re an indie band, y’know like a punk band, and we never set out to be in the charts, they’ve been in the charts so they’ve got to be on after us. The reason is that they’re working hard to be a big band, we’re not doing that, we’re just having a laugh.”
Gary, similarly, is pretty nonplussed: “If they were a shit band, then I’d probably find it a bit hard to stomach, but they’re a really good band.”
The love between The Cribs and the Chiefs is reciprocated. At this, the penultimate date of the tour for The Cribs (although Ricky & co. still have many dates left to go, and are picking up another set of Leeds boys, Duels, to keep them company in The Cribs’ absence), there was a bit of a Kaiser-Crib love in. During ‘Another Number’ Ricky and Nick saunter on stage to help The Cribs out (Nick proudly displaying his Cribs t-shirt), and the favour is returned during the Chief’s ‘Modern Way’.
In fact, such is the mutual appreciation for each other that the two bands have covered each other songs on an ultra-limited edition split 7” (that Sandman has fortunately managed to get their mitts upon).
Why? Ross explains that it all started off because the Chiefs wanted to do a cover of ‘Another Number’ for the b-side of their next single ‘Everyday I Love You Less and Less’. Then, as Ryan more lengthily describes, the idea of doing a 7” single came to fruition: “it’s something we’ve done all on our own. I mean the labels paid for it, but we’ve like put all the stickers on and recorded it ourselves. Because we’re off on tour with each other, and both from Leeds, we want to support each other as much as we can, so we’ll do a limited edition vinyl and cover each other’s songs. It was kinda cool, because we’ve never covered any band’s songs before so we didn’t really know how to go about it, so we just tried to do a really weird version. When we heard their version of our song, we really liked it.”
Having one of the country’s hottest guitar bands covering one of your most popular songs is obviously going to be a bit handy, especially if you have a new single (the magnificent anti-liggers terrace chant that is ‘Hey Scenesters!’) and a forthcoming album (the Edwyn ‘Orange Juice’ Collins produced The New Fellas).
Recording with Edwyn Collins must have been influential? It seems that despite the age differences, Edwyn and the brothers Jarman had a very similar ethic: “we were in London, just outside Camden, and Edwyn was a laugh, he’d always be up for a drink, buy us beer in the studio, and then at the end of the evening there’d always be someone ringing you up saying ‘oh, are you coming out wherever’, y’know. People up for doing stuff, we’d just go out every night, it was really, really good fun.”
Ryan agrees with his twin brother: “a lot of people don’t like recording. But I’ll look on recording the last album as one of the best times of our life. We were down there for ages. In the studio I think you should always record the way you are live, we’d always record the stuff really late at night, after we’d had some drinks. Edwyn would take us out for a meal, pay for it, then pay for all the drinks, then like just give us stuff when he was pissed. He can’t have made any money out of recording this album at all.”
Although Sandman are yet to here The New Fellas a few songs are now noticeable in tonight’s set, the magnificent ‘Hey Scenesters!’, the shamelessly poppy chorus of ‘Martel Miniatures’ (“Someone’s got their eye on your girl/ So let me know-o/ Woah-h-woahoh”) and ‘The Wrong Way To Be’, packed full of ranting monologues. It’s probably safe to assume that The New Fellas will exceed any expectations set by the band’s eponymous debut.
Gary certainly thinks so: “if we didn’t think it was a progression I don’t think we’d have bothered making it, to be honest. If we’d finished the album and been like ‘this isn’t as good as the first album’, we’d probably have split up.”
OK, so only a fool (or the Beta Band) would disown their new album before it comes out, but on the evidence we have, it’s impossible not to believe Gary, especially when Ryan speaks so excitedly about the whole thing; “it’s got a different direction from the first one, I mean it’s still really poppy, probably more so, but it’s also weirder and a lot angrier. We recorded one song on a beach somewhere, another one’s got accordions, violins and shit like that. Which is pretty fucking weird, y’knowwhatimean? Weird album, but I’m really glad about it. I’m definitely a lot, lot happier with it than the first one. I mean I like the first one, but we’ve made the album we want.”
Most bands, when asked about influences will either proudly (and falsely declare) “we are influenced by no-one” or reel of a list of slightly obscure ‘hip’ bands, in an attempt to sound cool. The Cribs tread a clever line between the two. While deny that any band has directly influenced, they don’t claim to be entirely original (which is a good job, since in an earlier Sandman interview they all admitted their love for The Beatles, and their soft spots for, amongst others, The Smiths and Sonic Youth).
The New Fellas then is, according to Gary “living on the road, and meeting different people all the time. You meet so many clueless people, like all the hangers-on, a lot of that stuff just pisses us off.”
Ryan helps to clarify this point: “Nothing really influences us musically; a lot of bands that are getting big recently are doing stuff that I just don’t like. I’m not that bothered about them. I’m not even listening to music that much, apart from in the van. It influences us in the way we’re not trying to be like that, y’knowwhatimean? We’re influenced more by just going out, getting pissed and going to people’s houses and you’d wake up and just have things to write about. Every night there’s always something weird happens. Inspiration comes more from meeting people than musical stuff.”
So this anti-“hangers-on” attitude is what ‘Hey Scenesters!’ is about then?
Gary: It’s partly to do with that yeah. The other thing is it’s hard to differentiate between who’s a blagger and who’s…
Ryan: You meet a lot of people who look down their noses at you. As if they don’t understand why we do this. They’re just really fashionable. It seems like it’s fashionable to have a bad attitude, y’knowwhatimean?
Gary: We get people coming to the gigs who were there because they wanted to be cool or whatever.
Ryan: There were some horrible people really. We met some really nice people as well. It’s not like that’s the rest of the album. Y’know sometimes you just wake up and you’re just pissed off for some reason, you don’t know why. You can’t put your finger on it, but it just came out. I’m sure someone had probably pissed us off one night on the tour.
It’s quite refreshing to hear a band who are happy to denounce the ‘cool kids’ who are just there to strut around looking good. It’s hardly something you’d expect The Libertines or Razorlight to announce is it?
And that’s why we love The Cribs. They’re an honest band. No more so when we get back (again) to the question of their live show. To help put this discussion (and the bit of sibling quarrelling that it involved) it is best to put the conversation as it was said:
Sandman: Do you think your energy over accuracy approach to you live shows may put some people off?
Ryan: I hope so, I really do hope so.
Gary: I think it’ll only put off the people we want to put off. People who care so much about the gig being perfect, I don’t really care if them people like us or not. We’re more interested in just being a good live band, as opposed to being a tight professional rock act.
Ryan: The gig is not the be all and end all of the tour, the tour is about meeting new people, having good fun nights and stuff, and if the music suffers for that, then so what.
Gary: But that’s a little bit…
Ryan: No but I’m just saying I don’t put any kind of importance on professionalism at all.
Gary: Yeah, I know, I don’t either, but stuff like that’s… idiot.
Ryan: Like last night in Glasgow, I knocked myself out and was just totally unconscious for a bit. I’m not proud that I knocked myself out but…
Gary: …that was one of the best crowd reactions we got…
Ryan: …if there’s no danger when you’re on stage that something’s going to fuck up, or that you might knock yourself out, you’re not putting enough into it all. You’re not putting enough into it. I mean I’m covered in cuts and bruises and we’ve only been on tour for four or five days. But bands that aren’t like that are obviously not doing their jobs right. I think that when you’re on stage you should being putting everything into it, because it shows you care more about it. It really doesn’t bother me, I’m never going to go home and listen to one of our live shows on CD. If I did that I’d probably think, ‘oh maybe we should tighten up a bit’, but we don’t do that.
Ross: The other thing, is people want to listen to the music they could go home and put the CD on; the live act is completely different. People want to see a live show. Just put the CD on if you want to listen to the music.
Ryan: I don’t care about professionalism, if you ever get professional, it takes all the fun out of being in a band.
So there’s The Cribs. They’re unprofessional, shambolic scenester-haters. That’s what’s so fantastic about them. They have frank, glorious pop songs, drenched in energy, passion and a lot of noise. Just don’t look out for them on Hollyoaks any time soon.