James McDonald 21/02/2008
Tonight Tired Irie are down to play at Barden's Boudoir in that trendiest-of-tredies, Daslton, with Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies and other assembled 'new talent'. After sound-check, we emerge from the venue and immediately make way to the nearest bar, which, on Stoke Newingto High Street happens to be 23. Drinks ordered, (the band unanimously opting for Kronenberg), we crowd around a small table, awkwardly placed in the corridor between the main bar and the toilets. This has two disadvantages; Si has to politely get up and move his chair whenever anyone wants use the toilet, and secondly, we're sat right by the two rowdy arsenal fans no one in the bar wanted to be near. Despite showing signs of fatigue after traveling down from Leicester that day, and the other aforementioned hinderances, the band all wear smiles and are keen to get going.
'We've hardly done any interviews before,' admits Ian, 'and now this is our second in a few hours!'
GIITTV: That must be a sign of how quickly you're moving forward, I guess you'll all be in rehab by sunday...
Mark: [smiles] 'Possibly earlier...'
I tell the lads I'll do my best to make the interview run smoothly, seeing as I've competition. No sooner is this said, Simon has to get up to let one of the Arsenal fans through to the toilet.
Mark: 'I wouldn't worry, I think the last lot were French!?'
Si: 'We couldn't really understand most of what was going on, but she [the interviewer] seemed happy, so I guess we'll wait and see how that pans out.'
I suppose a good way to start, as we're still in the early stages of 2008, would be your thoughts on last year.
Si: 'Last year was a good one for us, we're very pleased with what we've achieved. The EP [released on Try Harder] was received really well, as were the live shows.' Irie recently completed a few dates on 65daysofstatic's latest mammoth excursion out of the studio and onto the stage. 'A lot of people came up to us after the shows and showed real interest in what we are doing, which was really nice to experience. It was a great opportunity to take our music to a wider audience.'
How did you adapt to playing venues of that size, compared to say, tonight's?
Si: 'We just jumped in head first, and gave it our all, I guess that's all you can do.'
Mark: 'The crowds we were playing to were generally there to see 65days, whose music varies a lot from ours. Although we were aware of this, we just did what we could to make the most of the opportunity of playing in front of a large audience, and put on a good live show.'
Apart from the Southampton date, that is!
Ian: 'I knew you were going to say that!'
Si: 'In all honesty, the sound team they got in all seemed to be on work experience. I felt a little sorry for them, they were well out of their depth. We just got on with it, and had a bit of a dance!'
I was going to say, regardless of the sound, the thing that stood out of that show were Simon's gyrating hips, you could have an eye out with those!
Si: 'Why thank-you! it's just natural, but usually it's mark who pulls the shapes onstage.'
Anything special planned for tonight?
Mark: 'I'm working on a few things, it's largely in the neck though! We've been in the van for most of the day, so I'll probably stretch my legs a bit on stage.'
How was the trip down?
Si: 'We were all pretty high to be fair, so it wasn't too bad. We're getting used to the journey, wherever we seem to go is always around 2 hours out of Leicester.'
Mark: "We've got this old post van that used to belong to an emo band from Trinidad, and it's pretty comfortable."
Aside from carting you around the country, how much of a help has Paul been since he stepped in?
Si: 'Paul's been instrumental in our progress. Before we teamed up with him, we had all these ideas with where to go with the band and what to do, but Paul helped regiment us a little. Soon it became, 'We're doing this show here and recording this ep here', as opposed to wanting to play and record, but not knowing how.'
Ian: 'Not literally! We DO know how to play and record...'
Mark: 'That's debatable!'
Si: 'No, not literally. I mean, not knowing how to go about it. It's a huge weight off our back not having to book everything, it's given us a lot more freedom to do what we do.'
Mark:'We finished Uni last year as well, so now we're able to focus solely on the band. The timing's been perfect for us.'
Aside from a role as the band's 'manager/sound engineer', Paul gave the boys full use of his family studio, Wong studios, in Leicester, a sanctuary where Youthmovies recently recorded their debut LP, 'Good Nature'.
'We've spent a lot of time in that studio recently' admits Ian.
How was it? Did everything run smoothly or were you at each other's throats the whole time?
Ian: 'It was very civilized'
Si: 'Yeah, there weren't any problems, we always get on really well in the studio. We're always straining to get the tracks sounding their best before release, so occasionally there's some stress when things don't work out how we'd like them, but it's nothing major.'
Mark: 'It's only because we care!'
Despite it's release in October, work has already begun on the follow-up to last years S/T EP. 'We've been recording another EP, three tracks this time. We're just trying to decide on which track should be the A-side, there's two main contenders really'
That must be a nice position to be in, having to choose between two strong songs for an A-side.
Ian:'I suppose it is, but it's been doing our heads in!'
This'll be the third release on Try Harder since 'like.gentle.men' in 2005, how have you found their help over the years?
Mark: 'Try Harder's is a brilliant label to be working with. They're a really tight-knit group, and they all share a huge passion for the music they're putting out.'
Si: 'Yeah, and the work hasn't gone unnoticed. Since the success of bands like Blood Red Shoes and Foals, a lot of the bigger labels are looking to Try Harder for the next big thing.'
Si: 'Possibly, but like we say, we're happy where we are right now, and we're looking forward to the next release.'
Two new tracks from said release were included in tonight's set, along with the band's interpretation of The Creatures song, 'Mad Eyed Screamer'. 'It just came about by chance really' tells Simon- 'We played it a few times in soundchecks and rehearsals, and consequently it became part of our set!' Despite it's infancy in live performance, the cover is one which has stood out when performed.
One thing that immediately strikes me about your sound, especially live, is the depth you get from using the synth for the bass, as opposed to a live bass.
Si: 'When we first started out we had a bass player, but I agree the sound we have now is very big, with all respect, probably moreso than if we'd got in another bass player...'
What made you decide not to?
Mark: 'It just happened naturally really.'
Si: 'We were thinking about using the synth more in the band at that time anyway, so it just kind of happened.'
Terra Firma, from your first EP, was also the title for one of the recent Young Knives singles. In your humble and unbiased opinion, whose was better?
Ian: [thinks briefly] 'Well yeah, definitely ours. It's just a better song!'
Were you annoyed by the release, given they've got a bigger platform to send it from? [Simon deliberately skipped an introduction to Terra Firma on a recent London date, in seeming protest]
Mark: 'It doesn't really bother us, it's just one of those things really. I was riding around on my bike the other day, and saw a poster for their new single.'
That's not very rock and roll!
Mark: [laughs] 'No, but I was listening to my mp3 player at the time, so there was an added element of danger!'
Si: 'Like we say, in our humble and unbiased opinion, our version's better so they can have the title!'
As drinks rolled on, with Irie seemingly oblivious to the fact they were due on stage in a few minutes, the inevitable topic of Amy Winehouse came onto the table. The band couldn't look more disgusted with current situation.
Mark:'There are paparazzi literally going through her bins to get a scoop, it's ridiculous. I wouldn't like that level of 'fame', it's too much.'
What would the band leave in their rubbish bins for over-enthused paps to chew on?
Mark: 'The singer from The Wombats, tied up and garnished with oregano. I think that'd do the trick.'
Tired Irie plan to release their as-yet-untitled EP through Try Harder in the coming months. You can hear one of the tracks, plus an exclusive remix by Dan le Sac on their myspace page now....
The "ace" Tired Irie illustration is by Hannah Meese