Does It Offend You, Yeah? interview

9 Nov
James from Does It Offend You, Yeah? spoke to me before the band’s recent gig at the Electric Ballroom to talk about the band’s career to date and future plans….

“What would you say first got you into making music?”

My dad was a record producer and had his own studio. I’d hang out in the studio all the time, not to be around the music as such but just purely to hang out with my dad. I’d fall asleep at the back of the studio and stuff but when I got to 8 or 9, I started becoming interested in what he was doing. More from a production side rather than a music side.

“That’s a really young age to get involved in it….”

Yeah, I remember being at school at the time thinking, “I have no interest in any of this” but then when I got to secondary school I thought “Great! Music class!. But my knowledge was greater than anyone else’s because of my background and I was talking about Neve desks and drum machines while everyone else was….

“Playing with Casio keyboards?”

Yeah exactly! But then I dropped out and just started writing tracks. And just carried on and carried on until something happened!

“Did you start playing guitar first or did the creating come from production?”

It was more the production side definitely. I started producing bands when I was 15 and then when I got to about 20, I started getting into electronic music and started writing electronic music.

“So electronic music is your biggest influence then?”

Yeah I guess. I mean, I love band stuff just as much but I think because there’s more of a PRODUCTION aspect to electronic music it attracts me more. But I’m into both.

“One of the things that I think makes you stand out is the fact that you fit in to both the dance genre and rock genre….”

Well one of my biggest influences is obviously The Prodigy. I remember the first time I saw The Prodigy – before that point it was all underground, warehouse parties and people wearing gloves dancing on E but the first time I saw them it was like a rock gig. I thought “Wow! What is this?!”. That’s where I want to be – a rock mentality but with dance music.

“Your live show has the energy of a rock gig definitely. I saw you guys play at NW1 during the Camden Crawl….”

That was a great gig! We loved that one. We’ve done about 200 shows now and there are certain shows that stick in your head and that one was definitely one of them!

“Other electronic bands rely on visuals and samplers, where as you guys do it the old fashion way…. “

I remember when we first started out – people were saying “What are you gonna do? Are you going use laptops?” and we were saying “No no no. We want it to be like a Slipknot gig!”

We did the album the wrong way round really. We finished the album and then went into the rehearsal room to try and figure out how to play it live. And looking back, I think that was a wrong move because we ended up being better live and the live stuff is so much more heavier….

“How will that impact the next record?”

We’re gonna do things differently next time. We are definitely focusing more on the live side of things when we come to record the next record.

“How does the songwriting process work? Do you get to write on tour?”

Not really. In terms of writing, given my background, I sort of work better in a studio environment. I can do bits on my laptop but we’re not the sort of guys to write a track in a hotel room on an acoustic guitar.

“Do you guys ever jam at soundchecks?”

We do little bits. Not as much as we should. Sometimes we’ll be messing around and we’ll sort of look at each other and think: “Fucking hell, that’s really good!”

We did this MTV thing in San Francisco – what they do is stick you in a room with all your gear and you just play something. We started messing about and came up with someone amazing and the producer of the show came running over and said, “Wait wait! Can you just do something original? You’re playing a song there… we want something new. Just jam”. And we said, “That was us jamming!”

“Do you have any new tunes written?”

We’ve got a couple of things written yeah, but they’re different. I think sometimes we move a bit too fast for our own good. I’ll write something that sounds nothing like us and think it’s really good but…

“There’s a pressure to make an “album”?”

Yeah exactly. We’ve all agreed that once we finish this tour, we’re going to disappear and tell everyone not to contact us. Label, management, the lot… we just want to be left alone to muck about and come up with a new record.

“Back in Reading?”

Yeah. There’s a rehearsal studio in Reading with a bit of recording equipment in. We’re just gonna bring in our computers and just stay there for a month and a half and just write. Then we’re gonna find somewhere to record it. We want to find like an old creepy house somewhere – we don’t wanna go into a big expensive studio. As soon as you go in, the clock starts….

“Sometimes a big studio brings pressure and records sound rushed….”

Exactly! I totally hear that in our album. It’s funny, the first half of the album was done before we got picked up and then we had a year of writing where nothing came out.

“What tunes did you have before you came to record the album?”

We had Battle Royale, Weird Science, We Are Rockstars, Dawn of the Dead and Doomed Now. Then we got picked up and we had the idea to go away and do what we want to do this time but the label and management were on the phone every day….

“It has to be natural doesn’t it?”

Yeah. I mean there are techniques to writing songs. It got to the last month before we HAD to deliver and we got in touch with Elliot James and he took us into the studio and we wrote the last half of the album in two weeks. So recording the album was really weird – we recorded the first half in a few weeks, then had a massive gap of about a year where nothing came out and then recorded the rest of the album in the last James Rushent - Does It Offend You, Yeah?two weeks! But we learnt so many lessons from making it. When you’re in an expensive studio, every second costs money. That’s on your head. Then you’ve got the label and management calling you up. That’s on your head. So with the next one it’s gonna de done in our own time as cheaply as possible….

“It gives you the freedom with no pressure…”

Well yeah! That’s where music comes from. There’s a great book it’s called “Inside the Music” and there’s a bit in it that talks about a young violinist who was really good and was taken into a room full of music students – the lights were on and there was obviously a bit of pressure. He told her to play this piece. Afterwards, he asked her how the piece sounded to the girl and she said it sounded “sparse”. So he then told her to purely think of something sparse and to completely forget about her surroundings and the piece itself. As soon as she stopped thinking about what she was playing and started to imagine the piece as an object she played it 100 times better. When you remove that pressure of “I’ve got to write! I’ve got to write!” that’s when music comes out.

“You can really lose yourself in music. Do you ever get moments where you feel trapped in a bubble?”

Yeah definitely. I remember hearing a story about some journalist going up to David Bowie once after a gig asking him how he thought it went. He replied with “I have no idea. You tell me.” And it’s like that for me sometimes. Sometimes I’ll be sitting backstage before we soundcheck and think “have we been here before?”. It’s the same with people as well. You can meet them and spend all night talking to them but the next time you see them you don’t remember their name or even talking to them. You feel like an arsehole. You’re not that sort of person but everything sort of blends into one definitely.

“Do the remixes give you a fresh input?”

Not really. I don’t particularly like doing remixes. We did a few in the early days but we didn’t want to label ourselves as being a remix band you know? We kind of wanted to get away from that. Just to prove a point. The thing about electronic music is that it’s quite a scene-based thing. Everyone was expecting a British version of the Justice album and when we didn’t do what they wanted I think some people in the press got a bit pissed off.

Justice will survive but a lot of bands that cling to the electro thing will fall through the cracks and we don’t want to be chucked in with everyone else. We’re not the originators of it and we’ll just go down with the ship. We said to ourselves very early on – let’s just do what we wanna do and not be forced into doing what’s expected of us.

“Bands that are keen to progress as musicians and are career focused tend to be the ones that last longer…”

That’s true. We’ve always wanted to be a band like Talking Heads. Every album they recorded sounded like Talking Heads but at the same time, each record they made kind of progressed and sounded completely different from the one before. That’s the kind of band we want to be. I mean, look at Radiohead. When they first started out they were a pretty standard indie band. “Pablo Honey” is a good album but it’s miles away from what they’re doing now. You can’t touch them anymore. It’s a case of “just don’t even try” with Radiohead now.

“They got to where they got by playing live and developing as musicians…”

Touring’s really important definitely. I mean, it’s hard work but we want to be one of those bands that does it the old fashion way and considering how far we’ve come on this tour alone – it’s exciting to think where we’ll be in a few years from now.

“It’s kicking off for you guys in America. Is it bigger over there than it is over here?”

It’s overtaken I guess. We’re happy as Larry about it! They just seem to like it. I think the thing in this country is that everything comes down to what the NME say and they write a lot about how a band look and stuff like that. Where as, I think, in America, people just listen to music for the right reasons.

“You guys were perfect support for Nine Inch Nails. How was that?”

Trent’s very picky so we were over the moon to be asked to support them! He was emailing us personally and it was a great experience being on that tour. It was a shame that we had to cancel the shows we had to cancel to do Reading and Leeds but he was totally understanding about it. He’s a really great guy and those shows were a total inspiration.

 Does It Offend You, Yeah? have just been announced as main support for The Prodigy at Brixton Academy on December 13th and their debut album “You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into”
is out now.

One Response to “Does It Offend You, Yeah? interview”

  1. Jill #1 Fan September 10, 2009 at . #

    DOes it offend you, yeah? = one of my all time original favorites…I think Being bad feels pretty good is waaaaaaaaaayyyy underrated and needs to be pumped into the music main-stream!!!! Along with the rest of the album, which is versatile and amazing. Can’t wait for the next album:)))

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