Interview with Mike, Laura and Martin
Firestations are a five-piece “dream-pop” (their words) band from London, featuring ex-members of Dark Captain and Quickspace. The band are Michael Cranny (guitar, vocals), Laura Copsey (laptop, flugelhorn, vocals), Martin Thompson (guitar), Chin Keeler (drums) and David Cox (bass).
They’ve released two EPs and a single to date on their own Waltz Time Records and have recently recorded an album's worth of material with songs, they say, “inspired by dystopian sci-fi, suburban sprawl and city anonymity”. To check how good they are, they’ve just posted their stunning cover of Low’s ‘Sunflower’ here
Their next gigs are at The Victoria, Dalston (28 May) and then Indiefjord (a festival next to a fjord near Alesund, Norway) on 11-14 July.
We spoke to Mike, Laura and Martin in May 2014.
SXP: Who are Firestations and how did you get together?
Mike: We've been through a couple of incarnations over the past few years – initially it was me and Laura, then Martin joined and we were more focused on quieter atmospheric stuff, but we wanted to make more noise so we added a few phantom members using drum machines and electronic backing. It was fun but we missed the feeling of playing with real people so we got Chin (drums) and Dave (bass) involved as our human rhythm section. This was just over a year ago and since then we've been discovering new elements of our sound – we've kept some of the more acoustic influences but also embraced the possibilities of loud noises.
SXP: We first noticed you with the Meanwhile Gardens EP in 2012, though that was your second release. What have you been doing since then?
Mike: Feels like a long time ago now! 'Meanwhile Gardens' was the second of two EPs we self-released in 2012 (first one was called 'Deletions'). Since then we've concentrated on getting the five-piece band up to speed, both live and in the studio. The big secret is that we've recorded an album's worth of stuff with our current line-up, a lot of it live to 8-track tape, and we're really keen to get it out there. We're working hard on that at the moment and recently shared a track 'Forgetful Man', which is a little taste of things to come.
SXP: I hadn’t realised that Chin Keeler (who released a brilliant solo album last year) plays with Firestations now. How did that come about?
Laura: Me and Mike played with Chin in a band called 'Dark Captain Light Captain' for about 5 years and I discovered he was the drummer of my dreams! When that came to an end Mike mixed his solo album, which was released on our collective label Waltz Time Records. We try and help each other out when we can, so he plays in our band and we play in his, 'Chin of Britain'.
Mike: I should say that there are a couple of other ace 'solo' projects as well – Dave is the popular crooner 'David G Cox', with an album and an EP under his belt, and Martin is the bedroom electronica artist ’Bit Cloudy’, with an album out and another coming soon.
Martin: I've also got a remix of Astronauts forthcoming track “Skydive” coming out on Lo. I like doing remixes.
SXP: Who chose the name? And is there any inspiration from either the Close Lobsters or the London Fire Brigade?
Mike: I'm not sure who they are - are they bands? Martin is the resident music encyclopedia so maybe he'll know. I came up with the name Firestations – all I can remember thinking is: this is a name that rolls off the tongue and is easy on the ear. It also has a vague sci-fi feel if you strip out the immediate meaning, and I do like a good bit of sci-fi.
Martin: I do like Close Lobsters, but I didn't have a hand in the band name. We are not aligned to any official firefighting body.
Laura: We have had around 15 different band names over the years - 'Banana Veranda Sputnik Hard-On Band' may still be my favourite. We're hoping for an underground following in the LFB.
SXP: Who were the artists who inspired you to pick up a guitar/ hit a drum/ play a keyboard and write songs?
Mike: For the teenage me it was the joy of stringing some simple chords together – one of the first songs I learnt was 'Stand By Me' and I thought it was great how it just went round and round that simple cycle. In terms of artists, I always go back to Sparklehorse, Songs:Ohia, The Beta Band and loads more.
Martin: I taught myself slide guitar and piano at a young age, which is why I still play guitar on my lap. I was into delta blues, Captain Beefheart, Sonic Youth and the Fall (and I still am).
Laura: There are a lot of musicians in my family and I grew up with mariner and traditional folk, which explains my love of harmony and story-telling through song. I love Pavement and Stereolab and I never get bored of songs like “Super Falling Star”. Live, Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
SXP: Are there any artists from any time in musical history that you’d like to have played with? And what about current ones?
Mike: Would like to harmonise with The Inkspots, play bass in Can, guitar duet with John Fahey. I'm pretty happy playing in Firestations right now though.
Martin: I would like to do things with Daniel Johnston, The Groundhogs and Gold Panda.
Laura: I would love to sing with Laetitia Sadier, Withered Hand and Gravenhurst. Or dress up and jump around with Goat.
SXP: The internet – has it made things easier or harder for you as musicians?
Mike: Both, I think. With streaming it's very hard to make decent money from sales, like bands in the past may have done, but it has got easier to make contact with an audience and network in the industry. Despite the vinyl resurgence, I think the age of streaming is here to stay so we'll just have to embrace it.
Laura: I think the internet is rapidly eating away at my attention span, and I'm not sure if I give music enough of a chance when it's so easy to skip through songs/albums on the likes of Spotify. Spotify gives artists a bad deal so I feel bad about that.
SXP: You’ve working on an album currently – how’s that going?
Mike: Very well, thanks. It's basically finished and we're making plans for a release later this year. Following on from 'Forgetful Man', we'll be sharing another track from it soon. You'll also be able to hear a collaboration that we did with Hamburg band The Sleeping Policemen on the 'Between Two Waves' compilation coming out on Ear Drums Pop soon.
Martin: We are pleased with the stuff we've recorded, it's really varied but it hangs together by the skin of its teeth.
SXP: You’re playing Indiefjord in Norway in July. Are you looking forward to it, and where can we see you if we’re not in Norway?
Mike: Really looking forward to it! Festivals are fun and I've never been to Norway. We're also at The Dalston Victoria on Wednesday 28th May and The Macbeth (Hoxton) on 18th June.