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South invite you to Loosen Your Hold


Story: Jack Foley

SOUTH appear to be on a roll at the moment. Their new single, Loosen Your Hold, (released on August 11) is finally helping the band to generate the attention it has long deserved, and nicely builds anticipation ahead of new album, With The Tides, later this year, or early next.

The single, a Simon and Garfunkel-inspired dream of a track, featuring some terrific banjo and harpsichord, is being featured prominently on radio stations up and down the land - currently lying at number two in XFM's listener-led Music: Response chart, and also being touted heavily by Radio 1 Djs Joe Whiley and Steve Lamacq.

So it was little wonder to find the band talking excitedly about their return to the limelight when IndieLondon caught up with them ahead of their recent gig at 93 Feet East.

Lead singer, Joel Cadbury, told me that it felt great to be back, and spoke confidently about the new material, and the opportunity of working alongside producer, Dave Eringa, at the studios Radiohead used to record their album, The Bends.

"It's really nice to be back, and for people to react to your music quite so well after you've been away. We're with a different label now, and people are judging it on its own merit, which is really nice," he said.

The label in question is Double Dragon Music and, while not as high-profile as James Lavelle's Mo'Wax label, with whom the band started out, it has given them the opportunity to really make sure their music sounds right.

The first record, From Here On In, we were being produced by the guy who owned the label, so we had free reign to do what we wanted with it, and, at the age we were, we did do pretty much what we wanted with it," explained drummer, Brett Shaw.

"But I think, as a consequence of that, we pulled in the reigns on ourselves, and tried to figure out the whole finished product in our minds before we'd actually started recording anything."

"Yeah, we've hopefully raised the bar a bit this time," agrees Joel. "The way the album was recorded was affected by the fact we had been touring a lot, so it felt a lot more alive, and we could control how we wanted everything to be, which is a really good feeling."

And working with someone like Dave Eringa, who has produced the likes of Idlewild, the Manic Street Preachers and Ash, must also have helped?

"Dave's great with sound, fucking brilliant," enthuses Joel. "We learned a lot from working with someone like that - and Sean Genockey, of the band, Moke, who engineered it as well.

"They have so much experience between them, that when you say you want this kind of guitar sound, they can help you get that, as opposed to just doing it blind, and on your own, like with the first album, which was really exploring."

With that in mind, the new album promises to be a much sharper listening experience, particularly as the 12 tracks can fit tightly onto one side of a C90 cassette.

And for any non-believers out there, just try listening to Loosen Your Hold - a track which clocks in at just over two minutes, but which has you baying for more.

The record itself is about 'fear of letting go'; of 'not being scared of letting go of the things that are really important to you... because sometimes it's for the best' - and it smacks of personal experience.

South, themselves, have had to let go of a lot since the release of their debut album, From Here On In.

Their split from Mo'Wax, though amicable, was the start of a difficult year for the band - but they refused to lose faith and now seem stronger than ever; and poised for great things.

So just how difficult was the past 12 months, particularly given that another EP, Nothing Personal, also failed to materialise?

"Yeah, it's had its downs," acknoweldges Joel.

"There was a period before we got signed to Kinetic in America, when we knew that things had sort of fucked up with Mo'Wax, because Mo'Wax had gone tits up really, and we were caught in the crossfire.

"I mean, it wasn't James's fault. I had him on the phone telling me, 'you're not going to get dropped', but Mo'Wax was in trouble, so for a while it was... it's never easy, but we've always believed in it and pushed ourselves on.

"And now we've had the chance to record our second album, in the studio we wanted to do it in, with the person we wanted to do it with, and it was all there for us, so we've been lucky."

And the lucky streak could well continue, given that the new single is quickly to be followed by their latest collaboration with Lavelle's UNKLE outfit, as well as an imminent tour of America, and, finally, the UK release of With The Tides.

It seems we will be hearing a lot more from South over the coming months. And that's a good thing!

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