This Many Boyfriends - Interviews - Soundblab

This Many Boyfriends

by Pete Sykes Rating: Release Date:

Leeds-based five piece This Many Boyfriends' charming brand of winning indie-pop is gaining fans throughout the country. After a difficult conception ("We've had more line-up changes than Oasis," notes bassist Tom) they've toured the country and gained a strong following in Manchester and Sheffield, which has led to a summer festival slot and a forthcoming EP. Named after a Beat Happening song and reminiscent of The Pastels, The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian, their songs are witty and melodic, but played live, they can be bracingly loud and raucous.

Soundblab sits down in Leeds' Brudenell Social Club with Richard (lead vocals), Lauren (drums, vocals), Jamie (guitar), Adam (guitar) and Tom (bass), and they're in friendly, boisterous mood as they discuss terrible German pop groups, Benito Mussolini, and why they hate being called twee.

How would you describe yourselves?

Jamie: It's what happens in a child's mind when it's had a lot of sugar.

Richard: It's attempting to write pop songs when you don't really have any idea how to write songs.

Tom: We've got a load of people who aren't musicians, apart from Jamie...

Adam: Yeah, Jamie's our only musician.

Lauren: We're mainly about having fun!

Jamie: Well, it's a little bit fun.

Do you think not being 'proper' musicians gives your music a different twist?

Richard: Yeah, you're not constrained by ideas of, you know, scales and stuff...

Jamie: It's a good thing cos you can learn it along the way, so it's a more natural process than learning from a boring textbook.

Richard: Our only sort of musical knowledge comes from listening to other people's records, and then attempting to do that, but it kind of comes out different. Which is why we don't really sound like our influences too much because...well, it just comes out different.

Lauren: And our influences are so varied.

Jamie: Anyone who learns music from a book, they're just robots.

Who are your favourite bands?

Richard: Our first gig was as a covers band for Ballboy (cult Scottish indie-popsters), so yeah, we formed basically over the love of that band. There are certain things that keep cropping up too...

Soundblab: Beat Happening? The Pastels?

Richard: Yeah...

Jamie (interrupting): My influence is Benito Mussolini. I like his hairstyles, and his hats. And Wagner. I wore a t-shirt to one of our first gigs that said 'I am John Squire's son'. He's one of my men. And Johnny Marr.

Adam: I'm really influenced by the movie 'The March of the Penguins'.

Jamie: That's the way he walks on stage.

Richard: How about you Tom?

Tom: Er...Um...

Jamie: Peter Hook?

Tom: Yeah, that guy. He's a complete dick, but he does apologise about it. I like that...

Can I ask you about the dreaded 'T' word? (This Many Boyfriends' Myspace page announces, in response to lazy journalists: "WE ARE NOT TWEE!!")

Lauren: Twee!

Richard: Um, yeah.

Jamie: No!

Richard: I have a massive problem with the concept of twee.

Adam: A lot of people think of twee as just indie pop and that's all we are really.

Lauren: Well, it's kind of cutesy...

Richard: Well, it's just a word that's been used recently to describe indie pop. It's just been used in the last two years...

Lauren: It's the new 'emo'!

Jamie: Don't say that!

Richard: Which is just post-hardcore. I don't see the point in just calling things...

Soundblab: Like people making up words to label music they can't describe?

Richard: You can make up your own words. But I really have no problem with people saying twee, I'd just rather people would just use the term indie-pop again.

Jamie (sighing): Can't we just call it pop music?

Richard: Well, exactly.

Tom: (pointing to Jamie) Anyway he's Scottish, how can he be twee?

Richard: Um, Belle & Sebastian, Ballboy...

Jamie: Belle & Sebastian? Never heard of them...

Richard, how do you write your lyrics? Did you really split up with someone cos they didn't like The Pastels, like your song ('I Don't Like You 'Cos You Don't Like the Pastels') suggests?

Richard: Well, um....

Soundblab: Is it a touchy subject?

Lauren: It's grammatically incorrect!

Richard: It's my bad writing. It's about my current girlfriend, the sentiment is, it doesn't really matter what records you like. I wrote that a long time ago! My lyrics are mostly based on stuff that happens to me, but I wouldn't say they're autobiographical, and there're references to bands that I like. There're certain words that are nice to sing, I try to fit them together and make them rhyme. Though I did once rhyme 'letter' with 'letter'...

Soundblab: I liked that, I thought it was intentional.

Richard: No, it's just wrong.

Lauren: You shouldn't admit to these things! What about the mystique?

Do you feel part of a Leeds scene?

Jamie: Not really, we just play with some bands sometimes.

Adam: I don't think we've been accepted fully. You have all these bands that play the same nights and the same venues all the time, and we haven't really had any offers like that. We're a lot bigger in Manchester than we are in Leeds.

Lauren: And Sheffield, especially...

Adam: Yeah, we're much closer to the Sheffield scene than the Leeds scene.

Lauren: It's kind of nice really because we play other places and don't get stale, and play the same nights and get pigeonholed.

Tom: I don't even consider us a Leeds band really, cos Richard's the only one from Leeds.

Jamie: We're just a band! I don't think I'd like it if someone came up to me and said: you're part of the Leeds scene. That would make me cringe...

Richard: It's nice to feel uncool. I like the idea that when we play, we're a bit outside of all that scene stuff.

You recently toured with Trapdoor Minotaur. How was that?

Richard: Amazing. 'The Minotaur'. It was so much fun.

Lauren: I still think Lewisham was the best night...

Richard: Yeah, we played to about 6 people.

Adam: I played without an amp...

Tom: My bass wasn't even working. I think I left halfway through the set to get a beer...

Adam: We followed a German pop group.

Jamie: One of them was from England, one of them was from Portugal, one of them was from Austria and one was from Germany. And it was their first gig.

Lauren: They all dressed up really weird...it was kind of like an alternative Pussycat Dolls.

Tom: But they couldn't dance.

Richard: It was a very, very humbling experience. It was all our friends at the front watching us, and everyone else was just sitting there eating. So we decided to play like we were playing to a stadium...It's quite nice playing gigs like that because you can just let go. When we played the Cockpit (famous Leeds venue) we were so nervous...

Adam: The majority of our gigs have been just 25 or 30 people. In Sheffield and Manchester, we will pack a room out. The rest of the country we're taking over 10 or 20 people at a time.

Richard: We played a lot of games on the tour bus. We played a lot of Hangman.

Jamie: I don't think anyone gives a flying fuck about Hangman.

Richard: I just wanted to say we didn't have groupies and coke and stuff...

Jamie: That's because we can't afford it!

And you're playing Indietracks Festival this year I believe?

Richard: Yeah, we were announced the other day.

Jamie: Though I was really not happy when I saw (former TMB members) Nicky and Alex in the photo.

Richard: We keep having this problem; people keep using the old press photos. The old line-up keeps appearing in blog articles all the time...

Lauren (suddenly very angry): Can people not tell the difference? Can they not see?

Richard: There were six of us, now there're five.

Lauren: My favourite was one review that said there were six of us, and that I was Richard's girlfriend. (laughter)

Richard: Anyway, Indietracks, yeah I'm so excited. Ballboy are playing!

Do you feel like you're getting more attention now, getting big?

Jamie: Not until someone comes up to me in the street and hugs me and says "I love you cause of your band..."

Tom: Like you did with Ryan Jarman (from The Cribs)?

Jamie: No, I shat myself with Ryan Jarman. I'd been drinking all day. I tried to pick him up, swept him off his feet.

Tom: What did he say?

Jamie: (in a Yorkshire accent) "You're quite strong."

Richard: Yeah, Indietracks makes us think that people are paying attention, because we got asked to do it and normally you have to apply...so obviously people know us. But I wouldn't say we were getting big. A few people have written about us and that's nice. It's nice that a band who started as a bit of a laugh have started getting some attention.

Jamie: Well, I've booked Hampden Park out. I've got my dad coming along...

What next?

Adam: We've got a mini album coming out...

Richard: We've got a mini album or EP or whatever you want to call it, with seven songs coming out with a zine. It'll be a fanzine with some lyrics, some drawings by Adam, some articles by us and so on, and that should be coming out later in the year. And we're playing Night and Day in Manchester on 31st March, that's the next big thing. And then a little bit of a break, while people do their finals...

Lauren: So catch us while you can!

Richard: And we've got a few new songs coming. We're going to get in a little room and hammer out some songs.

That's all my questions. Anything else you want to say?

Jamie: I love my mum! And I don't like old people.

Soundblab: Why not?

Jamie: Have you ever smelled them? My grandparents are cool, because they don't smell. But other old people, they tend to smell of piss.

Soundblab: Right. Thank you, This Many Boyfriends.

Pete Sykes

Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I liked the letter...letter rhyme too. Nice interview, Pete, TMB rule the school.

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