Mike Hughes 03/01/2011
Imagine being in a band on the verge of big things, big enough to secure spots at the big festivals, Reading and Leeds, that sort of thing. Then a week before Latitude your
lovely four piece world is split asunder when the keyboard player leaves. There seemed to be no hard feelings, or at least none they're admitting to, but it did leave Belfast band
Not Squares with some pretty quick re-inventing to do. They say great things come of adversity and they have more than risen to the occasion, finding a new rock / dance hybrid and a determination to make people have fun. With their album Yeah OK newly out and getting a great reception, GIITTV caught up with the three of them to answer a few non-essential questions on the meaning of life.
Hey guys, how are you doing?
We are abso-lutely fine.
Do you want to introduce yourselves?
We are Not Squares from Belfast A.K.A Ricki/Michael/Keith
How would you describe your music?
I find it difficult to describe our music. We have created it in collaboration - jamming for hours in our practice room and then refining the tracks in the recording process, or sketching ideas at home and then deconstructing and reconstructing them through intensive jamming. For me, this makes it impossible to pin any specific labels on it, as it is a mix of all the parts it has been at various points of the process.
In a less awkward answer, I guess I could narrow it to 'upbeat, beat and bass driven jams'.
How long has the band been going now, and has it always been in the same sort of form, or has it evolved to where it is now?
The band has been together for two years, over which time it has evolved greatly. The only pre-conceived notion we had was that we wanted to play upbeat party music. This began as the shouty, energetic post punk jams that came to us very naturally and has gradually become something more subtle - or at least - more difficult to pin down. It is always moving.
You've played some pretty big festivals - tell us about that?
They have all been notable for us in one way or another. Latitude was our second gig as a three-piece, a week after our other member left. We had written most of our new set in
the week running up to it and were not even sure if it was any good. As it turned out, people really liked it! At the end of that summer we played Reading and Leeds and that really cemented our faith in the new songs - loads of stranger dancing and trying to sing along to the choruses (which they didn't know). It was amazing. Those songs have ended up making up the core of Yeah OK.
Do you have a favourite kind of venue?
We really enjoy playing in close venues - either in the round or at house parties. We have also had great shows in clubs, where everyone just ignores us and dances for the whole set. That is something we would like to do more.
Do you play drunk?
Not since we were legally allowed to actually get drunk.
What's been the most challenging thing you have had to deal with along the way as a band?
Losing a founding member a week before going on a major tour was quite a challenge. There were key songs in the set that we are unable to play anymore and Michael and I were forced to start multi-tasking between synths, basses, and samplers. Although, like most challenges (that work out well), it was a positive experience that has definitely made develop in new and interesting ways.
You've been described as quirky and madcap - how do you see it?
Being described as quirky and madcap just indicates that we are bringing elements together that people are not used to experiencing in the same context. I don't find it particularly quirky or madcap, but I am happy that someone else does.
Tell us about the album - what can people expect?
The album is a pretty good document of what Not Squares is at this moment in time. There are traces of the different stages of our evolution - Yeah is a song we played at our
first gig, albeit adapted to our current setup. 53 is exemplary of where the band was when we lost Rachel (our fourth side). There are also songs on there that we wrote or adapted at the point when Vinny was producing the record i.e. at the point when we should have been leaving well alone!
Yet, we have put a lot of thought into the ebb and flow of the songs and are happy that it sits together as an album. There is a logic to it, if you spend enough time with it.
Outside of music what turns you guys on?
We are always busy doing something - designing and building houses, writing theses about Jorge Luis Borges, taking part in art exhibitions in New York and Tokyo, DJing, remixing, eating cheesey chips. You know, the usual.
What do you do for fun?
Play, dance, and eat.
And sticking with music - apart from your own stuff, what does it for you? Any secret Mozart tendencies, or Justin Bieber love maybe?
We are all big music fans so this is the question we most like to answer, but also the one we never answer successfully. I am just coming out of a real minimal techno phase but have also been really impressed by all the record that have come out on Richter Collective this year - Adebisi Shank, The Redneck Manifesto, Jogging, Logik Party, Bats. All great bands and good people.
Do you think it makes the slightest damn of difference musically whether you hang out in Belfast or London or New York?
I think what you have access to makes a difference in your musical horizons. If you are surrounded by a group of people willing to try anything and if there are spaces that allow that to happen, then it makes sense that those starting out will have a broader idea of what is possible. Obviously there are always people that buck the trend, or look outwards for inspiration.
What's been the stupidest thing each of you has done in the cause of music?
Sleeping on dusty floors and in freezing cold cars often has the feeling of being a stupid thing to do for music…
Make up a question I haven't asked you and you can answer it if you like?
What is your favorite time of year?
Why Chrimbus of course. The winterman is coming and we are trim and wet. Can't wait to see what we get.
Not Squares- Asylum (David Holmes remix) free download:
Asylum (David Holmes Remix) by Anthonygdli