The Victorian English Gentlemens Club
Miss Fliss 11/03/2010
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club recently released 'Bored In Belgium' the third single from critically acclaimed second album, 'Love On An Oil Rig' which came out at the tail end of last year. 'Bored In Belgium' was inspired by a Belgian man's suicide note, where he claimed it was merely 'boredom' that drove him to it.
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club line up has changed in the last few years now containing Louise Mason (bass), Adam Taylor (guitar/vocals), Daniel Lazenby (drums) and Steph Jones (guitar). The band was born when Adam and Louise met at art college in Cardiff. Using their combined interest in art and experimental guitar music, they began writing songs solely influenced by The Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth. Miss Fliss Collier fired some questions to the band, here are the results.
Your last single was called 'Bored in Belgium': which country have you been least bored in on your touring?
America was probably the most intense fun. I saw my first pair of fake boobs, enjoyed the sun and tried to touch the Hollywood sign. But as touring as way of living, I like being in Berlin. There's a lot of gloomy energy and grim frustration. I'd live there if I could ever tear myself from the thriving metropolis of Cardiff.
Do you get inspired by the mundane?
Yes. The band exists for purely for escapism the mundane in all senses. So, yes, it's essential. Adam wrote most of the lyrics for the first album about a vilely dull job. He probably wrote most of them while at the vilely dull job.
What keeps you sane/focussed on tour?
Lake swimming, always. We missed a left turn on the last tour and accidentally drove over the alps for 2 days. Lots of cold lakes for swimming. But I enjoy the lack of focus on tour, not knowing what day it is. It's a very primal activity, touring. Daily survival, no contact with anything outside immediate surroundings. We don't do internet on tour, I really love the isolation, the lack of possessions and luxury.
What's the weirdest place in your wildest dreams that you'd love to play some day?
Done some good ones so far…Museum, hills, churches…. but I'd really like to tour Russia and Croatia. Yesterday I found an enormous hole in the ground in a wood in Cardiff, I'd like to play down that hole, but I'm not sure I'd ever find it again.
Your previous single, Make My Parrot Talk was said to be about rude 'encouragement' - is that true?
Absolutely. Not. It's about a parrot that stopped talking, it just is.
To what extent did/does going to art school influence the band?
It was essential - it gave us time to do it - we'd rehearse everyday at uni, played shows in the bar. Adam was away on tour during his final exhibition. We're self reliant, ego based control freaks - definite parallels with an artist mindset. We see the band as a whole thing, everything is a part of it - art, sleeves, videos, everything. We'd never have the band name on anything that hadn't involved us.
I detect a Reformation-era Fall bassline on the b-side to your new single - was that conscious? Are you Fall fans? If so, what inspires you most about the Fall?
I really try to like other bands as well as the Fall. We re-recorded a bassline to Watching the Burglars on the last day of album recording after realising it was the Falls, not ours. In fact, bass for Amateur Man was vaguely derived from Two Librans, The Venereal Game from Smile, and probably lots of others. The band's definitely influenced on every corner by them. I like their worst records best, I love the fact he releases them. They're of a more a human than a band.
Any bizarre/memorable encounters with your musical heroes during your career?
I met Thurston Moore in America. He had big hands. He probably still does. Last night we played with a band with Young Marbles Giants members, I like them a lot, esp the bass, so it was a treat.
Are you influenced more by bands of today, or from other decades? And do you feel more British or American in your sound and the influences you pull from?
Me, British. Adam, American. Try not to be influenced by much musicwise today. At the moment I'm enjoying Pil, Neu, Swans, Radio 4 and African Bushman recordings.
I hear Louise is a big Sonic Youth fan - what're your favourite albums/songs? What do you think of current Sonic Youth?
Androgynous Mind was my first SY experience, so Experimental Jet Set is always in my heart for that reason. And it's blue. Current SY is a bit of a let down, but that seems to be the case of most bands. I think a lot of bands try and be modern or what they think is modern instead of sticking to what made them good. I saw Lou Reed do VU songs at Glastonbury with a funk bassist and 20 band members, completely missing what they were once about.
Have you met Sonic Youth? What would you say to them if you did?
See above. I'd like to meet Lee Ranaldo though. He probably has much smaller hands. I've been listening to a lot of his spoken word stuff recently.
There have been and are quite a few loud/arty/punky bands based in Cardiff in recent years - can you cite any particular reason for this?
Not nearly enough racket I think. Mclusky / FOTL I guess. Seems like there's more twee than loud going on. But I don't know.