- Thu, 2009-02-26 10:35
London four-piece Animal Kingdom are set to release their debut album in 2009. Recorded in Seattle with producer Phil Ek (The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Band Of Horses, Les Savy Fav) the band are currently playing gigs up and down the country, experimenting with hotel cocktail sensations, rehearsing and writing in their church studio and making their own instruments.
Already confirmed to support Snow Patrol, Animal Kingdom look set for bigger sights and sounds. Their beautiful debut single Chalk Stars was released with a batch of 500 limited edition copies. Each sleeve featuring a unique design by artists Thomas Hicks, the 500 sleeves together making up one single image which will soon be owned by one lucky winner.
Aside from their artistic endeavours, I Like Music caught up with Animal Kingdom to chat about their music, how they have been working and what they hope to achieve.
"I Like Music because… there's nothing that can change your emotions quicker.” Hamish, Animal Kingdom
"I Like Music because…It reminds me of people I am closest to.” Wayne, Animal Kingdom
"I Like Music because… it gives my life some kind of meaning.” Rich, Animal Kingdom
"I Like Music because… it keeps you company” Geoff, Animal Kingdom
ILM: How would you describe the vibe of your debut album?
Hamish: There are a lot of dark, lyrical themes in there, which we try to bring back up musically.
ILM: Did you have a sound in mind when you began writing the album?
Wayne: All of the songs on the album are quite distant in a way. It has more continuity of sound than it does in terms of the style of the song. The songs reference a lot of different things.
ILM: You worked with producer Phil Ek, who has worked with The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Band Of Horses. What was that like?
Geoff: Phil was a really great producer.
Hamish: Very exciting.
Geoff: There was some wicked gear out there too, some lovely old vintage drums, amps, guitars and things. We hired a lot of equipment from Jim from Built to Spill, so it was fantastic to go out there and have all the equipment you could ever dream of!
Wayne: The studio was incredible. It was like massive library or something, with mics up in the rafters.
Hamish: There was a seperate, smaller studio too, where a lot of bands like Nirvana had recorded before. So it had a lot of history.
ILM: What is your process of making music?
Hamish: We do our own demos on laptops and things like that. It's fairly low budget.
ILM: I read about some of your antics! Filling pringle tubes with gravel, taking a microphone into the toilet to record stomping sounds?
Rich: That worked! We did loads of B-Sides over christmas. That was the first recording that we did ourselves where we actually did it properly. We'd never used our studio for recording before so we locked ourselves in for six weeks. It was cool. Some of them came out really, really nice.
ILM: You have a lot of live gigs coming up, including support slots for Snow Patrol?
Geoff: It's great news. We're on early, but hopefully we'll see them, and they'll see us.
ILM: You've supported Band Of Horses before, what was that experience like?
Hamish: Really, really great. Band Of Horses are just great to watch as well. It's nice to meet a band just on that cusp of going massive. Their songs are great. If you ever get the chance to see them do. That was the first time we were in front of a big crowd, no-one knew our stuff and we got a really good reaction. That was the biggest buzz.
Rich: We also played at Latitude Festival, which was really fun. We had a little boat that took us to the back of the stage!
Hamish: And Secret Garden was...er....well it was Geoff's birthday and it all went a little bit hazy. The weekend was a write off basically! Luckily we were playing on Friday!
Rich: I liked the gig at Kings College, I liked that room. It's a good room to play in.
ILM: Talking of being on tour, I heard about your concoction for a 'Travelodge White Russian' (2 parts vodka, 2 mini travelodge milk sticks, 1 travel kenco coffee sachet, 1 sugar sachet - stir warm without ice and serve in a coffee cup)
Hamish: Hahaha! We were just trying to get Geoff more drunk actually. That's how it started off. We gave it to him, and then we tried it and we were like 'Hey! That's pretty nice!' Hahah! You have to use two tubes though,and it's nice warm. We've been travelling to all these places and we keep buying books to tell us where the best pubs are and the best food. But we just end up at some of the worst places, and we end up buying our dinner from the petrol station....
ILM: Where is the best place you've been so far?
Hamish: We had a good cream tea in York!
Rich: We got trapped there because of the snow, so we had a good look around! It's a nice little town, it has some nice old English streets.
ILM: What are your influences? How do those translate into your music?
Rich: We like a lot of stuff. Off the top of my head - Neil Young, The Beatles, The Cure. I mean we try not to sound like anything else, but yeah, we really are into everything. We listen to as much as possible.
ILM: The Chalk Stars release comes with an excting artwork design and concept...
Rich: We'd like to take credit for that but...
Wayne: We were sent the artwork and it was amazing, the stuff he has done before that is amazing too. Check it out.
Geoff: We all agreed when we saw it, we all loved it.
Hamish: There were other more literal pictures but we didn't want just a star drawn on a blackboard.
ILM: It remined me of the long term Radiohead artist Stanley Donwood. Do you think the hook up will continue?
Hamish: It would be amazing to have an artist like they have! Someone that follows you through your career. Although at the same time, our tunes, our music will differ. We won't always be dark, and maybe our lighter side might not fit as well with his work, I'm not sure.
ILM: How do you write your lyrics?
Rich. Sometime it's easy, sometimes it's hard. Sometimes they drop on your head and other times you plug away at it. Sometimes lyrics start the song, other times the melody starts the song, or the chord starts the song. It all depends.
ILM: Are there any lyrics that you are the most proud of?
Rich: You know what, that changes. Some suit moods better than others. That changes a lot. At one point I always thought it would be a certain song, but it's not at all. Hopefully it will be from a future song!
Geoff: It's nice being in rehearsal when Rich brings something new in. Lyrically I think they're great, we all enjoy them and it's one of the exciting parts getting to hear them for the first time.
Hamish: I think even though the lyrics can often sound like they are light, there is always a dark under-current. Dark vibes.
Rich. You just think I'm miserable!
Hamish: No, no....hahahha!
ILM: The internet has a love / hate relationship with the music industry. As a new band coming in to that, what are your thoughts?
Rich: To be honest, I just think it's one of those things where there is no point in worrying about it. Why worry about something that you can't change. It's just the way it is. Now stuff is out there, now that it can be digitised, I mean there are good and bad sides to that. It just the way it is and we will embrace that and just keep doing what we do.
ILM: What are your future plans?
Rich: Get the album out. Write the next one. Write a lot of albums. Get better. Keep going. Get out to America and Europe.
Wayne: Get our music out there as much as possible.
ILM: Can you already see a progression in your work?
Hamish: The more we record, the more we realise where certain holes need filling. Spaces where we would like more instruments.
Rich: I think that you get better at whatever you do, if you practice your craft and work at it.