Or: Hangin’ with Boris Yeltsin dans le metro…
Listen to their latest album, Let it sway, while you read this interview!
It’s no secret that Polyvinyl gets a lot of love from us at Sloucher.org. It’s no secret either that we are into bands that do have a sense of humour. How chuffed were us (Tonan & Sam) when we found out we could have an email interview with Phil from Someone Still Loves you Boris Yeltsin ? A lot. So we went to town, had a few cups of mokaccino and, sadly, reacted badly to caffeine. What follows are the questions we did under a massive overdose of coffee and fanpersonism…
1.- Probably obvious question, but why the name Someone still loves you, Boris Yeltsin?
We were teenagers and we thought it would be a good idea to have a really long band name. Plus, no one else was going to take it.
2.- There seem to be quite a few interesting facts in your Facebook biography. Any truth to the rumours of you being the official band for funerals of high figures of state?
It’s all true for the most part, except for the funeral part. I thought that sounded dramatic. We actually played in Moscow three weeks after Yeltsin died. I should probably stop lying in our bio.
3.- The cover for Let it sway is pretty impressive and visually striking. Would you like to tell us the story behind it?
I found the picture in an old magazine the day after we decided to call the album Let It Sway…so it seemed serendipitous. The photograph was taken in the 60s by a famous photographer Co Rentmeester. We wrote him and an email and agreed to let us use it for a nominal fee.
4.- We will always have time for Broom but the sound has changed slightly, it feels even more polished (absolutely nothing wrong with that). What pushed you forward?
When we made Broom we had no idea anyone would ever hear it. It was just a fun project to work on and I really wanted my friends to like it. If we had known people outside our hometown were going to listen to it, review it, and think of us as a real band, we probably would have freaked out and ruined all the reasons people liked Broom. Since Broom was made, we’ve played hundreds of shows and we all got better at our instruments. The biggest thing pushing us forward is that we want to make a classic pop record that’s really satisfying. I think if you write a real deep hook, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter where you recorded it, who produced it, how polished it sounds, and how many overdubs you recorded.
5.- What’s with the mysterious noises peppered through the lovely album that is Let it sway?
Like the whistle in ‘Back in the Saddle’? I really like recordings with buried noises. It’s really fun to discover something new about a song after you’ve listened to it a hundred times. I just found out that John says “fuck” in the background of ‘Hey Jude’. That was pretty exciting.
6.- What’s your favourite song from Let it sway? (note: we can’t choose one, it’s a brilliant record)
‘Back in the Saddle’ will probably always be my favorite because I can hear everyone in the band doing their own thing and I think it gels together perfectly. ‘In Pairs’ is my favorite one to play live.
7.- One of our staff writers loves Jonathan James’ bass playing style. Any influences in particular for your lovely style, Mr. James?
Uh oh. The first problem is that Jonathan doesn’t like doing interviews. The second problem is that I’ve never heard him talk about playing the bass, so I have no idea who he likes. John Robert, our main singer, plays a lot of bass on the new record. I’ve heard him talk about Paul McCartney, Rick Danko, James Jamerson, and Sting. Guitar is his first instrument, so I think he plays the bass like a guitar. A really sexy guitar with four strings.
8.- Do you recommend the wielding and swinging of small pieces of furniture to resolve inner band strife?
Yeah, as long as there are other people around to keep you from killing each other. We also got in a fight in Austria, but it didn’t involve furniture. I should clarify that we get along 99% of the time.
9.- You sound like a very happy-go-lucky bunch of guys (or at least your songs do). What makes you happy?
Thanks! I don’t know…I”m still trying to figure that out. I think we’re all extremely moody people, but we prefer to write about the good times instead of the bad.
10.- What’s the last album you heard?
“Stuck on Nothing” by Free Energy (spotify link). And my sister’s band New Monsters Collective (Myspace link) just put out an EP called “Buddy System.” It’s really great.
11.- ‘Cardinal rules’ was part of the Simple Mental Math compilation given to lucky Polivinyl customers. Any other bands of Polyvinyl you’d recommend to us?
That’s hard to say because the Polyvinyl roster is really diverse. I think 31 Knots is my favorite. I highly recommend seeing them live.
12.- You recommend the salutation of the (arguably) king of bloodsuckers. Would you do the same for either Frankenstein or the Wolfman on your next record?
Probably not. But I’ve been writing songs about an unsolved crime in our hometown. It happened almost 20 years ago and there are a lot of weird conspiracies on the internet.
13.- Any plans to come to either Mexico or Sheffield in the near(ish) future?
We’ll play anywhere that will have us. Unfortunately, we’re not playing north of Oxford on our European tour. Maybe next year? Please don’t forget about us.
14.- Is Stuart ok? Has he found his way on the metro? And more importantly, has he seen Zazie?
I hope so because he’s an inanimate object. We lost him a long time ago in Will’s attic. He’s probably hanging out with Zazie in Paris.
Thanks to Phil for answering our inane (and badly researched) rantings. Here’s a sweet video about the making of Let it sway.
Questions by: Tonan and —Sam.
Answers: Philip Dickey
Sloucher.org would like to thank Debbie from Creative Spark for helping set up this interview.