Miscellaneous - Interview
published: 23 / 6 / 2006
iLiKETRAiNS write songs about Antarctic explorers and show films as backdrops to their live shows. Helen Tipping talks to them in their native Leeds at a show to launch their mini debut album, 'Progress Reform'
Pennyblackmusic caught up with iLiKETRAiNS at their band showcase night, 'Signal Failure', at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds. At this event other local bands can be seen, and fans can get together and play chess, drink, chat and watch the bands. It was all rather relaxed and friendly, with local charities being supported through collections and the auctioning of a rare 7" iLiKETRAiNS single. iLiKETRAiNS have been going for a while now. Their show includes audio visual elements and the music is very different to a lot of what's around at the moment. This particular night was for the local launch of their mini album, 'Progress Reform', and took place the night after its launch in London. Dave Martin (vocals and guitar) and Simon Fogal (drums) took time out from organising and setting up the bands to be interviewed. The rest of the band, Alistair Bowis (bass), Ashley Dean (cornet and visuals) and Guy Bannister (guitar and synthesisers), were busy fetching pizza, chess sets and setting up. PB : Well, I'll start with the obvious question really. Can you tell me a bit about how you started out and what brought you together? DM : Basically Guy and I had known each other from school. We moved up to Leeds and found the guys just hanging around. SF : We were all at uni. DM : They just wanted to make as much noise as we did so we decided to recruit them and the rest is history. PB : Well ,that's a good link. In your lyrics there's a real involvement with history, the history of everyday, like what happened to the British rail system after Beeching, and people you don't get to hear about like the South Pole explorer Daniel Johanssen. Where does your interest in those sort of subjects come from? DM : I think the interest comes in the tragedy, the tragic element. History is so rich with stories like this so we decided to set about chronicling these people that may be forgotten or at least remembered in a certain way. For example Scott was a famous explorer in his own right. He'd done a lot of things but he's famous for dying on the way back from the South Pole after losing the race to get there with Amundsen and we're quite interested in how these people react, how these people would have felt if they knew they had their history remembered as just one snippet in time. So yeah, legacies and things like that really interest me, how people are remembered, what they're remembered for or indeed forgotten for. PB : Did you study history? DM : No, funnily enough, none of us did. It's something that's come as an interest later on really. I thoroughly enjoy it now. I wish I had studied it. PB : Both the title track of the last single 'Terra Nova' and also its B side 'Fram' were about the Antarctic explorers. Why did you decide to put them both together? DM : We obviously do a lot of research to write the songs in the first place, and it started off as just one song, 'Terra Nova', which was about Scott and his tragic journey. But during that research process you often find tangents and Johanseen, who 'Fram' is about, was one of the tangents that we found. He was in the successful team, but was kicked out for personal reasons before they reached the Pole. He was just a depressive after that and came to a sorry end. It just mirrored it. The symmetry was quite pleasing in all respects. PB : How do you go about writing? Is it mainly you or do you all get involved? DM : It's mostly Guy and I. SF : We get involved nearer the end. DM : Yeah, we arrange all the music together, but often the subjects come from Guy and he'll sketch a few lyrical ideas out then I'll finish them, because I sing them so I need to put them into my style. So that's how they generate. PB : You have Ashley doing the projections as well as playing the cornet, so it's quite a multi-media event. How do you involve him in the band when you're recording as opposed to playing live, as not every track has the cornet on it? DM : All the recent tracks have the cornet on. How do we involve him? He's always thinking about how the video's going to go, and he's got a good critical ear so he'll always have input in it. PB: Does he do the videos? SF|: Yeah, yeah, he's done all of them. DM : He's very much part of the band. The whole plan was to make it a multi media experience. PB : Do you ever get an adverse reaction from the audience with it being multi media? DM : Well generally the audiences we've played to have been very positive. Some people come up to me and say that there's so much going on that it's hard to take in. But I think that that's a reason for them to come back again, so I don't see that as a problem. A lot of our music is quite dynamic, so in the quieter sections people don't take their voices down. In the loud sections they are talking quite loud and then they don't realise that it's going quiet. PB : That's a particular bugbear of mine. DM : A little bit, yeah. But you know these things happen. They happen everywhere so... PB: You've managed to attract quite a cult following. Do you see yourselves getting more of a mainstream appeal or are you happy with a cult status? DM : Well I'd like the cult to get bigger. I don't know if that's nearly mainstream. I don't want to have to pander to any ideas of being a product band or a popular band. SF : It's like, we've been in the 'NME' the last few weeks, so at a recent gig in Wolverhampton loads of people turned up because they'd seen us in the 'NME' and didn't know what to make of it. DM : And they stood at the back chatting, yeah. SF : They were expecting something like the Libertines or the Editors, something similar to that I think. DM : Hopefully some people might come back, if they haven't experienced the type of music that we do and come with an open mind. I don't think we can convert a few of those people that read the 'NME'. I don't think we're in it for that though, not overtly, so we don't attempt to be obtuse. PB : You're just not trying to be in fashion, so does the fact that you don't sound like what's around at the moment make is hard for you to get gigs? DM : Not at all, we've had offers coming out of our ears and we've had to turn some of them down. We don't get the chance to write as much as we'd like to so we're coming up to hopefully taking a break at some point, but we keep getting offered better gigs so we have to take them. PB: Is there anyone you'd really like to work with support wise, or having them support you? DM : Yeah, there's lots of artists we'd like to play with. Sigur Ros we'd love to play with, I think that would work well and also Nick Cave, all sorts, but those two spring to mind really. PB : Thanks for you time. I'd better let you go. DM : Yes we should get back. Lots of organising to do !
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