My second band interview is courtesy of Dartz! guitarist Henry Carden. I reviewed the UK band’s excellent debut album, This Is My Ship, earlier this year here. The album remains one of my favorites of 2007 and is a sure bet to make my year end list. The US release of the album should be along later this year. I definitely recommend picking the album up! Thanks to Henry for taking the time.
I hear a definite DC influence on This Is My Ship. Talk about that and what are some of the band’s other influences? How would you describe your sound to someone yet to hear the band?
I can only speak on a personal basis, but it was listening to bands like Faraquet, Medications and Bluetip that made me want to start playing guitar in the first place and collectively, we’re all big fans of Q and Not U. In terms of other influences, we’re all into a lot of different stuff ranging from Bjork to Dillinger Escape Plan to The Police… although it’s probably stuff like Death Cab For Cutie, The Shins and The Decemberists that influence us more directly, as well as British bands like Stapleton, The Futureheads and Idlewild.
How does the songwriting process go for the band? What factors seem to influence the band’s songwriting the most?
Musically it’s very much a collaborative effort with either myself or William (bassist) coming up with an idea and then the three of us mold it into a song. Philip our drummer plays a big part in it as he determines a lot of the rhythms etc, as well as writing most of our lyrics – we used to do it together, but he’s so much better at it than William and I! A lot of the songs on our album have a strong travel theme and the album artwork ties in nicely with that.
There’s been a pretty vibrant DIY/underground UK scene for years now but just recently, a lot more bands are starting to kind of explore avenues outside of the underground which in a way is pretty exciting. Bands like ourselves and Hot Club De Paris who’ve been raised on a healthy dose of punk rock are now getting a bit more mainstream attention. I saw Hot Club De Paris playing live on Channel 4 (national TV channel over here in the UK) a couple of nights ago and I just thought how surreal it was hearing a very kind of Owls/Make Believe/Storm & Stress style sound being delivered to such a mainstream audience! There’s always been exciting bands kicking about in the UK like Spy Vs Spy, And None Of Them Knew They Were Robots and Dugong to name but a few, but none of them ever really got their music heard by enough people for my liking.
As far as you can tell, what are some of the main differences between the US and UK music scenes? Any up and coming bands to watch out for in the UK?
To be honest, I’m not too sure what the US music scene is like in terms of gigs and labels etc, I’m just aware of a few bands… there always seems to be so many bands over there that excite me. At the moment it’s stuff like Cinemechanica (yet again!), Maps and Atlases and Georgie James – I don’t how they’re perceived in the US but to me, those bands are incredible. Hopefully I’ll get to see them play live one day soon. As for UK bands, there’s a band called Foals who I can’t stop listening to right now. They supported us at their first ever gig but they’ve come a long way since then and just signed to a very nice label indeed – Transgressive. The laziest way to describe them is like a more poppier Battles but however you want to describe them, they’re definitely an excellent band. There’s an indie-rock band from London called Tellison who everybody should check out too – www.myspace.com/tellison – they’ve got an album coming out shortly and it’s a fantastic selection of British indie-rock with a kind of Get Up Kids/Mineral vibe in places too.
X-tra Mile seems to be an up and coming label in the UK. How’s the relationship been for the band?
It’s been good! We had a lot of record label interest early on in the band’s life from all spectrums of the music “industry” – from ridiculously big labels to lovely little DIY labels. I think we found a happy middle ground with Xtra Mile. It’s an independent label but they don’t let that be an excuse for being lazy or disorganised like a lot of the more DIY “punk rock” labels over here do… it’s been a very interesting experience for us and although it was a tough decision deciding who to release the album with, I think we definitely made the right decision. A lot of people seem to think that because it’s not a DIY label, we get told what we have to do and all that kind of thing, but it’s not like that at all. They’re really supportive and just leave us up to our own devices most of the time!
What’s the band’s opinion on file-sharing?
I don’t really know! It was very peculiar for us just before our album was released because somebody “leaked” it onto a load of those torrent sites and yousendit etc… so a couple of weeks before it was released, loads of people already owned it! I kind of felt a bit uncomfortable about that especially as we’d put so much effort into creating an all round “package” with the recording, mastering and art work process. People who’d downloaded it were missing out on our friend Dave House’s amazing artwork! But then, the only reason people were downloading it was because they really like our band and couldn’t wait to hear our album, which was really humbling. I for one occasionally download the odd track by bands and if I like it, I buy their record when I can afford it… for smaller bands like ourselves I guess file sharing is a good way of getting heard so if it means more people coming to our gigs, buying our records etc in the long run then that’s cool.
What’s been playing on the band’s collective stereo lately?
Saves The Day! The last tour we did, we had Stay What You Are on in the van almost all of the time. Amazing.
What’s on the horizon (releases, touring) for the band in the near future? Any word on a US label for This Is My Ship? Any plans for a US tour?
We actually put pen to paper for the US release of ‘This Is My Ship’ a few days ago… we’re very excited! I don’t know if I’m allowed to say who it is but all I will say is that when I was 16/17/18, it was my favourite label in the world so it’s amazing to have them putting out our music. Hopefully it’ll lead to a US tour – that’s certainly something we’ll be looking to do in the coming months.
(I know the US label but my lips are sealed. Congrats to everyone involved!)
Any last words?