Some Bodies, first and foremost, is an escape for it’s inhabitants and those who choose enter their world. Sunscreen, their debut record, lingers in a reverie – quaint, beautifully textured – timeless in the way it affectionately brushes away categorisation for something bolder and broader, with the scope and desire to create something the fathers of the 60s or 70s would’ve called a passion project yet made a fuck ton of money off of on the major labels, you better believe.
The product of hours upon hours of labor to find it, as effortless as the record sounds, may have been a meticulous one but undeniably worth it. Not only a seamless hand in glove between instrumentation and voice, but a beautifully realised commentary on the lives we lead, in attempt to find the answers to why we even do that in the first place.
Yes, as with all good art, delve that little deeper and the true heart begins to unfurl, like a pearl glistening within a cracked shell. If we are attempting to escape, then we must ask why we are doing so? That’s what Some Bodies are asking of themselves – why do we as a society bury our head in the nostalgia of the past to comfort ourselves in the present? The band themselves acknowledge their desire to make music that is effectively nostalgic, but in doing so have made a record to explore their very modern anxieties, using something that could perhaps be deemed counterproductive to find answers for the issues we face daily. As they sing “You know it ain’t over yet you fool”, they realise that acknowledging our flaws as human beings isn’t going to be the immediate change we all need to feel better in ourselves, but it sure goes someway in the right direction, right?
Q: Did you have a particular mindset when you started out?
Freddie: Tom’s a specific type of singer, a good one. I don’t want to compliment him too much but there’s a certain sort of classy, time-gone-by quality to the way he sings that is definitely around today, but it’s not like it was in the 50s and 60s. I think that is why our instrumentals hark back in the way it does, it’s from trying to match Tom’s voice which sounds like something from back then.
Q: Musically you forgo a particular sense of genre for something more appealing in texture and sonically ambiguous. While the melodic qualities of power pop and soft-rock are there, there’s definitely an avant-pop sensibility imbued within the songwriting. I imagine that particular openness in song-writing has allowed you to develop a sense of musical maturity quite quickly?
Freddie: I don’t think any of us had a clue what it was we were doing specifically until it was done.
Tom: That’s kind of what made it what it was at the time right? Obviously we were creating a new project, loads of demos and shit, working it out together. Even when we were recording it, it only took shape when we heard Isaac’s drums specifically in a room in Rockfield (Studios, Wales), when we were like “Ahh, ok, that’s the direction it is going in”. It was only really until now, but there was a good four or months work before that.
Freddie: It changed a thousand times, and I think you can hear that. We were just chasing the songs down different corridors of what we were supposed to do. It was one of those things where we got to Rockfield, Isaac set up his main kit with a 1042 microphones on it, and then it was Stu our producer’s idea to set up a 1960’s jazz kit in the other room with four mics on it. We heard that come back through the speakers and we just thought “shit, that’s what it’s supposed to be”. Not everything changed, but there were huge decisions taken without really talking about it as soon as we heard that. But we had tried everything else (laughs).
Alfie: There was a lot of silliness to it as well, we’d do things like play in a ridiculous style that you’d never do, then you’d find something a bit weird and actually decide to keep that in. Just really spontaneous, let’s do this cause its really funny, sort of things.
Freddie: We were trying to make each other laugh a lot during rehearsals before we went and did it, because we hadn’t played with each other for very long and we knew we were going to record together. So there was a lot of getting to know each other, and also when you go into a room with new musicians you fuck around cause you’re like “oh they can do that thing that’s really fun”, and so there was lots of cocking around. The stuff we were doing as a joke became the way the songs sounded.
Q: Your music unequivocally finds a balance between biting satire and quite humbling self-depreciation, its subject matter can be mocking and facetious but also unafraid to show it isn’t flawless either. Was that an important message for you to be able to put across?
Tom: We’ve definitely always tried to put that into the characters we’ve made, it’s just become more prevalent and makes more sense with what we are doing musically. I think it’s correct to stay humble in everything you do, especially art. Well it might not be, it’s also good to break out and ruffle some feathers, but at the same time being humble is always good.
Freddie: I think humble is a very flattering word to describe that kind of thing, I think it could be seen as massively cowardly as well. I think it takes a lot of bravery to make a big point and then stand there broad chested, proud of yourself for saying something. Especially in a society where your entire Facebook news feed is filled with that kind of righteous, “I am correct” sort of thing. I think it just comes from a place of not being entirely sure what’s going on, bearing witness to things, so much information available to everyone, that to stand their brazen and proud of any point you are making is a bit weird. Cause we can see all the sides of coin instantly now, on any issue, so I think, in equal part, it’s important to be humble in the points you make but I also don’t think we’re brave enough to stand naked on a cliff-edge screaming our points to people.
Q: It’s not a question I particularly enjoy asking, but I feel there is a narrative behind the name of the group, in particular in its use within ‘Escape’? Is it looking at this idea of being someone notable, actually being worth something?
Freddie: I don’t know, I can’t even remember how we came up with the name. You are supposed to have those answers aren’t you where it’s like “I was reading a really clever novel by someone and this line seemed to sum everything up”. I think it’s a little, off-the-cuff joke about that self-depreciating thing again of there being lots of desperate musicians and artists, 50% ourselves included. I know I’ve been guilty of that, you could smell the desperation on anything I was making for ages. Putting the space in the name seemed to be the first of the self-depreciating jokes from the lyrics. It’s amazing how one space bar can come to define what it is. It was the first name that any of us ever came up with that anyone didn’t think was shit. There was a long period of time where Alfie wanted us to be called Crisps.
Alfie: It was amazing, we had it all worked out right. So the first album is called Ready Salted, the second album is the difficult second record so Prawn Cocktail, not for everyone. Then right, the greatest hits, The Multi-Pack. The B-Sides record would be the Crinkle Cuts, that was inspired. Crisps are great, who doesn’t like crisps? Imagine someone coming up to you and saying “do you like crisps?”
Freddie: “Mate, have you heard of crisps?”
Q: That leads quite nicely into my next question actually, I get the impression there is a purposeful air of mysticism about the band, almost as if it’s part of the narrative ideas you are trying to purvey. Would you say the music of the group is instilled with that?
Freddie: It’s that two sides of a coin idea, almost like the cowardice answer from earlier. Are we just not good enough at being bold, brave, knowing what we are and putting that out there clearly and defined like some people do fabulously, or do we want to hold something back that we might actually have up our sleeves. It’s everyone else’s prerogative to decide whether we actually do or not (laughs). But to give it a serious answer, I think we’ve always enjoyed a mystique to stuff, it’s a bit wanky but it’s fun. But we definitely know what we’re doing, we’ve got the next 12 albums of rich tapestry, we know exactly what is going on.
Tom: It adds that layer to it, and I think everyone wants to live in that layer, in that weird, unknown area. It keeps us on the edge as well.
Q: While the style of your music harkens back to this nostalgic idea of the golden era of song-writing, there is something unabashedly present about it, in particular through the hyper-modern anxieties that inform your lyricism. Would you say your music is escapist, and do we as a society spend too much focusing on this nostalgic idea of the past?
Freddie: I think that, the question you’ve asked, is the question the record is posing, and I don’t think we are pretending to have any answers to that question at all. We are wrestling with those ideas in the record. We obviously love music from across the decades, we love looking back on the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s with these rose-tinted glasses, and there is definitely escapism in nostalgia because you are going to a different time in your brain. We’re probably more guilty of it than anyone else, we’ve literally made a record going back and being nostalgic while talking about modern-day issues, and that’s definitely what society is doing.
Tom: Like Fred said, that’s statement is pretty much what we’re trying to ask ourselves. Then when you look back through the other questions you’ve asked as well, it all makes sense. We’re posing these questions but there is no one answer to them, especially when you are also guilty of doing things that you are questioning, it’s really hard to have an answer. It’s like addiction, an addict might say “it’s really bad to have this addiction”, but they are still doing it.
Freddie: Rock music is dead, so.
Q: Would you say retro-revivalism is poisoning the well, or have we actually reached a point of quite progressive creativity?
Freddie: I think we just have a different way of seeing retro-revivalism. They were doing it previous decades, they were copying the past because that was all there was, that was their well. We’ve got a slightly bigger well because more of it has been documented and it’s more accessible to us. So our generation is fucking brilliant at doing that, and it’s fucking cool. Listening to records that take you to a different time in a second, and you’ve got post-modernist paintings with all kinds of shit all over them. I’m glad I’m here now, I’m not glad about everything but I can listen to all of those types of music and look at all this art on my phone, and that’s great. It’s a bit lamer and you don’t get the rose-tinted glasses on it cause it’s now and you are sat in your pants eating noodles in your bedroom, but I’m glad. Is it poisoning the well? That’s a question we’re asking ourselves. Christ, have we managed to somehow be hopeful?
Alfie: Oh god I’m out.
Q: These songs take on a world of their own in a live setting. How do you interpret them live, do they embody a different personality or atmosphere?
Alfie: It’s so different from when we were writing it, and then having this template for which to work off live which we can make really interesting. Working all that out and then adding bits live that we didn’t actually play, that’s a lot of fun.
Freddie: A huge end to the recording process was that we threw a whole load of harmonies at everything, and we’ve had to do those now. It was all Tom on the record, so getting together in a room has been really fun, I’ve never really stood in a room and sung harmonies with people, I strongly suggest everyone tries it sometime, it’s really cool.
Alfie: We were just laughing at each other while we completely missed notes, it was really nice and it feels really good when you all nail it.
Freddie: Can you imagine how fun being in The Beach Boys would be?
Q: Your music is quite grand in its scale, enveloping chord progressions and maximal instrumentation. Where would you like to take this and how would you like to achieve it? Can you imagine say adding an orchestra to performances?
Freddie: “Strip it all back man, get out in the woods, do some drugs. Get out there, listen to some birdsong, just grunt into the microphone”.
Alfie: JUST THE HARMONIES
Freddie: I don’t think we are like Muse where are going to get a male voice choir, two taiko drums, a huge orchestra. A, because we can’t afford it and B, we’re not good enough musicians to write the parts yet. I think we’ve been quite good until now at following what the songs are saying, and we’re also happy to play about. Like Alf saying about it came about from it sounding weird and whacky and us cocking about trying to make each other laugh. So if we do that again and we’ve got an orchestra at our disposal and we’re rolling around on the floor laughing then let’s do it.
Alfie: There’s definitely scope to be explored, especially in pulling things back, playing weird little shows where it’s just not our instruments. It would be good to play these songs in a different way.
Freddie: Get a cajón and a fucking ukulele out there and let the songs really speak. Whenever it comes to recording again we’ll use whatever is available to us at the time, there’ll be no intellect behind it, moments like this afterwards where we sit around and talk about it and we try and impart some creative idea on why there is a cajón on the record. But basically it’s just going to be what we like the sound of at the time.
Words: Ross Jones | Photos: Amia Watling