pre-Summer Sundae Weekender interview

Brakes

published: Fri 21st Jul 2006

Friday 11th to Sunday 13th August 2006
De Montfort Hall, Granville Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, England MAP
£75 for weekend, under-16s £20, camping (SOLD OUT) £2 per tent
last updated: Wed 2nd Aug 2006

efestivals managed to speak to Marc Beatty from Brakes prior to their performance at this year’s Summer Sundae festival.

You all come from different bands and backgrounds, do you see yourselves as a supergroup?

That’s kind of an old thing. We’re just concentrating on Brakes now so it doesn’t really feel like it anymore. We all came from different bands. Eamon’s not in British Sea Power anymore, and my band Tenderfoot are kinda taking a bit of a break so it’s only really Tom and Alex who are actively working in another band. I guess you could call it a supergroup because it’s where we all started from but Brakes is our main thing now.

So is that the same for the whole band, is Brakes your main concern?

I mean for me and Eamon yeah – Electric Soft Parade are working on another album as we speak which is gonna come out fairly soon, probably towards the end of the year. I’m not sure about that – I don’t really get involved. Brakes is doing a lot of touring and recording now so…

Do you feel more of a unit as a band now?

Yeah totally.

Was that something that took a while to happen or did you connect from the start?

It’s certainly not anything we expected – when we started as a band I don’t think anyone expected us to do so well. The first tour we did we tried to do as cheaply as possible and made sure we were earning enough money each night to cover the costs, staying on peoples floors and stuff like that. It was real fun, and now we’re travelling all over the world – it’s just been a rise the whole thing.

Everytime we get to do something new it’s just amazing. We’ve just come back from Spain the other day - that was great playing this big festival out in Madrid and Barcelona, the Summercase thing.

How was that different to the UK festivals, was it better?

Yeah, in Spain they look after you so well – free bar for starters. Its just a friendly atmosphere. We did T in the Park as well – this year is my first year, the other guys have done it before, but for me this is the first time I’ve played these big festivals. You’re backstage and you’re around all these really famous people and it’s just really weird.

Obviously you’re still quite a small band but do you prefer the big outdoor festivals or the small gritty intimate gigs?

I have to say we usually do better in the smaller club gigs but we are definitely getting used to the bigger stages. I mean we’ve got more songs now. We’ve written the songs for our new album which we’re half way through making. Before our album was only half an hour long it was quite hard to put a set together that was kinda like a headline slot but now we’ve got more song it’s a bit easier to do bigger shows. We haven’t really got a huge fanbase - whenever we do play festivals its nice to see that there’s a bit of a reaction from people.

You’ve toured with the likes of Belle and Sebastian, Maximo Park and Editors – that’s quite a different range of crowds – who did you get the best reaction from?

All those gigs – all those support were kinda weird because I never expected we’d be teamed up with any of those bands and I think it goes to show that a wide range of bands have got into our album and wanted us to support them on tour. I think I have to say Editors was probably the best – their audience was a wide demographic, mid 30s crowd and we had a few gigs with them that was really good – they kinda got it – Belle and Sebastian, that was kinda annoying because they’ve got such a loyal following whose mind set is that they’re the only band in the world, and every night we played with them, there were people down the front (it was full every time) and they were checking their watches wondering how long we had to play. They were just there because they wanted to see Belle and Sebastian, they just wanted to be as near to them as they could be. That was a bit crushing. They weren’t really paying attention to us at all. We did our best, and it was pretty cool – we had some good reports from that.

I was at your gig in Glasgow supporting Editors, and I thought the audience reaction was very varied. Some people seemed to love it whereas others just looked a bit confused.

That was a weird one for us. We actually go down really well in Scotland. I live in Glasgow. You can always have a good gig there. They’re passionate people. They will let you know how they feel about something, you don’t need to worry about that one.

So where’s your favourite place to play?

Good question – I always like King Tuts in Glasgow. It’s great – they feed you for one, they take care of you! Scotland’s more of a European country they treat you like a human being. There’s so many really sh*t venues in the UK its just quite disgusting. If you asked me what the sh*ttest one was I could probably give you a better answer.

Ok…what’s the worse venue you’ve played in?

The Camden barfly is just one I hate so much. I just hate playing there. I quite like the Clooney in Newcastle because they have a good selection of Belgian beer.

You’re supposed to love venues for the crowd and the atmosphere, not the beer!

Yeah obviously the people in Newcastle are good, I think the further north you go the better venues you get – I like Night and Day in Manchester as well. It’s not technically the stage setup and the PA isn’t great but u always get good atmosphere in there.

Your songs are extremely short and very punchy – is there a reason to this?

Well I don’t really write any of the songs, Eamon our singer does - I guess in those songs he’s singing – he’s referring to things in the world he hates, I’m referring to Cheney, the ‘ode to Dick Cheney’ really – and I think his take on it is that if he has something to say about something he just says it as quickly as he can – he doesn’t want to say anything else as he doesn’t want to give that person or that subject any more time than it deserves. Other than that a lot of our songs – the poppy ones – are around 2 minutes, none of them are really over 3 minutes, I guess we just play fast and we don’t really see the point in repeating ourselves too much. Because there’s too much of that in current rock and pop music. A lot of people rely on that just to fit into a radio friendly pocket. If you’ve got two parts to a song and you don’t really feel it needs anything more then just play those parts twice and make sure those people have got it in their head. And then finish.

Another thing I noticed about you when you play is it has a very stripped down organic feel – there’s not many effects pedals – is that intentional?

We didn’t really think about it to be honest, we didn’t have a record deal when we recorded the album. The first single we released was ‘Pick up the Phone’, which came out on Tugboat records which is kinda an inprint of Rough Trade. We recorded that ourselves. Eamon had convinced Rough Trade to release it – there was no money off their backs. Then we thought, shall we do an album – but how? Then Eamon managed to wangle some studio time at Metropolis Studios in London and we were like ‘whose gonna pay for this?’ It was all on downtime, we didn’t know who was gonna pay for it so we didn’t wanna spend too much money so we just did it as quickly as we could. At the point we’d been playing live as a band for 2 and a half years. That was the only way we knew how to make an album – live, cos that’s the only way we’d played together, and we knew that’s how we sounded best.

Now you have more time, you’re bigger, more experienced and have a nit more money – does that mean the second album is going to be completely different?

No, we recorded it in exactly the same way. We added some keyboards, hammond, piano, there might be some strings and a few horns. It’s kinda a bit more romantic, the songs are a bit more poppy, more friendly. More listenable I guess.

So when will we be seeing the new material?

Hopefully we want the album to come out in October but the powers that be might think that’s not a good idea, but we should get a single out at least and hopefully a tour this year.
interview by: Scott Johnson

Friday 11th to Sunday 13th August 2006
De Montfort Hall, Granville Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, England MAP
£75 for weekend, under-16s £20, camping (SOLD OUT) £2 per tent
last updated: Wed 2nd Aug 2006


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