Interview: The Other Ones on their debut albumThe Other Ones

The Other Ones

Reckless Yes

CD | DL | Streaming

Out now

The Other Ones’ self-titled debut album is out now. Released on Reckless Yes after a couple of strong singles; The Other Ones and Forever Young.

This full-length debut sees the power-pop/punk four-piece deliver more frenetic tunes; occasionally with buzzsaw guitars, always with memorable hooks and often with feedback underpinned by thumping drums.

It’s a strong album that rips along at pace without a weak link. My personal favourites are On Top Of Me and the stripped back centre-piece I Wish I Was Your Boyfriend. The latter being a chance to catch a breath. Most importantly this track really shows off Steph’s voice which is often a welcome part of the mix. Don’t get me wrong, the strength of the Other Ones is that all four members bring something to the party; but this is the first time that her vocals have been so exposed. An analogy if you will bear with me; for those of you who love a bit of EMO (and who doesn’t?); it’s like the contrast between Gerard Way’s vocals on a track like Thank You For The Venom (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge) against Cancer (The Black Parade).

Hopefully, that clears that up…

The Other Ones
@keiraaneephotography

To ‘celebrate’ the release of the long-player I sat down with the band Steph (Vocals); Vicky (Bass); Francis (Drums); Nick (Guitar); for a chat about the album, songwriting, and much more…

LTW. You’ve released a few singles and EPs over the years, over what period has the album been written?

S: The album I suppose has always been on the go, we are always writing in rehearsal rooms and just coming up with new ideas. We had so much that we wanted to get it out there finally as the songs went down so well live when we played them! It’s been amazing to get then recorded and finally be able to get them out there.

N: The album was more or less a continuous process over the last couple of years. We can’t afford the time or money to do really concentrated album sessions, so we booked a few weekend recording sessions, doing live takes of our songs in big chunks, and then just booked odd days to finish them up, periodically releasing some as EPs or singles. The problem we had is that (especially once Francis joined) we kept writing new songs, so we wanted to make sure that we released all of the songs we had left on the album.

V: Exactly, the album seems to have flowed over time and from playing songs at gigs and things we’ve gradually fine-tuned them into what we want the songs to be. I think once Francis joined and we decided on our “final” lineup there was a sense of urgency and more collaboration, so I’ve always thought the album was the culmination of our first chunk of Other Ones’ material, and now we’re onto The Other Ones 2: The Franninator

LTW.  Have you had a different mindset when working towards creating the album? Rather than individual tracks?

S: I think the album was amazing to work on as there are SO many different tracks and ideas that we are able to put all onto one release! It really shows us as a band and how much we are able to do musically.

N: I think we sort of did, but mainly because we had refined our working relationship with Matt (Matt Hill, the engineer at 3Sixty Studios) really well by that point. Our recording process is, generally speaking, to record live takes of a load of songs over a weekend, then we pop back in later to do guitar overdubs and vocals etc when we can. The overdub sessions are always pretty spontaneous, as we rarely have anything more than a rough idea of how supplementary guitar parts etc will sound. By the time we got down to doing the album, we had really got into a groove with this. Actually, I decided really late in the day that we had recorded Sad Case in the wrong key, so we got back in the studio and did that whole track in a day.

V: I think in terms of mindset it goes back to the evolution of the sound of the band and our writing process, moving from just “Vick and Nick” songs to move into a collaborative effort shaped how we record the songs. Instead of going in with a defined way in which the songs would sound, everyone would tweak little bits and it could end up sounding different – kudos to Matt for making us drunkenly sing over and over again.

LTW.  Are you excited that it’s finally out there?

S: Definitely! It’s been a long time coming and we’ve worked so hard as much as we could to get it all done. Also, it’s been great being in the studio so much being able to just put all our ideas into everything we have done. Altogether a hell of a lot of fun!

N: Yes! It really feels like this album is a cap-stone to everything we have done so far. The four of us have a really tight bond, and that has caused us to write a lot of great new songs, so I am glad that now the album is released we can get to work on album two!

V: Omygosh yes. I never thought I could say “Hey my band made an album.” That’s pretty cool.

The Other Ones by The Other Ones

LTW.  You’ve been together for 4/5 years? How did you come together as a band?

N: Vic and I started writing together as she was learning how to play the bass, and we eventually decided that we should try and get a band together to play some of the songs. That proved to be an arduous process, and we went through loads of different members. For a long time, we were a trio, with me doing all the vocals, just so we could start performing!

However, we knew the songs we were writing really needed a female vocalist for the right impact, so we kept searching until Steph answered one of our online ads. Her voice is just so perfect for what we were doing, that I don’t think we ever really felt the band started until she got on board. After going through a few dodgy drummers we met Francis, who immediately fitted in perfectly. I think the key to our current line up is that we are really close as friends, and that makes everything else about being in a band so much better.

S: I was scrolling through and through online looking for bands one night and once I had listened to The Other Ones I knew it was something I’d absolutely love to be a part of. I spoke to Nick and we met in a little pub near my work and spent about an hour and a half just chatting (mostly about Kate Bush and David Bowie). I’m so glad he wasn’t a catfish.

V: Nick somehow talked me into this. It went from “maybe I should play an instrument” to “oh I’ve booked a rehearsal.” Genuinely I kind of fell into it. Probably a good way to learn though as it’s been a learning curve the whole way, it did mean that I got to meet my best pals and play music. Steph has neglected to mention when we first met I was doing my ironing and watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which now seems very rock and roll.

F: We became a band when Nick, Vicky and Steph joined a couple of years ago. Before then it was just me.

LTW. Which bands have had the biggest influence on your sound?

S: For me, influences come from everywhere. I was a huge emo kid back in the day so I probably give off a bit of that. My Chemical Romance and The Used were huge favourites of mine so I love giving emotional performances.

N: I think the biggest influence for me are my two favourite things: concise, catchy pop songs and big, noisy guitars! I’m a huge fan of 60’s pop like Motown and The Beatles, where the focus was on melody and fast-moving harmony, and I love trying to write music like that that also incorporates loud, jangling guitars. All four of us have different tastes, but it all comes together as our own sound once we get in a room.

V: I grew up listening to mainly either Scottish bands, Country Western or pure 80’s so my tastes are a bit all over the place. In terms of the band, I’m very influenced by what I’m listening to at the time and what music is matching my mood. I’m a big fan of Phoebe Bridgers and Future Islands right now so slightly melancholic pop is how I feel. I would say the biggest influences (lyrically) are probably The Smiths and Pulp. I love a good kitchen sink song.

LTW. You have quite a punky sound and look.  What does punk mean to you?

S: Finally being able to not give a fuck.

N: Freedom and emotional release.

V: Complete self-expression without boundaries

F: Living it large

LTW. Is there a set approach to your songwriting? Does the music or idea for lyrics come first?

S: This usually starts with Nick – Nick will have a great idea and send it in whatsapp and we can all build on it. One of us will have an idea and we all build on it collectively once we are in a rehearsal room and you can hear it becoming exactly what we want. The lyrics usually come after me humming/lala’ing along to the track!

N: It really varies a lot. My main concern when writing is the vocal melody and the underlying harmony, so when writing on my own I will often be writing a song without any lyrics at all, which is usually where Steph and Vicky step in. Sometimes I will turn up with a song totally finished, lyrics and all, like Sad Case or Out My Head, and sometimes the band all work together to finish something, which is how we finished On Top Of Me.

Sometimes Vic will write a set of lyrics, and I will have a melody kicking about that fits the vibe, so we will re-write them to merge the two. During the various lockdowns Vic and I have been writing together a lot more, just sitting on the couch throwing melodies and lyrics back and forth until a song feels done, which has been a great way of working.

V: I tend to write lyrics based on a certain event or a feeling, so if I have an idea I’ll emote all over the paper and then see what Nick thinks. Together we’ll whittle it down into some semblance of something and then ping it back and forth. Sometimes it can just be a riff or a couplet that I sing to him (badly) and he translates it into music for me. My musical input is mostly going “no not that note more of a eeeeeeeeee noise.” (Helpful I know).

F: The drums come first, then the music and the lyrics don’t really matter.

LTW. With your lyrics, is there a deliberate consideration about how you position gender identities? Would you say this has an impact on your music?

V: I would say that gender does influence our songs but not in a conventional way. None of us really believe that gender is a fixed identity and this has woven into our songs so that it doesn’t matter how you identify you can still sing along. Case in point; “I Wish I Was Your Boyfriend” written by Nick, sung by Steph but the gender make up in the song is ambiguous and I like that.

Neither Nick or I (I don’t want to speak for Francis or Steph) feel particularly comfortable in a defined “masculine” or “feminine” framework so I think that disparity influences our songs and what we can explore. I’d love to do more stuff like this as society is having more and more conversations about gender. If a person out there can relate to one of our songs and go “huh that’s how I feel” then we’ve done our job.

N: Yes – it’s very important to what we do. Even before we ever wrote songs together, one of the things that Vic and I really bonded over was that we both don’t really fit the expected mould of our respective genders, and that kind of rigid thinking about gender has always seemed very silly to me. It’s a struggle finding yourself as you grow up, not feeling like you meet a certain societal expectation to be a certain way, I suppose that’s really what the song “The Other Ones” is about.

The human ability to express gender and sexuality is limitless and beautiful, and I think that should be celebrated. We try and do that by just weaving these things into the songs in a natural way. For example, in Out My Head, Steph is singing specifically about a woman, but the song is really about the emotional desolation that comes from losing somebody, in this case, it just happens to be a woman singing about another woman.

LTW. Which Other Ones’ track would you recommend to someone to listen to who’d never heard you before?

S: (Tempted to say Holiday by the other, The Other Ones!!!) I think possibly On Top Of Me – it really shows us a band and the sort of topics we tend to sing about. It was also one of the first more ‘collab’ efforts as a band and we really love the song!

V: Probably On Top of Me – it’s just great.

N: I’m really partial to Better Off Alone – it’s got a big melody, big guitars, a spacey bridge. It’s special to us as it’s the first song we wrote with Steph.

F: Get Your Hands Off Me

LTW. Over this period Music Streaming has become the main way most people consume music, how hard is it to build an audience? I imagine there are pros and cons.

N: I think the immediacy of streaming is great, but the problem with it is the economics. I’m beyond thrilled whenever anybody listens to our tunes, and streaming makes it easier for people to find new music like ours than it’s ever been, but it certainly has helped create a culture where music is expected to cost next to nothing. It’s practically impossible to make money from your music being on Spotify or whatever, and the music industry is already stacked very heavily against working-class people participating as it is.

V: I agree with Nick. It is definitely a mixed bag. In terms of audience building, I imagine it was much easier to build an audience when music had to be physically purchased to be enjoyed, but I don’t think we’re ever going to go back to that stage.

LTW. You signed to Reckless Yes last year. How did that happen?

N: When we were looking at labels Reckless Yes immediately stuck out to us, as we liked the bands on their roster and they had, for want of a better word, a great “vibe”. We had been in touch with them a while ago when we were still recording, and they asked us to keep in touch and let them know when the album was recorded. We sent them the rough mixes of what we were doing and they seemed to like it!

F: They sent through a contract but I don’t have a printer so I just did a digital signature.

LTW. From the outside, it looks like there is quite a family feel to the label and an affinity amongst acts. How are you finding it?

N: That is exactly how it feels, and it’s wonderful! Pete and Sarah have fostered a really great little community, it’s a privilege to be a part of it.

V: It’s really lovely actually, I still get a bit OMGITSTHEM when we go on roster calls and the like, the first one we had I was fangirling over being on Zoom with Fightmilk, but it’s a really nice atmosphere. RY definitely feels like a family everyone is very supportive and mutually appreciative.

F: Feels like being a baby kangaroo tucked into its mother sack.

LTW. Had you had an opportunity to meet/play with many of the others before the pandemic hit?

S: Unfortunately not enough! We’ve had a few zoom sessions though – can not WAIT to play with the others.

V: We cannot flipping wait. It’s surreal to go from oh I wish I could play with them to oh wow I can play with them!!!!

LTW. Are there any particular venues or towns/cities you’re looking forward to playing once we’re allowed out?

S: Everywhere and anywhere!!

N: In London, I particularly love playing The Victoria, but I would really like to get playing outside of London a lot more.

V: I’d literally take a car park right now. I keep telling them we could do a tour of Kirkcaldy (and it’s 18 odd pubs) but no one seems keen?

LTW. Last question. What are your Top 3 favourite songs of all time?

S: This changes a lot, my repeated song right now are

  • Famous Last Words – My Chemical Romance
  • The Last Sunrise – Aiden
  • Space Oddity – David Bowie

V: Ah jeez.

  • I Know It’s Over – The Smiths
  • Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
  • Sitting on the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding

N: Oh God, that’s hard. I have no idea, so will give you 3 songs that I have been playing a lot recently

  • C2.0 – Charli XCX
  • Mayor of Simpleton – XTC
  • Kyoto – Phoebe Bridgers

F:

  • Propaghandi – Night Letters
  • Roddy Frame – English Garden
  • Snoop Dogg – The Just Eat Song
The Other Ones
@keiraaneephotography

For more on the band, you can visit Bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

~

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

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50 going on 30... Dad to McKenzi... Season Ticket for MUFC... Collector of Music... Enjoys writing, especially about Manchester bands / Factory Records... Favourite Music : Joy Division/New Order, Wedding Present, The Smiths, Northside, Fightmilk, The Fall, The Jam, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Billy Bragg, Beatles, World Of Twist, My Chemical Romance, James, Happy Mondays, Section 25, Working Mens Club.... so so many....

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