With Electric La La Land out this Friday, vocalist James Hall talks all things Fine Creatures.
Engineered by producer Dan Austin (Doves, SLØTFACE, Mallory Knox, Young Legionnaire) at Eve Studios, Stockport / Real World, Bath, Electric La La Land is an absolute stunner of an EP (read our full review here).
Ahead of its release on Friday, vocalist James Hall sat down with The Blues, Marie to tell us about his inspirations, touring with Fangclub and the band’s plans for 2018.
Having shared a student house at university, did you bond over a love for the same kind of music?
We met at University, we didn’t all share the same student house, but we did spend a lot of time together at each others flats. We all bonded on 60’s pop bands. Blaring albums such as Rubber Soul and Revolver out at house parties, we discovered our mutual love for the Beatles. Living in student houses where everyone’s a musician, there is always music blaring out of rooms, and there is always a party going on somewhere. It was an important learning experience for all of us. You learn about lots of different types of music. Your mind opens up completely when you’re surrounded by so many different types of people. That’s the great thing about studying music at Uni. As a band were into lot’s of different types of music, as we still are now. From The Clash, Nirvana, Abba, James Brown etc. We all individually played in different bands, and this gave us the experience and time to hone our skills until we decided to start playing together. We started this band because we had a real buzz of playing together. We really believe in great songwriting, and we wanted to be a band that writes amazing songs.
Remembering sharing a house or flat uni myself, I can imagine those conditions prepared you quite well for life as a band, do you agree?
We did spent most of our time together. It wasn’t so much that the conditions of living in student housing prepared us for life as a band, I think we sort of kept to ourselves when we were together because we were so focused on playing our music, and writing tunes. That’s not to say we didn’t party or enjoy the typical student life. We learned a lot about each other. From ambitions to music taste, to favorite foods. We became close and I think we all remember those days very fondly. Even then we were very ambitious and were always thinking about the next step. Whether it be the business side or the creative side. We love to keep busy because it’s always meant so much to us. Two of us in the band live together now.
Your upcoming EP is an extremely intriguing mix of various eras and sub-genres of rock. How did you find your sound?
The sound of the EP came very naturally, we wrote a bunch of songs and started playing live until Producer Dan Austin became interested in taking it to the next level by getting us in the studio. So we went up to Stockport in Manchester and spent four days recording those songs. Dan helped us hone in on our sound. We worked on alternative arrangements with Dan until we found the right ones and then pressed record. It was a very organic process. We’re always very conscious of our sound, and how things are recorded but for the EP we let our inhibitions go. As a musician, you are always trying to get things perfect, but you need to remind yourself that doesn’t exist. All you can do is write the best songs you can and try and control your sound to a certain point. In the end, you need to let it go. That’s what we learned on this EP.
The EP opener Money sets the tone quite nicely for the whole record, was it a conscious choice to put this track first, and if so, why?
It was a conscious choice for us. We wanted to start the record off with a bang. We like the idea of putting one of the strongest tracks first, it grabs your attention. It’s good to think of an EP as a show. It needs to be energetic and exciting but then it has to have some calmer moments as well. Otherwise, it all becomes a bit too much. We have songs like Settle Down and Panthers which have a slower pace, and they do climax in the chorus, but it takes time to get there.
Panthers has this kind of sexy vibe to it with its smooth yet grungy melody. What was your lyrical inspiration behind it?
Panthers is a different vibe to the rest of the EP I think. Lyrically I tried to write it from someone else’s perspective. Which is a first for me really! It talks about insecurities and self-isolation as well as comparing yourself with others. Basically, all the self-conscious feelings you get as a teenager. These themes are taken from my experiences with friends and people I knew around my first year or two at Uni. Writing a song about something that effects you indirectly gives you room to be creative. That’s what happened to me when writing this song.
Let’s talk about Get Up – what a stunner of a song! Talk me through the songwriting process of it!
Thanks! I wrote a demo of ‘Get Up’ a while back on my laptop. It’s one of those songs that was written in 10 minutes. It didn’t come across that well acoustically, but when I recorded it as a demo it all came together so quickly and organically. I wrote it as a live song, I thought it would be a good start to our set. When we brought it to the studio, it really came together. It’s the type of song that has this addictive raw energy. We always look forward to playing it live.
You’ve recently toured with Fangclub and got to play some of the new songs live. What was that like, how were they received?
Touring with Fangclub was so much fun. We prepared our regular set before the tour, with a few new songs. We also had some others we thought we’d try out at some of the shows. The new tunes went down pretty well. It’s always weird playing new songs, because you are still working them out, but you actually end up learning more about new songs by playing them live. We’re the kind of band that is always working on new music and keen to try them out. So this tour was a good chance for us to see which ones people liked.
It’s probably like picking a favourite child, but any personal favourites on the EP for you?
We really like Money and Panthers. I think it’s because they’re so different from each other. One is a short and sweet pop song with lot’s of high energy and the other is a slow grungy song with the chorus in 6/8. I think we just really like the songs that are a little different from the others. We like to try to write arrangement and structures that we haven’t done before, and Panthers has interesting elements that make it stand out.
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
We’re gonna promote our EP which is out on the 27th of July and go off on our second tour, hopefully before the end of the year. We are very much a live band and love being on the road, so that is a priority for us. Spreading the word about our band is really important right now, and we’re determined to get out there properly.
Also, we’ve got so many songs that we’re ready to go into the studio and record as soon as possible. The next batch of songs is a massive step up for us, in terms of songwriting and sound. We’re really excited to show everyone what we do next.