Friday, 01 July 2011 20:48

Wired in #19: Boy Mandeville

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I've definitely had enough of emerging indie bands who all sound the same and sometimes I'm reluctant to check out a band that someone desribes that way. Boy Mandeville though is a band with a sound that really sets them apart and that you just can't get around. They're one of the hottest new indie rock bands from London these days and the calypso percussion and other tropical sound elements make them a band that writes really catchy and fresh songs. They deserve to be known across Europe! In this weeks wired in interview guitarist Mike Coxhead and bassist Brian Cantwell talk about making music videos, living in a house with an interesting past, and choosing to live in London.

E&M: You have a lot of cool videos on your website.  What's the most important thing for you when you make a music video?

B.C: To try and have as few close-ups as possible. And to trust the friend who is doing the video.

J.C: Well first, a-thank-you… To be honest we love creative people and working with people who are as passionate about video art and photography as we are about music is the important thing. The latest video for our new single 'Gorilla' was made by a good friend of ours, James Drew, the ideas are his and his team's and all credit to them!

E&M: The fight with colors for the video to Gorilla looks particularly fun. Was that something you've wanted to do for a long time? 

B.C: I could only do it for about half an hour. I think if we'd breathed any more of that powder paint we'd have developed asthma.

J.C: Ha! it was something some of us were dreading… it was fun though!

E&M: I always wonder if musicians write about people they actually know or not. Is for example 'Christina' a song about a real person?

B.C: Our old house was called Christina, owing to a plaque above the front window with that name on it. The house used to be a brothel. Although not when we lived there.

J.C: Yeah, so Christina was the name of the house and also kind of a prostitute… It's a combination of mad extrapolation and embellishment - like most of our songs.

E&M: Your band is based in London, but you're not all originally from there, right? What drove you to move there, apart from living in a capital?

B.C: We're from different parts of England; Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Stowmarket, Cambridge. I love Newcastle but I could walk it with my eyes closed and I wanted more excitement. And a better job.

J.C:London for our singer Jack and me was in part to persue the band dream - turns out the streets are paved with litter, not gold though. We met Brian there and Mike was forced out of a life of academia and moved to the smog.

We write upbeat songs because we're downbeat people. (Just kidding)

E&M: When you're writing a new song, do you ever consider some sort of album concept? Like "We should really have another slow song on the next album, so that's what I'm going to write next" ?

B.C: We're not really that good at writing slow, down-tempo numbers. Currently, we've put out a couple of singles, and we're working on demos for an album. The album concept might be something like taking Pavlov's dog for a walk.

J.C: Writing music as a band is an ongoing evolution. We write up beat songs because we're downbeat people. (Just kidding). I don’t know - we have just started writing for an album so I guess we'll see!

E&M: The cover art to all your EPs is really colorful and reminds me a bit of The Zombies' Odessey Oracle cover. Why did you chose these covers?

B.C: Yeah, they look a bit like the covers of 13th Floor Elevators albums too. Dan Feit, the artist, is a close friend, and we asked him to come up with something that might represent the music. Although I think he was just trying to describe what it was like to live with Jono.

J.C: Dan calls his work Skrib Skrib as in scribble scribble. He doesn't take it too seriously and it looks wicked - that why we all like it.

E&M: You guys have a cool indie music sound and I am sure there's plenty of rock and alternative groups who have influenced you. But is there also a musician who plays a completely different genre of music who you really admire?

B.C:  Jono loves Fleetwood Mac. Mike loves Frank Zappa. Jack loves Freddy Mercury. I love Gregory Isaacs.

J.C:We all love dance music, which is, I guess, a different genre. Between us we like many genres - come for a pint and we'll tell you all about it… If your buying.

'Keep the Aspidistra Flying' by George Orwell [is] a dolorous story about irreverent thought, rejection of money, and struggling to find a greater reasoning for life...


E&M: Alright! Another personal question though - What's your favorite book?

B.C: ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’ by George Orwell.  It's a dolorous story about irreverent thought, rejection of money, and struggling to find a greater reasoning for life than the job/house/partner trichotomy. Partly I love it because it's laced with irony that is projected from Orwell's own life: he wrote it loosely based on his own experiences of being skint. 

J.C: ‘Kill Your Friends’ John Neiven. A bitter twisted look at the industry we're trying to make it in. A right laugh.

E&M. Sounds like good reads! Now, people who aren't musicians always get freaked out when they hear their voice recorded. Do you sometimes find that a recorded song turned out differently from what you expected when you started playing?

B.C: On that note, never listen to your own voicemail, it's weird. Our songs always tend to turn out differently than one person would imagine, because the imagination is a fiercely changing machine, and time and costs constrain experimentation when recording.

E&M: And finally, what does Europe mean to you guys?

B.C:  I do love Europe, I've had lots of good experiences. Watching the World Cup final in Amsterdam last year; going to Primavera festival in Barcelona the year before; going on a school trip to Gelsenkirchen in Germany ages ago; getting a coach to Budapest from London to get to Exit festival in Serbia. So probably a lot of traveling really. Although one sticks in the mind. I went on a French exchange to Bourgogne when I was about 13. We'd traveled all night on a coach to get there, and at a service station in France at about 6am I spilt my croissant and hot chocolate on my crotch. So, hot balls and a searing memory.

J.C: Better food, better women, better beer, better weather, better architecture, better art, better streets, better film but not as good as Blighty.

E&M: Thanks guys! Check out more Boy Mandeville here!

Last modified on Friday, 22 July 2011 09:00

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