Ernest Frank 07/05/2007
The Two Year, Four Man, Six Grand Plot!
Infuriatingly catching and won't leave your head. Unlike head lice though, the music of Officer Kicks is a thoroughly enjoyable experience if classic alternative rock is your thing. Music fans are agreeing in droves. GIITTV meets a band on the up;
A few years ago, four young lads met at a south-east London sixth form and discovered a mutual love of music coupled with a distaste for the classroom. Influenced by outfits like Gang of 4, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, The Jam and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. They fused as Officer Kicks in 2005, and keen to make an outstanding album on their own terms set about raising the money themselves.
By 2006 they'd honed their craft internationally live and recorded a dangerously fine debut album; The Six Grand Plot which they describe as “unsafe, muscular and whip like”. It was mixed at the famed Olympic studios and mastered with the legend that is Ray Staff (Led Zeppellin, David Bowie, The Libertines) then they signed a deal with Redemption Records.
Fast forward to now. Jamie (Vocals), Fisher (Guitar), Keith (Drums) and Mike (Bass) have got a completed album up their sleeves and the charisma to stage a musical coup. Though armed with massive rock tunes and a beat that defies standing still, they are not afraid to indulge in a ballad or gorgeous melody.
Great band, but their gigs always clashed with our gigs though, so what to do but kidnap them and put them on ourselves. Hooray, they're gonna come and play the next Pronto Club (29th June) - it promises to be a bit of a special set - keep an eye on http://www.myspace.com/prontoclub - that kicks off a summer single (23rd July) and autumn album (September).
It's fitting that Officer Kicks headline Water Rats Theater, the London springboard for time proven classic guitar pop bands like Oasis, The Bluetones, Supergrass etc. Aside from chats back and forth to set this gig up, excited curiosity incited further investigations, so the band were duly pinned down for interroga.... erm, questioning!
There's a magnetic enthusiasm in the air around Officer Kicks. When you came together at college what were you all studying, (or not studying even!) and were you obsessive at all about the idea of being a band?
“Thats nice of you to say, a question that has “magnetic” in the first sentence is always gonna inspire. We met at school, only Mike went on to do a degree (in geography), we had differing tastes in clothes is all I (Jamie) remember. Mainly we all hung about at my place, I moved out of home at sixteen so the boys used to come round and listen to The Doors and smoke weed.
I don't think we were obsessive about being in bands. Mike and Fisher were in a band together and I used to go see them play, they were good. Keith went around the world on one of them pleasure boats playing drums and getting paid”.
Do you love the live thrill, and has the band become your (hopefully) future career of choice?
“A band that doesn't love the thrill of playing live should give up in my humble. Playing live is the pay off. I think we all hope we can continue to scratch a living at what we love most, so yes we'll hope we can carry on onwards and upwards.”
A lot of bands wait for people to notice, then sign them, so that they can make records. When you raised the money to record the album, what kind of things did you all have to do?
“We've been around a while so we knew some of the pitfalls. I think it's important for any band nowadays to believe in themselves and not necessarily seek approval from the people in the industry (A&R etc) until they really have developed themselves to a certain standard.
Its hard to self assess, but i think its an essential thing to be able to do. We have had dealings with majors and they were by no means unpleasant, it was just that we were big enough and pretty enough to make some of our own decisions. In our case the big one was to make our album ourselves.
We didn't really have bring and buy sales, but we did have to go see pals and ask for loans and ask other pals in the industry to give us free stuff. It wasn't too hard 'cos we were prepared to get a universal “no”. We ended up getting a thumbs up from everyone. I like to think it was a “yes" because we are a good little rock band and that we are nice people.”
. . .There must have been some hard or even dispiriting times though.
“...Always rough with smooth in a band, its a four-way marriage in our case. That, as you might imagine, can be hard...”
...There's some pretty down to earth lyrics - do you get feedback from people relating to the songs?
“People give us feedback on the songs all the time, myspace and live etc. Its great. We always want to write lyrics that talk about a subject and tell a mini story. It's not a new thing to do but it suits our style, some of it is dark but i hope it's tinged with some funny shit as well.”
Short of shagging each other, you all seem pretty close. With the amount of international touring you've already done, do you feel it's something Officer Kicks were born to do together?
“Whenever we have been abroad for gigs we have had the time of our lives, especially the inter band sex. I jest of course. We steer clear of banging each other, you are correct in that assumption. I'm not sure i believe we were born to do it together (the music that is!) but we definitely love making music together and wouldn't change the individual characters for the world.”
When you're not writing songs, rehearsing, gigging or recording do you socialise together, or all have your own interests?
“Mike loves football in general, and is pretty nifty on the pitch himself, Keith and Jay live together and whenever me and Mike go round they're playing grand theft auto or some other game. I like nothing more than to give very long winded answers to well put questions...”
Aah... In which case, finally, how much can you tell about The Six Grand Plot? What inspired it, plus some of the adventures you had during it's creation?
“Thats simple, it's how much it cost us to make, although to be honest that was just getting the thing recorded, so its probably more like the 12 grand plot now (!). We were very lucky to record it in a place where lots of big influences had worked, we stayed there and the feel of the place was inspirational. To be honest most of the adventures we had are on the album in musical form, i know it might sound pouncy but its true. Obviously we drank loads, I shut my hand in a door and fainted and Jamie fell off the big trampoline they have in the garden. Apart from that it was hard work but fun.”
Hopefully this whole year is going to be even busier and even more fun for Officer Kicks. They're off to a flying start (trampoline puns aside..). There's a growing buzz among audiences and their peers alike.
Danny from Embrace recently invited them to play at London's coolest venue, Proud in Camden. to great reactions. They triumphed again in Manchester a week or so later when Mani invited them to play live on his Revolution Radio show. The station, dedicated to Manchester legends, has been giving them regular play.
Fans are lining up to help spread the word about them and media reactions are already doing that with some astounding feedback and reviews.
They've not lost the plot because of all this though; "We steer well clear of pretentious twattery". Their heads are neither in the clouds or up their collective arse. Before this quartet unleash The Six Grand Plot, you get a chance to catch them up close and very personal... This is what the classic, newer wave of rock is all about.
Officer Kicks photographed by Luke Newman.