James McDonald 24/06/2010
…and you find yourself walking through a complex of apartments called Seahorse Marnia, closely in toe with a cheerful albeit slightly anxious pr representative. On our initial meeting he hurriedly asks me if I actually have anything to record the discourse with. Having assured him I'm fully prepared for interview, he reveals that the 'member of press' occupying the slot immediately before me had come without any recording equipment at all. He was a student at the university of Newcastle, and had apparently spent the 30 minute duration talking mostly about himself. This insight set me up for the environment I was about to enter.
We walk into the chalet designated to the band, passing a broken and de-walled picture in the hallway, to find 6 bodies slumped around a modest living area, all seemingly skeptical and baring the wounds of a heavy night before. One frame immediately asks in an undeviating west coast tone, 'Hey, have you got any weed buddy?'. Once again I find myself reassuring those around me that I'm fully equipped for interview, and take seat next to a man with a pink mullet, before setting about my work.
I've not been to the Minehead site before so it's been a lot to take in…
Murray: 'It's pretty much a labyrinth here. This is our third time in the UK but this weekend's been a strange experience already, even though we were at the Fans Strike Back ATP last time around, we still weren't sure what to expect.'
On the last tour you got to see some new corners of our country as well…
Murray: 'Yeah, we visited Scotland for the first time which was pretty cool, really beautiful place. I don't mind long driving through Scotland at all.'
How receptive did you find the audiences over here?
Murray: 'I'm not really sure - overall I guess people were pretty receptive to our shows but other than that it's kinda hard to gauge. We're just more concentrated on doing our thing and making it the best it can be. I mean, I suppose it's [the reception] been good seeing as we're here for the third time, but I guess maybe our publicist knows more about that…'
Matt [publicist]: 'Sorry, what was that?'
Murray: 'Y'know, just how we're being perceived over here…'
Matt: 'Yeah yeah, it's been good. I mean, I don't know about sales or anything like that but…'
Murray: 'Yeah, it's kinda hard because we released 'Embrace' online for free almost a year before it actually came out on ATP so a lot of people, well, I say a lot, I don't actually know how much a lot is (!), but the record was kind of out there floating around for a while. We hadn't had like a proper schedule, so we'll see when this next record comes out I guess.'
You've already finished recording it?
Murray: 'Yeah, it's all done and mastered. It'll be around next year, May I guess, and that'll be through ATP. We're happy with how it's sounding already so it's exciting but we've gotta wait a while.'
You say you're happy with it, once you've listened back is there anything in particular you're glad that you've documented?
Ed: 'At one point Bijan goes 'rrreeeeuuugggh' [mimics regurgitating]'
Ed: 'But it's kinda hard to hear, you've gotta listen out for it.'
Bijan: 'Also some mechanical laughter. We captured hurt pretty well (!)'
Murray: 'I dunno, it's kinda a logical progression from 'Embrace' I think. I think the songs are a little more solid in structure but they still have, you know, the kind of schizophrenic changes. We all composed them together so it's kind of like a journey on record. I had a lot of fun recording it - we're probably gonna call it 'Super High' (!)'
….because you were all super high when you recorded it….
Murray: [dead pan] 'No, not at all, completely sober.'
Murray: 'No, every time [recording] it's a great experience, especially for me, I learn a lot.'
Bijan:' I'm gonna get permanently damaged by that pink smoke [from the flare, see above] !'
John: 'You should ask this guy for like, money or something.'
Ed: '[mock English accent] Yeah, gimme five pounds!'
John: 'Haha! [mock English accent] Yeah, gimme five quid!'
All I heard during the shoot was Matt saying 'You'd better not hurt my boys, if you hurt my boys…'
Matt: 'I was saying it ironically! I don't refer to you as 'my boys'!'
Ed: 'Yeah right!'
Murray: 'It's alright if you do…'
Yeah, I hope you're alright to play tomorrow - if you fuck up then it's on my head…
Murray: 'Yeah totally…'
Ed: 'Actually, I want more than five pounds now!'
So assuming you are going to die tomorrow, is there anyone you're looking forward to seeing play before you do?
John: 'I'm looking forward to Dirty Three, those guys are good.'
Murray: 'I'm looking forward to seeing Shellac again, last time they blew my mind…'
Ed: 'I honestly think they might be the best live rock 'n' roll band in the world y'know? They're impeccable… it's like, so crazy!'
Murray: 'Who else is playing? Isn't it pretty much every band…'
Pretty much every band ever, yeah.
Murray: 'So if we are gonna die at least we're spoiled for choice.'
That's the thing about ATP, they really know their shit. Obviously I've never worked with them as an artist, but I can imagine they're good people to work with. The right kind of ethic…
Murray: 'Oh yeah, for sure.'
You must have been pretty stoked [n.b. first time I've used the word 'stoked'] when they asked you to play the 10 year celebrations?
Murray: 'Yeah yeah, I mean, this is as good as it gets. It's all downhill from here!'
It's just a shame it has to end. Are you all going back home after this weekend then?
Ed: 'We've got a few more shows. We're playing in the Netherlands and Belgium so we'll ride it out a bit longer.'
Murray: 'In a way I prefer festivals like this to, say, Glastonbury or Electric Picnic. It's a more manageable scale plus the schedule's really weird - like, you have Dirty Three playing like midday y'know? It's not the classic, smaller bands on earlier and then building up to the 'bigger' bands, here there's always something on that you wanna see and be a part of.'
Well, I'm looking forward to your set tomorrow, and I guess that's a good note to end on as I know you wanna get out and see some bands. Thank-you for giving me the time, it's really appreciated.
Murray: 'No problem man, it was nice talking to you.'
The aforementioned album, titled 'Fever', is available now through ATP Recordings. The band have also recently collaborated with British electronica spouse UNKLE on the track 'Follow Me Down' which appears on his new album 'Where Did The Night Fall?'. Sleepy Sun are due to play three UK dates in August as part of their mammoth American and European tour, more information can be found on their myspace.
Photo credited to http://mikaelgregorsky.com/