PHOTO CREDIT: Mitch Hall
THE boys of Strange Cages certainly live up to a reputation…
one would associate with a place like Brighton. There is colour and invention; something out of the ordinary and, most importantly, some incredible music. They talk to me about the new single, Leader of a Cult, and give me the tracklisting for their new E.P. I learn what it has been like supporting King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and getting the support of NME. Band member Charlie talks about the music he grew up on and a peek inside the Strange Cages camp – and the story behind that band name.
I ask about the Brighton scene at the moment and the boys’ plans for the summer; a little insight into the video for Leader of a Cult – certainly eye-catching! – and what they have planned in terms of touring and future dates – plus, a little on the albums and artists they have been inspired by.
Hi, guys, how are you? How have your weeks been?
Charlie: Hi. I’ve had a splendid week, as alway. Life is pretty splendid as a whole.
Did you realise that you can just do anything you want any time that you want?
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
We’re three bloodthirsty, reptile-obsessed youths from the gutter.
We’re basically The Beach Boys without the beach.
Can you tell me how that band name came into an existence and what it means to you?
It rolls pleasingly off the tongue. I think it’s good to leave lyrics and band names open to interpretation.
People keep calling us ‘Strange Cases’ and we’ve even been called ‘Strange of Cages’ – which doesn’t even make sense.
Leader of a Cult is your latest track. What is the story behind the song?
It’s a true story. If this music thing doesn’t work out, then I’m going to start a cult.
It’s the only other calling I have in life. I think I could be an excellent cult leader.
The video is wonderfully sinister and unsettled. Whose idea was the video and what was it like shooting it?
It was a collaboration between ourselves and my brother Todd – who is the mastermind behind all our visual feats.
Shooting videos is always good fun. Leader of a Cult was quite hectic.
We were on a next-to-nothing budget, so we had to run around Brighton borrowing all the stuff we needed for the video.
I understand you have an E.P., The Cracks, approaching. Can you tell us about any songs and titles you’ll be including?
She Sees Through
Come With Us
Leader of a Cult
It’s a delightful mix of old and new tracks for all the family.
Your sound is quite Gothic and experimental – you remind me, a bit, of The Wytches. It must be a Brighton thing. Does the city bring out the darker and more interesting side of musicians?
Like a cloud of hedonism: there is an encouraging sleaze that sweeps through the city of Brighton.
On that note; what is it like in Brighton right now? What is the music scene like and how supportive and important are the crowds there?
The music scene in Brighton is always vibrant and welcoming.
There is so much to do and so many great gigs on each night. It’s a very positive community to be part of.
You have supported the likes of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and backed by NME. Has it been quite an unexpected explosion or do you feel your hard work is starting to pay dividends?
It was amazing to support King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (twice!) and we’re lucky to be able to play with loads of bands we really like. It feels like we’ve been going for quite a while now and a couple of line-up changes have slowed things down a little, but it’s all about the long game.
Our black-voodoo-magic grows stronger every day and it’s just about channelling that into the souls of people who don’t like us. If we can manage that, then we could really get somewhere.
Many critics have noted elements of 1960s music and the Summer of Love – tied to some modern mystique and Indie. Were you raised on ’60s music or was it quite a varied musical education?
I was raised on all sorts of stuff.
Music from the ’60s is certainly very important to me – so they definitely get that connection right.
PHOTO CREDIT: Todd McConnochie
You are playing around the country for the remainder of this month. Any dates you are particularly looking forward and how important is touring to you guys?
Playing live is what it’s all about!
We met a load of great people on our travels. We had a fun time in Hull with our good chums Vulgarians. The Leeds Karma Fest was a huge highlight as well: so many insane bands on the bill! We were very proud having survived being there from 4 P.M. and playing at 1.30 A.M. without being too wrecked to play.
Girl Sweat Temple Pleasure Ritual Band are truly a force to behold – if you ever get a chance to see them, do not waste it.
What are the plans Strange Cages have for the remainder of 2017?
We’re going to cause some trouble at Truck Festival in July.
We played our first European gig in Paris the other week and we’re planning to back to France later in the year – as we were treated so nicely.
If you could each select the one album that is most important to you; which would they be and why?
Charlie: Songs for the Deaf by Q.O.T.S.A. (Queens of the Stone Age) is the one for me
My mother played it to me when I was very young – and I feel like I began to understand the world as I heard that fine desert Rock ’n’ Roll.
Joe: I’d have to say an important album for me would be Low by David Bowie
Bowie really pushed the boundaries of popular music and incorporated some really new and unique technology at the time – that paved the way for more experimental ‘Pop’ music.
Ellis: This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello & the Attractions
One of my drumming heroes, Pete Thomas, shoots the proverbial cat right out the bag on the first track, No Action, with some quite insane drumming.
He doesn’t let up for forty-five minutes afterwards.
Who are the new/upcoming artists you advise we keep an eye out for this year at all?
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Follow your heart and remember that love shall conquer all.
Find yourself a good cult leader and stick with them.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Charlie: Hands Around the Waste – Vulgarians
Joe: Drunk Girls – LCD Soundsystem
Ellis: Chapel of Love – London Boys
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PHOTO CREDIT: Todd McConnochie Visuals