The Indelicates - Interview.
Bill Cummings 24/08/2006
The Indelicates must get bored of every article written about them starting with a mention of Julia's former band so I won't (we all know who they are already). This is an interview with Brighton five-piece the Indelicates so let's focus upon them shall we. The Indlicates are like no other band around right now, their biography says they sound like “Stadium Hate rock” but listen closely to their piano led male/female vocalising and its frankly more redolent of the witty social commentary of Black Box Recorder, the folksy heart on the sleeve passion of Billy Bragg, or the vocal sparring that existed between The Pogues and Kirsty McColl. All of these inflect the Indelicates gloriously bittersweet narratives upon their lives, and the music industry.
Off the back of their superb recent single “We Hate The Kids” (out on Sad Gnome Records). We caught up with Simon (singer and Guitarist) and Julia (singer, piano) for a chat about their history as a band, and their music:
GIITTV: How did you meet?
SIMON: Julia and I met at a poetry slam six years ago when I went up to her and explained that the poetry based revolution I was starting with my friend probably wouldn't work unless we had more girls.
GIITTV: What inspired you to "form a band"?
SIMON: The failure of said poetry based revolution.
GIITTV:Were did the name the Indelicates come from?
SIMON: I like the word because it sounds like exactly what it isn't. Like most privatives, it contains the thing it describes an absence of - thus indicating its presence as a defining concept, even while signifying its opposite. Plus, it sounds kinda cool.
JULIA: From Simon
GIITTV: What artists/writers/bands influence you?
JULIA: I like The Divine Comedy, German Expressionism, Imagist Poetry, The Shangri-las, lots of classical music, Mugglecast and Alan Moore
SIMON: Carter USM growing up, Luke Haines growing bitter and all manner of others along the way. Writer-wise I like Swift, Milton, Pound, lots of old poetry from the sixteenth century and Joss Whedon who did Buffy - especially the musical episode, which is amazing. I'm not very good at art. I like the ideas behind Martin Creed and I like a lot of Art Brut (the curatorial movement, not the band - though I like them too).
GIITTV: In your press release you describe the Indelicates sound as being akin to "Stadium hate rock" what do you mean by that?
SIMON: Well, most of our songs are about stuff we hate, and when you put a guitar in my hand and have Julia play the piano - we can't resist sounding a bit like a Stadium Rock band. Jason out of Clearlake said we sounded like Queen fronted by two Morrisseys - I think that's the sort of thing we were getting at there.
GIITTV: There seem to be a lot of musical influences that make up your sound from folk, to indie, musical, and classical, how intention is this or is that just your influences coming out in musical form?
SIMON: Intentional to the extent that we don't just get high, dance on the beach for an hour then record the first wailings that we can muster into a Dictaphone (and I know people who do...), naturally, there's an element of consciousness. I've listened to a lot of folk in recent years and indie all my life, plus I love musicals like a gay man and wrote a modestly successful one a few years back (coming to London Dec 2006!) - so that's all there with me. Julia likes classical music in the way I wish I did - she understands it and genuinely enjoys it - and she's got a half-Austrian's love for cabaret - so a lot of that comes in too.
GIITTV: I read someone refer to “The Indelicates manifesto”, do you have one? And if so where can we get a copy?
SIMON: Oh, manifestos are a bit second-year undergraduate aren't they? I've written lots in the past and have very rarely made manifest anything on them. I think songs we've written are clear enough without needing to be puffed up with fake shock statements into something they clearly aren't.
GIITTV: Your latest single "We Hate The Kids" puts the boot into scenesters and the pop music scene as a whole, what motivates you to write a song like that?
SIMON: I see it more as a song of hope than despair. I think, though, that when you've reached the stage we have now in pop - where credible music is produced in an identical way to commercial music and where, more specifically, the attitude of credible musicians is the same as that of commercial acts: that cloying, oppressive 'hey-thanks-to-the-fans, we could never produce such works of genius without your loyalty and cash' bullshit - it's time to move on, to kill it. A lot of people think the songs about the industry - it's not. The industry is just an industry like any other, dependent for its existence on those that buy its products. If there's a problem, it lies with the kids - gullible enough and incurious enough to keep falling for it, generation after generation, despite all the eloquent and accessible critiques that have been written -"Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who being the most obvious example. Of course, there isn't necessarily a problem at all - if the kids a re happy with it, it's none of my business to ruin it for them. It's just that we're not happy with it, so we hate them. *grins*
GIITTV: Do you feel slightly apart from what's going on in the "London music scene"?
SIMON: Well it takes us an hour and a half to get to it, so yes, a bit. I don't think London creates much; it just hosts creativity from elsewhere while charging as much as it can in the process. We think it's important to play elsewhere as much as possible.
JULIA: There's something exciting about playing in the north that's missing in London - people are less forgiving on the basis of reputation, for one thing, and bands we've played with have an urgency and hunger that's not so much required of privileged southerners like us...
GIITTV: I read that Keith TOTP produced the single, what did he add to the mix?
SIMON: Specifically, the two handclaps in the second verse and the audible cough near the beginning. Generally, its existence: we owe a lot to Keith. We owe a fair bit to Les Carter (who co-produced and mastered it) as well.
GIITTV: "Waiting for Pete Doherty to die" seemed to cause both controversy and misunderstanding; does it perplex you when people don't grasp the irony and the sentiment behind the song?
SIMON: No it doesn't perplex me. One thing I came to terms with a while ago is that the delicate sequence of internal rhymes you strang artfully throughout your modified petrarchan sonnet will only be noticed by you and that, hookline aside, hardly anyone listens to the words. I'll just say again: I don't want Pete Doherty to die; I quite like his songs; I think what's been done to him as part of a commercial enterprise is cruel and ugly and significant enough to warrant public comment.
GIITTV: I read somewhere that you're very big Art Brut fans does the line in "We hate the kids" ("Anyone can play fucking guitar") purposely mirrors the sentiment behind Art Brut's Formed a band (“And yes, this is my singing voice. It's not irony, it's not rock'n'roll. We're just talking... to the kids!")?
SIMON: I think it is a very similar sentiment, yes, and I think Art Brut are very, very good. It annoys me that foreigners seem better able to spot that than we are.
GIITTV: There seems to be a kind of bitter sweet irony to alot of the lyrics, are they inspired by your own experiences or mainly constructed to make wider points? "New art for the people" in particular seems to be partly personal, whilst again touching upon the music scene?
SIMON: In sentiment, yes, but not in specifics. The story in New Art isn't mine and Julia's. “Julia, We Don't Live In The 60s” is a lot more personal - and, incidentally, isn't at all about any other bands she might have been in.
JULIA: Burn All The Photographs is probably my most personal song, about having power over people that you don't want - and Sixteen expresses something that we've both felt - living in Brighton and knowing the people that we do.
GIITTV: Linked to that, how does the song writing process work within the Indelicates? There seems to be a definite narrative with a lot of your songs, do you write the words before hand and then add the music, or is it a mixture?
JULIA: A mixture. I tend to sit at the piano for hours until I play a melody I like, then fit words around it before making it into a whole song
SIMON: For me, a mixture. I generally write the words and melody at the same time for the first verse/chorus then, once I've got the form, finish the lyrics. Often Julia will come up with a melody and some hooks which I'll then work with her to flesh out.
GIITTV: What do you think having male/ female lead vocalists adds to your sound? It's quite unusual these days?
SIMON: It's a very flexible arrangement. It means we can each do backing singing for the other when it's called for. We can double up and harmonize; and we can do the more specifically duet-y ones traditionally. I think it gives us a broader array of possibilities.
JULIA: It's fairly unusual, I suppose, The Fucks do it well, though.
GIITTV: What can people expect from The Indelicates live show? Do you play any covers?
SIMON: We've yet to play a cover (Aside from a brief burst of 'Breed' by Nirvana as a joke once) but we have got some planned for some of our upcoming shows. We're a lot louder than we are on record. I think some people are occasionally surprised by quite how much screaming and rocking out goes on...
JULIA: Yes, it's a lot livelier that it sounds on record, on the whole.
GIITTV: Julia I read on your forum, that you're quite a keen photographer what kind of things do you like to photograph?
JULIA: In the main, I'm a documentary photographer. At the moment I'm photographing at fan conventions (Harry Potter, Buffy, Anime etc), I had an exhibition last December called Other People's Children, which did exactly what it said on the flier. If anyone's interested they can look at my photo log http://www.jclphotoblog.blogspot.com I also Photograph bands, performers, actors and so forth, but that's largely for money.
A couple of "fan" questions:
Why Vladamir? It doesn't seem to fit with any of the rest of the set, may be I'm missing something.
JULIA: You're right, it doesn't. Damn.
Does Julia think its funny that the Puppini Sisters are more successful than the equivalent indie bands?
JULIA: I have no idea *what* you could be referring to.
GIITTV: What are your future plans?
SIMON: Stadiums, mainly. And one day to release my solo album: 'Simon On The Mount'
JULIA: The same, only my album will be called 'Pretty In Think'.
Many thanks for answering these questions, you lovely people.
The Indelicates play a GIITTV zine show in aid of Battersea dogs home at the Blow Up Metro on Saturday the 2nd Of September. They are backed ably by the Bridge Gang, The Screaming Ballerinas, and The Video Club.