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8mm Orchestra

28 June 11 words: Paul Klotschkow
"I love meeting new bands that have that fire for playing good independent D.I.Y gigs where the people actually care what they're listening to"
8mm Orchestra Interview
 8mm Orchestra - Photo by MelimOi

8mm Orchestra having been gigging in and around Nottingham for a few years after initially getting together for a Fine Art project at Nottingham Trent University and in that the band has built up a strong and loyal following. They've just released their second EP, so LeftLion thought it was about time it grabbed a few words with them...

Hello, how are you?
Jack: Tired, but good!
George: I am fine.
Leo: I'm good thanks.
Martin: I'm just dandy. Tired & dandy
Dan: I'm ill! Picked up a virus off a family member.

Can you tell us who is in the band?
J: I play the drums and sometimes the guitar, Leo plays guitar, Martin also plays guitar and sometimes drums, Dan plays bass and makes some pretty awesome sound effects and George makes 'the noise'. We also all play a couple of other little bits like extra percussion, keys/metallophones and various electronic sounds.

How did the band get together?
J: At the time George was a studying Art at university and for a particular piece of work he needed musicians to come in and improvise sound and music over some silent film. He would then manipulate the footage around the sounds we were creating.

Where does the name come from?
J: From what we were doing with George’s work. Most of the film was 8mm footage that belonged to his grandparents. Some really beautiful looking stuff.

How would you describe your sound?
J: Atmospheric/Spacey mainly instrumental rock. A lot of people have tried to generalise and call us post rock - how wrong they are. It's not a type of music we dislike, but there's So much more going on with us. I mean we are a band who between us like Zu, Neu!, J Dilla, Biffy Clyro, Kong, Thundercat, Aerosmith, Radiohead and Kiss. Anything goes with us.

How does the songwriting in the band work?
J: It usually goes one of two ways. Sometimes one of us may have written something at home and will bring it in and the rest of the band will add that special 8mm touch. Alternatively we usually jam constantly for about an hour and then make a song out of that foundation. One Small Step is an example of that. The original version is 14 minutes long!
L: Most of the time we'll end up jamming on something for about an hour, recording it on a phone, then trying to pick the best bits from that recording and trim it down into a more tangible structure. Other times one of us will have just written something at home, teach everyone the basics and then let them add their own bits to it.
M: Everyone usually has the freedom to write their own parts.
D: Sometimes one of us will come to the band with a fairly complete track that we’ll then shape into a proper 8mm track.

What was your first gig as 8mm Orchestra like?
G: It was a studio party for Fine Art students at Nottingham Trent with visuals bits that I did. I didn't play any instruments, just sat at the back like a groupie.
M:  We had about four songs hardly finished and kinda stumbled through them really.
J: I don't think the students were happy.
L: Mine was pretty weird because I joined the band a year in and had to learn the set in about 2 weeks. Luckily I'd seen their other gigs enough times that I already had a pretty good idea of the structures, and just needed to work out the notes.

What has been your favourite gig to play in Nottingham?
J: I personally always enjoy playing at The Jam Cafe. Every time we've played it's been a rammed. I love those intimate gigs. That or Splendour last year with Ronika (Jack and Martin also play in Ronika’s band).
G: In recent memory playing The Chameleon with Alright The Captain and Khuda. Upstairs was shut down for the night we played pretty much in Nick's face, my Kaoss Pad was on the bar. Some minds got blown away that night; the whole line up was gnarly!
M: We always have an awesome time at The Chameleon laughing, playing loud & drinking Nick's excellent cider.
L: I really enjoy gigs at the Jam cafe. I like that it’s so tight in there that the audience can’t all just huddle in the back corner. It gives it a bit more of an interactive feel, which is nice because our songs all flow one into another which doesn’t leave much room for ordinary banter.
D: Probably playing a Farmyard gig at Jam Cafe during the summer last year. It was unbearably hot in there but the vibe was great and everyone seemed to have a really good night. Supporting Orange Goblin in a previous band was awesome!

You’ve got a new EP out, can you tell us a bit about it?
J: Yep, Its called One Small Step and we just put it out through Super Music Collider Records and it's totally free. We actually recorded it way back in January 2011 with Pete Fletcher at First Love in Nottingham, we did it all in a day. The second track is a remix by Mirrorzisland (John Sampson from Swimming). There was a bit of a delay as he has been away on tour for a long while now. We all love the mix. The final track is a special live performance of Untitled from our first E.P. and Martin arranged the strings himself. The string players literally looked at the sheet music and got it in one take - it was amazing! You can download it for free from our Bandcamp page. It's also on all the usual places though Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes and YouTube.

8mm Orchestra Interview
 8mm Orchestra - Photo by MelimOi

What has been your highlight of being in the band so far?
J: Sounds really cheesy but just being in this band. There is total freedom of expression. It's also been great to see the amount of people coming to our shows increase each time and to hear people dig what we are doing.
G: Well the highlights of being in a band for me are the friends you make along the way. Your band members become so close to you. I love meeting new bands that have that fire for playing good independent D.I.Y gigs where the people actually care what they're listening to. The highlight for any one involved in the scene is the great friends you will undoubtedly make.
L: Recording our EP at First Love. I'd never really recorded something with the whole band playing live before, and it was really nice to get so focused on one song and really tweak it to be as good as we could get it.
M: The couple of times we haven't had to carry our stuff to gigs by hand and got a taxi!
D: Hanging out with my mates, playing some great music, meeting some delightful people, and being able to check out some awesome bands.

What other music coming out of Nottingham are you currently enjoying?
J: There's an awesome scene in Nottingham right now. A few worth checking out are Ronika, Injured Birds and The Lukewarm Equation - I swear by 'em! There's lot of good music out there, you just have to open your mind and ears and find it.
G: Well Swimming are a band favourite. Also Made of Leaves or what ever they will now be called have always been a talked about. Along with the obvious notts godmother of disco, Ronika.
L: There's such a variety in Nottingham, so it depends what mood I'm in. If I want my mind melted by crazy instrumentals then I go for some Alight the Captain, or Shape Lt. But if I fancy seeing a band completely tear a place apart then there’s always Baby Godzilla and Ocean Bottom Nightmare.
M: I can't answer this question without saying Swimming. It's great to see them doing well they deserve it. Jack and me have some exciting stuff coming up with Ronika too! Other than that the Barnum Meserve, Alright the Captain, Kogumaza, Injured Birds, Ocean Bottom Nightmare. So many, it's a great time to be a musician in Notts.
D: Kogumaza is pretty popular in the band. Barnum Merserve are really good. The recently disbanded Dead In The Woods made some great music which I like to get angry to. I'm looking forward to the Origami Biro album launch as well.

What is it like for a band in Nottingham trying to get gigs and support?
J: Depends how you go about it. I send out a hell of a lot of e-mails. It's hard to get slots in with the bigger bands coming through town but there lots of awesome independent promoters in Nottingham like Will (I'm Not From London), Tommy (Farmyard) and Gayle (Memory Box) who work really hard to showcase the unheard.
L: To be honest, Jack tends to be the one organising most of the gigs, I just get texts asking me if I'm free. So as far as I'm concerned getting gigs is really easy. I imagine he has a much harder time though.
M: Tough! We get asked a bit but we're always looking for more. We're a niche band so it's hard to find gigs people want to put you on. Also everyone expects you to play for free or beer and that's great at first but it's a shame this seems to be the only way a lot of the time.
D: With such a vibrant scene in Nottingham there are a lot of opportunities but a lot of competition. You have to be proactive and work hard. Being good and doing something different isn't enough.

What do you like to do on a night out in Nottingham?
J: Go to hear the SPAM DJ play endless Wilson Pickett for me or go to the Orange Tree for my favourite rum. I think I’m the only member who doesn't like cider.
G: I'm a drummer you know, I like to drum, and drink tequila and make love then I fall over in the dirt. And when I wake up the next day I do it all again!
J: George is most definitely not a drummer!
L: Drink.
M: Drink good rums, ciders & bad lager & laugh 'til I cough up food from Hockley Fish Bar or the chippy of dreams near the Cornerhouse.
D: Sing along badly to any Bowie tracks played at Vinyl Countdown, dance badly at SPAM, and try to drink my weight in cider.

What is your earliest musical memory?
J: Hearing lots of Elvis or Marvin Gaye. Also listening to my tapes of Thriller and 1999 over and over.
G: Terminator 2: Judgement Day
L: Having a cassette of Purple Rain pretty much on loop for a month in the car on the way to and from primary school. That was a good month.
M: Playing the ironing board like an upright bass to my mum's old vinyl records when I was six years old.
D: My dad's prog and folk records. I hated music when I was younger! I'm a bit of a late-started.

If you were reincarnated what would you like to come back as?
J: The new Nikola Tesla. That guy fucking rules.
G: A Grizzly Bear
L: The Duchess of Cornwall's Tampon. I'd suffer that horror, just to stop Prince Charles getting the chance to enjoy it.
M: A pair of tits. Or a feeling, like a bad itch under your foot you can't get to because you've got your shoes on and you're out shopping.
D: A mantis shrimp or a mimic octopus. Amazing creatures.

What’s next for the band?
J: We’ve been gigging lots recently but just got back into writing some new stuff. However we are working on recording another E.P. soon and there is a lot of talk of working with a visual artist to create some lovely audio/visual performance pieces for people to come and see. Old school.

Any final words for the LeftLion readers?
J: Fuck Tesco's you guys. Seriously.
G: One time my cousin Walter got this cat stuck in his ass. True story. He bought it at our local mall, so the whole fiasco wound up on the news. It was embarrassing for my relatives and all. But the next week, he did it again. Different cat, same results, complete with another trip to the emergency room. So I run into him a week later at the mall and he was buying another cat! And I said to him, "Jesus, Walt, what are you doing? You know you're just gonna get this cat stuck up your ass, too. Why don't you knock it off?" And he said to me, "Brodie, how the hell else am I supposed to get the gerbil out?" – Mallrats
L: Download Our EP or I'll get George to wait in your bedroom with a Kaoss Pad and make horrible noises every time you think you're just about to drift off.
M: I like the word 'crepuscular'. Try using it in a sentence.
D: Support the local scene! Not only does it foster up and coming local acts but helps bring in big underground groups too.

8mm Orchestra play with The Wax Dramatic and Apparatus of Sleep at the Jam Cafe on Friday 15 July 2011. One Small Step EP by 8mm Orchestra is available now to download.

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