THE MADDING CROWD
Introduce yourselves and tell us what you've been up to recently?
We are The Madding Crowd, Glamourous purveyors of chaotic Mancunian Alternative Rock music. Bonjourno! Recently we have been doing everything we can to push or December-recorded EP 'They'll Love You More For Who You're Not' into the faces of record labels and various media types, be that through having a daytime excursion to Media City to try and infiltrate the BBC's radio headquarters, posting copies of the EP to record labels with an aggressively persuasive letter attached, or simply giving out copies of it at our gigs in the hope that someone, somewhere will tell someone about us, we are in the process of leaving no stone unturned! We are also trying to branch out and start playing gigs outside Manchester, hopes were dashed with our attempt to play Blackpool by unscrupulous promoters, but we've played Sheffield and have another couple of gigs booked there this summer, as well as one in Liverpool. We are also in the process of sorting out something for Edinburgh as we, rather inexplicably, seem to have developed a bit of a following there, which is a lovely thing.
And how did you get together? The name?
I originally had the idea for this band when it became clear that the lifespan of my old band, The Counter Culture, was about to run it's course. I began writing my own songs after that band split up, and for a good year played acoustic gigs under my own name. It took me ages to find band members, and I recycled through a few because they just weren't doing it for me, and felt as though the day would just never arrive when I might find someone who shared my vision for this band. I suppose it should have been obvious immediately that my brother and my cousin were perfect fits, with the same passion for being imaginative and individual as I have, but for some reason or other it wasn't. It should have been even more obvious considering the fact that they played bass and guitar respectively, but again it wasn't. I can be an miraculously slow thinker sometimes. But eventually the lightbulb went off in the ol' noggin and they were recruited. We had a drummer called Matt Cosgrove, who incidentally did a fine job after he left of co-producing our EP, for our first year before Danny came in. He just got in touch with us over the Internet, and we were impressed by his passionate commitment and adept technique, so he was immediately hired!
The name The Madding Crowd comes from the Thomas Hardy novel 'Far From the Madding Crowd'. I thought it would be a nice, sneaky irony to have a name that conjured up images of chaos, madness and rioting, while at the same time being taken from a novel that is set in the idyllic South-Western English Countryside.
Who are your biggest influences?
A review compared us to Oasis once. I was offended. Bands like The Smiths, Radiohead and Manic Street Preachers are massive influences on us, but they're massive influences on everybody, and I don't think we explicitly sound all that much like any of them. There isn't much to say about those three bands apart from that they are probably as close to perfection as it gets, along with Elvis, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Simon and Garfunkel. There are also bands who are huge influences on us from the last 12 years that a lot of people wouldn't list among their influences - bands like Bloc Party, Glasvegas, Arcade Fire and perhaps even more bizarrely, although it doesn't seem very bizarre to us, My Chemical Romance who are just stunning. You get a lot of people going round saying things like 'Oh Music just isn't the same nowadays as it was in the 60s/70s/Insert past decade here, it's just not as good anymore', when in fact I don't think that is the case at all, and I think people like that are blinkered and stupid, because the last 10 or so years have produced some absolutely excellent guitar bands, all of them better than Blur and Oasis. They may not be trailblazing pioneers in the same way that The Beatles or David Bowie were, but after near 60 years of popular music who could be? The bottom line is that there have been some incredible bands come out in the last 10 years, and no one gives them the credit they deserve. I think that albums like 'A Weekend in The City', 'Whatever People Say I am...', 'Glasvegas', 'Funeral' and 'The Black Parade' can stand right up there and very much hold their own against any of the greatest albums of the last 25 years. The strange thing is that I don't think we sound very much like any of our influences. I don't think there are many people who sound like us to be honest.
Here at Designer Magazine we're all about supporting the scene.. which are your fave local bands and why should we check them out?
Sam Smith and Company are an incredible live experience - absolutely raw power, aggression and passion on stage, Sam is incredibly intense up there, and is someone you just can't take your eyes off. It also helps that all of his songs are wonderfully infectious little gems, and there are moments watching them that get the hairs on the back of one's neck standing up!
I would also highly recommend The Zero Symphony, the finest, most original, most hardworking Hard Rock band in the country. I've known them for years and they really are a spectacular live band, those songs are simply magical, it is Metal with a pop core. It is a travesty that they haven't been signed yet, in all the years that they've been going.
Suzie Does it are great as well, lovely people who write catchy pop songs a la the Foo Fighters and REM. They are a superbly prolific band, they've got a new album coming out all the time.
And finally, Stop Motion Silence are a really good band that I've been friends with for years, they write these excellent, huge sounding songs that sort of burst out at you and engulf the whole room. They use synths really creatively too, I know everyone's doing that now but I like the way that they juxtapose it with these really heavy guitars. They are a very good band.
We like these bands because they're all doing something that is different, something that is their own. There are too many bands around who are content to simply copy what everyone else is doing, or play whatever is popular this month, or rehash and pastiche ideas from the past, without injecting any personality or imagination into the proceedings, so I am always delighted when I come across bands like these, it's lovely when something stands out.
What's your biggest promo tips you can give to other local bands? How do you push your band forward?
I would say be tenacious, never let anybody tell you you're not excellent, because if you're doing something that you really really believe in, and if you think it is special, then it is, and you should do anything and everything you can to get it noticed and out there - badger record labels, always bring cd's to your gigs, try and get as much airplay on radio and tv as you possibly can. All exposure is good exposure. If you have faith in something you should never give up on it, and you should chase it to the ends of the earth, promoting it by any means necessary.
Where do you go for pre gig food and where do you go post gig clubs in Manchester?
We don't really have anywhere in particular that we specifically go to pre or post gig. The other three go straight home afterwards most of the time! I like Leo's Fish Bar, although I was perplexed by the full-on resteraunt style that they've set it out in. I like TV21 as well, me and Dom, our Guitarist, went there after we went to watch Ren Harvieu recently and it was splendid. But it's always been splendid that place, I go there whenever I'm in town.
What do you like most about Manchester?
I like the look of the place, there's a scarred and tarnished beauty about it, juxtaposed with this burgeoning modernity trying to break free. I love the juxtaposition of it. I love the battered terraced houses of the suburbs that remind me of 'A Taste of Honey', even in this day and age. There's a sort of elegance in that ugliness that makes it not very ugly at all. I love the fact that when you're walking through town on a rainy day you can feel that humid, beautiful greyness - it's the best kind of damp blanket. On days like that you feel like you're in one of Valette's paintings of Albert Square or Oxford Road from the early 1900s, bustling past a whole sea of people as they make their way through this splendid monochromatic landscape, that would be hideously banal and routine anywhere else, but, because it's Manchester, looks beautiful, elegant and comforting. There's a reason Lowry's paintings of Salford and Manchester are considered Masterpieces. There's something special about Manchester that makes the everyday seem like something gloriously romantic, from the architecture right down to the people on the street, it takes the mundane and makes it spectacular. That's what I like about it best.
Best gig you've been to of all time (and why?)
I can't speak for the rest of the band, but for me it was, and probably will always be, Morrissey at GMEX on December 23rd 2006. That man is my hero, and it was the first time I'd ever seen him. I'll never forget the moment he came out, covering his face with a Sacha Distel LP. The realisation that it was him sent a shock of adrenaline and excitement down my spine that I have seldom felt since, and then he launched straight into 'Panic', before proceeding to play an absolutely perfect greatest hits set, spanning his whole career up to that point. His banter was spot on, his Smiths songs were expertly chosen (especially 'How Soon is Now', which is the greatest song ever written), and his voice was heavenly. To say it was a magical experience is a vast, vast understatement. It was a wonderful evening.
What one book would you say all of your fans should read and why?
There are so many, I want to say Oscar Wilde's complete works or 'American Gods' by Neil Gaiman, or countless Ibsen plays, or 'A Taste of Honey, but I think I'm going to say 'The Wrong Boy' by Willy Russell. Willy Russell is one of the great writers on the subject of working class life, and all of the mundane routine that can come with it if you allow it to be that way. All of his main characters are striving to escape from that life by some means or other, and Raymond Marks, the protagonist in 'The Wrong Boy' is no exception. It's a wonderful book that deals with the story of one young man's determination not to sink into the uncreative world of banality that his family and community insist he must sink into, and his struggles along the road to truly finding himself. It is set out in a series of fictional letters to Morrissey, which I think is quite unique, and documents his whole life up until the point he has reached. The book sparkles with wit, intelligence and individuality, and is a stunning read, that is as heartbreakingly sad at times as it is sometimes chest-swellingly uplifting. I'd recommend it to anybody, in fact I'd recommend any Willy Russell book or play to anybody. I think he is stupendous.
Fave movie or TV show of all time?
Again, I can't speak for the rest of the band, but my favourite film of all time is 'This is England'. I love Shane Meadows - I love the realism of his work, I love how devastatingly hard hitting it can be as well as sometimes being absolutely charmingly understated and funny, and 'This is England' is his masterpiece, it takes all those elements and pitches them to perfection to create something of absolutely astonishing beauty, that is also incredibly upsetting and stomach-churningly sad at times. If you've not seen 'This is England' and its TV sequels then you should go out and find them right now, because they are works of art. My personal favourite TV show is South Park, because it's the most cleverly written, devilishly funny, outrageously biting and insanely ridiculous TV show of all time, which in turn makes it the funniest TV comedy ever made. I just love it!
Which football team do you support?
I support United. I'm not intensely passionate about football, but I do like it a whole lot and really love watching it, because there's nothing more exciting than the atmosphere in a pub or at a game or something when someone scores a crucial goal and everyone loses themselves in the elation of the moment. The only other time I ever feel so lost in the moment is when I'm on stage. I've only been to a handful of games in my time, best one was probably United against Everton at Old Trafford, which was the first game I ever went to. It was 0-0 with 5 minutes to go and then all of a sudden Paul Scholes pops up with 3 goals in 3 minutes to end the game, right in front of where we were sat as well. I can't remember which particular season it was, but we had Fabian Barthez in goal, so it was circa 2000/01.
And finally we're all about the live sweaty gigs - final chance to say why we should check you out live?
People should check us out because we are a whirlwind of passion, chaos, glamour, intensity and pure, unadulterated joy in what we do. There is no act here, we are not faking it; there is a humanity and genuine, evident love for music about our gigs that very few people possess. There is no one that sounds like us, no one who has the vitality that we do, no one who has the intensity that we do - we are out there all on our own and we are totally unique.
And if we want to know more whats your facebook / twitter addresses?
I also recently discovered that we have a Twitter account, which somehow evaded my attention - www.twitter.com/themaddingcrowduk - and we're on Soundcloud as well - www.soundcloud.com/vivalamaddingcrowd
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