This Crookes talk to David Pittway in this exclusive GIGsoup interview. Edited by Gavin Wells. Lead photo by William Soragna
The Crookes are a great band. And there is a heavy bias because I’ve known one of the members for a decent chunk of time, but even with that bias, it’s still true. Also the fact that his sister once gave me an Arcanine Pokémon card might have something to do with it as well.
But The Crookes: they’re a foursome from a Sheffield suburb with sharp melodies, high cheekbones and better haircuts than you, and that includes the sound engineer. They’re also decent company to waste time with, as I found out when I sat down with them for a chat and a beer before they went on at the Electric Ballroom as support for The Fratellis.
First things first, Tom, are you mum and dad alright?
Tom – “Yeah they’re fine, yours?”
Yeah good thanks. So if it’s alright with you guys I thought I’d see how you thought you compared to your New Band Of The Day article back in 2009. Can you remember what number you were?
George – “428? Something like that…”
631. But you were described as being ‘Trad-Indie poet ruffians with ramshackle charm’ and having ‘sepia tinged romantic tales with harmonicas, toy guitars and banjos’…
Dan – “Didn’t we break that guitar…I think it’s somewhere in Austin.”
George – “And the banjo’s in a cupboard somewhere…”
But how much of it do you think still holds true?
George – “I guess the lyrical references still apply, and in some ways the written style holds true. But I think we’re a bit more direct now, we’ve bulked up a lot musically…kept the sensitivity, more muscular.”
Tom – “A muscular sensitivity.”
And you were filed next to: The Arctic Monkeys, Larrikin Love, The Housemartins and a lot of Sheffield Bands who were around at the time. So I was wondering, do you see yourselves as a ‘Sheffield Band’ or a band from Sheffield?
Georg e- “Hmm…It’s hard to say really, I mean after the [Arctic] Monkeys’ first album, there was just a surge of people forming bands…”
Adam – “…It just seemed like a thing friends would do at that time.”
George – “But even though we may not fit in with the traditional “student tag”, I still think we’re a Sheffield band; lyrically at least…”
Dan – “And if not that, then definitely geographically.”
So how did touring with The Fratellis come about?
Tom – “It was sort of out of the blue really. We weren’t really expecting it to be honest…”
George – “But it worked out well, I mean they’re a band who are very our age apparent. It was pretty hard to rock up to a house party back then and not hear ‘Chelsea Dagger’ or ‘Henrietta’ at some point.”
And your mum tells me you’ve just started your own record label recently, how did that all start?
Tom – “I think it’s as we’ve grown as a band, we realised that a lot of work record labels used to do has sort of been transferred onto the band themselves: self-promotion, artwork, producing videos… we were already doing that ourselves so the record label just seemed like a natural progression. And it’s a positive step to take charge of that. So we’re in complete control of our own destiny now.”
Dan – “So we’ll only have ourselves to blame if we cock it up.”
So the album art…
George – “That was done by one of our favourite artists India Hobson. It was basically us and a load of powder paint; and it ended up being a pretty amazing piece of art.”
And the same with the new music video? That was directed by Khyan, right?
George – “Yeah, we’ve known him for a few years now and were frankly quite surprised when he agreed to direct the video.”
Dan – “Although his first suggestion was a bit out there. It revolved around one of us being in love with a cabbage; so we’d take it around everywhere, kiss it, that sort of thing.”
Dan – “Pretty much, but it ended up working out alright because the video turned out to be our best one yet.”
Tom – “Although we would constantly ruin takes because of the actor, David, would just continually crack us up with his antics.”
And you’ve got your own tour coming up early next year.
George – “In February.”
And you’re doing SXSW again, is this the third time now?
Dan – “Yeah, third or fourth… I think it’s the fourth. But we love it out there, the buzz is like nothing else…”
Tom – “I mean, Austin likes to call itself the home of live music, and when you’re out there it’s hard not to agree.”
George – “It’s the home of great fried chicken as well, put on about a stone in weight every time we go out there.”
I also just wanted to know, on your Twitter, you’re following Danny Ings, Daniel Sturridge…
Dan – “That’s me I like to keep up on the Liverpool news…”
George – “…There’s a few Leeds United players in there as well somewhere.”
Dan – “And I think Leighton Baines once tweeted out that he liked one of our songs.”
And having listened to the new stuff, I was interested to know what sort of things were you listening to, what were you reading during the whole process?
Dan – “Hmm, what was it you were playing a lot of?”
George – “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, a lot of the ideas in their new stuff really resonated, it was just so vibrant and shiny…”
Tom – “And the last few tracks on the recent Smith Westerns stuff as well…although I was doing a lot of running when we were making the album, so the workout playlist got a lot of time.”
Dan- “I don’t know if it was during the recording, but I remember reading ‘Bright Lights Big City’ by Jay McInerney. That was just so different because it’s written completely in the second person. Just a really interesting read.”
And one last thing. Who were the last bands or artists you paid to see?
Dan – “Paid to see…”
Tom – “I saw Belle and Sebastian earlier this year, they were amazing…”
Adam – “Gengahr, a few months back now,”
Adam – “Yeah they were. Would see them again anytime.”
Alright, that’s about it. Thanks guys. And give my best to your mum and dad.
Tom – “Yeah will do mate.”
And then I was ushered out of the dressing room so they could perform their warm up routine which from a brief glimpse seemed to be made up of Best Coast and beer. Whatever it was though it worked. because they went out there and stomped it. And that’s completely objective.