Eve Vesper 23/08/2009
GIITTV's Eve Vesper caught up with emerging UK indie outfit Animal Kingdom who told her about their forthcoming album Signs & Wonders and their dream of meeting Fearne Cotton. Or maybe that's Fern Britton?
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, the guys behind the Animal Kingdom project? How did you meet? How long have you been playing together?
Richard Sauberlich (vocals): We've been playing together for about four years. Geoff (drums) and Mish (bass) used to play in a band together and we met through a mutual friend at Goldsmiths. We started playing and gradually got more and more serious about it - doing shows around London, acoustic at first and then gradually getting louder.
What was the turning point, the band, the song that inspired you enough for you to decide to become musicians yourselves?
Geoff Lea (drums): The muscle man dude with the ponytail who plays 'I Still Believe' in Lost Boys. I looked at him and thought, 'one day… one day...'
Since you are at the beginning of your career, is there some key event that you are really looking forward to happening? And if so why?
Richard: Hamish is very much looking forward to meeting Fearne Cotton. Or it might have been Fern Britton. I will have to get back to you on that.
Can you tell us a bit about the process behind your forthcoming debut album 'Signs & Wonders'?
Richard: We spent about three months out in Seattle with a very tall, bearded, shadowy figure by the name of Mr Phil Ek, fiddling with lots of vintage guitars, amps and mics. Seattle was great. We met a lot of very nice people, and had a lot of fun, as well as working really hard. We came back to London and added a few extra parts in our studio and then mastered it out in New York.
Would you say there's some sort of conceptual fil-rouge, a theme, connecting all the songs on the album?
Geoff: Who's Phil Rouge mate? Are you mucking me about? Is it one of those parcels with feta in it?
You don't even have an album out yet and it looks like there will be a lot of extra songs around ('Ocean', 'World From Above'). What is your criteria for deciding if a song is going to make it onto the album or if it's gonna be a b-side? Is there any song that won't make the album which you really wanted people to hear?
Richard: It was pretty hard choosing which songs to put on the album, and I hope that a lot of people get to hear the tracks that didn't make it on there as well. We spent about five weeks over Christmas in our studio recording the b-sides ourselves and some of them came out really, really well - if there are any Animal Kingdom geeks out there then track them down, they should all be floating about by the end of the album cycle. 'Band Left Town' (which is going to be a hidden track on the album) and the alternate versions of 'Silence Summons You', 'Tin Man' and 'Metropolis" are probably my favourites.
With 'Chalk Stars', how did the idea of the split-artwork come about? And can you tell us a bit about the concept behind the video?
Richard: We're working with a very talented man called Tom Hicks for all our artwork... you'd get a better answer from him on this really. We've just finished the album artwork today - which was created from building a large set and then artworking the final photo - and we're very happy with it. The video he did for 'Chalk Stars' is amazing as well - check it out on our website, www.weareanimalkingdom.com. There's also a few other short films he's created for us there as well
You have toured with Snow Patrol and Silversun Pickups. Was that the first time you embarked on such big tours? What were the biggest differences? Can you share a memory from those tours?
Richard: We played with Band of Horses, Camera Obscura and Vampire Weekend last year but yeah, the O2 shows were pretty special. I remember drifting off playing 'Chalk Stars' at one of them, and forgetting we were in that venue, then I opened my eyes to see 17,000 people watching. That's a pretty amazing experience. Snow Patrol and the Silversun Pickups were both very nice to us and very supportive, and we're very grateful to them for having us along. And thanks to Bryan for helping break Wayne (Yardley, guitar) out the dressing room at the Roundhouse! There's some good footage of that which will surface on YouTube soon, I'm sure!
According to your website, you have been busy performing small, low key, secretive gigs around London, before your official dates in September. How did that idea come about and why?
Richard: We wanted a chance to try out some new material: we're locked away at the moment working hard on the next album, and also to get to play some of the slower, quieter tracks that we don't really put in the sets for club shows. It's been great actually - we haven't played any acoustic shows for a long time, I've always liked doing them - and the new tunes are going down well.
Animal Kingdom release their new single Signs and Wonders on September 13 watch the video below, it's ahead of the debut album of the same name on September 21.