Leeds-based trio Forever Cult is one of the bands we love to write about and chat with. This time our very special London contributor Masha Polyakova went to see their gig at The Old Blue Last and had a chat with the band in the backstage of the Shoreditch venue about their latest single “Tunnel Vision”, living in the wilderness, touring Scotland, playing Reading & Leeds too early in the career and covering their label mates’ songs.
The latest release by Forever Cult is a double single “Tunnel Vision” / “Something in the Water” (Too Pure Singles Club). While “Something in the Water” is actually something that attenders of the band’s gigs expected to hear in a studio version for quite a while, “Tunnel Vision” arrived as a single unexpectedly and impressed unprepared listeners with its pop-punky-ish, American spirited sound.
“I’ve never been to America [but] I’ve heard that a lot,” the band’s frontman, singer and guitar player Kieran Clarke says. “It was just like a party song that we had for ages. When we recorded it that was Matt Peel who’s worked with Eagulls, Pulled Apart By Horses and he sort of helped it to become a song. To be fair, it was just a bit stuck together. It was just something we’ve been playing now and then. We didn’t see it as a single to go on 7’’ or anything back then, it was just a song. But really, recording with Matt Peel molded it into what it is now. I like it, it’s quite jolly, isn’t it?”
“It’s happy,” the band’s bass player Alex Greaves continues. “Originally [“Tunnel Vision”] wasn’t actually gonna be the single. The B-side – which is “Something in the Water” – that was gonna be the single, and then once we actually finished “Tunnel Vision” in the studio and we actually knew that it should be A-side. It became a lot more of a pop song than we ever really thought that would be.”
“It sounds like the Breeders crashed with like Wavves or something, it’s cool,” – Kieran concludes. Clarke’s love for Wavves is well-known and finally finds its reflection on this record. Actually, days before the release the whole band went to see Wavves at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.
“It was probably the best gig of the year. We’ve seen a lot of gigs this year as well, but that was the best,” – the band’s drummer Aaron Snowdon says about the night.
Alex adds: “It’s not often that we all get to go to gigs together”. And there is no surprise since the band’s frontman and key songwriter Clarke lives in County Durham. “I live in the wilderness,” as he puts it himself and adds: “I like living in the hills.”
“What do you call it? The land that time forgot,” Alex interferes the band mate and the trio goes into discussing how those places used to be Yorkshire until the 1970s.
Kieran continues: “So I haven’t moved to Leeds. I’d like to, but I’m not gonna yet.”
“I don’t think it affects us too much to be honest,” Alex says discussing the band’s progress. “At the end of the day, Kieran writes the bulk of the music, so he does that in his bedroom anyway. And he would do that in his bedroom, if he did that at Leeds or in New York or something. It still would be the same kind of process of working. I guess we would be sharing slightly more songs. But we all busy anyway. We don’t really struggle right now with new tunes. We manage.”
“I learned to drive. I’m mobile now. It’s not too bad, it’s only like an hour’s drive,” – Kieran adds.
No need to mention – but we will anyway – that Forever Cult aren’t planning to move to London. However, they have a couple of nice things to say about the capital.
“A couple of shows down here have been really really good,” Alex says. “Last time the one in the [Camden] Barfly was really good.”
Still, the best live experience belongs to home shows. Kieran says: “We played the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, July. We packed up the Games [Room] that was like our homecoming show. That was really cool. That’s off the bucket list. We gonna do it again on Saturday 5th December .”
Were those gigs better or at least comparable to playing Reading and Leeds Festivals’ BBC Introducing Stage in 2014? “In some way playing Leeds & Reading was totally premature for us,” Alex admits. “Not that I think that it was wrong that we got to do it. It was ace we got to do it.”
“We aren’t the band now that we were back then,” Kieran says. “We are different now. That was the first time we got into van full of this gear, it was a long drive. We haven’t really left Leeds at this point.”
Alex adds: “Now I kinda think if we do Reading and Leeds now it would be so much better.”
“It was like… You got to Reading and it’s like “You are on at 11 [o’clock] ‘cause Jake Bugg’s doing a secret set”. Naaah! Wuuut?” Kieran laughs.
The band’s latest touring experience includes gigs in Scotland which Forever Cult find very different to gigs in English cities.
“The crowds are more appreciative,” Aaron reflects. “People are there to watch you. They actually give a shit and actually enjoy what you doing, and they come up and chat to you afterwards. Some guy was telling me: “It’s not my thing personally, I’m more into like The Prodigy and all that but I like a bit of party.” So we had a little discussion and then he was like “Yeah, you guys were good”. It’s nice ‘cause sometimes you play some places…”
“Especially, when you play places you’ve never played before,” Alex continues. “Like you go there and you speak to the bands and speak to promoters and just people at the bar – everyone will be super nice, makes it less weird.”
Still the best moment of the latest tour is… “Snowy got shat on. A bird shat on Snowy.” Kieran and Alex laugh but, jokes aside, they continue: “Just like playing new places. A lot of places on the tour where we’ve never played before. And actually having good gigs.”
Aaron remembers: “We played in Hull, and we didn’t expect that would be that good. But it was like 40-50 people there, stuck around, bought T-shirts, CDs, vinyls and actually appreciated it.”
From a chat about touring we move to discussing songwriting. Does Kieran ever experiences a need to express his political views as a songwriter? In short – no.
“Music is fun to me. Music is something that gets me into a happy mood,” Kieran explains. “I’m not here to rock about my political beliefs. I don’t think we should ever do it. I have opinions but in song format – I don’t buy into that. Sorry, some people might like it. I heard Rage Against The Machine and they were great. I can’t beat that. It’s just girls and bus stops, and what happens one night – stuff like that. Music is fun to me.”
Alex adds: “It’s not something that we are against. Like NARCS – that’s a like super super political band. And they are the coolest band. They are so good. But we are not that band and we never would be.”
Mentioning NARCS, what songs by their label mates signed to Clue Records Forever Cult would like to cover? Kieran chooses “Plasters” by Allusondrugs – “but like really really slow”.
Aaron suggests his picks: “I’d definitely do “Nervous”. I would always do “Nervous” ‘cause we can play it as a three piece. By TRASH, I’d probably do “Hot Coffee”. And probably if I had to choose something by NARCS…. “19”,” – and the rest of the band approves his choice of the last song.
Finally, we are excited to hear about upcoming releases. At this point Kieran slightly disappoints: “We can’t say anything about it. We actually can’t – sorry! It’s all secret but maybe in the middle of the next year.”
Well, we are patient enough when it comes to great releases. Meanwhile, Forever Cult are back to London on January 12 when they play Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen with Frauds and Gillbanks and perform at The Packhorse Pub in Leeds with NARCS and Black Surf on January 23.
Double single “Tunnel Vision” / “Something in the Water” is available for purchase via digital music stores and as a limited edition white 7” vinyl.
Interview by Masha Polyakova | Words by Anna Alpatova | Photo by James Akbar Photography