This Town Needs Guns - 10.07.08

Interviewed by
This Town Needs Guns - 10.07.08What are you doing this Tuesday? Maybe going to the mall. Maybe meeting a friend or two for lunch. All adequate plans, but I have a hunch none of you are releasing a highly anticipated full-length record. Well, that's exactly what This Town Needs Guns have planned for October 13th. Animals brings with it a healthy dose of anticipation and an even healthier dose of math-rock wizardry. This British band is making fans faster than I'm losing friends, and that's saying something. So go here to listen and here to buy, or just wait until Animals is released here in the States very soon. Thanks to my main man Kev and vocalist Stuart Smith for making this interview possible!

I tend to suck at these interview things, so I’ll try to make this as painless as possible. What do you want to say to the readers of AbsolutePunk who may not be familiar with the beast that is This Town Needs Guns?

Hello. I hope if you’re reading this you are well and if not then I hope this interview interests you and perks you up a bit.

Our band is called This Town Needs Guns, but we don’t think anywhere needs guns and we’re not in the least bit aggressive. We just thought it would be funny to have a name that made us sound like something we’re not.

The limo is waiting outside. The private jet is about to take off. You must leave your apartment now. There’s room for 3 more essentials in your suitcase. What do you bring? What makes the road bearable?

1. Slippers.
2. Phone.
3. Berocca/other companies cheaper ‘own brand’ version.

I saw that some of you guys, sadly, still have day jobs. How does each of you make a “living”, at least until you guys truly and relentlessly take off?

Some of us recently quit our jobs. Jamie was a graphic designer and did brochures for Porsche track days. He’s happier now being unemployed. Chris was a librarian at Oxford University. He’s now teaching drums at a local school when he isn’t on tour. Tim is a qualified Primary School teacher and he does supply teaching. I’m the only one still left in full-time employment. I build websites for a publisher in Oxford. It’s ok. It pays the bills and they are cool with me going on tour for long periods of time.

If you could buy ad space in any magazine out there, be it musical or not, which would it be and why?

It would be Country Life because it is “the essential weekly read for those who are passionate about the British countryside, fine art, gardening and property”……and I shouldn’t think anyone who would read our ad would be in the least bit interested. It would make me chuckle though.

There’s a certain Chicago-ness to your sound. And forgive me for asking this, because I’m sure it comes up all the time: But what is it about the Kinsella-esque, zany noodling sound that attracted you guys?

No need to apologize, although it’s quite a difficult question to answer. Why does any music appeal to anyone? We just really like music that is complex and has a bit more to it than just bashing out a few chords. We like other stuff, too. We don’t sit around all day listening to Joan of Arc or Noyes on repeat. Playing challenging music keeps us interested. If we were playing music that was boring then we wouldn’t have stayed together very long.

Let’s get specific and talk about your new release, Animals. Many of the lyrics seem to take discontentment and awkward social situations head-on. Trust me, as a loser who trolls Internet forums all day, this hits home. What do you say to these kids – and me – that may look around and not be happy with their immediate surroundings? How can they take control and find their own happiness?

I’m not going to say anything as vague as “Do what ever makes you happy”. I think that is the worst advice ever. What if you like killing people, or have always had an eye for underage girls? I find happiness in knowing that there is a certain inevitability to life. We live, we die. I’m content with who I am as a person and I trust that whatever happens in my life, I’ll be able to handle it. I encourage others to feel a similar sense of contentment. Life is an adventure. The world around us is infinitely complex and there are still answers to important questions to be found. I’m extremely lucky. I have a wonderful supportive family. I need little else. Fame and fortune don’t particularly interest me much, but I’ve always enjoyed music and have grown to enjoy performing. It’s fun.

I was chatting to the singer in Blakfish the other night (we were a little drunk, but not too drunk, just drunk enough to talk honestly about pretty random stuff) and he said that the record made him feel like we (as a band) were all pretty happy. I liked that. Yeah we have issues with the way people choose to treat one another, but ultimately I think we’re a pretty relaxed bunch. I’m glad people can hear/feel that in the music.

If ever someone gets me down or something bugs me, I just try to get into the shoes of someone else and see it from their perspective. It usually just ends up with me feeling sad for them more than anything. Perhaps sometimes my lyrics come from a less understanding side and may come across as bitter/angry. A lot of what makes music great is the catharsis it can offer the performer/listener. That’s something that has appealed to me in music since I first got into it in High School and continues in the music we make today. I’m not a violent person and along with other things in my life I think music definitely helps to keep me balanced.

Also, now that Animals will be your first record to see an official release in the States, what are your overarching goals for success here? It’s an obvious answer – get lots of ladies – but how are you guys going to achieve this? How extensive and how soon will the touring be?

Haha! I’d like to think we’re not quite so shallow. I think a few years back the idea of groupies may have appealed, but I can’t think of anything worse now. I love getting to meet new people when we’re on tour, but I’ll leave the ‘lady-killing’ to someone else. I prefer to show the women I spend time with a bit more respect. We’re not Mötley Crüe.

I think our main goal has always been to write good music. I think we’re there now. We’re always improving and I think we’re at a stage now where we feel like this is something we can do really well. We love the fact that people are into what we do. Sargent House is pretty much the best US based label we could think of right now. We were totally chuffed when they started showing interest in the record and then offered us the release. In many ways they are very similar to our UK label and I think with them we have the best chance of continuing to reach out to people in the same way we’ve done over here (slowly and organically). Nothing to do with this band has been as a result of some kind of overnight success. It feels like we’ve been bubbling away under the surface for a while now, slowly building up steam. I’m glad we’ve done it this way and I hope it continues similarly. I’d hate for us to turn into a band that just gets rammed down people’s throats.

Touring plans at the minute are a bit ‘up in the air’. There is talk of us coming over in March, but we really don’t know for definite. When it happens it has to be worth it. It would be a shame to come over and do a month long tour playing to three people every night. Ever seen the Refused DVD? I’m terrified that something like that can happen to a band. It would be such a bummer to do a crap tour that effectively bankrupts us and causes the band to split up. When we come over (and it will happen soon), it will be on a good tour, playing with a band that we respect and admire.

Your UK label, Big Scary Monsters, has quickly made a name for itself with bands like yourselves, Blakfish, Meet Me In St. Louis (R.I.P.) and countless others. How exciting has it been to see the label grow right along with you guys? Is there anyway fledgling labels can duplicate the sort of success that head honcho Kev Douch has created? What would you tell these bands or labels that are just beginning?

The last few years have been really exciting. When we started out with BSM we were so chuffed. We were just happy that someone had faith in us and had actually paid some money into what we were doing. It’s been great growing with the label and helping to attract people to other artists on the roster. I don’t think that what Kev (BSM) has done is impossible for anyone starting out, but it takes a whole lot of really hard work to make it happen. Kev works harder than anyone I know. So yeah my advice would be to just work as hard as you can.

What happened to the long song titles? Too cumbersome to write on set lists?

Nah, they always got shortened for set lists anyway. We just called the songs animal names cos we found it easier to remember than ‘new song 1’ and ‘new song 2’ while we were working on them. We had always planned to give them ‘proper’ names, but then we thought it would only confuse the issue further. We’ve always thought it pretty irrelevant what the song is called. What better way to prove it than by calling the songs after the first animal that popped into our heads?

OK, I think this has been a sufficient waste of your time. Let’s end with a fun one: If you had to compare lead guitarist Tim Collis to an animal, which would it be? And don’t say Octopus.

A stoat/weasel.
Displaying posts 1 - 14 of 14
06:37 AM on 10/13/08
Sergio Georgini
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xglassjawx's Avatar
Great band and really good live too.
10:17 AM on 10/13/08
I wouldn't know.
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theDrivingSnow's Avatar
Good read. Articulate questions and answers. Stuart seems like a very chill dude.
10:19 AM on 10/13/08
billionsandbillions / Chris
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oldwirehands's Avatar
Bookmarking now. Will read after work. From what I read so far though, its awesome. Blake, you are awesome!!
01:02 PM on 10/13/08
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sargenthouse's Avatar
We are so happy to be working with this fantastic band! We will be releasing the record in early 2009 in the USA.
01:21 PM on 10/13/08
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ThisIsNotDan's Avatar
nice read. so glad I started listening to them. can't wait til this comes out here
04:22 PM on 10/13/08
I didn't even give you my coat!
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mouood's Avatar
Good interview. I've been listening to "Animals" so much lately. Love it.
06:44 PM on 10/13/08
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TheBaroness's Avatar
Great interview. This band's music (and, in particular, the lyrics) have really been there for me during a difficult time in my life this past month. Stuart sounds like a really cool guy, and someone who'd be awesome to have a long conversation with.
07:56 AM on 10/14/08
Blake Solomon
every outcome's such a comedown
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Blake Solomon's Avatar
Great interview. This band's music (and, in particular, the lyrics) have really been there for me during a difficult time in my life this past month. Stuart sounds like a really cool guy, and someone who'd be awesome to have a long conversation with.

agreed about the lyrics. I don't think he gets enough credit, but lyrically this record is fantastic as well.
05:07 PM on 10/14/08
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Posthardcore's Avatar
Good band!
09:41 PM on 10/14/08
Registered User
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AzureBard's Avatar
I've been waiting for this album for months. I can't wait until it's released in the states.

These guys and the rest of the bands at BSM are all really great. Too bad about Meet Me In St. Louis... my city could use some more awesome bands affiliated with it. Ha.
08:24 AM on 10/15/08
Sergio Georgini
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xglassjawx's Avatar
I pre-ordered the record fucking ages ago and it still hasn't come, despite the fact that it's out now. I don't wanna download it before though. I want the first I hear it to be when I have it in my hands.
01:48 PM on 10/16/08
feels good man
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mogwaifearsatan's Avatar
this band is doing it right. can't wait for them to head stateside.
02:20 PM on 10/18/08
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Plunk's Avatar
I'm kinda discovering them on their Myspace. Really interesting, it's not even "unlistenable" considering it's math rock. Beautiful, complex music. The guitar sound is strange but awesome.

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