FAULT meets LA rockers Cold War Kids to discuss their triumphant return to the UK

FAULT: Welcome back to the UK guys.

NATHAN: Yeah, it’s great – we’re really excited to be here!

MATT: It’s the first time in four years that we’ve been here, and it’s the best.

 

FAULT: How are the rest of the guys doing?

MATT: Yeah they’re good.

NATHAN: Yeah everybody’s doing good, we’re having a great time.

 

FAULT: How’s the reception been to your latest album, LA Devine?

NATHAN: It’s been really good, we’ve been playing a lot of new songs live so that always feels good; I think we’re playing 6 or 7 new record songs, we don’t usually come close to that when we play new songs from new records. It’s so nice to leave heavily on it.

 

FAULT: Leaning heavily on it today during your performance later at BST Hyde Park?

NATHAN: Yeah, aiming towards mostly new stuff today.

MATT: It’s been so long since we’ve been here and playing new songs it feels kind of like the first time.

 

FAULT: Did you play London on your latest tour?

MATT: Yeah we played 2 days ago at Shepherds Bush Empire.

 

FAULT: Was that before or after the Ritz show in Manchester?

MATT: Before the Ritz actually, Ritz last night and Brighton 2 days before.

 

FAULT: How were they?

MATT: They were insane, really good.

 

FAULT: Happens to be Pride weekend here in London, do you think your latest single Love is Mystical has a special connection this weekend in particular?

NATHAN: Yeah, I hope so anyway! I mean I definitely think that even for the ‘Love is Mystical’ video we had like people kissing, this feeling of spontaneity; girls and boys, boys and girls, girls and girls, boys and boys. So I think that it fits nicely with the Pride week.

 

FAULT: Where was the video filmed for Love is Mystical?

BOTH: Los Angeles.

 

FAULT: The video has a very Italian vibe which happens to be the country of love.

MATT: Yeah, the street we filmed on has Italian restaurants on the side so that’s probably it.

 

FAULT: Filming it at home must have been good, how has the reception been back there?

NATHAN:: Its been really good, we’ve just done a free show at the Union Station in LA.

MATT: We’re going to be touring with Young the Giant for like a month and a half, and that kicks off in a few weeks.

 

FAULT: Played with those guys before?

MATT: Yeah we have actually.

 

FAULT: Any funny tour stories?

MATT: No not yet, we’ve always played like one-off things with them in the past. But we’ll have some stories in a few months for you.

 

FAULT: Your American tour runs through August right?

MATT: Yeah, mainly August and September.

 

FAULT: Massive list of dates for this upcoming US tour isn’t there?

BOTH: Yeah!

MATT: Lots of new venues before that we haven’t played so we’re super excited.

 

FAULT: Any venues you’re looking forward to playing most?

MATT: Red Rocks in Colorado, yeah.

NATHAN: Santa Barbara Bowl, it will be a fun one.

 

FAULT: First time playing at these venues?

BOTH: Yeah it is, going to be good.

 

 

FAULT: You planning on checking any other bands out today at BST?

MATT: The Killers and probably Elbow.

 

FAULT: Any more singles coming from the album?

NATHAN: Yeah, we do. We just finished the ‘So Tied Up’ video, which will be the next single, so it’ll be released soon.

 

FAULT: What was the concept behind this new video?

NATHAN: It was actually kind of like a Hitchcock performance sort of thing, it was filmed in this mid-century modern house and has a kind of a eery dark feel with some humour added in.

FAULT: So the four year gap between your last album and LA Devine, what were you all up to?

NATHAN: Yeah, it was a break from being here. [Laughs]

MATT: Yeah we were on tour mostly.

NATHAN: Busy every other way!

 

FAULT: What was the writing process like for LA Devine? Has it been consistent for most albums?

NATHAN: Well it’s actually been quite different, it’s about making the piano the centre piece of the writing; it’s been a part of every record. But I think that we wanted to make it the thing that drives the song. We try and not set any limitations but we kind of go in and write the song and not have any specific guidelines; but using that as a the centre piece was very helpful. Helps you wrap your head around the song, and doing this for so many years; as this is our sixth record, seeing the songs that I love the most that we play every night is ‘Hospital Beds’, ‘Miracle Mile’, ‘First’ and all these songs, piano is what sets Cold War Kids apart from every other band.

 

FAULT: As this is your sixth record as you mention, do you feel you have progressed as a band?

NATHAN: Yeah definitely, I guess that’s just how things are; you sometimes feel a lot of doubt in certain periods where everyone isn’t watching and not giving you their approval, but then the moments where people do start watching are the moments where you realise that you didn’t need to worry so much. I honestly think thats what a lot of Cold War Kids songs are about; you have these very proud moments and have hung in there as we’ve gone through different phases and so many different records and it’s a lot of work; a crazy thing to do for a living for 13 years, I’m very proud of us.

 

FAULT: What is the song you enjoy playing most live from the new album?

NATHAN: Well we’ve played ‘Love is Mystical’ and ‘Can We Hang On’ the longest, and both of those are really fun and it’s an incredible thing especially here when a lot of people know those songs; they’re brand new and when everyone knows the words it’s always really special.

MATT: We have a song called ‘Restless’ that we’ve played for the first time on this tour, people know this song already and it’s great because it’s my favourite.

NATHAN: We only played it for the first time a couple of nights ago.

 

FAULT: When did rehearsals start for your current tour?

NATHAN: Literally before we came here, actually.

 

FAULT: What will you enjoy most today at BST?

NATHAN: You know I think that playing at Hyde Park is really special, we got the opportunity to come back and it’s a beautiful time of year so we’ve just been enjoying it.

 

FAULT: What can fans expect from the setlist today?

NATHAN: It’s going to be a mix of most albums, yeah.

 

FAULT: What is your FAULT?

MATT: I’ve got a lot of fears, I’m scared of everything. I’m a hypochondriac and I won’t go play golf because I won’t be able to get the swing down, scared all the time.

 

FAULT: What is it around here that you’re most scared of?

MATT: Ticks.

 

FAULT: What about wasps?

MATT: Actually there was a bumble bee in our trailer, I was sleeping and it was on my head. Freaks me out so I smashed it. I’m scared about getting bit and going to hospital.

NATHAN: My thing in a lot of ways is for this band. I always want us to live up to all the potential I know we have and I think we’ve been very fortunate from the very beginning to have so much interest and excitement around us. I’m so grateful for it and it’s a gift, but any stress and anxiety I have is about not living up to the potential of it, you know.

 

You can catch Cold War Kids on their joint tour with Young the Giant around the US and beyond starting 14th July in Welch, Minnesota and ending in New Orleans in October. Their sixth studio album ‘LA Devine’ is out now, with the video for their latest single ‘Love is Mystical’ available to watch here

 

Words Stuart Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAULT speaks to Sharleen Spiteri of legendary Glaswegian band Texas

FAULT: Hey Sharleen, how are you?

SS: I’m very good, thank you.

 

FAULT: How is the campaign going for the new album?

SS: It’s going very well, we’ve been doing loads of promo; been here, there and everywhere. Doing some European and UK TV so it’s good, but it’s quite funny because when you release internationally you suddenly notice people want to cut you into little pieces and poke you.

 

FAULT: Your ninth studio album ‘Jump On Board’ came out a few months ago, have you had chance to showcase any of the songs to your fans yet?

SS: Yeah just as the album was released we played some pub gigs around the UK that were recorded for radio. Listeners could win tickets and that was really great and we literally played in manky, old pubs which were fantastic. Really sticky carpets and old beer aroma, you couldn’t step back on stage and it was all about the music and the audience. It was good to try out the new songs especially up against the old ones and the big hits, you can suddenly think “oh yeah, this is as good as we thought it was”.

 

FAULT: So from this strong combination of hits and new songs from’ Jump On Board’, what can fans expect from the setlist on the Winter tour?

SS: It will be the ‘Jump on Board Live Tour’ but it will be journey because when you’ve got a band that has had such a long career, there is a lot there to chose from. Some nights we change different songs in different places, but definitely mixing the big hits in with the new stuff.

 

FAULT: Is there a venue you’re looking forward to playing most? You’re playing your hometown for a few shows that must be special?

SS: Yeah we’ll be playing in Kelvingrove Park, which is funny because it’s the park that I grew up in. I used to go up on the bandstand and my Mum used to drag me off. It’s going to be strange being up there without getting shouted at to get down.

 

FAULT: You’ve had a long career; it must be special to experience that retrospective on stage?

SS: Yeah the nice thing is that doing interviews it reminds you that you’re not looking at that part of it, as you’re too busy moving forward and onto the next thing. It is nice to think that it has been long and it has been great, we feel really lucky to still be doing this at the level we are doing it.

 

FAULT: When did you begin writing the new material?

SS: In bits and pieces really, when we put out the last album we hadn’t produced an album in a long time, so you never know what to expect when you release a new record. The love that was shown to the band after we put out ‘The Conversation’ was great and it makes you think, “wow, we’re still relevant”. You’re doing it because you love it, and the truth is you don’t know how to do anything else. We love performing and making records, we’ve had the height of our careers and we’re doing it for the passion and the love of it. We really didn’t expect the reaction of, “it’s great to have you back” so it was so inspiring. It really does give you that boost to continue doing what you’re doing. Rather than by just re-packaging the greatest hits and adding some new songs, we thought that we’d give the fans something with all new songs written and packaged all together. Funnily enough, ‘Lets Work It Out’ was a song that was written probably about 8 to10 years ago but it was never finished, it was one of those songs where we’d try out ideas but we never quite got the melody sitting in it.

FAULT: How has the reaction been to your latest single ‘Tell That Girl’?

SS: That is one of those new era Texas songs; lyrics mean something different to everybody and when I see the people that I’m singing it to; it sort of becomes everybody else’s song in that moment.

 

FAULT: The video itself for ‘Tell That Girl’ focuses on you guys up close and personal, how was it filming that?

SS: Yes, up close and personal; just plain. Sometimes you’ve got switch it up a lot and you know, when you get on stage it changes completely. There is normally so many elements to consider and you get a bit fed up of the lenses you know?

 

FAULT: After years of making music videos, the camera lenses drive you mad?

SS: Yeah on certain videos, the 2 videos from this album have been really fun I’ve got to say, the ‘Lets Work It Out’ one especially. We’re just having a laugh and hanging out, its not just you and there is someone else to shoot it with, it’s completely different with a band. It’s not like “oh here we go again” you know?

 

FAULT: You’ve had your solo campaign and little projects in-between, do you think that fans want to pick up on this success during the Texas shows?

SS: We played a couple of tracks from my solo stuff on the last tour actually, so we kind of mix it up. The thing about why I went solo was that I needed to say something and get it out there as it’s not Texas. The band were heavily involved in it and as a band we kind of like each other you know? We see each other outside of Texas as we’ve known each other since we were 17. We’ve grown up together, had kids, marriages, divorces and all we have been through a lot of stuff together. These people are my life and my friends; it’s weird because Texas was never a job for us, it’s never become a job, but when each one of us is doing something separate from Texas, we all go along and support them. We all support each other.

 

FAULT: Is it the lyrics or the music that comes first when writing a new song?

SS: It comes when it comes; there are no rules when we write. Sometimes it can be a melody, sometimes a lyric or an old melody or a set of bridges, or sometimes completely new. Sometimes you’re lying in bed and link the two instantly; I don’t really know how it works even though that’s what I do. [Laughs] Everybody wants to analyse things nowadays, that’s how you do it etc. I think anyone who has created things in the moment find it hard to describe how they did it. I think if you look to closely at it then it becomes a path, and that path can soon become boring.

 

FAULT: What is your FAULT?

SS: You’ve got your strengths and you’ve got your faults, I think the strength is to be able to show your faults and identify that they’re there. Your fault is what sometimes makes magical things happen. Everybody has faults and do things that are seen as annoying, mine is probably that I never shut up. [Laughs]

Texas are on tour later this year from August until December and includes 3 huge homecoming shows in Glasgow, a large UK and European tour with some special shows in South Africa just added. You can view all their tour dates on their site here. Texas’ ninth studio album ‘Jump On Board’ is out now on Sony BMG. You can purchase the album here, and check out their latest single ‘Tell That Girl’ here.

 

Words Stuart Williams

FAULT speaks to Dominic Craik of Nothing but Thieves as they prepare to conquer with new album Broken Machine

FAULT: Hey Dom, so here we are in Camden, how’s it going?

DOM: Yeah good, it’s quite funny being back here because across the road which is now the Assembly Hall, the old Barfly. That was our first London gig that we ever sold out; we’ve played the best part of every venue in Camden now. We played the Roundhouse with Twin Atlantic as our first support tour ever, and obviously Dingwalls tonight.

FAULT: How was playing Amsterdam for the first time live? Was it well received by your fans?

DOM: Well last night was the first time we had played it and I honestly could not stop smiling at their reaction; they sang every word like it had been out for years and its only been out for two weeks or something.

FAULT: With the new songs on their way, how many are you thinking of showcasing during these smaller shows such as tonight?

DOM: We’re going to be playing 3 new ones; Amsterdam and two others are new tracks that we debuted at Brixton. The first song we ever wrote for the second album was called ‘I’m not made by Design’ but we felt that was too long so now it’s called ‘Design’. There is another song called ‘Get Better’ and both are more riff-based songs from the album. In a setting like a sweaty pub gig you want riffs, for it to be loud and you want people to be nodding their heads.

FAULT: The concept for the Amsterdam video, how did that come about?

DOM: We worked with our director Thomas really closely for a long time in advance because we wanted to get a treatment that was slightly unusual for a rock video; we wanted to involve contemporary dance and juxtapose what is essentially a rock song. He came back to us and said, “I’ve got this great idea of almost hypnotic dancers who are in a trance and created confusion amongst the band, and in the end they would come together into organised chaos.” We shot it in a factory in Ukraine ran by the military where they used to build amphibious tanks, mad isn’t it? The ground was covered in dust; lead and iron filings so every time a dancer was performing they would kick the dust up and we were coughing and spluttering, going out for air every take. Suffering for our art! [Laughs]

FAULT: Did you feel any second album pressures?

DOM: We heard so many horror stories about bands disappearing. There were some bands we know came into them unprepared as they then had to write a load of songs in a short space of time and record them. That is a big pressure to put on yourself especially if you want them to be good quality. I think you can argue you want quality over quantity but you don’t get quality without quantity; you write quite a lot of songs so you can filter them out and hone in on the ones that present themselves to be the better songs.

FAULT: When did the writing process begin?

DOM: We started writing the second album before the first album had even been released, so about two years before this. I produced a lot of our demos and I asked our guitar tech to build us a portable studio which we could set up in hotels, on the tour bus, in dressing rooms and basically anywhere; so we could constantly churn out a tune or ideas. A lot of the songs we had written were created on the tour bus, especially when you’re on the road driving for 12 hours in America, there’s only so much FIFA you can play! When it comes to my work ethic I’m very driven, I can’t stop and sit down; I get itchy feet. We wrote about 30 or 40 songs, went into the studio with 13 and here we are.

FAULT: What’s your phobia?

DOM: I’m a clean freak; my worst nightmare is someone taking a sip from my drink. So if I’ve got a drink and someone asks me if they could try it, I say no. They immediately think that I’m a selfish prick, which I am, but that’s not the reason I don’t want to share it. I’m just a bit of a germophobe. When it comes to my bathroom my favourite hobby is bleaching it; I would say that I spend a few days a week on it. Germs are the devil’s work. Don’t fucking touch my drink.

FAULT: The new tour, what’s the lowdown?

DOM: The run we’re on at the moment is basically an underplay tour; we’re trying to get ourselves into a position where we feel comfortable playing the new stuff and we can also play some of the deep cuts EP songs from our early days and a couple of songs from the first album that we’ve never played before, and do it for some of the die hard fans that have been there from the start. We’re now mixing it up so it keeps it fresh! But after this tour we go straight onto the festival tour.

FAULT: Crazy tour schedule coming into winter?

DOM: Yeah, I don’t think I have longer than 2 days back home until December I think. We got a lot of European radio play, some Asian radio play, South American radio play and even some TV in America for James Corden and Jimmy Kimmel. We then got phoned up by South Korea’s headline festivals and the biggest festivals in Australia and we thought; “how is this happening?” It’s just starting to simmer away everywhere, and if you look on Spotify and YouTube, you can see these big numbers. It’s all because of the international fanbase; we put a lot of groundwork in at the start and to see it come to fruition is ridiculous.

FAULT: How were the South Korea shows?

DOM:  I’ve never ever had an overwhelming feeling of shock, confusion and surprise in one hit. We thought we were in the wrong place when we saw our name headlining. We walked out to 20,000 South Korean kids with banners and all wearing our merch. We’d never been before and they were singing every single word whilst going completely nuts. The whole time we were looking at each other thinking if we’re in an alternative reality, how is this happening?

FAULT: Would you return to play there?

DOM: Asia is one of our priorities, we’re going back to Japan later this year; we spent a lot of time there in the past playing Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo and Osaka, we were on the main stage last year just before Radiohead, which is ridiculous – our favourite band! We stayed to watch them with 60,000 other people and you could hear a pin drop. It was the best place to watch Radiohead ever.

FAULT: What is your FAULT?

DOM: We spent so long being unsuccessful and grinding away at things, that after four years of doing nothing and then announcing success, I was keen for friends to hear about it but I didn’t want people to feel like I was bigging myself up in a way that would make them feel shit about themselves. We don’t really like talking about work but most of my friends are supportive of what I do and I love that about them.

You can catch Nothing but Thieves on their extensive UK tour this Winter, with stops at Newcastle, Manchester and London to name a few. You can listen to the latest single Amsterdam off their upcoming new album Broken Machine below, and pre-orders for their new album are live here.

 

Words Stuart Williams

Premiere: Ryan McMullan talks us through new track ‘Oh Susannah’ and touring with Ed Sheeran

Hailing from Portaferry, a small seaside town in Northern Ireland, 26 year old Ryan McMullan is a fresh talent on the singer/songwriter scene and in the short space of 3 years has made his way from the small clubs in Ireland to playing in Arenas to thousands of people. He has had multiple successful tours; opening a 31 date tour with Ed Sheeran in 2017, playing a handful of shows in NYC one being a headline sold out show in the Rockwood Music Hall, touring with the likes of Foy Vance in America, the UK and Europe, American alt-country rockers NEEDTOBREATHE, Snow Patrol, Ciaran Lavery and Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi).
Today he debuts new track ‘Oh Susannah’ exclusively on Fault. The video also features clips from the tour with Ed. Here we had a chat with him about the experience, and what’s next.
Can you tell us more on what “Oh Susannah” is about? 

I guess the obvious answer is being in love with Susannah but I think it relates because it also talks about life after love and wanting to be there regardless of circumstance. 

How did Ed Sheeran find out about you? 

I was supporting Foy Vance in London. Ed came to the show, watched my set and afterwards came up to me to offer the tour support. 

What did you learn from touring with him? 

That I love what I do and intend on doing it for as long as the world lets me

What’s in store for the rest of 2017 for Ryan McMullan? 

My first headline tour begins in September through until November, so prepare for that, maybe release a couple more songs between now and the end of the year too. 

What is your FAULT? 

My fault is my complete lack of ability to touch my toes.

Get stuck into ‘Oh Susannah’ below.

 

Words Cody Fitzpatrick

SPINN live at The Magnet, Liverpool

‘Look, my t-shirt says “Swollen but golden” on it.’ Jonny has the mumps. But he’s not letting it put a damper on his band’s gig tonight: ‘I’m getting better now so I can sing fine but I’ve just got fucking big cheeks.’

It’s a pretty drizzly day and the long, uphill walk from Liverpool Lime Street Train Station to The Magnet, where SPINN are set to perform later that evening, was enough to challenge my #FridayFeeling. But Jonny, lead singer and guitarist of SPINN, could probably improve any mood, either with one of his upbeat ‘dreampop’ tunes or with his chirpy attitude, not to mention that soft kind of Scouse accent that brings any story to life. And he has quite a lot of stories. For example: ‘I know that lad once who made it to Glastonbury a couple of years ago and he stood at the front for the 1975 and just threw sausages at Matty Healy. That’s what he said anyway.’

I ask him how he managed to come down with the mumps. ‘It’s my mate right, he always steals everyones pints. He had the mumps and then took a sip of my pint when I wasn’t looking so I got the mumps from taking a sip of my own fucking pint.’ He throws his arms up, faux exasperated. His t-shirt does indeed say ‘Swollen but golden,’ scrawled in a mixture of red and yellow felt tip pen. In a way this sartorial choice sums up SPINN’s whole vibe: they’re up for a laugh but ready for you to listen. Their social media presence cements this further with their last tweet at the time of writing: ‘Just saw the 1975’s trnsmt slot; to the girl crying her eyes out during robbers, honestly mate, same.’ Their bio describes them as #ApproachableLads.

 

Other than the homemade slogan tee, Jonny describes his style as ‘“Quirky boy chic.” But I’ve started spelling chic like c-h-i-q-u-e.That’s cool isn’t it?’ That effortless teenage boy grin, equal parts cute and goofy, would probably go with any outfit. ‘I always wear white socks – that’s essential – and usually like a t-shirt I always like baggy pants as well. I usually shop online or Pop Boutique then see what Gucci are up to as well.’

Jonny explains his musical beginnings: ‘I just kind of picked up a guitar one day, because we had one in my house, and I just started picking on it and my dad said to me “Son- (he laughs and puts on his best fatherly voice) Son, if ya learn a song I’ll get some new strings for ya.” So I learnt a song. I learned Blackbird by The Beatles. And my dad was like fair enough, and he got me some new strings.’ His link to Liverpool’s most famous musical export is strong: Jonny grew up around the corner from where The Beatles met, close to John Lennon’s house, on actual Strawberry Fields. ‘I might get a tattoo of a strawberry,’ he smirks. ‘I embraced the Beatles stuff a lot for a while but then people started to make fun of me like “Oh there’s that kid that loves the Beatles!” so I was like for fucks sake.’

‘My first musical memory from when I was a kid was when I was sat there with my cousin and he put Kylie Minogue on and I just thought “this is shite.” And I wanted to find something better. I bought my first ever two CDs on the same day. For some reason I got Ed Sheeran – Plus. I mean that’s a good album but I’m not into it as much anymore. I got it on the same day as a David Bowie quadruple CD.’ I told him he should just tell the Bowie story. ‘I do most of the time,’ he laughs. So what’s on his playlist at the moment? ‘At the minute I’ve been listening to a band called Half Man Half Biscuit. It’s kind of like satirical stuff and they’ve got this song called Just Give Us Bubble Wrap where they sing about how everything could be solved if we had a big roll of bubble wrap.’

Jonny’s self-deprecating tone comes through in his pleasant drawl over SPINN’s latest single ‘Notice Me,’ which is literally a shout out to radios stations to give them more plays. Jonny explains that writing the songs is a team effort, but he writes the lyrics. ‘It’s usually like shite love songs. My uncle said if you get in a band and you’ll get loads of girls it will be great. I’ve got a girlfriend already so its sound. But none of us have had any attention from girls. A lot of my songs are about my girlfriend. I know that sounds really sloppy and horrible but I don’t usually tell her. Nah, sometimes I do write about politics. That’s as edgy as it goes. I’ve got this one where I moan about England for a bit. I feel like Morrissey, it’s great. I try to work harder and I’ve expanded my vocabulary a lot – is that the word? I’ve had to many beers. I know my mums gonna read this so I’ve said I can’t drink because of my antibiotics but I have had too many beers.’

While being in band might not have resulted in a lot of female attention, Jonny says he has mostly enjoys the social aspect of playing shows and meeting people. ‘It’s like a big massive family and then when you meet other bands and it feels dead nice. Thats my favourite part about being in a band. I like being able to just follow around people that I like at festivals like Cabbage and In Heaven.’ The future will definitely hold a lot more fun for SPINN, as their name shows up on more radio playlists and their Spotify and Soundcloud plays increase. ‘If we get signed with a nice juicy record label – I’m looking at your recorder now – if we get a lovely deal, then we might get a flat. I like Liverpool for now but if we have to move to London I’d be quite happy to move to London. I like London a lot. It’s just cool isn’t it? And everything’s bigger.’

The show is filling up by the time we finish our chat and Jonny offers me a can of cider from the table. The band don’t come on until late and put on an incredible party. Jonny gives his mum and nan a shout out while boys clamber on to each others shoulders and the crowd get dancing. Lots of fans sing a long with ‘Notice Me’ and SPINN’s other singles ‘Home’ and ‘Bliss’ stir things up as well. In an era seriously lacking in indie pop, this band could fill the hole that early Maxïmo Park and dreamy debut album The Kooks singles left in your life.

Words Alex Bee

Photos Lauren Keir

FAULT catches up with Oh Wonder upon the release of their sophomore album

In just three years, songwriting duo Oh Wonder – made up of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West – have gone from a self-releasing online sensation to an internationally-touring band signed to Island Records with over 4.5million monthly listeners on Spotify. Now, they’re back two years later with their bedazzling 12-track sophomore album, ‘Ultralife’. We caught up with the duo to talk about their evolution since their self-titled first album, staying grounded, emotional music, and weird fan experiences.

 

What was the inspiration behind your new album, ‘Ultralife’?

Josephine: We’ve been touring constantly for the best part of two years, which has been incredible because when we started with this band, we just conceived it as a writing project, it was never going to be an internationally touring thing! ‘Ultralife’ is totally inspired by that shift in living and the new routine we have, which is just bizarre. You’re away from everything you know all the time. A constant adventure.

 

How do you feel you have evolved musically since your self-titled last album was released?

Anthony: Being on the road, we’ve played with musicians on stage and it made us feel we really needed to convey that on the record track.

Josephine: We brought our live band into the studio – our bassist and our drummer – and they’re all over the record. So much of the record is live takes of the four of us jamming. We hope that we’ve injected a lot more of the raw, live energy that really comes to life at things like festivals.

Anthony: The first record was very mellow so this time we wanted to give it more life.

 

 

What is your creative process when writing songs?

Josephine: It’s totally equal and collaborative. Typically we do write at a piano and we both come forward with ideas. We never go into a space where it’s like: “I’ve written this song, what do you reckon?” We would never do that because we want to conceive everything completely together.

 

How do you stay grounded with your increasing international fame?

Anthony: Trying to have a sense of normality about your life is the hardest bit.

Josephine:  Our friends are really good at that. None of them really care that we make music. You get home and they’re like, ‘You’ve been away? Cool’ [laughs].

Anthony: We take our friends on tour as well to keep us grounded.

Josephine: Fame as a concept is not something that really appeals to us. I’d hate to be famous. You have to just constantly remind yourself that five years ago when we were playing to like six people a night in Birmingham – that in itself is amazing. To have six people come out to watch you in Birmingham is as amazing as having 3,000 people come out to watch you in San Francisco. You lose perspective really easily when in Kuala Lumpur you’re like, ‘We’ve only sold 3,000 tickets; it’s a 4,000 cap room!’ You just have to stop yourself and be like: this is amazing. Whatever level you’re at in life, it’s just about gratitude.

 

What is your favourite song to play live?

Anthony: Our song Heavy – we’ve only played it live once – we put it together last week to put on stage. We don’t really have to do anything as on the record, that song is literally just a live take of us playing.

Josephine: It’s just got such a groove! I’m just really annoyed that I have to play an instrument when I just wanna dance!

 

What was the first song you played live together?

Both: Livewire!

Anthony: It was at our first show in London in 2015. It was the first song we played and we were so nervous!

Josephine: We’d been practising for ages, trying to sing completely in unison. It wasn’t natural; it was all very robotic.

Anthony: Probably the best show we’ve played! We’ve let it slip a bit since then [laughs].

 

What song makes you cry?

Josephine: So many!

Anthony: Probably Still – The Cinematic Orchestra. Brothers on a Hotel Bed by Death Cab [For Cutie].

Josephine: I got a text from my brother the other day, who’s in Madrid currently, saying that Castle on a Hill by Ed Sheeran is his new favourite jam and when I hear it to think of him. I heard it on the radio and just because my brother has sent me this note and he was so far away, I found myself welling up in the car!

 

What song always make you feel happy?

Anthony: Mine would be Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi. It’s the morning tune isn’t it? Perfect to make pancakes to.

Josephine: Mine would be Phoenix – Listomania. Big tune. Great driving tune.

 

 

What is the weirdest fan experience you’ve had?

Josephine: There’s so many! We get a lot of people asking us to write our names on a piece of paper, then the next morning we’ll check Instagram and it’s been tattooed on them! We’ve been given loads of weird gifts like shark’s teeth that someone found at the bottom of the ocean. We’ve been given little figurines that someone’s made of us.

Anthony: Lots of paintings. Fans are like, ‘Take them home!’ and we’re like, ‘We’re getting on a flight!’ [laughs]

Josephine: We get a lot of proposals. The weirdest fan proposal we’ve had was in Brighton –

Anthony: Not proposals to us – between fans.

Josephine: He [the fan] wanted us to be there in this room whilst he proposed to his girlfriend. It was a bit odd because we came down and she was like: “Oh hello!” and he was like: “I’ve got a question to ask you,” and then she kind of said yes and then they were like, “Ok, well bye!” We just thought, why are we here? Do they want a photo? They were like, “No” [laughs].

 

What is your FAULT?

Anthony: Mine would be tanning [he reveals his burnt arms from a recent holiday and laughs]. Practice would be mine. I would be a lot better at stuff if I practised more. I always do things to a level and then I’m like, let’s move on to something else. Attention span. That’s why I’ve signed up to marathons.

Josephine: You’re trying to do the Great Wall of China. It’s hard to walk, let alone run!

Anthony: There’s a chunk of it – 26.2 miles – but there’s 15,000 steps involved. And I’ve got terrible knees.

Josephine: I am very stubborn. If things don’t go my way I don’t like it very much. I’m a bit of a control freak. Everything that you see that is Oh Wonder related has come from us.

Anthony: That’s also the secret to your success as well.

 

Oh Wonder’s sophomore album ‘Ultralife’ is out now. Find it on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes.

Words Aimee Phillips

Photography Annick Wolfers 

Tom Walker dishes on his Mancunian roots, Glasto and surviving London

Tom Walker’s debut EP, Blessings, sounds kind of like a mix between Bob Marley and Sam Smith, if that makes any sense. The up-and-comer talked to FAULT about being from Manchester, playing at Glastonbury, and how to have a good time when your London rent makes it so you can’t afford to go out.

FAULT: What’s your origin story? How did you become a musician?

Tom: I learned to play guitar when I was kind of 9 years old. I’ve been playing since then. I’ve always loved it, and I’ve always loved writing songs. I lived in Manchester, so I was always a big fan of Oasis. I got into songwriting through them and various other bands. I one day kind of had a crack at it, and I thought Yeah, I’m not too bad at this. It developed from there. It turned from a hobby to a career quite quickly. I went to do a degree in songwriting at the London Centre of Contemporary Music, and then eventually fell into the music industry. So it’s been a long but good road.

FAULT: Who influences your music besides Oasis?

Tom: Oh, so many people. I’m a big fan of Paulo Nutini. I know it’s a massive cliche, but I love Bob Marley as well. I was really into Jack Garratt last year. Chet Faker is also a big influence. Ray Charles I used to listen to a lot when I was younger. Too many to list, basically.

FAULT: What are the lyrics to “Blessings” about?

Tom: They’re kind of a true story. I live with a lot of people in London — seven people in a big house. We don’t always have a lot of money, because London’s a really expensive place to live. But we always make the most of whatever we’re doing. Even if we don’t have enough money to go out to the pub, we end up bringing the pub to us and inviting a few people around and having a good night at home, which I don’t think a lot of people do. I think a lot of people don’t spend the time counting their blessings. I think they spend the time pointing out the things in their lives that are unfortunate. But even if we’re stuck at home, we’re having a good time. I think that’s the nice thing about me and my mates, so I wanted to make a song about it.

FAULT: When you’re “busy playing FIFA,” what team are you?

Tom: Man United, always Man United. Or the one that’s called, like, Classic XI, which is all amazing players. But definitely Man U.

FAULT: Did you feel any kind of personal connection to the Manchester Arena bombing?

Tom: Yeah, it was really bad. I grew up near Manchester, and the MEN Arena was the place I went to see all the big bands. I’ve seen Foo Fighters, Muse, Underworld, and loads of big bands there. So it was quite upsetting to see, and it was quite upsetting to think that a group of people would want to put young people off going to see live music at a venue. Without going to see my favourite bands doing their thing at the Manchester Evening News Arena, I don’t think I’d be where I am today, because that was one of the massive influences on why I wanted to do what I wanted to do. So it was pretty difficult.

FAULT: You were just at Glastonbury, right? How was that?

Tom: It was amazing! I was originally going there just as a fan, to watch some bands. But after I bought a ticket, I found out I was playing at a set at The Rabbit Hole. And after that I found out I was also doing a set for BBC2. So I did a set at The Rabbit Hole on Friday, which was totally amazing; I can’t believe how many people turned up. Then on Saturday–I think it was about 20 minutes past midnight–I was on the telly. So it was a pretty surreal experience.

And all that time, because I bought a ticket, I felt like I had to get involved with the festival, so I was staying up until 5 a.m. every night with my mates, as well as working. It was pretty intense. I’m glad to be back home. I had some intense, long meetings today, but after that, I’m gonna have an epic sleep.

FAULT: What are your plans for the next year or so?

Tom: We’ve got a fun, little song coming out soon that we’re working on at the moment. I can’t really talk much about it. In the meantime, I’m working on the album. We’ve got a group of people I like to write with, and I’m gonna do some writing on my own. No rush, because I want to get it right. I want to make sure it’s a quality piece of work, something I’m really proud of. I’m gonna make sure it’s right before we put it out.

I’ve got a few festivals coming up. I’m doing Barn on the Farm; I’m doing Beat-Herder; I’m doing Victorious Festival. And we’ve got a gig coming up at Oslo in London in September.

FAULT: What’s your FAULT?

Tom: I love sleep – It’s not ideal when you have a call time at 7am and all I want to do is sleep through day so I have to load up on Coffee. I also have really long days sometimes and will find myself nodding off randomly. When I get back from tour I’ll shut the world out and sleep for something stupid for like 16 hours straight and that sorts me right out then I’m ready to go again!
Peep Tom’s video for Blessings, and the audio for Heartland, below:

 

 

Introducing Klyne – exclusive FAULT interview

FAULT: Hi Klyne, so how did you both meet?
Klyne: We met through mutual friends group just under a decade ago.

Has growing up in Helmond helped shape your sound in any way?
In some ways, yes. Helmond is a pretty quiet and peaceful place to live – there definitely isn’t much of a music scene going on here compared to the bigger cities like Amsterdam, which means there’s less to directly influence us.

What has been one of the weirdest / funniest gigs you have done?
That would be the first support show we had with Years & Years. Just before our final song our equipment decided to fail, leaving only the piano and vocals working in front of 5000 people… We ended up having to play our track “Closer” with just piano and vocals which was pretty terrifying, but the crowd’s response was insane.

What were some of the artists you both listened to growing up?
We have fairly different music tastes: Ferdous is more into dark electronic music like Soulwax and Aphex Twin, whereas I (Nick) have always been drawn towards big voices such as Jamie Lidell and Stevie Wonder.

When it comes to writing music, is there a source of inspiration or a routine you both go through?
Up until now we have made all the music in Ferdous’ small bedroom, writing, producing and mixing all in one room, and recording the vocals in-between two mattress – it’s the space we feel most comfortable making music. Ferdous tends to start by making a beat or a loop on his own, adding various vocal hooks until we’ve got the core of the song written, I then come in and vocal the track and we try ideas then.

How does it feel having your track ‘Water Flow’ played over 6 million times on Spotify?
It’s amazing that so many people have listened to it, especially considering it was made in Ferdous’ family bedroom. That’s like, almost half of our own country’s population…!

Who would you like to most collaborate with?
We might potentially consider working with Kanye.

You’ve supported the likes of Years & Years, Christine and the Queens and Metronomy, did they offer out any advice?
Not directly but I think the most important message they all gave us was “have fun!!”.

For anyone yet to see you perform, how would you describe your live shows?
We make all our music in Ferdous’ small bedroom, so to be able to translate that to a live show is really important to us. We put a lot of effort into reinventing the songs to work on stage and with a band.

What’s next for Klyne?
Our upcoming album the 30th of June and we cannot wait for everyone to hear. It will be accompanied by lots of touring and festivals around Europe.

Debut album ‘Klyne’ is out now.

 

Words Jack Lloyd