What inspired the name Practical Lovers?
Mark: Everything now is jumping through hoops - it’s not sexy or romantic. It doesn’t lend itself to romance having to constantly think and calculate and work out what your next move is when you’re trying to woo and seduce someone. You can also pretty much date people now over the internet. In the same way as with sharing music; you can meet people across the other side of the world with minimal effort and minimal emotional investment. Then you can just draw a line under it and move on, it’s become a socially disposable nature of meeting and interacting with people.
It’s not that you’re not both practical lovers then?
Mark: No, we’re not the Karma Sutra meets the IKEA catalogue.
Jack: There’s this significant element of broken heartedness from various things from the past, the whole thing is pretty self-indulgent, it’s kind of “lets wallow in these emotions for a while and make music from them.”
So what kind of band are Practical Lovers?
Jack: We’re effectively a bedroom project – we’ve made it and recorded it all at home.
Mark: We’re not in the position anymore where we need to get 100,000 CDs printed. With a few clicks people all over the world can be listening to our stuff within a few seconds. The idea of the bedroom generation is that we don’t use amplifiers, and we don’t have any kit so we can set up and play a gig in the bedroom and it’ll sound the way it does in a venue.
How did you guys meet?
Jack: In our kitchen. It was a bit weird because I was coming to study at Confetti and I moved in but we’d lived together for three or four days and had not met. Then I was in the kitchen one morning and I was making a cup of tea, Mark came in and we both just went from there.
Mark: That was around six years ago and this is the third band we’ve been in together, so really we’ve been long term friends and musical collaborators.
So what happened with the other bands?
Mark: There was a folky band called Tiger Mountain and a noisy thrashy nonsense called Devil’s Tongue, both of which were a lot of fun and the end of both bands were kind of catalysed by someone moving out of Nottingham.
How do you guys deal with living in different cities now?
Mark: The advantage of being a very compact unit and then the bedroom thing; the fact that Jack is a sound engineer and a producer means we don’t need studio time, we don’t need recording time, we don’t need a recording budget. We’re a cheap and efficient band in that respect.
Jack: It’s a little bit weird, and it’s not the same as in person. I put the basis of a song together, keep it really bare bones, send it to Mark to get his ideas and then the next time we meet up, he can play me what he’s come up with. It’s definitely more work and less personal but it works.
Where does the melancholia come from?
Jack: Weirdly, there was a girl. I don’t know if I want to talk about it in all honesty, but the bands been really therapeutic. There is a concern that I’m not as miserable as I was and that the music is going to change.
Mark: I think in the more recent songs we’ve written you can hear the difference, it's changing and it will continue to change but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That’s how music should be, organic, it ought to be based on what the creators of the music are thinking at that moment; if you have any emotional integrity at all, that’s going to have an impact on what you’re producing. People always think we’re huge fans of New Order or Joy Divison.
Jack: I think we sound like Love Will Tear Us Apart.
Mark: I think it’s the most accurate comparison that we’ve had is The Smiths. The Smiths and The Cure are two bands I really like and they don’t necessarily influence me musically, or the band but, what The Smiths were really good is writing good lyrics. They often wrote very happy sounding songs with desperately tragic lyrics. Listen to Girlfriend In A Coma, it sounds really happy, but it’s a really harrowing song.
Do you take a lot of influence from eighties music then?
Jack: I’ve produced a lot of music that is very eighties sounding, but I’ve never really listened to eighties music. It’s all been from hearing the current resurgence of eighties influenced music, has actually been my influence.
Mark: Basically, we’re eighties revivalist revivalists.
Jack: There’s stuff that we’re doing that you wouldn’t get back then. Some of the production is quite modern, and some of the synth sounds wouldn’t have been heard back in the eighties but there is definitely some parts that almost could have been done back then.
How did you meet your manager, Will Robinson?
Jack: I met him back when I used to run a club night at Templars, an awful, awful bar. Will also ran an I’m Not From London night there, the first time I went down to one there was a glam rock band on, I met Will really briefly and thought “I don’t like this”, and left. Then years later I rediscovered INFL and thought it was amazing, I guess I just got a bad band the time before. Hot Japanese Girl were playing, then later I overheard them talking about recording their EP, but the studio had double booked so I offered to record them. I went to their rehearsal and we recorded some tracks, and I met Will - who is their manager – and got to know them all.
You’re due to release a new single – tell us about it…
Jack: Textbook Romance. If there’s a single that sums up the band, that’s what it is. It’s pretty much what you’d tell yourself at the end of a relationship, that you’re not going to make those mistakes again and I’ll do it like this and this and this. It’s actually very unromantic, you know, doing it by a textbook.
What’s the inspiration for the video then?
Mark: The video for Textbook Romance will be shot by Dave Lankester. Originally we were going to do something with kids going on a date, it was a lovely idea, but kids are a logistical nightmare, frankly. Never work with animals or children. So Dave is an ideas man and he’s come up with three or four great ideas, we completely trust him.
Jack: At the moment though it looks like it’s going to be very Gondry-esque, probably stop motion footage.
Are there plans for an album? You have a two track out at the moment.
Mark: Yeah, on Amazon, iTunes and Bandcamp, Put It Bluntly and a remix.
Jack: The full album is actually almost finished, I’m just trying to remain miserable enough to write a couple more songs that feel like they fit in with the current one and I’ve already got a head full of ideas for the next, which we think will be a six track EP.
Any favourite Nottingham bands that you’d recommend?
Mark: For me it’s definitely Dick Venom And The Terrortones. I went to Newcastle with them not too long ago, they’ve got a real following up there. For a band at that stage in their career to travel so far and get such a good crowd is phenomenal.
Do you guys stick to Nottingham at the moment?
Jack: London’s a tough nut to crack, there’s a bit more clout having a label contacting venues on your behalf and Will can offer gig swaps to anyone, but there’s this whole thing that London bands don’t really need to gig anywhere outside of London. It’s a problem you can get with promoters, the whole “why should I put you on? How do I know you’re going to draw a big enough crowd?” mentality when they can put on people that they do know and that will pull a crowd. For now we’re happy to do open mic nights down there. We don’t know how people will take to us turning up with a load of kit, but we hope they will.
Practical Lovers with support from Rainbow Down, In Isolaton and Matt Riviere play at The Chameleon on Saturday 19 May 2012.