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Interview

The Medusa Snare: Adam John Miller

Article written by Ged M - Dec 20, 2009

medusa2_site.jpg
The Medusa Snare, courtesy of www.underexposed.org.uk
We mourned the passing of the Manhattan Love Suicides but they’ve left a prolific and high quality back catalogue and have also spawned two great looking/ sounding bands: Darren and Caroline’s The Blanche Hudson Weekend and The Medusa Snare. Describing themselves as “fuzzed up minimalist indie pop at full volume”, The Medusa Snare comprises ex-Manhattan Love Suiciders Adam John Miller and Rachel Barker, and John Perry, E. Max Broady and Daniel Leach Morris. The excellent Cinderella, the first Medusa Snare album, has just been released on Squirrel Records.

As Adam explains in the interview, he’s always been a musical multi-tasker. The Snare was one of his projects alongside the Manhattan Love Suicides but he’s also played with The Wednesday Club, The What I Wanted To Do’s and Art, Fuck and Death Shit. The Wednesday Club is just about to release the more indiepoppy Katapult on Oddbox Records while Adam has previously released three records under his own name: The Swedish Decapitation Scene (2005), Florentino Floro (2006) and The Dolphin Hotel (2007). We spoke to him in December 2009.

SXP: Why did the Manhattan Love Suicides decide to split just as you seemed to be making a real name for yourselves?

Adam: We all felt like we had made the statement we wanted to make as The Manhattan Love Suicides. We’d always tried to stick to the “hit and run” ethos as much as possible and didn’t want to dilute any of what we had already achieved. Maybe subconsciously we were aware of the way scenes are built up and broken down so quickly these days and we didn’t want to become victims of that, but really it just felt as though it had come to a natural conclusion.

SXP: How long has the Medusa Snare been in existence? Was it just a “side project” to the Manhattan Love Suicides or did you have greater ambitions for it? And was it easy to translate from a bedroom operation to the full band you have now?

Adam: I’d been making records myself and with friends for several years before The Manhattan Love Suicides came about, but then that sort of dropped off as things gathered momentum. I started The Medusa Snare originally to record an EP of some songs I had knocking around that didn’t necessarily fit the MLS style, but that I still wanted to do something with. Eddy Lines (Downdime, former MLS drummer) helped me out with the drums and we did half the songs on Cinderella (back in July 2008) and then I got tired of waiting for something to happen with them so recorded another bunch and thought I’d make an album of it. This was all done before the MLS split. The first Medusa Snare show was just me and Eddy, and then John and Max joined and we did a couple more. Then when the MLS split Eddy decided to concentrate on Downdime so Rachel took over the drums and Dan joined to play bass. Everything fell into place pretty easily and as we had all been playing music together for a while in various guises it didn’t take long to take the songs out of the bedroom and onto the stage.

SXP: How is your own transition from bassist of the Manhattan Love Suicides to frontman of The Medusa Snare?

Adam: Playing on the train at Indie Tracks just after announcing the MLS split was a bit like being thrown in at the deep end, but before the MLS I had been playing guitar and singing in other bands so it wasn’t anything I was completely unfamiliar with.

SXP: There’s a different sound to The Medusa Snare compared to the Manhattans – you hear more of Guided By Voices and bands like The Clean from New Zealand. Who are the bands that influence you?

Adam: I hadn’t yet heard any of the Flying Nun bands when I started recording Cinderella although The Clean , The Verlaines and Snapper have since become massive influences. Guided By Voices were one of the first bands I fell in love with and inspired me to try start writing songs. The home recording DIY ethic was as much an influence on The Manhattan Love Suicides, but the style didn’t really fit with the image; hopefully these things have crept through into The ‘Snare. I was also wary of the MLS template: that statement had been made and I wanted to open things up a bit more. I’m a big fan of the strong melodies and rhythms of bands like The Feelies and Electrelane and also of the skewed pop sensibilities of the Elephant 6 bands.

SXP: You’ve also just released the Katapult album (by the Wednesday Club) on Oddbox Records. With about three-fifths of the members being part of the Medusa Snare, how are they different?

Adam: Me and John have been making music together for nearly ten years now. We started using The Wednesday Club name back in 2004. We used to run an open mic night in Leeds that happened every other week and on the odd weeks we would write and record as The Wednesday Club. Then Max started joining in and we got a drummer and started playing some shows. In The Wednesday Club, me, John and Max all contribute equally: it’s an excuse for us to indulge in our love of short weird pop songs. Katapult is our third album and we’re very pleased for it to be coming out on Oddbox Records! John and Max both have their solo projects too; The Medusa Snare began when I got bored of using my own name for my solo output.

SXP: How do you manage so many projects simultaneously – releasing 3 solo works since 2005 while being a member of several bands at the same time, including the Manhattan Love Suicides?

Adam: It can be quite daunting trying to balance it all on top of a full time job but it’s what I love doing so I always manage to find the time somehow. Admittedly I’ve had more time to devote to my other projects since the demise of The Manhattan Love Suicides. Recording at home is also a massive advantage. Since becoming obsessed with Guided By Voices as a teenager I have always admired people like Robert Pollard, prolific songwriters who have various outlets for their creativity. I write in quite a few different styles so it makes sense to separate it out a bit.

SXP: It’s interesting that among your interests are people like Bill Callahan and John Darnielle, both of whom are known for a more elegant, poetic approach to songwriting. Are they particular influences on your writing and are we likely to hear less fuzzed and more poetic songs from you?

Adam: Bill Callahan and John Darnielle are two of my favourite lyricists. Nothing is ruled out in The Medusa Snare, there may well be some subtle poetic introspection on subsequent releases. I don’t think that guitar fuzz and poetics are mutually exclusive though.

SXP: You also quote Erik Satie on the sleeve and Bukowski in the lyrics. That’s a long way from the “twee” or “fucked up” themes of many indiepop songs. Are they particular inspirations?

Adam: I got really into Erik Satie (as a person, not necessarily his compositions) towards the end of putting Cinderella together. He’s a fascinating character. The quote in the sleeve hopefully goes some way to summing up the over arching sentiment of the record. As for Bukowski, I take a lot of inspiration from what I’m reading as well as from what I’m listening to. I have always got a bit excited by references to literature in songs and the relationship between different forms of expression.

SXP: The Manhattans, and to a lesser extent The Medusa Snare, have a sound that’s very popular nowadays. Do you prefer to be on bills with like-sounding bands or with radically different ones? (You've just played in Leeds with Bo Ningen who seem to be a band with a very different sound.)

Adam: We try and play shows with bands with a similar sound. We were supposed to play with Ringo Deathstarr recently in Leeds but there was a mix up with the dates and it fell through, which was a real shame. We were asked to support Bo Ningen and, yeah, we probably weren’t the most appropriate support, but we were excited about playing with a Japanese psychedelic rock band (after reading Julian Cope’s Japrocksampler). I guess it doesn’t matter so much to us who we are on a bill with, as long as it makes some sense to the audience and people can get something out of it.

SXP: What future plans do you have for recording/ playing live? And will you be recording with a full band now?

Adam: We will be recording as a full band from now on. I have the material written for a couple of EPs, one of which will see the light on Trev’s fantastic Oddbox Records in the new year. We’re doing some new Wednesday Club songs for Cloudberry Records too. It would be nice to get out and play some shows around Europe or America over the summer, and Indie Tracks, of course!

Links:
http://www.myspace.com/themedusasnare

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