I have been searching the net, looking for bands to harass with pointless questions and I found Andy from Council Tax Band. Lucky Andy and lucky you, for getting to read this sterling interview that covers swimming pool sizes and Bilge Pumps...
SoundsXP: Your name is awkward to research. If you put council tax band into google (I'm a serious researcher) you get, erm, council tax bands. Why did you call yourself that and were you aware of the nightmare that it would cause for people like myself? :-)
Andy: When we started this band we tried to come up with as boring a name as possible. We'd done an awful lot of office jobs in the public sector in the past, and we thought that a name that alluded to just how utterly mundane ours and most other people's existences are would be good. The whole point of this band is to try and be as honest as possible. We're not rock stars, and we have pretty boring haircuts. The Google thing I didn't consider, as the commercial appeal of the band was never something we've thought about that much.
SoundsXP: I first came across you in the split EP with another Bedford band, Ice, Sea, Dead People. It was love at first listen. You came across as quite 'punchy' and political in that. A fair assessment?
Andy: I'm glad someone heard it! I messed up when we were doing the promo for that, and all of our copies went out with the wrong postage on, and consequently never reached their destination. Punchy and political. Yes, I suppose I'd go along with that.
SoundsXP: Do you think that there is enough politics in music? Should there be any at all?
Andy: I'd like to say I'm surprised and disappointed there isn't more angry, political music around at the moment, but I guess everyone's too busy chugging energy drinks and playing Flappy Bird to think about anything in much depth.
SoundsXP: Is there an album in the offering? I do hope so.
Andy: I think another EP and then probably some mini-albums. We're planning to do a split release with our new friends, Giant Burger, this summer. In fact they've already recorded their side of the record! I'm not sure how we'd approach a full-length album. Mini-albums are good because you can just keep the full-on-o-meter running at full tilt. On a 'proper' album maybe you need a bit more ebb and flow, and we're not so *au fait* with the ebbing at the moment.
SoundsXP: Do you all come from Bedford? How did you get together? How do you stay together?
Andy: Drummer James is the only true Bedfordian, the rest of us are interlopers. Laura and I knew each other from our previous musical endeavours. We are also, I am pleased to say, lovers. We met Charlie and James through a musicians-seeking-musicians website. It's a pathetic origin story. We met up for the first time at The Wellington Arms. They'd both advertised as drummers but, when it transpired that neither of them had to be immediately sacked, Charlie moved sideways as she had foolishly mentioned in her ad that she also played a bit of guitar. Just recently though she's started playing the drums again on a song that James has written. It's his 'Octopus' Garden', and he wants to be out at the front singing it and gurning his face off, so he's been teaching Charlie the drum line. It's in 7/4 so they've been having fun with that. Actually, quite a few of the songs we're working on are either entirely or partly in 7/4. It's a really nice time signature to work in once you get used to it.
SoundsXP: Do you like fish and chips? They're everywhere. What's with the fish and chips?
Andy: I'm really into unappealing photos of food. I've got a personal collection that I've snapped in various dodgy takeaways. Somehow I felt it also fits in with the band's whole schtick. You know how people on social networking sites like to present a hyper-idealised version of themselves so that everyone thinks they lead successful and exciting lives? Well, I often like to use social networking sites to tell my friends what a neurotic loser I am to counteract that, often exaggerating events to make myself sound even crapper at life than I really am. So yeah, somehow that relates to those pictures, I think. There's a great fish and chip shop in Bedford called ‘Tasty Tuck’ that we've frequented as a band on several occasions. I don't like doing photoshoots because they make me feel vain & self-important, but if I had to do one I'd like to do one either in or outside Tasty Tuck, sampling their wares.
SoundsXP: You come across as a witty band (my observation and one of the reasons I wanted to speak to you). Is there a serious side to you all though?
Andy: Thanks. I hope we come over as a band with a sense of humour, as opposed to a comedy band. I think that if you're dealing with the kind of topics we're dealing with, the only way to come out of it not sounding like a sixth former is to add a bit of humour. My greatest fear is coming across like Rick from The Young Ones. The sentiment of all of the songs is serious though, yes. I really do hate weddings, I really do dislike comedians who make vast sums of money at the expense of those unable to defend themselves, I really do find it distasteful that the disenfranchised are being vilified as workshy scroungers by Eton-educated toffs living off inherited wealth, and I really do think that 25m long swimming pools are too short - you spend the whole time turning around!
SoundsXP: Where do you want Council Tax band to go? Do you think about the bigger picture or get lost in the moment?
Andy: From the start we've said the whole point of this is just to not worry about anything except making the music we want to make, as DIY as possible. Our last band got the tiniest, faintest whiff of microscopic 'success' and I became completely insufferable, so I'm not sure 'making it' would be a very good idea even if it was realistic, which it isn't. Besides, any band that sets out to do anything other than make music they love probably sucks.
SoundsXP: It is nice to get some recognition. How do you feel when you hear your music being played on the radio?
Andy: Ten years ago I found it very exciting. I guess now I mainly just feel relieved. I'm pretty sure that the songs we write are good, but even if you believe in yourself there's always that nagging doubt in the back of your mind that you might be a deluded crazy. I'd love to be able to honestly say I don't care what other people think, but I don't think there are that many people out there who don't care at least a tiny bit, even if you know (as I do) that you shouldn't. It's just human nature.
SoundsXP: Who has influenced/influences the band? Put the influences in council tax band order. A being 'average influence' to H being 'humungous influence'.
A - Daytime television.
B - Having to sign on for a few months last summer, and being treated like a complete idiot.
C – ‘The Warm’, our friends from Tokyo. They introduced us to the delights of the Roland Juno.
D - Stewart Lee. He does with comedy what I'm trying to do with song lyrics, but he's good at it.
E - The lyrics of Nigel Blackwell. Petty, uptight, specific, funny, and brilliant.
F - Every terrible band I've ever had the misfortune to hear.
G - All the many, many human beings whose very existence I find irksome.
H - Laura Simmons. Honestly, it's totally puke inducing, but I didn't even know how to write songs before I met her. Also my other bandmates James & Charlie, who contribute so many ideas and songs that I'm starting to get pretty lazy.
SoundsXP: Are there any bands that you would like to collaborate with?
Andy: I don't think so. I like the bands that I like, and getting involved with them creatively would probably spoil them for me. I always liked the idea of working with instruments less commonly associated with rock music. There was this great band called Soeza that I saw play with Bilge Pump a few years back, and amongst their number was a French horn player. It's nigh on impossible to meet people that play those type of instruments who are interested in being in a rock band though. Plus in my experience they want sheet music to play from, and frankly I'm too lazy to bother providing it.
SoundsXP: Do you like playing live? Any gigs coming up?
Andy: Playing live is great when there are people there who are into it, and there's a bit of back-and-forth between the crowd and the stage. Shit gigs are depressing though. Last year was an interesting mixture of the two. We've no gigs booked at the moment. We're not actively looking for more gigs, we'd rather just wait for them to come to us. They're always the best ones.
If you’re a gig, and you’re reading this, please go to ‘Council Tax band’. You’ll probably find them in ‘Tasty Tuck’...