The Empire, Middlesbrough. 25/01/18
So today, I travel down to The Empire, Middlesbrough. A short walk from my University accommodation to a venue which has hosted many legendary bands in the past, but tonight it was The Cribs turn to take to the stage. Firstly though, it’s the supporting band who I’m here to chat with. As I wait to come in, I listen to a few tracks off Fangclub’s debut record; Common Ground and Bad Words. They released their self-titled debut record last summer, to some critical acclaim and it also hit number 5 in the Irish Album Charts.
Formed in 2013, the band are quickly gaining momentum, especially now with their first tour of the year, opening for the legendary band, The Cribs. Receiving a call from their tour manager, I quickly meet him and go inside to meet and chat with Stephen King (no relation to the author) about the record, the origins of their name, festivals and more.
So Stephen, going back to the beginning of the band for a second, Where does the name originate from?
“I was watching a documentary and there was this tribe that tattoos fangs on their arms and ripped fangs of all these different animals. I thought it was kind of cool. I was also a huge fan of this band called Teenage Fanclub, so I thought I’ll just steal that little bit and put a g in it. But it looks pretty good on the T-shirt to.
A little morbid, but what isn’t nowadays? And now the debut self-titled records about half a year old. How does it feel this far on?
“That’s so weird actually. I haven’t thought about that yet, but no it’s amazing. It’s crazy like we wrote, recorded, funded everything by ourselves, and then luckily got picked up by a label so we could put it out everywhere across the world. It’s very strange. It got to the top five in the charts and nominated for a choice prize music award and of all of these things that we had no idea about. It’s pretty crazy and to think of that album now being half a year-old. We didn’t think that day would ever come out in the first place.”
It just shows the DIY aesthetic really works.
“The DIY aesthetic always works. iIt doesn’t matter if you’re signed to major labels, Indie labels. Whatever you’re doing, if you want it to happen, if you want it to be good you have to do it yourself.
And do you recall any of the writing and recording processes while you were making the record? Were there any secrets?
“Not really. We did it in a place called Kerry in Ireland, in the middle of nowhere. It’s really isolated so the only real secret of the album is like we really isolated ourselves from everyone. We were in this house in the middle of nowhere and we’re from Dublin which is which is pretty condensed. It forces your mental state to kind of be like this and that desperateness and isolation actually made it into the songs, so you can kind of hear it, which is pretty cool. That’s probably be the only secret we have but apart from that, we recorded the album pretty normal.”
And on that, are there hidden layers to any of the tracks that fans haven’t picked up?
“Every track has these hidden layers and some people have figured it out and some people just enjoy for the Pop elements and the Rock elements, and I just love albums that are a bit more a bit cryptic and you can kind of get different things from them, like The Pixies. They’re my favourites so trying to kind of get that into the album was really important. And then the album artwork does a lot of secret stuff on the front cover if you get the vinyl, we went a bit crazy with that.
But a good album covers a good album cover. Especially if it’s got a bit of cryptic knowledge to it. Now tonight you’re supporting The Cribs in Middlesbrough. How does it feel to be out this early on in the year?
“It feels great to be honest. We had such an intense year last year with the album coming out and doing a lot of touring. We were on the road constantly and doing some huge shows and huge support slots as well. When it got to Christmas, it was like okay, let’s take a little break here. But I mean day one on this tour was just so good. This been my favourite tour that I’ve been on. The guys in The Cribs are heroes of mine. I never thought that I’d ever get to support them so this all is really crazy to me.
And now you can check it off your wish list.
“Absolutely. It was like we can quit now or something. The albums out, we supported The Cribs. We’re done. But no, it’s been the easiest tour. Everybody’s getting on really well. Everybody’s healthy. It’s really great.
And on the record what do you enjoy playing live?
“I really like playing Dreamcatcher live. It’s just so fun and it’s easy to play as well. They’re always the best songs if I don’t have to look down. “
I was going to say looking down it can be a can get a bit awkward sometimes. I’d be thinking okay, okay, don’t screw up.
“Absolutely, It’s all about muscle memory.”
And going into a few fun questions now, if you could work on a collaboration with any band who would it be?
“Oh, The Cribs. Have you heard their new record? It’s amazing. I’d love to do a song with them.”
I felt you were going to say them after the last few questions.
“Yeah, when their new record came out 24-7 Rockstar s***, I loved it so much as soon as it came out. Then when our album came out it was on the shelf next to their album. It was this huge moment, and someone sent me a photo of it which blew me away. So, if there was anybody that I could collaborate with or wanted to collaborate with it would be those guys. They’re the only band I feel that are real at the moment. They just want to have fun. They don’t take themselves too seriously and their music is just awesome. “
And if you could sum up your band in three words, what would they be?
“Rock star s*** or method to madness. “
And after this tour, what do you have planned for the rest of 2018? Is it going to be into the hectic year or is it just going to be a bit more mellow?
“Actually, at the very start of the year, we talked to management and everybody about having a more comfortable year and keeping it more chill, but it looks like we’re going to have an absolutely crazy intense year again, and we’re going straight into the studio in February. Then we’re off on another UK and European tour with Milk Teeth, which is going to be amazing because they’re awesome. Apart from that, I think we’re going to be doing festivals and tours until the end of the world.”
What would the ideal festival be for you?
“I really like the line-ups for Two Thousand Trees and Camden Rocks have always had a cool festival. With just those festivals, I look at them and the entire line-up is like my playlist. It’s all the music I own, all the bands opening the festival, it’s awesome. There’s the dream ones like Reading & Leeds or Glastonbury but you know I love those smaller ones that aren’t small anymore and now there’s always small ones popping up around the UK where it’s the quality of bands playing, and music is just intensely great. We don’t really see that in Ireland. Over here, there’s big festivals, and then the smaller festivals that are really good too, but they don’t get the..”
“Yeah, the attention. They don’t get the biggest bands like others and over here you seem to just get every great band that’s going around.
And do you have any final words?
“Remember me as a kind soul.”
You can watch the video for Fangclub’s track ‘Animal Skin’ below.
You can catch Fangclub supporting Milk Teeth’s upcoming UK Tour. Here is where they’ll be playing.
13th – Bristol, Exchange
14th – Oxford, Bullingdon
15th – Liverpool, Buyers Club
16th – Huddersfield, Parish
17th – Edinburgh, Mash House
19th – Manchester, The Deaf Institute
20th – Birmingham, Mama Roux’s
21st – Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms
23rd – London, Camden Underworld
24th – Bournemouth, The Anvil
25th – Plymouth, The Junction