I Am Kloot
Interview with Jonny Bramwell Part 1
published: 14 /
One of the leading lights of the Manchester music scene, I am Kloot recently played a one-off show in London . In the first of a two part interview frontman Jonny Bramwell speaks to Anthony Dhanendran about his band's hard touring schedule
I am Kloot, which consists of Jonny Bramwell (Vocals/Guitat) : Pete Jobson (Bass) and Andy Hargeaves, first formed in Manchester in 1999, and have garnered a reputation for producing twisted torch songs that are laced with gorgeous melodies.
The group put out two self-produced singles, 'To You' and 'Twist', on local Mancurian label Ugly Man in 2000 . Their debut album, 'Natural History', came out on Wall of Sound's We Love You in March 2001, and was recorded by Elbow frontman Guy Garvey. A second self-titled album followed in September 2003, and, released on the more prolific Echo label, won the band almost unanimous good reviews.
The band have toured almost consistently for the last three years. Pennyblackmusic met up with them at a one-off, pre-Glastonbury gig at the Camden Barfly in London , and, in a two part interview (the second part of which will follow next month), spoke to Jonny Bramwell about I am Kloot's two albums and busy touring schedule
PB : What brings you to the Barfly?
JB : Well, there’s a number of reasons. I think the second or third gig we played in London was at the Barfly, and we’re playing Glastonbury tomorrow. So it’s not really like an official I am Kloot event or anything. It’s just for one night. I don’t know how many people are coming, or anything. We’re just going to play, and we’ve never played a lot of these songs before. I honestly believe that it’s in the playing of songs that you find them and I think once we’ve done these songs for a few gigs it’ll find its level. There’s an energy to the first time you play something. I love singing a lyric for the first time to an audience.
Tomorrow we’re only doing 40 minutes, but tonight will be a long set – Andy and Pete will sit down while I’m doing this interview and work out what we’re going to play. We like to be as off the cuff as possible as regards the setlist – and I like to be surprised. So Andy and Pete work out the setlist and then I walk on and it’s like, “Wow!” And I like that.
PB : Is your relative lack of chart success something that bothers you ?
JB : I think it’d be fantastic if one day we were number one. I think we should be number one, and it wouldn’t surprise me if one day we were. I’ve got, maybe, a thousand boxes that I want to tick of things that I want to do, and that’s one of them.
I want as many people to hear our music as possible, I really do. I want us to carry on doing exactly what we’re doing, whatever it is we’re doing, and it be heard by everyone. That’s what I want. I don’t believe in being ghetto-ised, or that “this is the scene”. I’m not interested in the scene, I’m not interested in belonging. And also I think that human beings, listeners, the audience, whatever you want to call them, they’re not either. I know that if the opportunity had arisen where millions of people could hear I am Kloot, a lot of them would be well into it. I’ve got no qualms about it. Success – no, popularity, not success – doesn’t freak me. I want to be popular – it doesn’t equate with watering down something.
PB : Do you think that the idea of not wanting to belong works against you where the media are concerned?
JB : I think the music comes first, and after that everything is secondary. People will catch up – I know this sounds arrogant, or conceited, but it’s not. It’s just a fact. The next record we make is going to be different again, whether it fits in with the zeitgeist or not… It’s not “Pop Will Eat Itself”. The media is eating itself, and it’s become a travesty, a nonsense. Once a band’s on the front cover of the NME, they’re suddenly on the radio, and then they get this and then they get that. It’s not the band, it’s the media feeding off itself. We’re obviously at the point where nobody writes about us, but loads of people come to see us.
PB : But you’ve had a good press.
JB : Yeah, but so what ? I don’t wish to appear arrogant, but that’s going to come and go. I mean, we’ve been slagged as well. And some of the slaggings have been for not being something, and I’ve said, “Well no, you’re right, we’re not that.” It’s accurate. I think we got a review in a paper last week, and they said, “It’s a great record, this, but it’s a shame about the haircuts. They mentioned McFly, but I imagine McFly are not on as lucrative a record deal as I am! They may become very wealthy and, you know, whatever. I wouldn’t go so far as to say good luck to them. Those kind of faces make me queasy.
PB : So you’ve never been tempted by the major labels?
JB : Well, we would have signed to a major label but when we left Wall of Sound – because we had to – we were just kind of gigging in London. We didn’t have a record label – we’re still I am Kloot whether we have a record deal or not. I’m not saying we’re anything like the Fall, we’re not, but I like Mark E Smith’s approach, which is “we are the Fall”. We are I am Kloot.
PB : You played in bands in Manchester for a long time before I am Kloot.
JB : I was on my own – I was in a band for a while when I was 15, and after that I wasn’t in a band again. I did things with string quartets and putting on bizarre happenings, events, or whatever you want to call them. I’ve never been interested in being in a band per se. It was always an idea of wanting to form a world. We only really like to do I am Kloot stuff. Going to a festival – obviously Glastonbury is the biggest – it’s not an I am Kloot event, because it’s Glastonbury. We don’t really fit in – we’ve done support slots and we have actually won over fans from other bands, but we don’t find it that enjoyable.
PB : You’ve played a lot of gigs recently.
JB : I think we’ve done an awful lot. I think we’ve got about ten more to do this year and then I want to stop for a bit. I’m not jaded but if we did 100 more gigs then I would be. We’ve been doing about 150, 200 gigs a year for the last three years. There’s something new coming. I don’t know what it is yet. I like the new songs – I wouldn’t be doing them if I didn’t think they were good, but I think there’s something else coming. I just don’t know what it is.
The second part of this interview will follow next month