The Stopmotion Men

Craig Broad 26/01/2010

On hearing The Stopmotion Mens latest currently unreleased EP, I immediately marked them down as a band to watch out for in 2010. I caught up with them as they edge closer to the release of their EP to discuss the EP and their plans for the future.

Musically speaking, it sounds like you have a large array of influences, would you like to share these influences and how you feel they have a bearing upon the sound you create?
Jenks: We all listen to very different music and there are many styles that impact upon our approach to writing. Although, there are definitely a few core artists that are more influential than others. Namely; the anthemic quality of Pearl Jam combined with the more contemporary soundscapes produced by bands such as 65daysofstatic and Sigur Ros. We're also big fans of the slightly prog and grandiose sound of Muse. Needless to say, we're all huge fans of Radiohead too!. With regards to their influence on our sound what impacts upon us the most is the level of craftsmanship of their songwriting.

Having heard the new EP 'What Now?' I can safely say that it is a huge step up from the earlier material I have heard, what goals did you want to achieve in the recording of the new EP?
Geraint: We wanted to produce a recording that represented all aspects of the bands sound. As far as we're concerned you have pretty extreme sides to our music. From the more theatrical side with Spit and Chew to the more contemporary side with What Now, we've also got a track on there that we hadn't played live and still haven't as a band. Hurt You definitely represents a side of the band that is rarely shown, the more intimate acoustic tracks that I tinker with at home that grow into what you hear on the record today. We're very excited about the release as it's the first time we've had an outside influence come in on the band - working with Greg was a big eye opener for us.

The choice of songs is down to an agreement we made with Greg, to choose what we all believe to be our strongest material with regard to introducing the band to industry. We're hoping this showcases our talents as a band, so we can continue this at the higher level it deserves.

As far as goals are concerned, we just want to get our music out there so we can get some serious feedback on what it is we are doing.

The use of more orchestral instruments works really well on your material, was it always a conscious decision to go down that avenue or did it happen to form naturally?

Jenks: Once we'd decided to demonstrate our capacity to write softer, emotive songs by putting Hurt You on the EP we asked Greg if incorporating a string quartet was a possibility. As soon as we found out we were going to use the Manics' string quartet Ben immediately set about composing parts for the other tracks too. In hindsight we couldn't imagine the tracks without the texturally rich addition the strings provided. We just love them!

The production on the EP is fantastic, how did you manage to get in contact with Greg Haver, what was he like to work with and would you work with him again?
Geraint: As I mentioned before, this was the first time we as a band had worked with a producer. So the first hurdle for us was finding a producer that had the experience and success; so we would pay attention to what they were suggesting as well as put our trust in them and that what we were about to invest in would be in good hands. It was lucky for us then that some good friends of mine from the Hot Puppies pointed me in Gregs direction and after a few quick phone calls and emailing some tracks Greg was on board.

Obviously we had heard some of Gregs work before and were surprised at the level of his enthusiasm for the project, he's a very successful producer as you know, so we were all a bit daunted as well as excited about the prospect of working with him. The whole experience was quite a learning curve for us, some more than others and it wasn't a smooth process, there were a few bumps in the road before we reached our destination. However I can thankfully say it was all worth it, we owe Greg a big thanks for his part in this.

So would we work with him again? Absolutely.

Each track varies quite substantially from the next on 'What Now?' with the upbeat rawness of the title track being in complete opposite to the emotive and stripped back 'Hurt You'. When deciding the songs for the new EP, did you want to showcase the bands versatility or did you merely pick the songs that you felt were your strongest?
Jenks: It's a combination of your last two statements Craig. Greg informed us that in order to increase the likelihood of a sufficient record or publishing deal, we'd need to showcase the breadth and depth of our writing. This would inform the aforementioned that recording an album with us would make for a versatile and varied product.

As a band, it's difficult to be subjective and state which songs are the strongest. In fact the only track that we unanimously agreed upon was Spit and Chew. We have a wealth of other material with songs that we all love for very different reasons. We're sincerely hoping the rest of our material gets the exposure it deserves, recorded at a level that does them justice.

On the back of this release, do you have any plans of trying to get signed onto a bigger label, any plans of touring the UK and have there been any thoughts in regards a full length album?

Geraint: Any financial backing from a label either major or independent is always welcome, assuming the appropriate agreements are made. We have numerous goals, too many to bore you with now, however the main goal would have to be having the band working at a professional level so that our only concerns lie with the music and performance, not with having to earn a living through day jobs.

We do intend to embark on a UK tour as soon as we have the means to do it justice. As for plans beyond this I personally would love to have the opportunity to go Stateside, there are those who argue our material would be better received there. Of course for any band with ambition, that is where they want to go. However given the current state of the music industry, I don't think we're going to be given the opportunity anytime soon.

Jenks: Given the music industry is in the largest state of flux since its inception. I can see the business model of the music industry being demolished, redesigned and rebuilt before alternative acts like ourselves get the financial backing typical of a major record deal to take our music to a global audience.

Our plans for the immediate future are to get the EP tracks out there in the widest possible sense and to make our collective dream a reality: A full length album of our favourite songs.

'The Stopmotion Men' will launch their EP 'What Now?' with an exclusive hour-long set at Cardiff's Globe on Friday the 19th February