Interview with Martin and Jamie of The Loungs
They brought me out of reviewing retirement with their wonderful new album 'Short Cuts' and now they have brought me out of interviewing retirement too. It has been eight years since I exchanged pleasantries with "St Helens' finest band" The Loungs and it is as if I never left them...we ponder over the demise of the NME, whether or not people clap anymore and if you should ever write a song about a PM having relations with a pig. God, I have missed you, boys...
SoundsXP: Where the hell have you been?
MARTIN: St Helens. As always. We’ve been holed up in Catalyst Studios, picking at an increasingly unwieldy batch of songs for the past few years. It seemed like a typically awkward thing to do, to come out of our longest period of inactivity with our shortest album yet. And then, just to rub it in, we decided to call it ‘Short Cuts’.
JAMIE: Nowhere exotic. Either sleeping, working or having the occasional pint.
SoundsXP: How does ‘Short Cuts’ compare to your last two albums?
MARTIN: It’s a cute, younger brother. The plan was to pick a set of relatively straight-forward pop songs, leave some of the ‘oddness’ to one side for now, and make the snappiest album in a collection of already snappy albums.
JAMIE: We purposely stopped ourselves from putting too much onto the songs this time around. It’s definitely the more subdued sibling of the other two hyperactive weirdos.
SoundsXP: I love this album - it's beautiful - but why did it take five years (smirk) and is this your final album? I hope not!
MARTIN: Thank you, Mary. Births, deaths, marriages, non-marriages, mortgages and shitty day jobs have all conspired to make it a far longer process than it had any right to be, but we got there in the end. We initially started recording sometime in 2011, but lost track and only dusted ourselves down during 2014. Only one song from those sessions survived and the album is better for it. There are always lots of songs stockpiled, the trick is to group the right ones together, so that they don’t squabble too much.
JAMIE: It still feels fairly recent and, no, it’s definitely not the last.
SoundsXP: What inspires you to make music?
MARTIN: A love for other music, mainly. Nothing spurs you on like hearing something else that sets the hairs up on the back of your neck. I think that there’s also an unspoken agenda within our band to have a great back catalogue. As if we’re building towards a ‘Greatest Hits’ collection of songs that were never actually hits, somewhere down the line. Four people might buy it, but they’ll really, REALLY like it and play it loud at family parties.
JAMIE: The bands you love kickstart it all, but songs can come from anywhere. Family, mates, memories and, notably this time around, cartoons. A day trip helps. Travelling with music in your ears is always a good start.
SoundsXP: What do you think about the demise of the NME and it being free now?
MARTIN: It’s sad. Personally, I’ve read the NME every single week since I was 16. People have been saying that it had gone off the boil for years now, but that was never really the case. Specifically in the final couple of years I thought it had been pretty great, even if I didn’t always like the bands inside. You’ve always been able to take from it what you want. I’ll be sorry to see it go but, let’s face it, it’s going to go.
SoundsXP: Why are you having an album launch party in Manchester as well as St Helens? And where is the London one?
MARTIN: After St.Helens, we’ve always had an affinity and bond with Manchester, Wigan and Liverpool, be it with people who have supported us and come to watch, or with other bands and scenes. There was a time when we would play whenever and wherever we were asked, but that just isn’t feasible any more because we’re a bunch of shambling, old creatures whose ability to drink, sweat and survive on 3 hours sleep before a day’s work is fast dwindling. Plus, there’s an ever growing army of tiny Loungs that need looking after. It’s not a rock’n’roll answer to your questions, but it’s a truthful one.
JAMIE: We have a lot of fond memories of playing Manchester and we’re up for making more. There was one bloke in London who liked us, but he emigrated, so that’s that.
SoundsXP: What bands do you like at the moment and why?
MARTIN: Album of the year is The Wobbly Hearts' ‘Damned Sucker’s Luck’. If you haven’t heard it, you need to track a copy down and treat yourself. Heartbreakingly good. They’re playing with us at a couple of the album launches and we couldn’t be happier.
SoundsXP: What would be your dream venue to play and who would be your support act?
JAMIE: A big, full one would be nice. With people clapping. Do people clap anymore?
MARTIN: We’d do the support slot too. Why waste a room full of clapping people?
SoundsXP: The last time I spoke to you (8 years ago!!) one of you said your legacy was “6 bloated floaters in the Hudson River”. Is that still your legacy?
MARTIN: We’re still working on it, and pretty confident. We may have downscaled our ambition to the Manchester Ship Canal, and will have overdone the ‘bloated’ bit to such an extent that floating may be out of the question, but the beautiful, romantic essence of that initial image will still hold true.
SoundsXP: What will be the next single video? Will there be more puppets?
MARTIN: We’ve yet to decide. I’ve got an idea that I think we could go with, but we’ve not settled on a song yet. As for the puppets, yes, the band WILL feature in the next video.
JAMIE: These puppets are taking over. Next question.
SoundsXP: Will Loungs companions be available in shops for Christmas? I do hope so.
MARTIN: That ‘Loung Companion’ (see the multi-million pound extravaganza, promotional video for our new song ‘Everything Is Great’ for more details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR72BnQpccg) took so long to make, I highly doubt it. Although we recently set St Helens alight for a weekend with demand for Loungs baseball caps, the possibility that our merchandise could far outsell any records we ever put out, constantly hangs over us like a fat, money-spinning rain cloud.
SoundsXP: You have been together for so long - how do you stop yourselves from killing each other?
MARTIN: We don’t try and stop ourselves. It’s a laboured process, we’re that tired and sluggish. We often find ourselves at a point where we’ve forgotten why we’re fighting, so just kiss and make up again.
JAMIE: We’ve never wanted to kill each other. Just a dead leg from time to time. It currently feels like it did 10 years ago, all up for it, mad for it and shit. New songs keep the psychotic tendencies from the door.
SoundsXP: Do you think you will ever write a song about a PM shagging a dead pig?
MARTIN: I think we’d have to put it a little more romantically than that.
JAMIE: No. Out of respect of all pigs.
SoundsXP: What do you think about vinyl records coming back again and again? I'd love a vinyl ‘picture’ record of The Loungs, thanks.
MARTIN: Pretty much every other musical format now has the perception of being throwaway. Vinyl still has a tactile element that, along with its price, size and quality, seems to have made it into a lifeboat of sorts for music lovers. Almost proof that you’re still a ‘music lover’, I suppose. Something to cling onto whilst everything else goes to seed. Of course, it costs a fortune to manufacture and, therefore, we’ve not been able to afford to release ‘Short Cuts’ on vinyl. Yet another example of The Loungs having their fingers firmly on the pulse and riding the zeitgeist to guaranteed fame and fortune.
JAMIE: Vinyl is ace and never really went away. Always had Perry Como on in my house. If we can afford it, you can have it!
MARTIN: We can’t afford it.
SoundsXP: Where did all the heroes go? Are there any left?
MARTIN: I’m going nowhere.
JAMIE: Yeah, loads! Krist Novoselic being alive and well makes me happy.
SoundsXP: Any gigs lined up? I suppose with a new album you have to take to the stage?
MARTIN: We’re playing next week with Bill Ryder-Jones, which we’re all really looking forward to, and then it’s into the album launch gigs, which are always a treat. By the end of the year we’re hoping to be on a roll and to have some good stuff lined up for 2016.
SoundsXP: Social media – things like Twitter – a good platform for bands? Do you grieve for Myspace?
MARTIN: We had a lot of fun with Myspace while it lasted but, regardless of it being a platform or not, Twitter makes me laugh on a daily basis. No doubt there’ll be another young whippersnapper waiting in the wings to make us all feel old and stupid. Of course, I’ll welcome them with open arms.
JAMIE: Our Myspace is still there. Somewhere. Waiting for a hit.
SoundsXP: What’s going to happen in the next five years? I’m not asking you like you are fortune tellers. Music wise for you – Can you keep going, even in the old folk’s home?
MARTIN: We’re positively banking on it. Captive audience y’see? Plenty of disposable income in those pension plans. In all seriousness, we seem to have hit a purple patch and are already making plans so, watch this space… although I’m pretty sure that I said something similar 8 years ago.
SoundsXP: Why hasn’t the Loungs conquered the music world yet?
MARTIN: What on earth do you mean? That’s just your opinion, Mary. ‘Conquered’ can be a VERY misleading word…
JAMIE: If we can just get a gig on the Ed Sullivan show, we’ll be laughing.
SoundsXP: If you could make five bands/acts disappear from the world of music who would they be and why?
MARTIN: Nobody should be made to disappear. Then again, nobody should be made to listen.
JAMIE: There are lots. Unfortunately, they’re all so boring that I can’t even remember their names.
The Loungs' 'Short Cuts' is released on CD and download on 6 November 2015.
Buy it, listen to them, love them, buy the puppets and the vinyl picture record too if it ever materialises. Let The Loungs into your lives...