R13: So this is the third warm up date for your 'Living the Dream' tour, is it looking good or are you wishing you'd all stayed at home with a good book?

Frank: Ha ha bit half & half really, these dates are all club dates & club dates are always a bit funny. I think most bands would prefer a normal gig because then it's a lot clearer. Sometimes people come down because they want to dance to Marilyn Manson & we're not playing MM. It's served it's purpose as a warm up, we're doing three dates in a row & the last time we did that was October so it gets us back into the swing of things & blows away some of the Christmas fat!
Ben: But the other thing is that we did break down last night up on the Pennines
Frank: Yeah the highest motorway in the UK in a blizzard & we ran out of petrol, thank you Jamie!
(Jamie looks suitably embarrassed amidst much finger pointing & laughing)
It was just one of those moments where 'phut phut' & you run out of petrol & you think 'for gods sake of all the places in all the weather conditions' but God loves us.

R13:I assume you've been playing stuff off the new album?

Frank: Yeah, we're kind of pacing it a bit, for us we did the album a while ago so some of the songs are starting to get a bit old & we just want to play them or do a set of all old songs or all new songs, so on this tour we're playing like four songs off the new album?
Tom: Yeah, but then it's useless coming out with ten songs that nobody knows; if you go & see a band you want to hear stuff you know to some extent, so you've got to get a balance.
Frank: Then next time round we'll do a few more & when the album's out we'll do loads of new stuff!

R13:So how have the new songs been going down?

Julia: Good, surprisingly well actually.

R13:Surprisingly well?

Julia: Yeah, well you know when you do a new song you always expect a bit of a dip but they've been received well.
Ben: It's also about when you're making your set list, making sure you don't put 5 new songs together so that people aren't bored out of their fucking minds by the end of it, or starting with new songs which I always think is really strange when bands do that.

R13:So the new album, it's two years near enough since 'A Song for Ruin' came out?

Tom: Yeah 18 months or something like that.
Frank: September 2003 & it's going to be May 16th that the second album comes out which is a fair amount of time but we've worked really hard promoting 'A Song to Ruin' & we've changed the line up a little.
Ben: I think the difference is that this is going to be an album release, when 'Song to Ruin' came out nobody knew who we were & this time people are expecting it.

R13:So how do you think it compares sound wise? Has it moved on or is it more of the same?

Frank: We're probably the worst people to ask about that because we're too close to it. There are times when we record something & we think it's a million miles away from what we've done before but then a mate comes down & it's like 'oh it sounds like Million Dead'. It's hard for us to say but the criteria we always work to is to do the best we can & better what we've done before & I think we've done that & we're all very proud of it. The general consensus amongst us & our friends that have heard it is that it's better.

R13: What I liked about 'Song to Ruin' that set it apart was that it had a really dirty sound, did you consciously go out to get that sound or is that just how it turned out?

Ben: That's pretty much just the way it turned out, it just comes down to production but we've still gone for it for it. On this next one it's still kind of (pause) not raw an open sound, it's still not completely clinical.
Frank: It's really not something that even now we can really make too much of an issue of, you go in with a certain person & you can fuck with the mix & fuck with the levels but at the end of the day it's going to come out how it's going to come out.

R13: Do you have much control over production?

Frank: We do but the point here is that we don't have all the money in the world so we can't pick any producer in the world. So there's an extent to which we're just recording the songs as best we can but then personally I'm fine with that because that seems to be the point of a record to me, to lay down the best version of a song that we can.
Ben: You kind of capture the time that you're recording it as well.
Frank: In terms of dirtiness the production on this album is a bit cleaner than the production on a song to ruin but in terms of the actual song writing we never have & never will be a three power chord band but there's still a fair amount of thrashing & screaming & falling over going on. It's funny for me listening to STR now because it sounds completely different to my ears, in a very odd way but then that's just me.

R13:You've just come back from Latvia, how was that?

Julia: Really really good.

R13:How did that come about as it's not the most obvious place to play!

Julia: I think that was through Frank wasn't it?
Frank: Yeah it was a guy who runs the label that Knee jerk, our old band & Tom's old band put out records through. He's still bringing out hardcore records & takes bands over to Latvia & I was just talking to him.
Julia: It was quite nice as both nights there were just hundreds of kids coming down that knew the words as well& they were so appreciative & they were really getting into it & you get looked after & it was great, definitely one of the best trips we've done.
Ben: I think the other thing is that they see us on MTV & they're like 'how is it that such big stars as yourselves come here?' & we're like 'well you know we had to do something & we've got a free weekend'.
Frank: People were really enthusiastic, the first time we played London there were about thirty people there. The first time we played Riga there were well over a thousand there. It's just nice that you get treated well, it's refreshing especially as we're from London & London is rightly very cynical & everyone's seen a million bands whereas out there there just a lot more honest & less cynical about stuff.

R13:The toilets weren't too good though? (check out the website!)

Frank: On the contrary there was one in a restaurant that I particularly enjoyed. The one in that flat was particularly vile though.
Ben: That was just because it was a dingy student flat though, nothing to do with the fact that it was Latvia. Student flats are the same the world over.

R13:Another thing that stood out for me on the last album was the lyrics.

Frank: OK

R13:Not so much the content but the elaborate nature of them, lots of big words, it's a bit like listening to a Scrabble competition at times!
(Much laughter)

Frank: I have to just tell this story, I sat down in a pub the other day with some friends of mine who said 'let's play scrabble' & I'm proud to say that they all point blank refused to ever play with me again cos I fucking kicked arse! I think there's less of that on the new album, I think. It was never a conscious decision to jam exciting words in although there is a sense in which, one thing that not as many people as I'd have liked picked up on in the first record was the humour in a lot of the lyrics.
Ben: Comically pompous?
Frank: Well I think it's fucking hilarious to have a chorus to one of our most famous songs 'breaking the back' is talking about the difference between normative & positive theories, I think that's fucking hilarious although I can't really put my finger on why. That makes me laugh.
Ben: Yeah I laughed for ages.
Frank: Shut up! But then within it there's still a serious point going on, it's funny, like 'Charlie & the propaganda myth machine' to sing about the BFG being propagandist. I think that there is an extent that I wanted to write something that's a bit more kind of like
Julia: Personal?
Frank: Well, more that you don't have to go & look up a book to find out what I'm on about. The other thing with the lyrics is that I was studying history & I firmly believe in writing about what I'm thinking about which is why I mentioned (some historical dude that I can't make out on tape!?) because I was reading a fucking book about him at the time.

R13:Fair enough. It amused me, anyone who gets Constantinople into a song is doing alright.

Frank: There was a thing on the new album, a lot of my favourite lyricists & people I totally respect that I don't think I'll ever be anywhere near as good as, people like Adam Duritz of Counting Crows who doesn't say anything complicated & he doesn't necessarily talk about any new subjects but he succeeds in saying something striking & really touching with really mundane tools & that's something that I'm just totally in awe of. I guess I want to head more in that direction of using more basic styles & yet still trying to say something.

R13:One of your songs touches on not setting me up as a hero, does fame sit comfortably with you when people come up to you & say 'you're great'?

Frank: I imagine the song you're referring to is 'I Am the Party' which is about the first proper big interview we did was with Kerrang magazine & the guy spent the whole thing informing me that we were a political band & that the kids were going to listen to what I said & do what I said, that if we were successful I'd have legions of kids at my beck & call which really pissed me off because it's not something I really want to spend ages talking about here but we've always been accused of being a political band & in my view it's because we talk about something slightly more interesting than girls & cars which seem like boring subjects to me. It's a real cliché in rock music that unless you're talking about a set of very kind of boring, staid subjects then 'oh I guess you're political then'.
Ben: Well not just political but that you're trying to get some kind of message across.
Frank: Yeah & as far as I'm concerned I'm perfectly entitled to make observations about things without trying to order people about. It's the idea that I haven't even got my own life figured out, I don't even know what I think, my political opinions are all over the place I haven't got a fucking clue. The concept of me informing somebody else what to think is laughable & I wouldn't want to do it because I couldn't ever justify something like that.

R13:But then you must get people coming up to you & talking to you & thinking you're the bees knees. Do you find that uncomfortable?

Frank: You do but then I think that the subject of not taking what I say as gospel has been touched upon in enough songs that people have kind of picked up on that now & what I really enjoy is that a lot of kids just want to come up & talk to me & just want to talk about something I've said in a song but not in a kind of ass licking way & that I really fucking love.
Ben: hmm students
Frank: haha an extreme example is I got an email from this guy claiming to be from the MacGuyver Society taking issue with the lyrics to MacGuyver & how he saw it as an attack on his hero. I thought it was a wind up but he came along & apparently is for real & he was trying to engage me in all these discussions about MacGuyver . Like there's a line in a song about his weapons & how he'd never thought of them as weapons before & I just thought 'shut uuuup!'. I put a lot of time & effort into my words & if people want to talk to me about them then they're welcome.

R13:What are you like on tour? Are you a 'rock & roll' band?

Ben: I don't know many bands that are, the only band we've ever come across that you'd count as being rock & roll I guess are Minus.
Frank: I personally think that's a sham anyway. There's an extent to which there's a job to do when you're out on the road & maybe Motley Crue could pull it off but then I don't think they really did because they were shit! Because they were always fucked. We have to get up on stage & play complicated songs & I can't do that if I'm always fucking hungover and/or fucked.

R13:So after 28 days do you start yearning for clean sheets & home comforts?
Ben: to be honest after 28 days your tolerance for stuff does go up because you've been sat around for hours every day drinking but you know we're not surfing on tour buses or destroying dressing rooms. Partly because we can't afford it but quite frankly if I've got a dressing room I don't want to mess it up, I just want to sit there & relax.
Frank: Saying we're not rock & roll doesn't mean that we don't like touring, we fucking love it we're just not shagging groupies & snorting coke off breasts 24 hours a day.
Tom: Yeah only like an hour in a day.
Frank: Ha ha yeah it's partly because we've got a job to do & partly because it's overrated. It's not like we get besieged for sex by nubile young women
Julia: or men!
Frank: every time we finish a gig & even if we wanted massive coke habits we couldn't afford them. We're not Motley Crue but then that's not a problem. I drink tea before we go on.

R13:Have you done much abroad yet?
Julia: Not much, we've just kind of started now. The aim is this year to get into Europe & do a proper tour, especially to get into the festivals. We've done one show in Milan & Latvia & a couple in the states but they were just kind of showcases. Oh & Belgium too.

R13:Did 'A Song to Ruin' get released in Europe?

Julia: Italy, Japan, Australia
Frank: For various reasons we've had hiccups with international releases which is annoying because we just wanna fucking go around the world on tour, I can't think of anything else more fun. It's starting to come together this year though.
Julia: Yeah I think we will, definitely.

R13:Any long term goals? Where do you see yourselves in ten years time or haven't you thought about it? Rich? Or Dead?!

Ben: At the moment it's just to do the next album & keep going. I don't know what I'd do if I wasn't in a band, I don't do anything else, I've got no qualifications I don't do fuck all, all I do is just play drums & not very well. It's all I know how to do.
Frank: It'll be interesting if we're still together in ten years time, I've always loved watching bands like Fugazi with the same people in over a long period of time & how they change & evolve. I have no idea if the four of us are still playing together in ten years time fuck knows what the music will be, probably fucking country or something! Who knows? That's the interesting part, but the important thing at the moment is that we all really fucking like playing in a band.

R13:Well that's a good place to start.