Louder Than War’s Roxy Gillespie caught up with Jamie Roberts, frontman of Liverpool band Wild Fruit Art Collective to find out a bit more about the band and what drives them artistically.
Wild Fruit Art Collective are a loose, musically anarchic band from Liverpool playing dark, slightly chaotic music which has been making waves on the local scene. Jamie Roberts, who plays guitar and provides the deep, resonant vocals, spoke to Louder Than War about his musical vision and the importance of true creativity.
Louder Than War: So, Jamie, Wild Fruit Art Collective are making real waves on the Liverpool live scene, as well as further afield. I love the slightly unplanned feel to your gigs. The whole thing is really fluid, but always hangs together really well. What have you got planned in the near future?
Jamie Roberts: Hi, thanks. It’s nice that you mention and understand the energy we are presenting when we play live. It seems we divide those who write about music quite cleanly down the middle, those who passionately get it and love it, and those who wish we would just shut up. It’s kind of funny because we work very hard on our music and those wrong notes. They’re intentional. They’re only wrong if you’re listening from a very limiting perspective, I always interpreted rock and punk music to be about freedom and rebellion, not about obeying a 7 note scale like it is gospel. All the notes are equally important and when it’s discordant it’s just so much more expressive, to me at least, and I think when people want to criticise us for not obeying a dogma, it reflects more upon those individuals than it does us. As for plans, it’s just more of the same isn’t it, write songs, play gigs, piss off as many people as we can and hope eventually a rich paedophile thinks I’m young and supple enough to invest a few million in the band.
You are a relatively new band, but I know you’ve been in others before. Is that the same for the other band members?
When I was a bit younger I kind of had this bizarre view that I would play guitar and as long as I was passionate enough everything would work out. I’m old enough now to realise nothing ever really works out. These days I just want to create the art I want to experience, I don’t care who comes to see us or who thinks what about what we do, I feel like it’s a true expression of myself and that’s enough, the fact that people come and see us when we put on shows is just an added bonus, the friends I’ve made through people who “get” our music are some of the best friends I’ve ever made, if you get it, you get me and I think that’s kind of beautiful enough. The other guys have been in bands before and, in fact, Conor and myself rehearsed with another band in one of my favourite venues, District, and we ended up playing guitar at each other for like 10 hours a day and would go home and not even realise the rest of the band hadn’t bothered to turn up, so that’s kind of where the embryo for Wild Fruit Art Collective was fertilized. But nobody is in this band based on musical ability, they’re here because they are my best friends, it’s just a nice co-incidence they blow my mind every time they conceive an idea.
You are all really part of the current Liverpool scene. How do you find things musically in Liverpool at the moment?
You know what, it’s like this really brilliant dichotomy that I’m fascinated by. There are so many bands with these horrible egos, and they’re just terrible people essentially, and then there are hundreds of the nicest, greatest people all just getting on with working on music and making culture happen. What is particularly great is that not a single one of these musicians with the big, out of whack egos are doing anything remotely interesting, whereas the guy who will offer to drive you to Manchester to buy gaffer tape or something equally ludicrous, without you even asking, will be a musical genius like Jamie Lindberg, who plays drums in The Floormen and bass in Samurai Kip. It’s just amazing to me how the higher up the talent spectrum you get, the nicer the characters become. And then we have the whole High Soul Records thing, and the Corridor. There is one corridor where we rehearse, and honestly in one corridor you have Ohmns, The Probes, Wild Fruit Art Collective, The Floormen, Samurai Kip, Dead Houses, Jo Mary and more, I’ve probably missed one of my favourite bands out because I struggle to remember, but we all joke that it’s the last corridor on earth, the last place where culture is being created, it’s amazing to be a part of something bigger like that, there’s a lot of love and no dickheads. I can’t remember the last time I was part of something with so many people and there wasn’t any dickheads. (We want to convince SPQR to come and join us all because we love SPQR). I love that it’s all become very independent, there’s a massive sense that we don’t need the old pathways, these people are just there to take what little money you might make, and very rarely, if ever, have anything real and tangible to offer you, I despise the majority of these types of culture vultures, if you’re in a young band, get into DIY as soon as possible because the sooner you realise the only thing that creates the value in music is the artists, the less time, energy and money you’re going to waste on appeasing people who will never value you. Unless you just want to write generic pop and look pretty, then you can fuck off.
You have released the tracks Wishful and Under The Hooves already. What new track releases have you got planned for us? Are there any plans for more formal releases in the near future?
We are currently in the studio getting 2 tracks, Fabric and Icarus, produced by Mick from one of our absolute favourite bands, RongoRongo. Icarus was the first song we pieced together that made me think, this is the band I want to be in until I die. And it’s just ridiculous lyrically, it starts with Icarus looking back on the earth as the sun begins to burn him to death, and then it’s his internal monologue where he reappraises the status quo using his new found perspective. Then he burns to death. It’s a big extended metaphor and I’m really proud of that one, but I don’t think anyone can understand my lyrics when I sing so it’s all for nothing anyway…
What influences do you draw on when the band works on new material? It is poor taste to suggest that nobody influences us, but that isn’t how we operate really.
We all kind of know about how music works enough to be able to deviate from what the ear expects to wring out certain emotions. It’s kind of all dark, and angry and fucking depressed but then I think that’s only right, it’s how I interpret the world, I increasingly see things that make me anxious and stressed and, not positive. I wrote a lyric recently about a recurring dream I have about a nuclear holocaust, and I just can’t understand why these kind of things aren’t written about more, am I just paranoid? Even if everything is largely fine we are so totally bombarded with stressful stimuli that surely everyone is living in a state of near anxious breakdown, even if it’s not explicit? Our music I don’t feel is negative, I just think we’re mentioning things that everyone is aware of, but not everybody likes to face up to them, it’s realism and that’s okay. The first time my mum saw us play, she actually asked, “Jamie are you okay?” and I am okay, I don’t think I have any more or less negative emotions than anybody else, I’m just slightly more fed up of this charade popular culture puts up that says, “everything is nice, everybody is sexy and happy and rich”. How are Blossoms any different upon an impressionable teenage boys mind than the women that are airbrushed on the cover of beauty magazines? It’s all fucking fake and it’s all designed to make people who feel actual human things feel they are inadequate for these feelings. I want to be able to say, look, I’m terrified too, I don’t always like myself and I’m not always happy. I focus on the negative in my artistic output because it feels so unrepresented in popular culture, and that doesn’t feel like a complete snapshot of being a human being in 2017.
Which bands made you want to become a musician?
I don’t know what it was… I read guitar magazines for 6 years before I even picked up a guitar, it just always felt like what I was going to do, an inevitability I’ve spent most of my adult life working on making a reality. And I had shite taste as a child, having an interest in culture only came at about 18, before that I was literally just trying my hardest to figure out how society/socialising worked. I think a large part of wanting to play music came from my parents and those around me, I’d be younger just thinking, my Dad works in a factory, and he loves us and we love him but he hated it, he would say essentially that the only reason he could handle it was because he knew it would feed his family. I guess that gave me a sense of not wanting to end up another victim of the working class traps. I wanted to get out of bed every day and be passionate about what I was going to do. Of course the irony is that even as I was forming these thoughts, all the money was already being totally drained out of the music industry and now I have neither any working experience or a realistic way to feed myself consistently for the rest of my life, but I’ve gotten this far and that honestly feels like a victory, although we’ll see what I think at 45.
I know you gig in London. Have you any plans to hit the rest of the country with your dark psychedelic sound?
We play everywhere and anywhere, and will do, so if you’re reading this and want to book us to play your small village fete outside of Coventry, get in touch, we will try and make it work, we are passionate about playing live, bands say to us “you guys play all the time”, like, yeah, it’s what we want to be doing, I’m not going to hold off on having a great time just so I can say my band is super professional, fuck off.
What is the most fun you’ve had when you’ve played live?
I always love playing live, and with our music there is such an element of spontaneity, it’s just the most fun ever, and now I’ve also started a new game called “play in as many other bands as possible”, so I’ve played some guitar and drums for NoFriendz, who are great, I got to play bass in Jo Mary the other night, I just intend on filling in for as many ill musicians as possible, it’s great fun.
Who are your favourite bands from the current scene, not just in Liverpool but anywhere?
All the bands I’ve spent this interview name dropping essentially… RongoRongo, Samurai Kip, The Floormen, Ohmns, The Probes, Jo Mary, SPQR, Madonnatron, Meatraffle, NoFriendz, Pit Ponies, TAMAN SHUD, The Fat White Family, The Wytches, The Starlight Magic Hour, Luke Mawdsley/Cavalier Song who produced “Under The Hooves”, TRASHMOUTH RECORDS, HIGH SOUL RECORDS, SHAARK RECORDS.
What and where would your dream gig be and which two bands would you choose to support you?
You know what, I’m gonna say Wrong Festival. A friend of ours just set up a festival in Liverpool this year, like, on his own set up a festival, Bo Ningen, The Wytches and Part Chimp headlined, a shed load of the great Liverpool acts big and small played too… And he pulled it off so well, nothing went wrong, all the bands were just getting on and having the time of our lives taking over the Invisible Wind Factory for the day, the weather was fantastic, even the guys selling burgers were some of the funniest nicest guys I’ve met, it was 10/10. So it would be playing Wrong Festival, Iceage would play, with orchestra, then Echo & The Bunnymen would play the entirety of Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here, with an encore of greatest hits, allowing me to jam an extended psychedelic improv of Ocean Rain. This would be followed by greatest, drunkest, most obscene Wild Fruit Art Collective gig that ever was, the drums would be destroyed by the first song, amps blown by the second, and it would end awkwardly with me curled up alone in the middle of an obliterated stage screaming “SAVAGES” as the bemused crowd awkwardly back away, never to return.