A few months ago, we reviewed a couple of recordings by a band called Everyone an army. Lo and behold, we managed to corner them with promises of Müller corners (toffee, natch) and cajoled a few answer out of them.
How would you describe yourself to somebody who’s never heard you before (genre, similar bands?)
Martyn: We have a very eclectic music taste between us so, naturally a lot of that seeps into our sound, without us realizing sometimes! But we’d pompously call it “melodic, loud, alternative rock. On a grand scale.”
What made you get together as a band? (Besides being locked with “some guitars, some drums and a strained voice in a cold, dark attic.”)
M: Lee (bass) and original drummer Nick, worked with mine and Iain’s old band as a producer and when that fizzled out, it made sense, given mutual influences and tastes to see what we could come up with together. Unfortunately, Nick had to leave through work commitments. Fortunately Iain was on hand to lend us his arms and legs.
All that and a mutual hate for manufactured, boring chart-toss.
Lee: I’d been in loads of bands before but was never completely happy. So I was doing my own thing and the odd collaboration with Nick, and we ended up recording Mart’s former band. We’d been looking for someone to jam with and when Mart was free we stopped looking. After that, a lot of cold nights in an attic with our instruments… blah blah blah.
Apart from being band mates you are roommates as well. Considering the hardship/fun of sharing the same house/flat, how does this contribute to/affect your music?
M: It makes it a lot easier for us to jam and write. If one of us has an idea, it takes a quick jog down the hall and a tap on the door. Cheese, milk and teabags don’t seem to last long though.
L: I just love hearing Iain drum the fuck out of the kitchen worktops and stair banisters when I’m trying to sleep…
Your gear seems to be arranged as to become a strong barrier of sound. How did this passion for distortion pedals start?
M: I think sometimes effects make things a whole lot louder. And with the sort of music we write, it just wouldn’t work without them. Saying that, we do keep it quite minimal. The two D’s seem to be all we need at the moment.
L: Martyn’s just afraid of technology and wires. I used to use more pedals than I do now, but I think we just know what’s essential now. No doubt as we develop and things start getting more complex, we’ll add more of our collection to our pedal boards. There’s no point in using what you don’t 100% need. Especially at smaller gigs when you have to wire everything up and be ready in the 5-10minute change over, it’s bollocks and always goes wrong.
Song writing, music composition. What is usually the main driver/impulse for the band to write a song?
M: It depends on how strong an initial idea is. If I have a strong set of lyrics, I’ll write a basic song structure/chord pattern and take it to the rehearsal room and we’ll jam it and see what happens. A lot of our material comes from lonnnng jam sessions though. We’re quite meticulous when it comes to structure and sound which means it can take us a fucking long time to get a song down. But it’s worth It in the end.
L: My preferred method is jamming, and the majority of my bass lines end up being improvised and over time they’ll eventually stick. I like being locked in a room and making music with these two, going off and tangents is always fun and often we’ll stumble across something by accident.
Music is a mirror to our souls (or so I believe). In this sense, how can the fact of being in a band change your life?
M: Girls become interested. Look at us! Do you think the ladies would touch us if we weren’t musical?! On a serious note, it’s a great experience! There’s no better feeling I’ve had (without getting too Bono) than hearing people singing your songs back at you, paying hard-earned money to come and see you play or just basically giving a shit about what we do. It’s incredible.
L: We work our ass off and struggle to get by, it makes you incredibly focused and appreciative of the little things.
There always seems to be a nice feeling of matching between instruments and vocals, almost like intertwined. Is there any premise, rule or philosophy when mixing your songs?
M: When it comes to vocals, I like to find interesting and unobvious melodies. I’m inspired by vocalists like Chino from Deftones and Jeff Buckley and some of their phrasing is incredible. Instrumentally, we’re quite untraditional in the sense that Lee will often take the lead melody on the bass, and I will intertwine with the drums. But our ethos is mainly to keep things big, bold and keep it interesting. Sometimes, 4/4 and lyrics about girls isn’t enough to keep people’s attention.
L: While we’re waiting to record the third EP, we’re doing this home sessions thing where we’re basically recording songs in a much more stripped back affair. We’ve released two tracks so far (a new track ‘The Thundering Triumph of Knowing What’s Right’, and ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys), and have three more in the pipeline. It’s predominantly acoustic, and I’m adding piano and other minimal electronic textural stuff… I still haven’t touched my bass. I’ve ended up doing the mixing on this, so it’s got a really raw vibe that I really like, which I think works for the songs. They’re filled with imperfections, but it adds to the charm of it I guess. We just know what we like and do it, we’ve never been big on rules.
What’s the music scene like in Scarborough? Is there one? And what made you move?
M: There’s actually a thriving acoustic scene in Scarborough with the annual acoustic gathering festival, which see’s some really great acts every year. In terms of bands, there’s really not many people putting on shows, minus the odd “has-been” touring band that comes through. We had a girl on X-factor last year though….There’s some awesome dubstep coming from Sam Mason (Wafty Crank) and some huge electronic, bassy, overdriven sounds from Property Of Dave, but there’s also a lot of bandwagon hopping too.
L: I’ve always loved Digga, or Jefferson Price as he’s now known I believe. He’s a great guy; been tearing shit up in the UK battle rap scene. His music is catchy as fuck too, I’d recommend you check him out. One of my favourite Scarborough bands were Circus Party, an insane mix of power rock, metal and pop. They split up, but I’m sure the music is online somewhere.
As for the music scene itself, I personally find it to be really weird and uncomfortable. As a general rule, unless you’re the arty-farty type, in to blues, or have more tattoos than actual skin then you’ll probably have a hard time getting people to pay attention which is absolutely criminal. It’s a relief to know there’s the folk behind Acoustic Gathering, and Coastival around, though. They’re making a difference.
M: We moved just to be central to more opportunity. We love Scarborough but sometimes it’s best to move on and seek greener pastures, as it were.
Who have you been listening to lately that you’d like to recommend?
M: There’s stuff that never leaves our playlists like Mogwai, Nine Inch Nails, The Smiths and Deftones but at the moment, I recommend the new *Shels album or Three Trapped Tigers. I know Lee has been listening to a lot of electronica from the likes of Conquering Animal Sound and Sonoio. All a great listen.
L: Last night I went to see Ghosting Season and Cloud Boat in Sheffield at a free show. Really impressive stuff. I love electronic wizzardry that requires brains, and genuinely found it to be really inspiring last night. Aside from all the artists mentioned above, these guys never leave my iPod: Shoes and Socks Off, Public Image Limited & Moderat. Each are equally brilliant, have a listen.
What do you think is the best way for a band to get noticed these days; is the internet and increase in music downloads a good thing?
M: We would encourage any band to give away as much for free as possible. For us personally, just having someone choosing to listen to our music over a billion other bands is an awesome feeling. More satisfying than the 2 quid we’d get from flogging a CD. Have you seen the price of hummus anyway nowadays!?
The internet will always be a powerful tool in terms of marketing and branding yourself but the best thing for any band is just to get out and play. Be confident in what you’re writing and play it to anyone who’ll listen.
L: I pretty much agree with Martyn on that, but I’ll let you know for sure when I’ve figured it out properly.
In 2012, Everyone An Army will:
M: Probably be moaning about the state of British guitar music. Still.
Cheers! Stay away from Xfactor.
Words: Coral Williamson