The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club come from Cardiff where they met at art college. They are Adam Taylor (guitar, vocals), Louise Mason (bass, vocals) and Emma Daman (drums, vocals). Their music consists of tribal drum beats, overlaid with layers of guitar and vocals, which include occasional chanting yelps. They avoid lurve songs, preferring to dabble in the dark and mysterious, which suits their musical style perfectly.Currently touring to promote the release of their self-titled album, and with their third single, 'Impossible Sightings Over Shelton', released on Monday 25th September, Pennyblackmusic caught up with them at the Faversham in Leeds supporting local Leeds band the Hair.


PB : You all met at college in Cardiff. What was it that drew you together? Was it art or music?

AT : I think we were all doing various things at the time. I was doing painting, Louise was doing graphics and Emma was doing film making. We were all at the same college doing different things, but we all wanted to be in a band and we met that way. I knew Louise first and then we heard a rumour that Emma drummed so we approached her and took it from there. We were all in different years at college and we didn’t really know each other. We didn’t even know if Emma played drums. It was a kind of embarassing thing to ask really, going up and asking a girl if she plays drums.

I think it was the fact that at art college there’s a lot of spare time. It was quite a doss course, so we wanted to something with it. We had a gig on the day that we were supposed to be setting up for our degree (note for non-Art students, art students have a big degree show that they spend ages setting up for their finals. It’s what they’ve been studying towards all those years.). The tutors were really furious.

PB : You’re more likely to do well with music than art.

AT : Yes, it’s funny for Emma as she went straight from college to doing this. She’s never really been in the real world.

PB : Do you write everything together, or is there one particular person that does most of the writing?

AT : It’s usually me that tinkers around on the guitar at home where I come up with a melody and then take it through to the practice room where we all sort of work on it.

PB : So the tunes come first and the lyrics after?

AT : Definitely, yeah, yeah, sometimes the lyrics come quite a lot after. It kind of comes back to us and we’ll go la la la la - hum a tune over it as we only have so many words. I think we’ve done a couple of gigs like that in fact, which isn’t a good thing to admit really – doing gigs and making up the words as you go along. Sometimes the PAs are so bad you can’t tell, but I think it’s important that the tune’s there. You have to have a hook somewhere to be interesting.

PB: What sort of things inspire you then ? Anything in particular lyrically?

AT : I think… I quite like telling stories I think. I’m not into cool words for cool words sake, like some bands repeat a word again and again and again. I think I like stories, and quite sad things, slightly bordering on morbid I think, not happy happy. Anything that interests me, anything that puzzles me I’ll write a song about.

PB : You’ve been single of the week on Radio 6. Is that important for you to get radio play or do you think the internet is the way to go?

AT : I think radio play is always important, yeah. It’s been quite good for us. If it wasn’t for them we’d struggle I think. Mark Riley’s been playing us, and we met Phil Jupitus the other day when we went for an interview with him. He doesn’t look anything like I expected him to look like, kind of grey and shabby looking – he didn’t look anything like the person I’d seen on television.

PB : They probably put make up on him on telly though.

AT : He was quite suited up surprisingly. He was quite good. We had a gig that night and had four hours sleep and had to be up at 6.00. I think that helps me to not be nervous. I was so tired I was nearly passing out. It’s odd. A lot of the radio DJs are very strange. It’s a kind of weird world. They’re almost a bit lovey. We’ve met a couple like that. You hear them on the radio and then when you meet them in the flesh they’re quite camp like all singing, all dancing kind of people.

PB : I think it’s that world of light entertainment. Are you hoping for more widespread radio play?

AT : Yeah that would be great.

PB : Do you have any coming up?

AT: Not that I know of. The single’s probably going to get played quite a bit, We get on Steve Lamacq, but I think they’re getting rid of him. I think he’s been pushed. He’s not hip enough. He doesn’t say “wicked” and stuff.

PB : That’s sad. He plays quite good stuff.

AT : Yeah I know. I think Colin Murray is taking his place, must be the kids today. Not good really.

PB: What about MySpace ? Do you find that useful?

AT : Yes, it’s kind of popular to hate MySpace I think, but it’s quite good you can get people to listen to your records which is good.

PB : I think it’s popular for the bands side of it, but some of the personal ones are a bit…

AT : Yeah, I think its been useful so far – it’s good if you can’t make a website as well. We got Louise to make it as she did graphics. I wouldn’t know how to make a website.

PB : Are you based in Cardiff and if so are you aiming to stay there?

AT : Yeah we all live in Cardiff. For the next few years we’ve no plans to move. I quite like it. There are some good bands from there as well. People have been telling us it’s the new happening place, but I haven’t seen much evidence of it.

PB : I thought that was supposed to be Sheffield at the moment, but I think they’re always looking for the next big thing.

AT : Cardiff’s next, which could be interesting. Cardiff crowds are quite difficult I think. They’re not big on reactions. They seem bitter. In Leeds it seems, well I don’t really know only what you hear in the media, but in Leeds they are very supportive of their own bands, whereas in Cardiff they take a while to get there. It’s probably all us being paranoid.

We’re doing the Loose Night in Cardiff as the last night of the tour, so that should be really good, I’m looking forward to it so much. It should be a good night of drinking and apparently it’s sold really well as well. There’s a band playing called Gindrinker and a band called Threatmantics that are supposed to be really, really good, so it should be a really good end of tour.

PB : And will that be it then for a while?

AT : We’ve got a tour coming up, but it’s not confirmed so I don’t know whether to say or not. It’s England and Europe, but the other band hasn’t confirmed so I ought to save it. It’ll either be with them, or it’ll be … yeah there’s stuff coming up, a couple of options. We just don’t know.

PB : Have you toured in Europe before?

AT : No, we played Sweden a month ago which was amazing. I think they love English bands. I don’t think anyone knew who we were but the fact that we were English was enough. It was just at a festival in Sweden. It was a really nice place.

PB : From what I’ve heard bands get treated very well in Europe. They’ll put you up and feed you.

AT : Yeah, they were really good. The two guys that ran it were really good. You’re worried about going there in case it’s some weird murderer / child catcher type character.

PB : So has this tour been good so far?

AT : I think so yes. Yeah, it’s been really good. It’s strange. We’ve never done one before. We’re literally playing every night for ever. We’ve literally had one day off and the van broke down and that was the Phil Jupitus interview on our day off, so it wasn’t very much of a day off. I think we’ve got 14 days left without a day off so it’s quite tiring. It’s quite strange.

PB : But mostly it’s been a positive crowd reaction?

AT : Mm, I think so yes. Cambridge was amazing. Here is supposed to be a good night. They’ve sold 150 tickets. I think it’s freshers week so I don’t what the crowd’s going to be like. We played here ages ago. The sort of music we do, I think it takes … I don’t know if it’s immediately … you’re not going to look at it and rock out straight away.

PB : Well, I’ve been listening to the CD so I might recognise some of the tunes. Have you got quite a bit of material that’s not on the CD?

AT : That’s all we’re playing tonight. There’s just one song that’s not. The rest of it is off of the album. We might as well promote that as we’ve got it out at the moment.

PB : Then after the tour you’re going to do a bit more writing?

AT : Yeah, I think that’s the weirdest thing about being on tour. You’re only playing the songs you’re playing at night. I play quite a lot of guitar when I’m at home as there’s not a lot else to do, but being on tour you’re either in the van or playing the set. It’s weird that it’s been about 15 days without playing a single song that isn’t in the set. I think I’m looking forward to doing that – getting back and working on the new songs again that should be good. We’re tempted to put them in the set, but I think it’s best to push the album.

PB: Do you have any tour stories or anything more you’d like to add?

AT : Well I should be able to think of a funny story, but… oh well. We’re on Plastic Fantatic Records. We’ve got a single coming out on Monday 25th September, and the album was out at the end of August.

PB : Will you be putting the single out on vinyl, as you did with your first two singles,'The Tales of Hermit Mark' and 'Amateur Man' ?

AT : Yes it’s on vinyl. It’s really pretty as well and I’m not just saying that because the others weren’t as pretty as this one. The others were average. This is really pretty. It’s clear vinyl with a wallpaper print behind. It’s Louise that does all the graphics. She’s pulled out of the bag with this one I think.

PB : Are you going to carry on doing all your own designs?

AT : Yeah, it’s Louise that does them all. It’s just a lot easier. I think it keeps the label happy as well, as it keeps costs down I believe! Louise, does everything. She’s quite into that.

PB : Are you and Emma missing doing art?

AT : No I’m happy, doing music. I was painting up until recently and then I stopped to do the band. It’s just finding time to do it really. You have to keep it up – if you stop for a month or so it’s impossible. It takes about five paintings to get one good one. You have to put yourself through the five crap paintings to keep going and I haven’t got to that stage yet, so…

PB: Do you think that if you do a video Emma will want to produce it?

AT : We’ve done one video, a budget thing that Emma made, and then the second video was made by a guy in about 4 hours. It was quite good considering the speed he made it in. It took Emma ages. That was the problem. Maybe if anything happened with the band she’d go back to it. If one of us dies, she’ll go back to making videos.

PB : Thank you.


One of the tours Adam Taylor mentioned but was unable to confirm at the time is with You Say Party We Say Die. It will take place in November. The dates are on the band's website, which can be found at http://www.thevictorianenglishgentlemensclub.co.uk















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