28 Costumes are an awesome foursome who hail from Liverpool. Their indiepop tunes have accumulated an impressive following so the chance to take the wrapping off their lead singer, Chris McIntosh, was one of my favourite Christmas presents last year. Slightly late but well worth the wait the following is a 'Christmas with Chris' special interview...
SoundsXP: 28 costumes - that's a lot. Let's go to a fancy dress together. I'm going as a wench. What are you lot going as? Tell me about your unusual name while you slip into something more comfortable (or totally elaborate)
Chris: Our favourite costume to dress up in is a bag of ill, that's how it feels right now anyway, pretty ill. Our name comes from a book about early black and white silent movies made in Hollywood - it's a quote from Betty Blythe. We lied about this for along time but we can't be bothered anymore.
SoundsXP: You made this fantastic album - 'The fake death experience' and then in some ways it felt like you did fake your own death? You received critical acclaim but you kind of slipped off the radar to me? That album should have penetrated the music world a lot more right?
Chris:Yes, you're right it should have! I don't know, we did release it very quickly and in hindsight we probably weren't ready to release it at the time. It got loads of dead good reviews but we'd only really been a band for about 4 months but yet we went straight back into the recording studio to record the follow up, which was great, but it was never released. It's still there - our old label still have it all! At the moment, we're writing our 3rd Album. We plan to record it in March.
SoundsXP: Did you go carol singing as kids? You must've cleaned up with your talents?
Chris: We didn't go when we were kids but we did go around this year as adults. And yes, we made a killing. I think most of the people were terrified and thought we were there to rob them.
SoundsXP: Tell me about your new ep 'Electric fever' - love it I do. It's really energetic. How does it compare with your music history?
Chris: Well, compared to some of the stuff on the fake death experience album, I suppose it's quite a departure. It's alot closer to the stuff we recorded for the 2nd album. They were just songs we'd written but didn't want to have to wait for the new album to come out to release them, so we stuck them on an ep and shoved them out there.
SoundsXP: Are mince pies the work of the devil or an essential part of the christmas diet?
Chris: As far as I'm concerned they are made entirely of evil. I abhor them. I think they should all be thrown off the edge. But that's me. I know for a fact that Geoff is into them.
SoundsXP: Chris, I read somewhere about you thinking that your lyrics have become more candid over time and that it can be a little embarrasing to sing them? Did I read that or was I dreaming?
Chris: No, you did read that. I don't know, it's difficult. Not all of my lyrics are that candid all of the time, but there are moments when you write about something that is personal to you and perhaps it's personal to somebody else and maybe it's not gonna be too pleasant for you or them but it's not something that I try to do on purpose. Sometimes I've written about how it's too cold to smoke outside or travelling on the Trans Siberian Express sharing a carriage with an impoverished Russian beauty - I've never been to Russia in my life or indeed travelled on the TS express.
SoundsXP: Write a christmas carol for me that includes a reindeer, a mince pie, elves and a credit card.
We rode in on reindeer that we'd hired from a place,
That specialised in letting out father christmas' little mates,
We paid on our credit cards so it must have been a dream,
But the elves came free with it and the mince pies were supreme.
SoundsXP:Germany loves you, right? More than Hasselhoff do you think? How has this come about?
Chris: Well we're better than Hasselhoff for a start, on so many levels. It was all by chance to be honest...we went over to play a music festival and didn't come home for two years. We ended up on a stadium tour with a band who were number one out there at the time. It was pretty bonkers like.
SoundsXP: What has been your favourite christmas number one? Are christmas number ones still worthy of existence?
Chris: The best ever number one at xmas was Jona Lewie's 'Stop The Cavalry', which we have just covered. The once much coveted xmas number one spot has sort of gone now though, hasn't it with the X-factor and whatnot. As long as there's that then there will be some moronic little demon singing about dreams coming true and miracles and stuff won't there? Another thing that must be thrown off the edge.
SoundsXP: You have shared the stage with so many names. Any favourites? Tell me what you go through when you are on stage. What emotions run through your head?
Chris: It's always nice when we play gigs with Voo, they're freakin' ace. I think the favourite must be Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. That was pretty fucking special and something that we'll never forget. I'm not sure what went through us that day, whatever it was though I'm pretty sure it came out of our pants shortly before we met him.
SoundsXP: Let's talk about Wayne Coyne (I'm a flaming Lips fan)...how did that all come about?
Chris: We met him on the street at SXSW when we went last year and said hello.Then one of the guys who manages us told us they saw him in the foyer of the hotel they were staying in, so our bass player then, Paul, just grabbed the phone in our hotel room and phoned his hotel and asked to be put through to him...which they obediently did! He didn't seem to mind too much and Paul had a little chat to him whilst we were all in some state of shock with our chins on the floor. Next thing we know, we're in the T.V. studio singing on a stage with him and drinking free beer. It was too weird. It got even weirder that day because about an hour later I met Jeff Buckley's mum who wrote me a little note and gave me her e-mail address! Then we watched Malajube. Magic!
SoundsXP: You can have one thing for Christmas. What would you like? *wand at the ready*
Chris: Could I have an elephant that can travel at speeds of up to 40 miles an hour?
SoundsXP: I've been watching some of your videos and they're all a bit quirky. How much creative input do you have? Do you enjoy making videos?
Chris: We've been really lucky to have worked with some amazing people in the videos, we've always pretty much just let them get on with what they have in their mind and we'll just do what they want. That's their medium, music is ours and they did all of them for free, so you've got to just let them express themselves the way they want.
SoundsXP: Do you own advent calendars? Have you been good boys and opened the doors on the correct days or have you opened them all, stolen the chocolate, and closed the doors again like nothing happened?
Chris: When I was a child I used to get really narked at my mum who would be totally strict about eating the chocolate on the correct day. There was no way around it really. It did kinda make it a bit more exciting though. I miss that totally innocent excitement now...It's just a massive stress, Christmas.
SoundsXP: Do you really spend all day and night rehearsing? You've got be exhausted.
Chris: Not right now, we're having a little break, but once we get started again, there will be no day or night because our room has no windows and we'll be living in there and we won't be coming out until we have 15 new songs to record!
SoundsXP: I love all of your influences (well 90% of them) and I think that your music does reflect the mix that have cast a music shadow over you (everyone from 'Dolly Parton' to 'They Might Be Giants') Any songs or artists in particular who have fond places in your hearts?
Chris: For me I've recently been listening to lots and lots of Hefner and I've also rediscovered The Notwist. I always come back to the Wedding Present though in times of need. Roy Orbison stuff is also getting a bit of a go right now too.
SoundsXP: You take on 'Take That' in a snowball fight. Who is winning? Aim for their heads, it hurts more.
Chris: I think we'd win purely because of the age difference...We play football everyweek with a lot of the other bands (including MTTS actually) so we've built up a fair amount of stamina between us. I think we'd paste them, no doubt.
SoundsXP: I love 'Apologies'. Whose idea was it to throw in the odd 'Sorry' over the music. I love it. Anybody who you want to say sorry to?
Chris: I can't remember how it got to that point...I think I had thrown a few in here and there and Tony had taken it to an extra level when he got hold of it! The whole song is about us lot apologising for real things that we've all done. I think we pretty much covered everything.
SoundsXP: Is it wrong to buy people socks for christmas?
Chris: I actually love it when I get socks for christmas...I lose so many pairs by the day. When we're on tour it's pretty bad for it, but even at home my socks go missing. WHERE ARE THEY?
SoundsXP: Have you ever opened 'received presents' before christmas day, because you couldn't wait, and then re-wrapped them and put them back under the tree? (I have, i'm a deceitful person right?)
SoundsXP: How do you all get on as a band? Is it peace on earth or as cold as ice?
Chris: We're like the four seasons of the year, sometimes all in one afternoon. It can be a lovely hot summers day at 1.20pm but by 4.50pm it might be pissing down.
SoundsXP: What is the best thing that has fallen out of a cracker for you?
Chris: I always like the useful, practical gifts such as a mini screwdriver set or some nail clippers.
SoundsXP: Finally, what are your new year's resolutions? Do you believe in making them even? I don't, I never stick to them.
Chris: I always make them but very rarely remember what they were by the end of January. I'm going to be having a dry january, that's for sure. I think the main resolution for all of us is to get this new album out asap.
Let's hope you remember that resolution, Chris, as i'm looking forward to it. 2008 may well be the year for 28 Costumes...