|Venue:||The Ruby Lounge|
It's rather sweet when you call up a band, who you thought had forgotten about the interview appointment, to receive a flood of apologies (they had to go for Lambrini supplies) and your name in song. Somehow this song is how The Heartbreaks' drummer, Joe, has taken to addressing me. I really can't remember why, but I'm not complaining having my name in song by a dashing young man.
Once we're settled in the dressing room at Manchester's Ruby Lounge, pre-BBC Introducing show, it's time to catch up with the seaside boys whose intelligence, humour and own-brand indie is fast capturing the hearts of industry heads, iconic musicians and fans across the country.
It's been a roller-coaster ride to say the least, (no seaside fun-fair puns intended.) from shell suits and snooker halls to salad cream with Edwyn Collins and an obvious Lambrini obsession. Not your usual drink of choice for indie lads, but this band are definitely not stereotypical indie lads at all...
So, we've know each other a while now, but fill the readers in on how you all got together and how The Heartbreaks started...
M: The Heartbreaks happened a couple of years ago now, through meeting Deaks really, the 3 of us have played together before, myself, Ryan and Joe, but we never felt it was a proper band it was just four people who weren't into the same stuff until we met Deaks, who was into the same stuff as us, so we spent that summer, it'd have been 2009, just rehearsing in this old snooker hall just off the prom in Morecambe. We were in there every single day, we didn't speak to anyone, we just rehearsed and we only really saw one another which made us quite tight. Then we started playing in Manchester a lot, we eventually based ourselves here due to lack of a music scene in Morecambe really.
D: And because we were coming on the train every weekend anyway, carrying all our gear, so we may as well move here and save the fare!
M: I think it's best as well to have this place as a base for the north for a new band, rather than Liverpool, Manchester's definitely the place to stay as it's central. I suppose we're less of a 'band from Manchester' now though, but it's still somewhere that we hold very dear.
Well you have a hardworking manager who's getting you around the country, you've been on 6Music and you've a very good following in London now, how is all that making you feel?
J: We're not overwhelmed, kind of excited, but it feels quite natural really. When we started this band I always thought that we'd gain good recognition, I never wanted it to be just playing The Roadhouse on a Thursday now and then, I always wanted us to expand and we're perfectly comfortable with it, we're just hoping it continues.
D: We're really pleased as well, it's been really hard work but it's paid off. And I don't mean in the monetary sense, we're still broke for now, but just the fact that people seem to be holding the band very dear now.
R: It's great to be playing in Manchester to a busy crowd, but when you go somewhere you've never played before and it's a busy crowd and you're well received, that's exciting. The crowds in London are as big as our crowd in Manchester now.
M: It was weird when we first started playing in London, because being a 'Manchester guitar band' there were so many preconceptions about what you do and what you're going to sound like, ie; the typical boorish laddish stereotype I suppose, it's nice that people reaslise you're not that. People are warming to guitars again and remembering that people who actually play guitars exist, so the crowds the we've met are really cool. We've not really got that typical Manc sound though, and we won the 'Best New Band in Manchester' two years running, we were on the front of City Life for it, yet we're not even from Manchester, and I think that's because Manchester has such a big heritage which weighs so heavily on it's shoulders, for us being from Morecambe and not having that bearing down upon us, our influences were so different to the Manchester bands, we didn't have to conform to this type sound. We can sound like The Supremes, we can sound like The Jesus & Mary Chain and that really made us stand out playing in a city where a lot of the bands that we first started playing with were quite indebted to the likes of Oasis and the Roses, so it really made us stand out. I can understand why we won it.
You've cited some acts there who are poles apart, musically. Who do you look to for your writing influences, or is writing a process that just happens?
D: Sometimes we'd go to rehearse, probably in Joe's basement, and do it acoustically, and just find how it was going to sound, bits would sound like Blondie or something like that. Then we'd go into the rehearsal room and it'd come out sounding absolutely totally different to how we intended to. I think now things are sounding gradually more like a concise Heartbreaks sound.
J: I think that's due to the disparate spread of influences really, the ones Matt picked, Jesus & Mary Chain and The Supremes are quite good choices really, maybe Bruce Springsteen too, they're quite different but they're some of our big influences in very different ways.
R: It all ends up coming together quite naturally though, we combine all sorts of different aspects of all their sounds.
D: Well when we started off we'd be planning it, saying “right, we'll have a feedback bit here” or “make this vocal more soul-like” whereas now it happens naturally, we've played together that long now and to lots of different crowds we're more comfortable with what we are.
J: We're definitely more confident now, that it's definitely just going to sound like The Heartbreaks.
R: People always struggle to figure out what we sound like, they can't put their finger on whether we sound like Orange Juice or Blondie, but they know it's The Heartbreaks, it's hard to say which part of what songs we sound like because there's such an extensive mix with us.
M: You really can't downplay the significance of us being from Morecambe as we've said, the fact that we didn't have the influences of any major city or any major guitar bands to conform to really made a difference. The indie boom of the 90s really didn't hit Morecambe, I mean we were still listening to The Kinks a lot, and the Bay Radio which was always soul and Motown, and that was what really influenced us. We could have sounded like a girl band, we DO sound like a girl band. We weren't getting the same things fed to us that kids in cities were.
J: Well like Orphan Boy, they're a seaside band [Grimsby] and I mean Rob's lyrics, he's a genius.
D: In Morecambe you couldn't walk down the street as you could in Manchester and see someone in a band you'd seen on stage and think “oh I'm gonna be in a band that sounds like that”, we'd just be seeing lads in track suits and stray dogs and single mums and things.
R: Yeah, we looked very weird for a while. Shell suits...
Luckily that was before we knew you! So now, you've been on the Carl Barat tour and he absolutely loved you, so fill me in on that...
J: It was an absolute pleasure really, because I think he and The Libertines are in the same bracket as The Smiths or The Clash or The Jam, so it was a real honour. I got 'Up The Bracket' when I was 13 or 14 and it blew my mind, so firstly it was amazing that we were going on tour with Carl Barat, and secondly it was just nice, because he really is just a real gentleman. I didn't want to come home, it felt right playing gigs to that many people and being on the road, we relished it every night, and there was never any point where I felt scared or nervous. It was that tour that made me think that I want to do this forever.
D: We had a good reunion with him a few weeks ago, it was in Oxford, which was nice. All of his crew are really good too, they've been working with him for years, it's like one big family. He was playing downstairs in the same Academy venue, and he came up to see us.
M: We recorded our B-side with Edwyn Collins as well, we played with him in Preston and he's great, he is really really nice. He's a good artist as well, brilliant.
R: And another huge influence on us as well, so again an absolute privilege.
D: Well here's a weird thing, we went for a Mexican with Edwyn the other week, and Carl Barat walked past after he played the 100 Club and started pulling faces at us through the window, trying to put us off. It was just very weird. Surreal.
R: Then Edwyn just asked me to pass him the salad cream...
M: It was weird, some very weird moments. But I think that maybe growing up outside of the pressures of having an ego, so to speak, has allowed us to relax in these situations more, and just be ourselves though. Yes, it is though, really all very surreal.
So, the obvious question, what's next for you, tell me about this impending recording schedule you've got?
J: We just want to record the best album that we can possibly produce!
D: We've been working with a few people, but we're still just trying to find our feet with everything really, how to do things properly.
J: In the early days we'd record things really quickly usually, all the singles were more or less done in a day, in the bedroom for instance, I mean I think they sound great, they've obviously worked for us, but now we're working in a proper studio with Edwyn Collins, and Joe Cross from Performance for instance, he's fantastic, and the guy who just did Frank Turner's album.
D: It's going really well, though, but it's totally different for us.
M: We're still talking it all through at the moment, there are so many different things to consider, but we want to make sure that we release soon, we've been playing these songs for a while now, so we want something that shows where we are and what we're about, and we need to do that soon. There needs to be a good guitar band album out soon and it'll be ours.
R: We might look at releasing in June, so then we can tour over summer and do some festivals, that'll be really good.
D: We're doing Latitude, definitely, Great Escape too, we're very excited about that one, and this new Friends Of Manchester Festival too.
J: We're doing one in Paris too in a couple of weeks too!
D: But we're keeping busy, recording is definitely the main thing at the moment. It's absolutely imperative that we release soon though.
Well I still sit at home playing that demo album, half songs from your previous band Seaside Riot (pre-Deaks joining) and half The Heartbreaks. Our good friend Jay handed that over!
J: Ah yes, Kersal Jay, he's a national treasure that guy. He's been invaluable to us, we've known him right back from the early days of Strangerways [indie club night].
D: We bumped into him today actually, we'd just got off the train from London and he says he's off to Stockport, but he said “I won't keep ya”, and we were there for about twenty minutes. He started telling us about this band, they've only played two gigs, but they're ace and he's keeping his eye on them. He's over 40, but he seriously knows more about new music than these students do, and about what's going on in music, he's an absolute hive of information.
J: I think a night out with Kersal Jay would be Manchester's ultimate experience, we should start doing that, get him name in lights. I mean the fact that he gave you our CD in the street out of his pocket and followed it up by messaging you, well, he's just a beautiful soul.
Well, that's definitely what got me hooked, before I'd even seen you! But you do need to get an album out!
D: [to others] Do you get the feeling we're being told off here?
J: We're trying!
R: We want to make sure it's good. If it was up to us it'd be out, we've got the songs we've had them for ages, they're ready but we're part of this big team now. So there's more and more people involved in this band than ever.
J: We're feeding the machine! But we're not going to change what we do, don't get us started.
Glad to hear it!!
Right, the Beard Rock questions – famous beards that you admire?
D: I was just thinking this through, the one we said the other day is like Ryan, is it David Bellamy?
R: The one that we said would play me in a film if we did one, it was Brian Blessed!
[more laughter all round]
D: Josh Clarkson had a good beard, whilst he was incarcerated I think.
J: I'd probably say King Charles I.
M: Weiwei the Chinese dissident artist.
D: I like those beards, like the evil guy off 'Big Trouble In Little China'. Look it up, he's got a classic beard, it's about ten foot long.
R: But I don't like beards really, I don't think people should have beards.
D: Actually, yer man from the Ruby Lounge has got a great beard, Jay Taylor, it's immense.
J: We're usually very clean lads though, clean shaven.
R: I think I need a shave now actually [rubs chin, frowning]
Okay, so what would you tell your fans to do before the world was about to end, shave?
D: Drink as much Lambrini as possible, and put our record on, if it's out by then.
R: Take your clothes off and run outside and liberate yourselves!
M: Take adequate shelter.
R: Talking of important things to do, did you watch the Royal Wedding?
Yes, parts of it...
R: I thought it was beautiful, brought a tear to my eye...
So there you go, one of the funniest insights into a young band and their personalities we've had in a while. Long live The Heartbreaks.
Posted: Tue 10 May 2011