Being a band in unsigned band in Manchester can be hard at the best of times. Not only is there the stigma of the Roses and Oasis hanging over everything you do, but there's also the clique Northern Quarter scene brimming with overflowing egos mixed with the harsh reality that it's really only a few select friends that ever turn up to the gigs.
The Cardinals are a band who have eschewed all this in favour of truly proving their worth. In the first 12 months of being together the band played alongside the Fall and blew them offstage, scene's have come and gone in the years since their formation and now as the band are close to signing a deal with a major label the Cardinals find themselves in a position stronger then ever. A recent demo produced by Gavin Monaghan (The Smiths / Idlewild etc.) showed that the band had shaken off a premature depressive phase and that the upbeats tunes they'd displayed early on were back in full effect.
3 years after Designer Magazine first spoke to the band we caught up with frontman Nick Mallins
Q: It's been about 3 or 4 years you've been playing around Manchester. While a lot of unsigned Manchester bands have come and gone with each successive musical scene you guys have worked at it and the new songs sound better than ever. Do you feel that you've finally reached where you wanna be?
A: I don't think as a band you can ever say you're where you wanna be as your sound is constantly evolving. The last few years have been a great learning curve where we've refined our art and built solid foundations on which to progress.
I think we're better equipped now to continue our accent and continue to grow as musicians and songwriters.
We've seen several scenes come and go, while we've not dismissed them, we've remained focused and tried not to jump on any bandwagon.
Q: The tag of being a Manc band. I get the feeling you've always been uneasy with that - you've always felt you were just an international band. Agree?
A: Obviously the fact that we're a Manchester band has some stigma attached but we see our music as very universal so are keen to avoid any tags.
Manchester has an impressive musical history and we hope to carry on the legacy with our own interpretation.
Q: You're not really part of the scene in Manchester, you exist separate from it, but every time you come back after a few months away writing and recording you attract bigger audiences than most of the unsigned bands on the scene. The Cardinals are a bit of a phenomenon aren't they?
A: We'd like to think we are! Manchester at times can be a bit incestuous. Bands naturally tend to stick together in small cliques and tell each other how fantastic they are. We've just tried to do our own thing. Music should cross boundaries, jumping into a particular scene can be detrimental. There are some fantastic bands knocking around Manchester, always will be, but it's been important for us to find our own path.
Q: Since we first saw you, you're influences have changed slightly, but it still sounds like the Cardinals. You seem a lot more upbeat on the new songs after what seemed like a premature depressive phase?
A: Our music has always been a natural progression. We've always had a direction and it's been more a case of giving everything we've got. Our songs reflect our state of mind and if we were writing downbeat songs then that's emotionally where we were at, but that's moved on and we're thankfully producing more feel good, faster tempo tunes. Lyrically we've got a lot more to say and are totally accessible as a band.
Q: Last time we spoke there was record label interest. Is it a case of the right deal just not coming along at the moment?
A: We currently have an offer on the table which we're negotiating as we speak. (Ed: A few days after this interview the band signed a deal with B-Unique - the label behind Hot Hot Heat, Har Mar Superstar and The Ordinary Boys)
Q: You've done a lot round Manchester in terms of major support slots. Are you going to go to London at all in the near future to attract industry interest or maybe get a major tour support for the whole country?
A: We're in the process of getting an agent. We've not been concerned with playing London just yet. Interested parties have travelled up north to see us at gigs or at rehearsal.
We'll play London soon hopefully but feel it's important to have a strong local following and build outwards - Manchester then the world!
Q: Finally, a chance to sell it to the readers why they should buy into the Cardinals?
A: Its the sound of the wind - sometimes it gently tickles and teases your face, sometimes it blows you right off your feet! Think epic dreamscapes with soaring melodies and jangly guitars…
To hear clips from the new Gavin Monaghan (Smiths, Idlewild etc) produced demo
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