Alisha Ahmed 05/11/2009
EXLOVERS IV 22.10.09 - BORDERLINE - LONDON
Exlovers are a lovely indie-pop band from London. Their new EP You Forget So Easily has drawn the attention of radio stations (NME) and taste-makers such as Steve Lamacq, and ourselves at GIITTV. Their melodic sound and shy appearance draws us in to try and see from a closer perspective what these five kids are all about...
So tell me, are the record labels crazy? Because I'm shocked that you're still unsigned!?
Yeah I guess so... (laughs) crazy labels!
No, I'm serious. I was talking to this friend of mine about you and I went: "honestly, someone sign them, or I will open my own label and sign them myself!" So, really? That's so weird. How did you exactly get together? How long have you been together?
We've been together for about a year and a half now, we just got together to make a band really, we got to meet each other through friends of friends, stuff like that, and we got together to make a band. I already had quite a few songs (Peter) and I didn't want to play them on my own, and after a couple of rehearsals we got together so... that's how it happened really.
How many of those days together were days when you were playing gigs together, during this year and a half?
(Laughs) a lot! We started tour about 3 weeks after we got together as a band, so we had about 3 weeks of rehearsal and went on our first tour, which was some baptism of fire -I've said it too many times now, I got to stop saying that- (Laurel) but it was! (Laughs) I think it's been 200 so far...
Woah, you've kept yourselves busy, guys..
Yeah... busy and broke!
Which brings us onto another question: how does a band like you manage it at the moment? What is the most challenging thing about doing it all DIY and totally independent, unsigned and everything?
Uhm.... finding places to live, that kind of stuff really, we always managed to do somehow band work one way or another but we have to sacrifice things like... a bath or roast dinner (laughs)
Laurel: I work, me and Danny work and it's quite hard to balance with the band because it has to be a job that you can leave in a minute's notice because the band's more important, so juggling it's a bit hard, but we have permanent residences and, food (laughs) but it's quite hard to juggle.
So far you're in it completely for the art side, which is really, really admirable... but how much fun did you have in France? (note: They supported Peter Bjorn and John and Local Natives in their French leg of the tour in October 2009)
A lot! It was amazing! Absolutely amazing! They look after you over there, so well! Like... they feed you and give a warm room and a settee... doesn't sound like much but it's a lot when you're on tour!
Four days it was, it was really good, and every gig was pretty busy, and French crowds are really lovely, they were really nice to us, and the bands were nice to us as well, we got along pretty well with peter Bjorn and John and Local Natives.... they are really good, really nice guys, we played one show with them and the rest with peter Bjorn and John, and they were lllovely.
Talking about other bands, you seem to be well connected in the London underground music scene, Emmy the Great, Golden Silvers; I was wondering, does this connection ever become a creative/artistic one as well?
I guess in certain ways, because we still see most of these people which we originally met through touring with them and then became friends with them, and then after the tour finished we still see quite a lot of them, so yeah, I guess, as you do with all your friends really, you show them your work to sort of see their opinion... I mean, not massively, it's not at the point where we collaborate or anything like that...
Are you (Peter) the main songwriter, are you just writing by yourself or do you share writing duties?
Peter: Yeah, I often start the song and then we basically turn it into what it is through rehearsing, and we put things into the song and then it kind of grows into the next level of song writing instead of me just playing it on an acoustic guitar... and music change in a band, cause before I was writing just on my own and the result was really different.
How much do external things influence your music? I am particularly thinking about the "You Forget So Easily EP" that was produced by Stephen Street...
[Working with him] was wicked! It was really good! He actually approached us, we played in a couple of gigs with Peter Doherty, and he was playing guitar for him on that tour, and the he came up to us after the gig and yeah, got in touch with us, got our email addresses and then it kinda happened from there. So that was really nice, and working with him was great cause he's really, really professional, so it kinda makes you work harder, I think, he's not really strict or anything like that, but he's really professional and he kinda keeps you on board. Instead of getting away, trying other things and then everything start to slightly go off... in tangents, but yeah, he was really good, he kept us on our toes, it was fun.
Do you think he brought something specific to your sound?
Well he was constantly offering sort of... alternatives to what we had done, and we tried them, and often what he suggested, just little things in the songs, just things that kinda made sense in the end when we tried and they seemed to work really well. That was really cool, having someone to give a kind of neutral, different perspective on something that we were already finding ourselves too familiar with, by the time we go to the studio we know the songs so well we kinda get locked into how we want them to be and then if someone else come and listen to them fresh they can see other things you wouldn't necessarily see, and he was really good at that.
You had a VIP producer and you also seem to have some VIP fans from what I've heard...
Well yeah, Steve Lamacq, the people at NME radio... and you seem to much cooler than I expected...
(laughs) What did you think we would be like?
Well I don't want to say low profile, because it would seem like you're overdoing it now, which is not, but it seems like you are a little bit less introvert than you give the idea to be. I mean before today, I barely knew how you looked, for example, 'cause there seems to be no pictures of you out there, it's all just about the music, even the covers of your EPs - it's pictures unrelated to you, which is unusual. New bands usually want to get their faces out there, to be seen, but it was the opposite thing with you, and I think we had to wait for the [You Forget So Easily] video to sort of see you... so, what about the cover of your latest EP?
As far as our band photos go I think none of us really enjoys particularly that kind of thing that's probably why we don't have thousands of pictures, posing for the camera, because, I for one (Peter) don't really like that kind of thing, I know that you have to get used to that kind of thing but we sort of kept the photos down to a minimum, we're really just done one photo shoot in a year and a half and that was with a friend so...(Lauren) but the cover of the EP was just a friend of mine... and I just really like the picture, at the time, while we were recording, I saw the picture and I just kinda felt hooked to that cause... it's a great picture!
The thing about not being really fond of pictures links to one of the very few quotes I found about you - when asked 'why would people go to the top of a skyscraper just to look down on the ground again with binoculars?', you said something like 'So they can't see you looking at them', and I thought that was such a curious thing to hear from a band, because when you're a musician it usually goes the other way around so you are looked at by people you don't know and you don't see. How do you deal with that?
I don't know how much we've had to experience that yet, we're not really that big..
Give it time...
Yeah I don't think we're really that popular to be honest, not big enough to have to worry about that... it's nice to think that people that we don't know somewhere they got an EP, they listen to, they listen to our music, that's really nice, that's brilliant! So it's.... people... they never get to know you until they meet you so it's not really... it does not feel like an invasion...I think we'll be alright. I don't think any of us are particularly narcissistic, we're not in a band for the band's photos, and for people to know who we are necessarily, we're in it more because we still enjoy making music...
The only thing you did really image-wise is the video for You Forget so Easily. Is that your first video? How was the whole shooting experience? Did you take part in the creative process behind that?
Yeah it's the first one we've ever done, first video, and it was really cool. It was really amazing, basically we got there, we were shooting in one of the people's back garden, and we got there at 10am, and they'd been there since 7am, setting up these amazing different sets in the garden, there were like 4 different ones, and they just put so much work into it I was really impressed of what they put into it, especially considering they were working for pretty much no money... yeah it was all borrowed favours and stuff like that but it was amazing how much kind of professional time they put into it and yeah, we are really really pleased, really happy and thankful for the people who did it, it was really cool...
It turned out great, it's a really lovely video. Okay, one last one and I'll let you go: what comes next?
Uhm... I think after this tour I'd quite like to concentrate on writing, recording... over Christmas, there's a lot of things that we haven't... We need more time to sort out rehearsals right, but we're kind of aiming towards an album I think...
(music from the stage starts)
Okay, I guess they're saying we're finished...