We’re utterly privileged to be able to bring to you (below) an exclusive stream of the new album by legendary ‘lost’ members of the Manchester music scene The Creature Comfort. That they aren’t held in the same high esteem as some of the other members of the cities illustrious music history (the likes of Joy Division, Oasis & The Stone Roses) is a travesty that we in some way hope to redress by shining a light on this, their soon to be released new album, the first after a gap of very nearly twenty years!
Described in the press release as being purveyors of “outsider rock music (which) inhabits a sonic space somewhere between Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds” I myself rather hear a sound much closer to home, something resembling those excellent late 80s Peel favourites The Nightingales & Yeah yeah Noh who, in turn, were always said to have been massively influenced by another of Manchester’s greatest bands, The Fall.
The Creature Comfort were managed by Gareth Evans (The Stone Roses) & during their time together they shared the stage with many of the bigger named bands of the period. Their live shows was legendary. Quoting from the press release:
Riotous live performances, radio play and press coverage gained them a large underground following in the region (the pinnacle of which was selling more tickets than REM at The Gallery). On the cusp of joining the pantheon of acts like Oasis and Elbow, the band were forced (to) split up due to personal circumstances.
And now the band is back:
Led by original member, songwriter and frontman Ben Le Jeune (with the help of a new line up for live shows and beyond), this year sees The Creature Comfort embark on their first live shows and single and album releases of the millennium.
The next of those live shows double up as the album launch show & is in Manchester’s (where else?) at Gullivers on Friday 11th Oct. More details can be found in the flyer below or on the Facebook event page (where you can find links to buy tickets of course):
The band’s eponymously titled new album is due to be released on 7th Oct by Critter Communication. The album precedes two singles ‘Sally Sucks‘ – a Limited Special Edition single which was sold to local fans on the band’s recent run of Manchester shows – and ‘Sauce’, set for a full UK release on 30th September.
Not only have we got a premiere of the album, but we also managed to send the band’s leader, original member, songwriter and frontman Ben Le Jeune a few questions, the answers to which you can find below the stream. A full review of the album will follow, but for now have a listen & see what you think.
Before we jump in with our questions to Ben I’ll return to the press release for this quote:
Ben Le Jeune’s Belgian background and beatnik upbringing might explain his left of centre songwriting gift which sets The Creature Comfort apart from their more visceral counterparts. Le Jeune’s lyrics occasionally lapse into French and surrealism with an offbeat observational style which adds an engaging juxtaposition to their rawer post-punk musical influences.
Louder Than War: I would like to ask you about your new album such as how it came to be? What was the inspiration behind it?
Ben: Ha – that’s a question that could cover a whole interview.
Well, it’s actually our debut album and it has come about through a range of factors / inspirations.
Primarily, the album and all the activity that’s happening now has been driven by a genuine and insane desire to give the world an opportunity to discover some awesome music that it missed out on the first time around. It’s about giving, really…
It’s about giving people who care about music a chance to discover what is – both musically and live in concert – one of the absolute best yet forgotten bands to have come out of Manchester. A band that had a large underground following (we sold more tickets than REM at The Galery, and helped keep The International – one of the key large music venues of the time – open), was looked after by the Stone Roses manager with the plan to break us onto the scene after their success (and therefore to be the missing link between the Roses and Oasis?) but which self-destructed before it could be known more widely.
So it’s about The Creature Comfort as a legendary lost Manchester band and reaching out in this connected world to the outsiders, the dispossessed, and all those for whom music has real meaning. ‘Music for the good of your critter soul’ I call it.
It would never have happened if it wasn’t also about me as the band’s singer, founder and general fool, and my personal re-emergence from a dark place – from what I call my psychic breakdown. A soul fracture which led to my own musical exile and burying my true self away for over 10 years. So this album is about a rebirth, an awakening from hibernation, whatever…
It’s also about a true punk ethos: sticking to your vision, no compromise, DIY ethic. Know what I mean?
It’s about hoping to inspire people in the same way that I get inspired by music that I feel to be true or special or just amazing..
It’s come about from timing, energies and testing boundaries.
Louder Than War: Would you tell us about how the band first started in the 80s?
I’d come up from down south after a year spent sleeping on people’s floors in London, to go to Manchester University, though more to form a band than to study. Close to despair at the lack of like minded musicians, I finally got answers to my adverts from the guys that would help me form the seminal line up of The Creature Comfort: guitarist Danny Evans (he’s now part of the regular Elbow team and an established sound engineer and producer) who was a massive fan of Foetus (Jim Thirlwell) and Ron Asheton, second guitarist Norman Knight (an unpredictable genius cross between Wilko Johnson, Syd Barret and James Williamson), precision drummer Ged O’Brien (allegedly he taught Reni from the Stone Roses how to play – or was it the other way round? – and also drummed for King Of The Slums), and bassist Steve Bradley, originally a priest from Blackpool I think – and a massive Mission fan – always a bone of contention within the band!!
We soon realized we had a pretty special sound – psychedelic, punk, Motown / soul – and just worked our butts off to be better and more amazing than anyone else, and the substances helped too.
Louder Than War: What was the most positive and the most negative experience you have had making music?
Ooh, well, with every up there’s got to be a down you know?
The most positive recently has been going back into a recording studio (at Blueprint Studios in Manchester) for the album and the positive vibes I was enveloped in. Feeling recognised as an artist, performer – and especially as lyricist was kinda special. The same actually with the recent shows and the vibe from people there.
The most negative … putting our trust in people who were close to the band and then getting ripped off. That pretty much destroyed us.
But you know music is so full of paranoia and negativity anyway, it’s horrendous. Ultimately anyway music is about GIVING and maybe even getting something back. In any case, negatives are just another force to be put to positive use haha.
Well, no – the band disappeared because I disappeared from the music scene – I didn’t want anything to do with it!
Louder Than War: I was living in Manchester in 1988-90, during the ‘Madchester’ scene, a very exciting time. What was your experiences of the city back then?
I don’t remember a huge amount in any great detail -too many dietary supplements I guess- it was cool and there was a special vibe going around (and a good summer!?) but I do remember a lot of really shite music (personally, from a musical perspective it was just a distraction – yet another bandwagon). We were always quite apart from the Manchester scene – ‘of it’ but not ‘with it’ if you know what I mean?
Louder Than War: Do you enjoy performing on stage?
Oh yes – on stage is where I’m in my element – a fish in water. It just feels natural – somewhere to be free. I like the action and unpredictability.
The same goes for rehearsals when the music’s swinging and the brain synapses are popping – that too is another positive experience!
Louder Than War: The album has a very natural production without the modern day techniques often used. What did you design the album to sound like?
I was trying to produce something timeless. Listening back to the music that inspired me, and the production on some of those … Well, you don’t need to do anything clever if the songs are there and the playing is in the zone.
I was surrounded by an amazing team who instinctively understood the natural and immediate sound I was trying to achieve: the band line up, producer Peter Glennie, engineer Fred Kindt (also keyboardist from the Slow Show), and the superb studio that is Blueprint.
Louder Than War: What are your favourite tracks on the album and why?
Sauce – Because it’s just a natural boost and a pleasure to sing each time.
I Do Need You – It’s a 7-minute epic which can be difficult to pull off – the dynamics are right and the end section features an awesome bit of guitar from the producer Peter Glennie in the end section.
Windowpane – Because it’s new and an ode to Moss Side and could have gone so wrong – but finally ended up how I imagined it would be – and even, amazingly, with production that reminds me of The Changeling by The Doors. Features some great keyboards from the engineer Fred Kindt (engineer and also in The Slow Show).
Louder Than War: What has the band got planned in the foreseeable future?
We’ll be launching the album with a date at Gullivers on Friday 11th October. We’re also waiting to have some other dates confirmed including London. Studio-wise, we have a lot of material to record and aim to have another release out for the new year.
Once again the album drops proper on Monday you should visit the Facebook event page for details about the album launch show on 11th Oct.