Louder Than War’s Katie Clare last spoke to Gary Jarman last year in Tokyo just after The Cribs had released Payola, a retrospective of their extensive back catalogue and were touring Australia and Asia. Fast forward a bit to July 12th 2014 and both Katie and Gary and back in the UK, in Readuing in fact, where the following “catch up” interview took place…
Gary: Japan was in October right? That was a really wild tour – a tough schedule too, no sleep but it was a really good tour. We got to some places we always wanted to in South East Asia where we’ve always had a really good following. Since then the big Christmas shows in Leeds and the Weezer Cruise: which was cool. I had a fear it would be a bit like spring break on a boat but it wasn’t like that at all it was really communal everyone was in the same circumstances: the bands and the audiences we would all eat breakfast together and I enjoy stuff like that sometime. We did it because we like Weezer and we liked the surrealism of getting to the Bahamas playing shows. So after last year being in limbo this year is cool: we’ve written a lot of stuff and demoed a lot too – we demoed in Portland because I was out there, Ross knowing he was having a baby soon came to Portland a bunch of times to make sure we got some sessions in first we did those at my place and now we feel we’ve got enough stuff for a record. Over the summer we are going to turn screws on the songs and finish them up – a studio is booked to record in October in New York with Ric Ocasek from The Cars producing. We have never worked with him before we have always wanted too but he is a really busy guy so it’s been hard to get time with him – we are really excited to be working with him. So October recording and we’re going to do it really quick three maybe four weeks.
With the recording being that quick are you looking to release this year?
It depends but probably not it is kind of weird releasing at Christmas so probably January 2015 that is the plan. I don’t think we have ever released a record at the beginning of the year and I think it’ll give us a good excuse to do a lot of touring. Putting a record out at festival time is like release record then straight into festivals so we are trying to be really proactive with the timing on this record: do it like we did with the first record – release record and then just get out there and play it.
Last night we played a show in Liverpool it was our first UK show of 2014 people came to the show and it sold out, we never take that for granted, it’s quite emotional really. I try not to get too cornball about these things but it is really nice to be able to go away for a while come back play one show and reconnect. We just want to make sure when we release we can be around a lot.
There is lots of new stuff going on and everyone feels excited and energised. We put out Payola for the 10 year anniversary and now it feels like a new leaf is being turned over – we are working with different people and I’m sure everyone says it … but it does feel positive.
Do you feel there’s been a change in you as people and that is part of the reason there is this new energy around you?
Yes a lot, not idealistically our idealism and our ethos has changed very little, our circumstances have changed we all live in different places and we don’t spent as much time together as we did and that helps keeps up our enthusiasm. It used to be great we all lived together it made us a close band but after a couple of records, while it’s good to have the same world view, if you are all on exactly the same page all the time after a while it can get a little myopic. It is great those guys can come from New York and from here to do sessions in Portland and I’d like to think we can get the influences from all those places we are now.
Living somewhere offers that opportunity more so than when you just pass through on tour.
When you are staying in one place for a length of time that’s when things really permeate your ideas. A lot of our early stuff; we were really influenced by early Beatles records, so we had songs about love and girls. The second record was influenced by the experiences we were having on the road and going out on a night however that gets kind of old after a while. I mean I still like that. The Ramones are one of my favourite bands and I still really like that energetic, street, party music. I don’t want to be reductive about their music in any way – I still love stuff like that. When you spend time away from each other maybe our surroundings have more of an influence on us: although I’m living in Portland I’m not going to grow a beard and start singing sounds about the high seas.
The last time we spoke you did say there really would be a change in your sound.
Yes I guess we always think that, it is really pop the new stuff which I’m really happy about. We have always tried to keep things snappy anyway we’ve tried to cut away the layers a little bit. David Fridmann, who we worked with on the previous record, really liked to use a lot of layers and what we’ve been working on now is much leaner. It really sounds poppy and that is what I am really excited about because pop is fundamentally my favourite thing as long as it’s not straight pop as in it being easily digestible more like when weirdoes make pop music. We are really embracing that side of the band and it’ll be or should be quite concise and immediate.
Sounds like we should expect some seriously energetic songs.
There is a lot of stuff that I’ve been writing that’ll eventually be put aside for a solo project maybe because I’ll bring it to the band and it is maybe be a bit too indulgent. I don’t realise when I’m writing it. The stuff we use for The Cribs is more immediate and more visceral rather than cerebral – it is probably quite reductive talking like that but with The Cribs we like things to provoke a feeling and sometimes if you get too involved in trying to craft something, trying to be perfect and make everything just right you lose that immediate connection.
It’s very difficult to fake spontaneity and passion.
Yes and indie rock and punk rock well I guess more so in indie rock when people start having success and having too much of a sense of self belief the music loses something because it’s their struggle and their sense of dissatisfaction that is at the root of why people love those bands in the first place. The thing that always appealed to me was that it was difficult coming from a small town it was difficult to do and difficult to find acceptance but that made me really committed. Now I’m in a situation where this is what I do and I live in Portland which is a very arts friendly city almost the opposite from where I grew up in the fact where if you identified yourself as an artist you were sort of setting yourself up for derision so it’s the reverse of how I developed in the first place something I would like to try and avoid is comfortableness – I like the struggle. I think The Cribs have always thrived off adversity and a lot of our early singles have sentiments behind the songs that are pretty vitriolic. You don’t want to be a curmudgeon, a nihilist or be too acerbic but I think some of our most popular songs like Hey Scenesters! seem to be quite negative in sentiment, but being natural, being honest and to encapsulate what we were feeling, that is what use to really fuel our fire. Now we’re established you don’t have that element of the battle anymore and you can’t grind the same axe forever you have to develop but at the same time I don’t want to lose touch with what it was that got me interested in the first place.
It must be easier to stay in touch with those original emotions and passions when you’re playing live?
Yer it is and I don’t think that’ll ever change. Touring can be quite difficult at times because there is never a night when it’s not intense. I’ve known bands in the past – I’ve toured with bands in the past where they’ll be like “It’s only….” let’s say Reading because we are here “It’s only Reading so don’t blow your voice out, don’t strain yourself too much because we’ve got London tomorrow”. I think that is depressing. I’m from a smaller town and I think that helps me realise that there is never a good time to have a less than 100% effort show because those people that’s their show and the only one they’ll get to see you at.
There’s no such thing as a practise audience.
I’ve heard people on the road before say “Hey we’ve got press people coming down to the London show so let’s take it easy tonight and knock it out the park tomorrow” – even if we had that thought in our mind I still couldn’t imagine repressing the emotion and just getting up there and satisfying obligations.
Even a song played several thousand times?
It does make you insane to a degree and the only way to combat that it to actually give a shit. If you do care it becomes a non-issue, the riff for Another Number for example I’ve heard that at least once a day since 2002 and it’s an intentionally irritating riff, it’s like an ear worm, but when we played Liverpool last night and I heard that riff I didn’t think “Oh man we’re doing this again”. I don’t want to sound self aggrandising but me and my brothers we used to have a reputation for getting hurt a lot, getting sick and our gear getting beat up but we don’t notice any of it happening and we never had much self preservation and I think that’s why it’s still fun.
That you have fun does show.
If you don’t you become professional performers and I think that definitely is one thing that can never be levelled at us – and I never take that as an insult either. It still matters to us and that is a hard thing to maintain for a decade … in fact I’ve been on tour for 12 years that’s a fucking long time and I certainly haven’t got any complaints to make about it in fact completely the opposite.
So the new album early 2015 – will there be a UK tour alongside that release?
Yes we are hoping to concentrate first on a UK tour then try and get back to Asia and a lot of places where we’ve had great shows but don’t get back to so often, you can get stuck on the typical touring treadmill, but we want to go where people really want us to go. There are a lot of places in South East Asia and South American we want to tour there properly, you know those places that we rarely get to, and are always really good when we do.
Sounds like an expensive way to tour.
It really is I mean sometimes you lose money, sometimes you break even – for us it’s satisfying that we get to meet people that have been in our corner for a really long time and we have a great time doing it because it is really really fun so the struggle to make ends meet doesn’t matter. We are brothers so it is not hard to get everyone onside we can just say “Hey there are some people in Kuala Lumpur who really like us – let’s go play there” and you know we will – we’ll find a way to make it happen.
The Cribs are lighting up a series of festivals around the country this summer (see dates below) for full information about each one, including how to buy tickets, head over to The Cribs official website (thecribs.com) which, along with their Facebook page and their Twitter (@thecribs) is the best place to keep up to date with all the latest Cribs news.
Those festival dates in full:
- July 27th Tramlines Festival, Sheffield
- August 9th Boardmasters Festival, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly
- August 10th Split Festival, Sunderland
- September 12th Long Division Festival, Wakefield
- September 13th Shrewsbury Fields Forever, Shrewsbury