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