Monday, 28 October 2013

Radical Face - The Family Tree: The Branches

Following the mainstream success of song, Welcome Home, which was featured on the ever so popular Nikon advert, Ben Cooper, aka, Radical Face, has been, for better or worse, thrust into a place of popularity. This often goes two ways, either where Radical Face threatened to go with the albeit frankly underwhelming release of album Ghosts, or to a place where this new found popularity creates enough security for the artist to develop and take chances.

New album, The Family Tree: The Branches is part two (part one, The Roots, was released last year) of a three part conceptional series where Cooper tells the story of a 19th century family whilst only creating using instruments from that era. Arrogant right? Yeah, I thought the same when I researched the album, but actually, the record works because of this with songs so stripped bare, often only featuring guitar and vocals, that they allow Cooper to let the song writing breathe for itself. Stand-out track Reminders is a strong example of this, with vocal harmonies interspersed between a half picked-half strummed guitar melody that is just utterly beautiful. It also contains possibly my favourite lyric of the year so far; 'I wish I had more nice things to say but I was raised not to lie, I'm either honest or I'm an optimist but never at the same time.'

No album is perfect though, and there is a part of me that just says, what's the point? It isn't like The Branches offers anything new to the folk genre, let alone to music. This isn't going to be one of those albums where you are going to look back in ten years time and say 'this album changed my life'. In part this may be due to the conceptual theme. There is no doubt that on an intellectual level the lyrics are great, but emotively there are only rare moments when you feel a sense of honesty and vulnerability (and it is often these songs that are the stand out moments). If Radical Face could move beyond that on this conceptual set and allow listeners to see their soul, then they could really be onto something because gripes aside, The Branches, at least sonically, is a warm, cuddly hug of an album that envelopes your ears as the world passes you by, and is more than worth of a space in your record collection.

4 / 5

Monday, 23 September 2013

Royal Canoe Interview

Firstly, for those who don't know of you, can you introduce the band?
We're called Royal Canoe. There are 6 of us. We all live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

'Today We're Believers' is your debut album. You've already received great reviews for previous EPs, so did you find the step up between EP's and a full album a daunting prospect?
We recorded the EP at the same time as the full-length, so we didn't have to endure that second-guessing  phase.. We're preparing to start work on the next full-length record (seems kind of weird because Today We're Believers is just coming out) in between our touring schedule, but more than anything I'm excited to get back to work on creating new material.  I guess there is a part of me that is curious about how successful the transition will be into whatever new place we end up taking our music considering how long we had to work on this last record and how different the schedule will be for the next one. But I'm more anxious than afraid.

Musically, you have been coined as experimental pop. Would you agree with this tag, and what bands or artists would you say influence Royal Canoe?
I don't mind experimental pop..  Although someone recently wrote that there was a "country-tinge" to our music, which I thought was interesting.  It goes to show that everyone hears things in their own way.  We listen to a lot of Hip hop in the van (Outkast, dr.dre, MF Doom), which really works its way into our rhythmic sensibilities.  As far as bands go, we draw from artists like Dirty Projectors, Tune Yards, The Knife.

With the exception of a small handful of tracks on the album, I would say that you aren't guitar focused. Many bands create first and foremost through a guitar melody. How did you approach song-writing on the album?
It might be because there were so many keyboards at our disposal or just where we were at musically when we recorded this album, but we were not that interested in letting guitar chords running the show. As you said, so often the guitar provides all of the harmonic context for a song, almost to the point for us where we have a hard time buying into a song if it's super "strummy." That being said, the guitar is an important aspect to our sound, but the challenge for us is to try to get something fresh out of it as opposed to just wanking or chording.  I've toyed around with the idea of going all-guitar on the next album just to fuck with people.  I think it would be pretty funny. 6 guitars, no drums, minimal vocals.  Hits all day.

Lyrically  the album is often bordering on the obscure. The lead single 'Bathtubs' alone has the lyric, 'the bathtubs in the hallway, are here to stay'. Firstly, what inspires you lyrically, and secondly, would you say you write to serve the purpose of the melody, or to create meaning?
At the very beginning of the song writing process the words are driven by the melody, but they often take over and can drive the song into strange places.  All of the words on the record have a very personal connection to us.  If the lyrical aspects of a song don't resonate for us on an emotional level it would make it very difficult to pinpoint its identity. The song,"Bathtubs," you mentioned is about our practice space where we wrote all of the songs and recorded large chunks of the album. At one point years ago each room in the building used to have a small bathroom with these beautiful claw-foot tubs. The gentleman who owns the building now, pulled the tubs out of the rooms and placed them in the narrow hallway when he was converting the building into studio spaces...that's where they stayed for years. I believe he had the intention of refurbishing them and trying to sell them, but it never happened. They just became these obstacles we always had to avoid every time we wanted to be creative.  It seemed like a good metaphor for our own struggle to try to make this whole being-in-a-band thing happen.

'Today We're Believers' seems to me to move between many genre's from indie and pop to funk, and as you mentioned before, rhythmically there is definitely a hip-hop influence. Do you feel that the bands environment and being from Winnipeg has had an influence on your sound?
I think being from Winnipeg has had a big influence on our lyrics and perhaps the giant spectrum of weather, the extreme hot and cold through out the year, might have an impact on the sorts of songs we write during those seasons. I don't think that we're necessarily a band that sounds like Winnipeg though, or at least historically the music that has come out of Winnipeg.

I am often hearing that modern music isn't as creative or challenging as previous eras. As a relatively new band, how do you view the quality of modern music, and how do you feel music listeners will discuss 'Today We're Believers' in say, ten years time?
I think its more that music is just more polarized than its ever been. Right now in modern music you have the just unforgivable shit on the mainstream radio, but then also an incredible thriving experimental scene that, with the help of the internet, has perhaps just as big an audience. There is just very little of worth in-between, which I guess is why a "cross-over" hit is so rare. So I think the quality of modern music is can be very high, but also lately has been increasingly short sighted in its scope. A lot of bands popping up that seek to have a niche following by doing something new, but mine such a small musical "territory" that they rise and fall with a niche genre's fleeting popularity. They sort of get downloaded for lunch and we all move on.  In response to the last question I really hope people are still discussing Today We're Believer's in 10 years time, that would be incredible. I hope it doesn't feel too dated. There is this song by Beck, "Get Real Paid", that perpetually sounds like it was written 20 years in the future… I'm not sure our record is quite there yet, but that's sort of our goal.

You will be touring the UK in November in support of the new album. Can you tell us when and where you will be playing?
Yeah just check the and its got all the dates there

Would you say there is a difference in playing in the UK in comparison with other places, and as a band, do you prefer playing live, or recording?
I wouldn't say this is specific to the UK but we've found that audiences across the pond tend to be more open to live music. There is perhaps less DJ culture and people are more into to checking out a live band in their evenings. I've always thought of myself more as a recording artist than a performer although we've heard from many people that our live show is what sold them on us, but I'd still say I prefer recording.

The album, alongside lead single 'Bathtubs', is out in the UK on the 23rd of September. Beyond releasing and touring the album, do you have any idea about future plans for the band?
I think we're all trying to make a career of this so we plan to just keep going, release and tour this album, record another, and do it again. It's something we really enjoy and at this point we don't really know what else we would do.

Royal Canoe's debut album, 'Today We're Believers' is out now. You can see the bands tour dates by visiting their website,

Royal Canoe - Today We're Believers

'Today We're Believers', the debut album from Winnipeg's Royal Canoe ticks all the modern indie boxes. Quirky, deceptively minimalist, summery dream pop indie with anthemic vocal melodies that despite their infectious nature, don't lyrically seem to mean a god damn thing. Songs such as previous single, 'Hold on to the Metal', as well as upcoming single 'Bathtubs' show why the band might be such a success in the UK as we move ever further away from summer. With tight sunny guitar licks and well thought out repeated choruses, you can see why the band have already been tagged as Temper Trap-like, and despite an often experimental and complex approach to song composition along with an almost hip-hop approach to percussion, Royal Canoe like Temper Trap have that knack of being deliciously pop.

It's on songs like 'Exodus of the Year' and 'Show Me Your Eyes' where the band show their strengths though. 'Exodus of the Year' is a no showboating beauty of a song that doesn't need to rely on being quirky to be brilliant, and for the first time shows a sensitive contemplative side which is inclusive of brass and string sections. If Sigur Ros were to write a mainstream song, 'Exodus of the Year' would be it, which as a massive Sigur Ros fan, is huge praise indeed. On the other hand, 'Show Me Your Eyes' is a fun, uptempo dance floor filler of a track that with its various entwining rhythms almost begs you to jig along to it. If this track doesn't get remixed and put in clubs I will be very surprised.

It isn't all good news for Royal Canoe though, and five or six fantastic songs aside, there are at least three tracks on the album that are quite simply put, very average. I often wonder why bands feel they have to have albums with thirteen plus songs when they only have ten good tracks. It is to the detriment of 'Today We're Believers' that the average songs seem to be wedged in between the great ones, but on the strength of seventy percent of the album I think this should be forgiven. After all, 'Today We're Believers' is a debut album, and it is a fantastic stab at a tired NME styled fanfare that already seems to be slowing down with bands like Temper Trap and Yeasayer releasing poor follow ups to fantastic albums (with Alt-J sure to be next on that list).

So if you want your summer continue despite rain pummeling your windows, or you want something that is easy on the ear but still challenging in its own right, then 'Today We're Believers' is definitely for you.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Night Verses - Lift Your Existence

You release a free to download debut EP which is rated the best thing since sliced bread by those who can't afford their own knives. You go on successful tours with fan favourite bands such as letlive. What's next? Split up? Disappear? Or release an underwhelming debut album?

On first listen to Night Verses debut album Lift Your Existence, I almost wished that they had split up or just disappeared. Although previously I was a big fan of the band, through its progressive experimental sound it almost came across as contrived and at fifteen tracks it felt as if it needed about three tracks shaved from it (I may be the only music fan ever who wants less songs on an album). However, after giving Lift Your Existence a bit of time, I am sheepishly going to admit that I was wrong.

Tracks like opener, 'Introducing...The Rot Under The Sun' and its follow up, 'Rage' sound like the band have squeezed all of the aggression from an anger management class and somehow molded it into The Incredible Hulk of anthemic music. My personal favourite from the album, 'Antidepressants', is what I imagine it would sound like if you set up a factory full of kittens and tested on them. Its abrasive screaming and ear curdling high pitched guitar noise is only comforted by Night Verses penchant to claw it all back into a melodic chorus (much like Deftones achieved on their recent Koi No Yokan album).

Lift Your Existence nods its cap to bands like Tool, Deftones, and even more so to the classic rock greats (like Led Zeppelin, etc) but this is perhaps what undermines the band most as I can't figure out what their sound actually is, or where they will go from here. Throughout the album I also found myself wishing the band would play down their abilities and play in the groove, particularly the drummer, who seems to want you to walk away from listening with wood chippings in your ears. It's obvious the band are all fantastic musicians, it seems strange that they feel the need to have to prove it but for those kids who like to film Youtube videos of themselves playing along to songs I'm sure this will be a great bonus.

These few gripes aside, Lift Your Existence is definitely worth your time and whether you are into emo, prog, post-rock, rock, or metal, it has something for you that you won't be disappointed with. It will be interesting to see now where the band go from here.


Monday, 17 June 2013

Royal Canoe - Extended Play

It's officially summer, which means it's time for girls to wear extremely short shorts and for overly confident guys to walk around topless (not showing off, but because it's too hot right?). Sadly though, the vast depressingly black clouds I can see outside of my window imply that we are more likely to see a typically British summer than anything remotely resembling a Mediterranean heat wave but worry not, the solution is here, and it isn't an umbrella.

Royal Canoe's latest EP, Extended Play, arrives at just the right time then with the same ethos that made debut albums by Foster The People and Temper Trap so successful. The four tracks on offer here are unashamedly indie pop but with psychedelic tinges that wouldn't have sounded so out of place of Yeasayer's Odd Blood. Imagine a happy Arcade Fire making a love child with Alt-J and Vampire Weekend and you would be somewhere close to describing their sound.

Hold on to the Metal, a song that first caught my attention on 6 Music, is a playful little track which despite being multifaceted between streams of samples, percussion and vocal harmonies maintains a level of careless simplicity allowing a summery guitar hook that I'm sure the Beach Boys wished they had thought of shine through. While other standout track Bathtubs, a six minute affair that feels like it breezes by in seconds, has the type of sound that WILL be featured on an advert in the future (you just know it). It also features the EP's major festival sing-a-long moment; "The bathtubs in the hallway, are here to stay.", I know that sounds peculiar but I challenge anyone to listen to the song and not sing to that lyric.

Sure, Extended Play is an indie pop EP and granted it's going to be lapped up by those super cool kids at NME (I'm not jealous, honest). And yeah I don't really understand what most of the lyrics about either but in a dismal summer where the most talked about releases seem to be Mark Owen and god knows what else, surely pop music like this that takes chances and enthuses us to smile should applauded. And I for one, will be buying their full length album when it is released in September.

4 / 5

Monday, 3 June 2013

Little Kid Interview

Every new generation of music has brought a different approach. The current technological state is allowing artists to be able to record instrumentally vast albums of a high quality without the need to fork out for extortionate studio time and session musician costs. As well, the decline of the record label is seeing more and more musicians take their art into their own hands, independently recording, packaging, and promoting their work. Little Kid, the brainchild of Kenny Boothby sums up this ethos selling his work, which are often seemingly defunct platforms such as cassette, via online sites such as Bandcamp. I caught up with Kenny to discuss the release of his latest album, 'River of Blood', as well as exploring the importance of the internet to an independent artist such as himself.

Firstly, for those who don't know you, can you tell us about Little Kid?
I started recording songs as Little Kid in 2009 - all four-track stuff, recorded on tape and such. It was a lot of fun for a while, but I started playing with other musicians live over the last few years and enjoyed the band sound so much that Little Kid eventually expanded into a loose band. A few other people have contributed to the album, but for the live shows it's usually myself, Broderick Germain, and Jessiah Devine.

Your last album, Logic Songs, was quite lo-fi. In comparison, River of Blood sounds more polished. What was the difference between the recording process of both albums?
When I made Logic Songs, I didn't really know what I was doing. I had a few odd recordings I had been making over the years and I kept recording little songs on the 4-track and some other tape machines, and eventually an album sort of took shape from that. I pieced together the best ones in an order that made sense and re-did a couple of them with different arrangements, and Logic Songs was the result. I'm happy with how it turned out - I still love lo-fi recordings - but I wanted to go about this one a little differently.

For River of Blood, I demoed all of the songs in advance, using essentially the same equipment as I used for Logic Songs. Then in January, once I felt like I finally had enough songs for a new album, Brodie and I got together at my house and started recording them. I think he did a great job on the mixing end of things - overall, I'm really happy with how this album turned out.

Logic Songs came across as a solo record while in comparison, River of Blood sounds more direct, concentrated and mature. Was there more of a band ethos behind the new record?
With Logic Songs, a lot of the recordings that made it onto the album were done the day I wrote the song - some are even the first time I really played the song all the way through. It's a much different experience demoing each song, listening back, thinking about different arrangements, performing the songs live, tweaking lyrics, etc. There is a certain element that can be lost in that process - and I think that element is something that some people might have enjoyed about Logic Songs - but as an artist, I think you end up with something you feel a lot more satisfied with when you take the time to let the song develop over a longer period of time.

We definitely went for more of a band thing on this one. I still wrote all the songs, and I had some ideas about how the album should sound, but Brodie in particular definitely had a huge impact on the approach we took with the songs. He's a great drummer and he has a good ear for how to really get the most out of a song. My good friend Jessiah, who plays in Wooly Mammoth, also contributed to a lot of the songs - we were hoping to have him play all the bass on the record, but it didn't really work out, logistics-wise. On one of the few times we managed to get all three of us together, we tracked the guitar, bass, and drums of "Slow Train" live, with all of us playing in the same room. That was a lot of fun, and it wound up being one of my favourite recordings on the album.

Lyrically your new album has many religious references. It feels like within these songs, you feel like a religious failure. Would you say that was correct and lyrically, aside from religion, what are your influences?
I'd say that's somewhat correct. As far as the guidelines set forth in the Bible go, I'd definitely be considered a failure, and probably more so now than at any other point in my life. Nowadays, I'm at a point where I am fine with that, but I find it an interesting thing to ponder, and to document in songs. I also think that the songs have been shaped by a lot of other stuff going on in my life, personal stuff that is probably only really visible to me and my closest friends.

The title of the album, 'River of Blood', is mentioned a few times throughout the album. What is the meaning and importance of it to you?
When writing these songs, I was thinking a lot about Jesus' incarnation in human form and the biblical distinctions between God and man, the spirit and the flesh. I was thinking about how humans, even according to the Bible, are inherently and inevitably flawed, and how - to me at least - that would imply that not only Jesus, but the gospel and the Bible itself, are similarly flawed. I would think that even something perfect or divinely inspired, after being filtered through all that human imperfection, would end up getting at least a little fucked up. This also got me thinking about particular defects and problems in the human mind and body, things like lapses in memory, poor vision. I think that found its way into a lot of the songs.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what "river of blood" means to me - to be honest, it was something I just started singing one time - but it was an image I liked, and it's come to represent a lot of the ideas I've discussed above. I think I use the image a little differently in each song, but it all ties into this sort of "God and man" distinction somehow.

Musically River of Blood sounds like a folk album but with rock and almost church gospel undertones. How would you describe the sound of the record?
We've been jokingly calling it "mid-fi post-gospel stoner-folk". It's definitely folk-influenced, especially in some parts, but it borrows from a lot of different sounds. I can hear elements of almost all of my favourite bands and genres in there somewhere, which is something I like about the album. I think we managed to make it pretty cohesive while still exploring some pretty disparate sounds - at least I hope so, because that's something I really appreciate in a record.

How will you be planning to release the new album? Logic Songs was available to buy on download or cassette, will River of Blood be the same?
We started with a run of 40 cassettes (20 red / 20 gold) and 30 CDs. This tremendously talented artist who lives in my city, James Chia Han Lee ( created the artwork and design, and I printed and assembled all the packaging, dubbed the cassettes, etc. We have actually sold out of the CDs already - a few were preordered, but the rest sold the night of our release show. We still have some cassettes left, though. We're planning to do vinyl  but I don't know how long it will take to get that together.

I first became aware of Little Kid through Bandcamp. As an independent artist, how important is the internet to you in terms of promotion, do you view it as a help or a hindrance?
I'm sure that, overall, the internet has mostly been pretty harmful to musicians, but for me, at this point in my career, it's been very helpful. I'm not really interested in making a living from music right now, so I'm happy to be able to give it away to anyone who will listen - the internet makes that possible, and it's been awesome to hear from people from other parts of the world who have somehow found my music.

With the price of (international) shipping increasing, has that had an impact on you as an artist? How difficult is it now to break even on the time and money you must put into rehearsing and recording?
It's very difficult... I either broke even or lost money on the Logic Songs cassettes, and it's looking to turn out approximately the same way on this record. But that's not really a problem for me, because I make my living through my "real" job - music is a passion I pursue outside of that. We could probably charge more but I like being able to keep prices as low as possible - and it's hard enough to convince people to buy physical media as it is.

And finally, if you had five words to sell your new album to someone who hadn't heard it, what would they be?

You can buy Little Kids new album, 'River of Blood' via their bandcamp -

Monday, 27 May 2013

Little Kid - River of Blood

With iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and every increasing advancement in music posting and sharing we've perhaps forgotten the best way of sharing music; word of mouth. I first heard of Little Kid through a friend and I knew from his enthusiasm that it was definitely worth a listen. You just can't get that sort of recommendation from a website I'm afraid. His most recent album at that time, 'Logic Songs', was a collection of lo-fi, almost folk but almost not offerings that were complete with backing tracks of soundscapes of trains and only available to buy on cassette. To be honest, it was brilliant.

'River of Blood', the new ten song offering from Little Kid is a little different however. Firstly, the soundscapes have gone, the lo-fi sound of 'Logic Songs' has been replaced by a more professional recording. While 'Logic Songs' had that raw feel of a guy writing songs on a guitar and recording them in his bedroom, 'River of Blood' is a step up and sonically there is a tighter, more direct band feel to the record.
     This has created a musical and lyrical maturity like on tracks like 'Apostles' where a baroque style guitar is proceeded by beautiful touches of xylophone and a wonderfully delicate lead guitar melody that previously are little ideas that I don't think Little Kid would have explored. It also contains one of the many downbeat lines seemingly inspired by a loss of love and battle with religion that are dotted around the album; 'I swear I'll always see you leaving when I close my eyes'.
      'Damascus' has this deep organic piano sound with the sort of pitch and church reverb that pianists would all probably dream of. It also has a raw guitar line that matches the piano melody perfectly for the bridge, not overpowering it but more showing just how far production wise Little Kid has improved over the space of two albums.    
      'Slow Train' perhaps the heaviest song on the album, begins almost in a rock or grunge way with rip roaringly disgusting disorted guitar over a steady drumbeat and has the quiet verse-loud chorus composition that worked so brilliantly well for bands like Nirvana. It lends itself well to Little Kid too, allowing reflective religiously inspired lyrics; 'some days I pray to jesus, some days I don't pray for shit, no I fumble at the pieces, some days they almost seem to fit'.
     The final track, 'In Church' is a slow downbeat love story that perfectly ends one of my favourite albums of this year, and for a year that has seen releases from the likes of James Blake, Foals, Frightened Rabbit, Daughter and Keaton Henson (just to name a few), I think that is saying a lot. 'River of Blood' ends with the line; 'I'll only love you 'til it hurts.'. I think it's only fair to Little Kid that we buy this album and love it beyond that.

4.5 / 5

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Daughter - If You Leave

It only takes five minutes with Daughter, a three piece folk band from London, to wonder what man could really have destroyed guitarist and vocalist Elena Tonra's heart. For those who are already initiated with the low ebb lyrical blues of the band, debut album If You Leave won't be a massive surprise, however for those newcomers, well, prepare to have your heart broken over and over.

If You Leave isn't exactly a massive departure from what Daughter have offered music listeners before. We still have the same sparse arrangements based around the most vulnerable of guitar melodies while hints of conflicting electric guitar and uplifting percussion work are used to taunt the listener. This allows Tonra's warm although often low key vocals to affect the listener with poetic lyrics based around seemingly wishing she was never born and the always so obvious and yet ever more popular subject of lost love.

For those who like their music happy and uplifting, stay away. This really isn't for you. But when this works, it really works, especially on old favourite Youth, which despite being overplayed on television advertisements has somehow stayed fresh with Tonra claiming 'if you're in love, then you are the lucky one, 'cause most of us are bitter over someone' over a dreamy, indie summer explosion of musical beauty. Latest single, Human, another stand out track, offers an upbeat almost tribal sound to the proceedings and lyrically is more positive with Tonra singing 'despite everything I'm still human', adding yet another song from the album to the getting over someone playlist.

If You Leave isn't a spectacular album. It isn't going to blow your ears off in one listen. But what it will do is make you sit in a quiet room with massive headphones on as you slowly allow it to consume you. Atmospheric and emotionally life confirming, it has to be the most honest album released for a long time, and for that alone, Daughter deserve to be listened to.

4 / 5

Monday, 25 February 2013

My First Tooth

A five out of five review from Big Cheese Magazine, Artrocker describing their musics beauty, mentions by popular Radio DJs like Zoe Ball. These all followed My First Tooth after the release of their debut album Territories but that was two years ago, and two years in music is a long time. I caught up with bass player Jo Collis to discuss ‘that difficult second album’, what it feels like to be on a label like Alcopop Records and most importantly whether given the drastic change in the economy, whether it might be easier to hang up the guitar strings all together…

So how does it feel to be releasing a second album?
Jo: It feels tremendously exciting and a bit nerve wracking! It's been a long time coming but it's great that finally people will be able to hear it.

A lot of bands aren't afforded the opportunity to get to make more than one record these days. How do you feel that as a band you've managed to achieve that where others haven't?

Jo: Very, very lucky. We have great support from our label Alcopop records and our manager, and we were really lucky to work with some excellent producers on the album.

We started writing 'Love Makes Monsters' about 2 years ago (I think!) and the whole process has taken a lot of work, not least from us managing to write the record, but from everyone who has helped us out along the way.
There's a term, second album syndrome, where a band struggles to convincingly follow up their debut album. At any point during the recording of Love Makes Monsters did you feel this, or worry about this?
Jo: From the minute we released the first one I think!! Luckily for us, we never felt any pressure from anyone other than ourselves to make a record we were happy with, and the time and effort involved in making it is testament to that. Saying that, I can't pinpoint a moment where I didn't feel confident we would be happy with the record. It's quite different to Territories in many ways, but I'm equally as proud of both of them.
How do you feel that it's different to Territories? Did the writing and recording process differ between the two albums?
Jo: When we started work on Territories, many of those songs already existed before Gareth (our drummer) and I joined the band, so whilst we were writing our own parts, some of the songs themselves existed pretty much as they ended up,on the record.

With Love Makes Monsters, we had established our line up and we had much more of a 'blank canvas' to work from. The writing process was similar in that Ross brings ideas into the practice room and we take it from there really, but i think it's fair to say we were all involved from an earlier point than previously.

Do you feel that has made it a more rounded, eclectic effort than Territories? How do you feel the new album compares with your debut in terms of sound?
Jo: We like to think it's more of a rock record. I'm still so proud of Territories, but Love Makes Monsters is a more raucous affair I'd say. Thematically, I suppose you could say it's more rounded.

Working with James Kenosha was a great experience, and I think he definitely brought out some of the rockier elements. But by the same token, there are some incredibly delicate moments on there too. I'd hesitate to say it's more eclectic than Territories, but I think dynamically it's more diverse.
Would you say that the record wouldn't have been the same, had you not recorded with James? What did he add to the recording experience?
Jo: Absolutely it wouldn't have been the same. But we also worked with Paul Pilot and Peter Abbot, who all contributed to the overall sound of the record. The majority was recorded with James, and it felt really easy - it all happened pretty quickly once we got going and James was a pleasure to spend time in a studio with! It was generally a very relaxing and enjoyable experience. Most importantly though, we enjoyed making this record with all 3 producers from start to finish, and I really hope that comes across.
Musically, the band seem to have a big folk influence, but while modern folk seems to be becoming more minimal, Love Makes Monsters seems to be a very textured album with string and brass sections. Was this a conscious decision?
Jo: Even in the early stages of writing, we get quite excited thinking about the other parts we can add! One of the nicest things about recording in a studio for a length of time and having access to other musicians is being able to try out other instrumentations and parts. Joel Harries, who played trumpet on the record, also wrote some beautiful guitar parts for some songs and its so lovely to be able to add those into the mix. Whilst we do have a folk influence to a certain extent, we also have a pretty diverse range of influences and I think that also comes across on Love Makes Monsters.

When it comes to playing this album live, are there any worries with such a full album, that you won't be able to do it justice live?
Jo: Well, it's funny you should say that... we have just recently welcomed a fifth member who will be joining us for live shows where physically possible! It's a real treat for us to be able to make everything sound bigger and add some of the parts we simply don't have enough arms to play. Going back to dynamics, it gives us a bit more to play with live.

Fantastic, look at that, breaking news! Aside from the fifth member, are there any other plans for the tour in support of Love Makes Monsters?
Jo: Just to play everywhere that will have us! I love touring and playing live and I'm really really excited for the future at the moment, we have some great gigs lined up, and will hopefully be adding to that throughout the rest of the year, and I can't wait to get out there and play the songs for everyone!
You've been able to play some great festivals so far. Will you be playing any this year?
Jo: We have a few confirmed - I am particularly excited about Y Not Festival, as we haven't been there before! We'll also be back at The Great Escape this year. Obviously we'll be keeping everyone updated as and when we can confirm any other festivals...
How important do you think gigs are to an independent band like My First Tooth?
Jo: Very.

Getting out there and being able to connect with an audience is vital for us. It's also very handy to play shows with your peers - for example, we had a brilliant gig with The Social Club in Watford last week.
Given the stage of the economy, rising petrol prices, low show turnouts, is there ever a thought of doing something else?
Jo: We seem to be managing ok for ourselves!

 From my point of view, My First Tooth will continue to exist for as long as people still want to come and see/hear us.
I imagine being on a label like Alcopop Records helps that? They seem to be the type of label where people will buy a record without hearing it, just because it's on that label. How have Alcopop Records helped you, and would there ever be the temptation if offered to move to a major label?
Jo: Alcopop has helped us hugely. I honestly can't imagine where we would be without the label. It's a joy to work with someone like Jack, who has made the label feel like a family. Obviously there would be a temptation if someone offered us a major label deal  but I think if that happened for any band on the label it would only be positive for the perception of the label. It's rare to find a label that cultivates, supports and promotes its band in such a way as Alcopop does, and if a major were to sign anyone from the roster, I think it would be a testament to that.
Final question. Beyond the new album and touring in support of it, what are the bands plans?
Jo: Well, as many festivals as will have us in the summer, and more tour dates throughout the year. We'd really like to try and get over to Europe at some point as well. Who knows, we might even start writing a new record...

You can buy the latest My First Tooth album, Love Makes Monsters, via their record label, Alcopop Records!

Or you can listen to the band via their Facebook page.