|Brakes are all too often referred to as the indie ‘supergroup’ borne out of British Sea Power, Electric Soft Parade and The Tenderfoot. More realistically we should acknowledge them as 4 superb and talented musicians who happened to be in the right place at the right time to bring us a brand new take on punk and guitar based music.
On a chilly night in Oxford I found 2 members of Brakes warming up for the night’s entertainment. Eamon Hamilton (singer) was providing acoustic support to open British Sea Power’s gig at Carling Academy Oxford and Tom White (guitar) was providing British Sea Power substitute drumming. They were both relaxed and ready to talk Brakes.
We started off with Eamon, as Tom was still soundchecking with British Sea Power. Tom caught up later, having showered, his long black hair still soaking as he risked pneumonia in the freezing outside yard to do the interview.
Soundsxp: As an avid fan, what can you tell us about progress towards the new album?
Eamon: We were holed up in a tiny room in Abingdon, quite near here, for 5 nights. It was bloody freezing! We ended up with 4 new songs and I may be playing one tonight!
Rough Trade have been sweet about it, giving us great support for the albums. We’re going to take things really slowly as we feel the 2nd album was too rushed – we weren’t pushed, we just rushed it ourselves. We’re having a longer gestation period for the next lot of songs, we don’t want to go through that kind of panic again!
Soundsxp: Your first album (Give Blood) is considered to be definitive Brakes and the 2nd (The Beatific Visions) more rounded, will the new songs be classic Brakes?
Eamon: ‘Classic Brakes’ I like the sound of that (laughs). As we went to Nashville for the 2nd album, we’re hoping to get to Memphis this time round (laughs again).
I wash dishes to make extra money when the band isn’t playing, and I find this is a really good time to create new songs and tunes.
Soundsxp: I can’t avoid pointing out the irony in Eamon giving up BSP to concentrate on Brakes only to see that Tom is now playing drums on their current tour as well as fitting in with ESP’s commitments…Is it possible to combine so much work and produce really good new music?
Eamon: We’re all in it together as British Sea Powers’ song goes
Well Tom is a really strong musician, and I hear he’s been doing really well. Woody (BSP drummer) hurt his back, and I know how painful that can be as I suffer from sciatica.
Tom: It’s been great, but you can only do it for a short while. They (BSP) were asking if I could do the US tour – 59 dates over 3 months – if Woody didn’t recover, but I can’t afford to lose 3 months of my year I’m afraid. I missed out on the start of the Scottish skiing season with my girlfriend. Woody’s back tomorrow so I’ve got some catching up to do. Electric Soft Parade go to Germany at the end of March to play in the Jägermeister Rock Liga. Touring Brakes, ESP and now this has been pretty punishing over the past couple of years so I’m looking forward to spending some time with my girlfriend and recharging my batteries
I’ve written a few songs for an ep I hope to release, under my own name, on Drift records in June or July.
Soundsxp: Eamon, your acoustic tour effectively kicks off tonight – What can we expect from it, new and old Brakes songs? or something different altogether?
Well, you can expect new and Brakes songs….played acoustically (laughs uncontrollably). We write songs that are meant to sound like they should be played and sung round the campfire, so it should work acoustically. I have no lyrics yet, I’ll be making them up as I’m actually singing the songs. I’ll play one new one tonight, two tomorrow and so on.
Soundsxp: Will Eamon be putting in an appearance during BSP’s show?
Eamon: (hesitates) I dunno, (hesitates again and smiles sheepishly) hell yeah!
Tom: I’ll be joining Eamon to assist with his acoustic set too.
Soundsxp: What have Marc (Beattie – Bass) and Alex (White – Drums) been up to since the end of the last tour?
Eamon: They’re both gainfully employed, Alex with ESP and now Marc has started doing sound for Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, so he’s really busy with that!
Soundsxp: Can Brakes fans expect to see you at any festivals this summer?
Eamon: We’re planning to give the festivals a miss this year, we’ve done Truck for the past 5 years, I guess it could be renamed the Brakes-Tuck Festival or something.
We don’t expect to be playing until the end of the summer at least, as I said we’re gonna really take our time over the new stuff
Soundsxp: As a Brummie I’m always asked about the Birmingham record shop you refer to in your song ‘No Return’ off the 2nd album, does it exist, and if so which one is it?
Eamon: It does exist! and I found it when we played Birmingham Academy a couple of years back. Actually it’s a charity shop and it’s here from the Academy (draws route in the air). I was looking thro the vinyl albums and there was this compilation album. So you can now tell your Brum friends it’s true.
Soundsxp: During the 90’s there was a BBC programme called ‘Rock Family Trees’, based on the music scene in certain UK cities. I reckon you guys could be the focal point for a show based on the Brighton scene, ehat do you reckon?
Tom: Oh wow, yeah…that would be brilliant (starts reeling off loads of interrelated Brighton bands). Send me the format and we can work on it together.
Soundsxp: Have a great show tonight, guys and we look forward to hearing the new songs pretty soon.
Tom/Eamon: Will do, you enjoy it too, we’re off to find food and a cocktail bar!
Brakes news can be found on www.brakesbrakesbrakes.com and Electric Soft Parade news on www.electricsoftparade.com
Eamon Hamilton’s acoustic tour can be enjoyed at the following venues:
4: Slaughtered Lamb, London
6: Moles, Bath
7: Social, Nottingham
8: Brel Bar, Glasgow
10: Faversham, Leeds
11: Slaughtered Lamb, London
12: Ruby Lounge, Manchester
13: Fibbers, York
18: Slaughtered Lamb, London