These New Puritans - Interviews - Soundblab

These New Puritans

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

These New Puritans' George Barnett talks to Richard Morris

Soundblab catches up with George Barnett, These New Puritans' drummer, just after their explosive gig at The Leadmill in Sheffield on Saturday, April 17. The band are currently touring their challenging and heavily experimental Hidden album, which has been hailed in some quarters as the first classic of the new decade.

Unlike his twin brother Jack, TNP's songwriter and resident music visionary, who projects the air of the classic disaffected, introverted musician (he departs as soon as the interview starts), George is gregarious and chatty. While the rest of the remaining band members stay mainly silent, he happily surfs from one topic to the next, from experimenting with samurai swords to his band's intention to make "really surreal pop music".

Soundblab: Hidden was composed by Jack who actually wrote scores for it, is that right?

George: Yeah. He wrote it over a month.

Was that the same process as for the first album?

George: I think Beat Pyramid was very different. We were very young. It was more like a live album. But at the same time it was really good. We really thought about the songs and the idea of having really short songs and then songs which were quite long.

Do you ever get together and just jam?

George: We never jam! I don't think we've ever jammed. Only when we were about 14.

Thomas Hein (bass, sampler, drums): I wouldn't call it jamming.

George: (laughs) We never jam.

I read you tried getting certain sounds by using samurai swords and fruit in the studio. Is that true?

George: Yeah we had this big samurai sword and we passed it over the microphone, passing it back and forth (mimes scraping swords across a mic).

Was that something which just came about in the studio?

George: The idea was to take different points of everything. I hate bands at the moment who only sound like four bands: Neu!, or a shoegazey band-

Do you mean like The Horrors?

George: I don't know. I don't know if they're really like that. They're good though, I like them. But we'd rather take specific things. If you like a drum sound on a record then take the specific drum sound, if you like the knife sound take the specific knife sound. It's not a convoluted thing.

How about lyrics?

George: It's secondary to music. Basically, all the music was written. They weren't even thought about until the last second. They were a pooling together of 12 notebooks, apparently. That became the lyrics. Anything good was taken for the album.

Hidden has been hailed by some reviewers as almost an instant classic. Did the press reaction surprise you?

George: I don't know. I hadn't really thought about anything like that. The idea is not to compromise at all.

You worked with designer Hedi Slimane and recorded the song 'Navigate, Navigate' for the Dior Homme Hiver 2007 show. Any plans to do anything completely outside of rock/pop music?

George: Yeah, we'd really like to a film soundtrack.

What will the next album be like?

George: I think (we'll) make it even more assessable because I think there's a big difference between Beat Pyramid and Hidden; it's become more assessable. I think, not in a bad way, but just to make really surreal pop music. I think the best thing at the moment is pop music. The most surreal thing is elements that you hear in pop music. Like Britney Spears or Michael Jackson.

What music are you guys really into right now?

George: I like Neneh Cherry. Talk Talk. I might start drumming with my shirt off and grow really long blond hair (laughs). That's a band I would really like to see live, actually.

Are they still going?

George: I don't think so. I don't see any live bands though.

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