- Wed, 2010-06-02 12:39
Insect Guide have been one of the UK underground’s best kept secrets since their inception five years ago. Their dark, atmospheric pop first made waves with 2007’s debut album, 6ft In Love, and following three years of hard gigging and recording they now return with their new opus, Dark Days & Nights. They won’t be secret for much longer.
I Like Music caught up with front-woman Su Sutton to speak about the new album, the changing face of the music industry, being labelled as shoegaze, and what makes for a good live show.
“I Like Music because…it’s ace!” Su Sutton, Insect Guide
ILM: Your second album, Dark Days & Nights, is on its way…how did the writing/recording process compare to your first?
Su: I think the writing of this album was a lot more organic than 6ft in Love. Stan and I started writing these songs when the first album was out and we knew straight away that we wanted to get in a drummer for them, which was a natural progression for us away from the drum machine sound of the first album. Stan and Chris go way back as friends and he’s such a good drummer for our sound that he seemed the perfect choice. We then took the songs to the rehearsal studio for Chris to write drums and Dark Days and Nights was born!
ILM: What is your opinion on the popular notion of the ‘difficult second album’?
Su: I think that’s a total myth really, although I suppose it depends on the band. Stan and I write all the time so for us a second album was the most natural thing in the world.
ILM: You recently released an EP on a pay-what-you-like basis, what made you choose to do things that way?
Su: The music industry is changing so much at the moment and people have different views and opinions on what prices should be. We found that releasing our first single this way gave our fans more choice and availability to the music.
ILM: The music industry is in a massive state of change, how would you like to see it overcome the challenges posed by the digital age?
Su: Change is a healthy thing that’s been happening in the music industry from the beginning. I may have been a kid at the time but even I remember how computers that copied CDs were supposed to be bringing a standstill to the music industry. I’m sure it was the same with the hype behind tapes as well! I think what I would like to see the music industry do is stop panicking and remember that artists will always make music and people will always want to listen to music and evolution of the industry can take place without a crisis.
ILM: You’ve been making music as Insect Guide for five years now, but what drew you to music in the first place?
Su: I’ve been making music in bands since I was 16, I imagine it’s the same for Stan and Chris. My dad is a big music fan so I was raised listening to all sorts of music. On Saturday nights he would always make a nice meal and play music until the early hours. Sometimes we would have to guess the links between songs and artists. I think it was sort of inevitable that I would make music.
ILM: Who do you consider to be your biggest musical influences?
Su: Wow that’s such a big question and it’s different for all of us and probably changes every week! For me I think at the moment I’d go with The Cure, The Clash, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Fountains of Wayne and Billie Holiday but that’ll be different next week. This morning Stan’s listened to Alex Chilton, The Velvet Underground and The Triffids. Chris loves anything punk rock and post-punk and 60s beat bands. What we’re all listening to can often be judged by the mix tapes we make for the van on the way to gigs!
ILM: You often get mentioned in the same breath as many of the so-called ‘shoegaze’ bands of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, what are your reactions to that comparison?
Su: I think putting bands into genres is something for journalists to do and often the band themselves have little to do with it. It’s an honour that people would compare us to “shoegaze” bands, especially because we have Chris from The Pale Saints, a founding band of that genre, playing with us on Dark Days and Nights. I’m a big fan of pop music of any genre and style, hook lines are ace! I hope that this new album reflects the darker side of pop that I like.
ILM: How do you approach playing your music live?
Su: When we play live it’s really exciting for us because we have this whole audio visual side to our music. We have films for each individual song that make up the set and run behind us as we play. I think we try to pull people into the Insect Guide world as much as possible in a short sharp set.
ILM: What, for you, is the key to an exciting live show?
Su: To leave an audience wanting more is the thing that I like when I see a band live and it’s something that we try to do. An Insect Guide gig will pull you into our world for about 26 minutes!
ILM: Who have you seen live that has left a lasting impression on you?
Su: One of the best gigs I ever saw was Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds in Manchester on the Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus tour. He had amazing control over the audience with a preacher like quality - when he told me there was a war coming I really believed him! Then there was Sonic Youth, also in Manchester, playing tracks from Evol, Sister, Daydream Nation etc., almost a greatest hits set! Stan was there too before I knew him (one of many pre-Insect gigs we both attented). I probably elbowed him in the head!
ILM: Your new single, Wasted, is about to come out; could you tell us a little bit about what made you choose this song for release?
Su: How could we not choose a song that Libers from our Japanese label ‘Moorworks’ described as ‘psycho pop music of the honorable death that is splendid contents COOL!’
ILM: What else has Insect Guide got in store for us in the near future?
Su: Both of our albums have recently been released in Japan so we’re hoping to get to go over there and tour. So basically lots of gigging! We’re back in the studio at the moment because it’s hard for us to stay out of there writing new songs and then Dark Days and Nights will be released in the UK in August so that’s very exciting.
Insect Guide's new single Wasted is out on June 7th 2010, and they play the Underbelly in Hoxton on June 9th 2010.