The Lovely Eggs
interview with Holly and David
Article written by
Ged M - Jun 21, 2011
The Lovely Eggs have been making us grin, sing and jump about since we heard the magnificent ‘Have You Ever Heard A Digital Accordion?’ in 2009. The duo, formed in 2006 by Holly Ross (vocals, guitar, ex-Angelica) and David Blackwell (drums, backing vocals, also a member of Three Dimensional Tanx), followed that with their debut album If You Were Fruit in 2009 and, earlier this year, Cob Dominos. From the latter came a contender for single of the year, the wonderful ‘Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It)’ with a video that features the legendary John Shuttleworth – complete with “sausage roll thumbs” - and Morecambe promenade. But as much as their songs are funny, they’re also clever, with a vein of existential questioning complementing the parental guidance lyrics. We spoke to Holly and David in June 2011.
SXP: You’re a hard band to define: you might be indiepop one minute, quite noisy the next, and a song like ‘O Death’ captures that split perfectly. Do you ever agonise over where you sit in the periodic table of pop?
The Lovely Eggs: We just play whatever comes out, we don't worry too much about where it actually fits in in a musical style. We are not worried about mixing styles but I suppose we are pretty limited in sound as there are only two of us. Especially on the last album where we used much less variety of instruments/objects in the studio. We like to get heavy as heavier music is quite a big influence over us both. We are also really believe in the punk rock ethos of music having no rules and be able to do whatever you want so that's why our songs are sometimes very different.
SXP: There are bands like British Sea Power and Wild Beasts that grew up in the wilds of Cumbria and made it big (mainly by getting out of there). Lancaster is far more civilised than that but is there a decent music scene in the city or do you need to tour more to get noticed?
The Lovely Eggs: When we formed The Lovely Eggs we had the idea not really to play in our home town as we kind of just wanted to get out there and play in as many different places as we could. We love playing to different crowds and meeting new people. We actually played our first ever gig in New York, just because we really love it. Lancaster has quite a large amount of bands for its size, David works at the main rehearsal room and recording studio there (Lancaster Musicians Co-op) which is non-profit making so aims to help promote and help bands grow. We think we've only played our home town about 6 times in the last 5 years since we formed. We've actually played a couple of sell out home shows this year which were really great. Lancaster is not part of any national scene or touring circuit so it's important to get out and tour. We still live in Lancaster and think it's a bit crappy when bands move to other towns so they can say they come from somewhere more glamorous. Keep it provincial!
SXP: A bit like the Simpsons, your songs have different levels of meaning – adult themes over nursery rhyme rhythms. There’s an instant appeal on one level but you leave listeners with something to think about too. Is that something you do consciously when you write songs?
The Lovely Eggs: All our songs are based on true stories. We write songs about stuff we think about or things we have done or seen. It's nice if the song means something to us. There is an innocence to our songs, but there's a lot of darkness underneath. We are constantly thinking about the universe and life and getting drunk and troubled so I think a lot of that gets ingrained in our songs. The reaction from people has been good though, I think they feel relieved when they realise it's not just them that have thought that thought. There's an honesty in our songs that I think people identify with. A lot of bands write songs about love and breaking up and it's very general. At least when we write a song about getting so drunk you see mice in your house and put down humane traps (it is actually just the skirting board wobbling), there's going to be at least one person in the world that smiles and goes 'yeah that happened to me.'
SXP: Similarly, there’s a lot of humour in your songs and videos, concealing some deeper ideas. ‘Fuck It’ is good, sweary fun on the surface but the lyrics are full of existentialist angst. Do you even worry that you’ll just be seen as a comedy band?
The Lovely Eggs: Yeah we don't want to be seen as a purely comedy band, it's not what we're about. The humour is just a part of everyday life which is what our band is all about. Our songs have meanings or stories behind them and many of them are sparked by dark thoughts and existentialist questions. We are just that type of people. Life is a fucking dirty teatowel, but at least you can wring the fun out of it.
SXP: Did the lyrics of ‘Don’t Look At Me’ come purely from your imagination or is Lancaster populated by people with sausage roll thumbs and washing line smiles (not to mention dog-dirt eyes)? More generally, what inspires your songs?
The Lovely Eggs: Again it's just experiences that influence our song writing. That song is kind of a reaction to name calling. When you live in a small town anyone who doesn't fit into the norm gets verbal abuse in the street, both me and Holly have experienced it and we wanted to stand up against that and ridicule name calling.
SXP: And how did you engage the services of the great John Shuttleworth?
The Lovely Eggs: Well we'd met Graham Fellows before a few years back when he played a gig in our local theatre as Brian Appleton who was this character who taught music technology at the local higher education college. We met up with him after the show and bonded over the love of the Mike Leigh film 'Nuts in May'. We sort of kept in contact and when we were making the video for 'Don't look at me (I don't Like It)' we noticed he was coming to Lancaster again to do a John Shuttleworth show. We thought he'd be perfect for a character in that song so we just wrote to him and sent him the song and asked if he would like to appear in it. He was totally up for it, even when we told him we wanted him to wear a sausage roll on his thumb. It's hard to imagine the video without him in it now so we're glad he agreed to it.
SXP: When I first saw you play, you made a big deal of inventing new musical devices - do you still play with homemade instruments?
The Lovely Eggs: David likes to make different contraptions, some of which work some that don't. The only one we are using live at the moment is the Digital Kazzoo although David contests this and calls it electric.
SXP: Holly, what did being in Angelica teach you about the music business?
Holly: Steve Lamacq likes cider.
SXP: David, are Three Dimensional Tanx still going or are you putting all your Lovely Eggs in one basket now? There’s some great Spacemen 3 style drone-rock available on the web and it would be good to hear more from TDT.
David: I'm still playing with The Three Dimensional Tanx when I can, it gets a bit difficult sometimes as the Eggs are so busy. In fact 3D Tanx have added 2 extra members just so they can continue to play gigs when me and Holly are away. We've had the honour to be sound carriers for Damo Suzuki from Can (which basically means being his backing band without any rehearsals) which was an amazing experience where we performed a two hour live improvised set with him and the whole thing was filmed and recorded. We also did a four hour improvised show called 'The Working Class Goes To Paradise' at Tate Britain with artist Linder Sterling (She designed the first Buzzcocks single sleeve and has done some famous Morrissey photos amongst a load of other great stuff) which was also incredible.
I'm massively into Psych and Krautrock so looking forward to playing some more shows with them soon. Watch out!
SXP: If you could ask Santa for anything this Christmas, what would it be (and assume that “world peace” is out of stock)?
The Lovely Eggs: We'd like to support Sonic Youth or do some collaboration with them, what's Santa’s Email?