The Narrows Interview
As regular readers of Louder Than War will know we're big fans of "dark electro guilt pop" band The Narrows over here. With their debut album set for release in a few days we decided it was time to have a chat with the guys. Read the interview between them & Cath aubergine below.
Here at LTW we like bands with a bit of imagination, and that's something The Narrows have by the bucketload. This time last year we interviewed them as they started work on their debut album, and we've been keeping an eye on them ever since ”â indeed, they've been “keeping an eye on”Â us too, as no less than three LTW contributors found themselves walking through central Manchester wearing large paper eyeball masks (and somehow ending up putting the wind up the Deansgate branch of the Church of Scientology) for the video for their recent single “There Are Ghosts In These Machines”Â - you can read about that surreal video shoot here and watch the resulting video at the foot of this page.
The album is ready and will be released on 4th June on Cognitive Dissonance Records. The band describe it as:
“an album of dramatic scale and scope - an exploration of paranoia, destruction and the influence of corrupt authority in a dark, troubled modern world. Its sounds range from seething electronica, shattering rock and haunting melancholia.”Â
It is being released on Limited Edition vinyl, as a Deluxe CD box set and as a digital download (all available via the band's website) and they'll be doing two album launch gigs later that week in Manchester and London.
So bearing all that in mind we thought it was time for another word with them”Â¦
LTW: So what was all that eyeball parade stuff about then?
The Narrows: The initial idea came from our resident artist Tompop - he designed our logo and the eyeball and has been integral in the forming of our identity. He imagined a giant funeral march with the eyeballs. Then we thought we'd do it on April 1st and Palm Sunday for obvious reasons. It was also symbolic of some kind of invasion and the eye is integral to that - the voyeuristic nature of government surveillance and intelligence. Plus it made a fucking top video.
LTW: And have you heard back from the Scientologists?
Narrows: Ha! No. Weirdly. The other day I thought I saw Tom Cruise following me in a car with blacked out windows. Turned out it was just a regular weird little troll, as opposed to a multi-millionaire psychologically disturbed one.
LTW: When we last interviewed you a year ago you were talking about converting a little room at the back of (singer) Phil's house into a makeshift studio - I'm guessing that happened?
Narrows: That did indeed happen. It is essentially in the middle of nowhere on the top of a hill, surrounded by sleeping chickens and darkness. It was weird but beautiful.
LTW: Have you done it all in there and all yourselves?
Narrows: We did some of it there and some of it in Adam's bedroom studio, which is where it was also mixed. We recorded everything ourselves and Adam mixed it. It took us a long time and at intermediary points we all nearly suffered strokes, but it was worth it. There is an embryo of a plan to release some remixes of the songs in the future, so keep 'em peeled.
The vinyl release of the album is being released by Cognitive Dissonance Records. It is their first release along with Tribal Fighters EP. They are wonderful people called Hannah and Dan who are passionate about new music. We're putting the album out on Deluxe CD Box set ourselves, but it's all falling under the same banner. We are very lucky to have them on board and be passionate about us - they kind of represent the spirit of proper independent music.
LTW: Last year we also talked about how hard it is trying to fit being in a band around full time jobs - how did it all work out for you?
Narrows: It got very difficult at times, there's no doubt about that. It is extremely difficult to write and record an album around full time work. When you throw in rehearsing, gigs and trying to get people (press, DJs, blogs) aware of who you are, it becomes very hard work. We did it. But we could do with a holiday.
LTW: I recently read a statistic that there was (this was in the USA, but I'm guessing it's similar here) a 48% drop between 2002 and 2011, in professional musicians i.e. people who make a living wage from their music in one way or another... do we simply have to accept that this is the way it is now?
Narrows: I think so. Until some genius comes up with a way of it being a viable option to exist on again. The real problem is time. Musicians who got signed for a few albums and given some advance cash to survive on were really just buying themselves time to be creative and space to allow them to be creative in. Bands could find themselves and discover what they wanted to do. You can still do that, but it takes much longer and there is the constant pressure of reality seeping in - bills, rent, etc. This is probably why something like 60% of successful artists (in terms of chart success) have been privately educated. They're the only ones who can afford to try and make a proper go of it, on their gap years. Ten years ago they would have been spending Dad's cash on discovering themselves in Bangkok. Now they make bands like Mumford and Sons.
LTW: You've always had a certain level of politics in the lyrics, and if anything the country's even more fucked than it was a year ago - has this had an influence?.
Narrows: Of course it has! We've purposely tried not to label this a 'political' album per se - we don't want to stick labels on things that different people will get different things from. But the whole album has a theme running through it - ideas about interference and invasion and politics and greed and war and money and power. It's about invasions in terms of illegal wars, invasions of privacy, invasions
and erosions of human rights and dignities. We try to write about specific ideas in a non-specific way. Sometimes we try to create a fictional narrative around a very true event or idea. We also try to examine modern history in terms of how it resonates today.
LTW: So when and where can we see you live next?
Narrows: We launch the album at The Soup Kitchen in Manchester on June 8th and tickets are available here. We have asked our friends and geniuses Vei and Mount Fabric to play with us. It's going to be a hell of a time. Then we launch the album in London at The Urban Bar in Whitechapel on June 9th, tickets for which are available here.
All words Cath Aubergine. More Louder Than War articles by Cath can be read here. Cath mainly writes for the website Manchestermusic.co.uk, another Manchester based culture & music website.