The Wharves play The Chameleon on Friday 5 September - Photo by Chris Fleet
Hello, how are you?
Bit cross because it’s raining but will get over it.
Can you explain who is in the band and what you all do?
Our line-up is me, Gemma (bass and vocals), Dearbhla (guitar and vocals) and Marion (drums and vocals). We all write songs and play other instruments on this record.
How did the band get together?
I’d known Marion for a long time and always wanted to play with her. Dearbhla moved in to the warehouse where Marion lives via Gumtree. She happened to be a wicked guitarist and songwriter. We liked hanging out and decided to combine our powers to take over the world.
How does the songwriting work?
We all write songs. Dearbhla and me have historically been writing most of the songs, I guess, as we are playing melodic instruments mainly in the live set up. Marion wrote her first song for The Wharves and my favourite song on our record At Bay called Ode À Jimmy. Hopefully she will do some more for our next record. She is our secret weapon. Although we might individually have a melody and structure, when one of us brings a song to rehearsal we entrust the others completely to add their own distinct elements on the song idea to make it a Wharves song.
How did you get involved with Gringo Records?
We played in Nottingham with Gringo band Fists and The Jelas in September 2013 and Matt Gringo asked us to do the record shortly after that.
What is it like recording with Rory Attwell at his Lightship 95 studio?
We all really love the Lightship. After 6 days we all got our ‘sea legs’ and could feel the swaying on dry land for a while afterwards. We recorded 13 songs live tracked and added piano, mandolin, tambourine, male voice choir, some whistling and lots of vocal overdubs, plus mixing! It was definitely slammed down and we didn’t have any time to meander, but I don’t feel it was rushed. We're really happy with the record. It is what it is. Rory is a good Producer, he knows his craft well and is a friend, so easy to communicate with. We recorded our split LP from last year with him and I was in a band with him, Kasms, for a few years. He recorded that band and my subsequent band Trogons recorded with him too. It was a hectic but fun week.
The music on the album, to me at least, blends lots of distinct styles – 90s American indie rock, English folk, there’s also a bit of 1970s West Coast stuff - were you listening to anything in particular when writing the record or going for a particular ‘feeling’ or style?
The three of us have quite different and distinct musical preferences. There are some bands we all love and some bands we are really split on (cough! cough! R.E.M). I wouldn’t say there is any sound in particular we wished to emulate on this record. Each song is stand alone and influenced differently. We take more subtle things from stuff we like. Perhaps a harmony we like or a little way that the song structure goes down to high-hat only. Something like that.
What were your hopes for the record when you started to make it?
Just to share what we are doing, make a go of it you know.
Why should we buy your album?
Do as you wish.
The life of the underground/DIY musician can be all about squeezing your music around work commitments. How do you try find the balance between the two?
We all work jobs and do other bands. It doesn’t feel like a squeeze. Gigs are not usually weekdays 9.30-5.30, so generally okay for me. We take holiday to do tours or record. Sometimes we have to say no to things. Doing music is just something we can always find time for. I’d rather spend a weekday evening fiddling around with some songs in my bedroom than say watching TV. It only becomes a problem if you combine music with big drinking and have to drag yourself up for work. If we didn’t work, have a life, relationships etc... what would we write songs about? Being in a band?
What music at the moment are you listening to that you think we should check out?
So much! Showman’s Wagon for instrumental Joe Meek kind of a thing; Gloss Rejection for a melancholy, Live Skull kind of thing; Joya have wonderful songs. We all love them at the moment. Plus Broken Arm on Gringo. Breathtaking live - really looking forward to playing with them in Nottingham .
Which one of you gets the most stressed before a gig?
Definitely me! I don’t drink and tend to have loads of caffeinated drinks and fret (‘scuse pun), plus, I always lose the set list.
You are playing The Chameleon in Nottingham soon. What can we expect from a Wharves gig?
Depends what mood you lot are in. Come and say hello!
What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt from being in bands and making music?
You have to accept yourself for who you are and the music you make. It took me a very very long time to be confident in what I do. Being in a band I love helps. We are in our own little world and can mess around with ideas together. It can be hard to simply do stuff. People can discourage or ridicule others especially when they are as disgruntled with their own lives or maybe they don't like the idea of people like you making a go of it. A lot of barriers are purely psychological. I see so many creative wonders squandered because doing something sincerely would leave them too exposed. Smash your personal patriarchy whatever it may be. Let creative stuff, whatever it may be, take you out of the world.
The Wharves, Broken Arm and Bilge Pump play The Chameleon on Friday 5 September 2014. Facebook event.
At Bay the debut album from The Wharves is released via Gringo Records on Monday 3 November 2014.