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The October Game - The IndieLondon interview

October Game

Interview by Rob Carnevale

THE October Game are a band on the rise. Already making their mark in 2010 by winning The Camden Crawl Emerging Talent Award (and a prize of a slot at the festival), they have also released a new album, Wildblood, to tremendous acclaim. Elbow’s Guy Garvey rates among their ever-growing fanbase.

IndieLondon caught up with them recently to talk exclusively about the themes and inspiration behind Wildblood, having Mr Garvey as a fan and their hopes for the future in general…

Q. We really enjoyed your album, Wildblood – so how long did it take to put together?
Nick: Thank you, it took bally ages, roughly a year start to finish. We put everything we could into it and so it’s really nice to know people are enjoying it.

Luke: As we all still work full-time jobs we had to work during the days and record at night till our eyes physically wouldn’t stay open any longer!

Q. What was it like working with someone such as Frank Arkwright?
Luke: Frank had mastered Neon Bible, which we all loved for the way in which it sounded very organic but at the same time very expansive and huge at times, some mastering engineers tend to really change the sound of recordings to their detriment but we knew that Frank would really just get the best out of what we’d already done in the production and mixing stages. We’re really pleased with how it’s turned out.

Q. Greenbacks is a great track – what inspired it?
Luke: It’s a song about friendship and sticking together against whatever life might throw at you. Things might be tough at some points but ultimately all you need is your friends and your family. It’s sort of a middle finger to the notion of depending on anything or anyone else other than those who really mean something to you.

Nick: For me, that’s definitely the tone and the spirit of the album and that’s why we chose to open the album with it and to use it as the first single from Wildblood.

Q. How does it feel to know you have someone like Guy Garvey among your fanclub?
Nick: We are big fans of Elbow so seeing them in the crowd at one of our Manchester gigs was very strange. He bought our album and said he really enjoyed the set, I really hope he’s given the album a whirl!

Q. Have you contacted him at all? Would you consider collaborating at some point?
Nick: No, obviously we are massive fans but we don’t want to stalk the bloke, the fact they seemed to enjoy it was enough and we can only hope our paths will cross at some point again in the future! There are loads of bands we like but we’ve never really thought about collaborating with anyone. The day we establish ourselves fully within the industry we want it to be through our music alone, not hanging on to anyones coat tails.

Q6. Can you talk to us about what inspired another of our favourite tracks, Concrete (When We Were Invincible)?
Luke: You know, when things are going really badly it’s hard to remember the good times and at the same time when things are going really well you sometimes forget it can all change in a second. It’s about taking each moment as it comes and not dwelling too much in one place emotionally cause it can all change in a second.

Q. And the self-described album centre-piece Something Wrong – it’s epic; what inspired that?
Luke: Sometimes, when you look around at some of the things that are happening in the world its hard not to feel a little like we are losing our way a bit. I have that feeling a lot and I’m sure every generation has the same thought but I just wanted to get that feeling across through the metaphor of a ship that’s lost at sea.

Nick: Musically, we love to mix the very English sound of Luke’s voice and songs with big epic soundscapes and strings – I think this track really encapsulates the expansive sound that we wanted to create with Wildblood.

Q. When did you decide to use a didgeridoo on Night Vessels to create its distinct sound? Do you enjoy mixing in as many instruments as possible to create such a rich and diverse sound?
Nick: With this album we tried to push everything as far as we could, including the instrumentation. We tried to make this track sound as dark and as brooding as we could without losing the natural, organic sound. We experimented with lots of synth sounds to create the atmosphere, but it always sounded too clinical, getting a friend in to play the didgeridoo turned out to be a really good way to make the texture at the end of the album really dark, and trippy, but still warm and natural.

Q. And yet what makes the guitar such a special instrument?
Nick: Almost all of our songs start with just acoustic guitar and voice, it’s a great way of just allowing the roots of a song to develop. What makes the guitar, in general, so special for me is that simply changing between acoustic and electric, and all the different sounds that can be made with each, means you can create completely different moods and sounds to reflect a song, and yet still sound honest and support the song in an un-gimmicky way. It is able to sound timeless and fresh at the same time.

Q. How do comparisons to acts such as Snow Patrol, Arcade Fire and Sigur Ros make you feel?
Luke: Good! I think it’s only natural for people to want to draw comparisons whenever they hear something new, but even though there are references within our music, little nods here and there to artists we like, we know we don’t sound like anyone other then The October Game really. I only hope we can reach the same kind of audience as those acts you’ve mentioned and eventually pack in the day jobs! haha!

Q. When did you all first meet and how do you feel you’ve developed as a band?
Luke: Nick and I met at school in our early teens and played in a band back then. We’ve written music together ever since we met really (about 10 years ago!!). Owen (our bass player) joined that band, too, but through a series of unfortunate events that band imploded.

Nick, Owen and I were still hungry to make music together so we formed The October Game in 2005 and released our debut album in 2006. Our drummer Ollie joined us in 2007 making a hugely positive impact, especially live, where before we had been playing without a drummer. We are one of those bands that is always constantly looking at what we do and trying to get better, to improve our songwriting, our live shows, everything. We love it though, we just want to be the best we can. Nick Murray joined at the start of this year on Viola and Keys and we can’t wait to crack on with album 3!

Q. Which acts/musicians inspire you?
Nick: Between all of us there’s hardly a band or piece of music that we don’t like, and as we’re just trying to make music we like then I suppose it all inspires us in one way or another. But personally, The Cure are a massive inspiration. Disintegration was one of the first albums to ever make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, so it’s because of that album that I started making music in the first place.

I still absolutely love how each of their songs creates a completely unique atmosphere and mood, but underpinning each song is usually a few very simple, very well crafted ideas, that when they interweave together, create magic. That’s definitely the kind of effect I hope to achieve with our music.

Q. What’s your favourite live memory? It must be amazing to share an album such as Wildblood with a live audience?
Nick: It was an absolute joy to play Wychwood Festival, headlining BBC 6Music’s Fresh On The Net Stage, for Tom Robinson last year. It was one of the first times we played much of the material from Wildblood live and it was incredible. The audience were very attentive, during the quiet sections you could’ve heard a pin drop and during the loud sections the atmosphere was electric. The whole show was so emotional, we ended up bringing some of the audience, including Tom Robinson, to tears! I thought it was amazing…. More gigs like that please :-)

Q. What are your hopes for the future? Do you have details of any touring schedules? Will you be back for this summer’s festivals?
Luke: We’ve got a few festivals lined up and hopefully we’ll get a few more confirmed in the coming weeks. We are booking a little mini UK tour for the start of June, taking in a massive variety of venues from canal boats to country pubs, to big clubs to peoples living rooms. We will play a lot!! In general, we want to take Wildblood to as many people as is possible!

Q. If you could cover any song, what would it be and why?
Nick: I’d love to cover All Night Long by Lionel Richie. Every time I hear that song it fills me with joy and I’d love to do a version with The October Game.

Luke: Haha! let’s do it!

Q. Finally, what are the 10 tracks that are never far from your iPod player at the moment?
Luke: To be honest, I tend to listen to album’s more than individual songs. The Broken Bells album has been getting quite a lot of airtime in my house and in my car at the moment, its brilliant! I’ve also been listening to Bless The Weather, by John Martyn a fair bit recently… what an album!! However, I know a few individual tracks that I single out quite regularly are:

Talking Heads – This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
Pavement – Gold Sounds
Tom Waits – House Where Nobody Lives
Royksopp – What Else Is There?
Broken Social Scene – Lover’s Spit

The October Game’s Wildblood is available now. The band release a double-A sided new single, Cast These Waves/Boxing Underwater Art on Monday, June 7, 2010.