Monday, 7 June 2010
Indietracks interview #14: Allo Darlin'
It's finally here! Today is the release date for Allo Darlin''s fantastic debut album. To celebrate they'll be playing a free instore gig at Rough Trade East in London tonight, and they're having an album launch party on Tuesday 15 June, where they're promising to round up a big band version of the group featuring various collaborators who played on the record. The night also features fellow Indietracks 2010 stars Standard Fare and The Middle Ones, and is therefore very highly recommended!
Before all that though, Elizabeth and Bill from Allo Darlin' have found time to have a chat with us. Elizabeth and Bill are from Australia, Mike and Paul are from Kent. They’ve only been playing seriously as a band since January 2009, although Elizabeth has been releasing music under various guises since 2007. In that time, they’ve been signed to the ace Fortuna Pop! label, played sold-out shows in Germany and Sweden, and wowed the crowds at the Indietracks and Swn festivals. They’ve been all over BBC Radio 1, BBC 6music and XFM, and had a stack of glowing reviews, including The Guardian calling their “Henry Rollins Don't Dance” single on WeePOP Records "the best indiepop song for years". Their album follows two ace singles on Fortuna Pop! - "The Polaroid Song" and "Dreaming" (featuring Monster Bobby).
Hi, your new album has deservedly been getting lots of positive reviews, and you recently played a session for Steve Lamacq. How does it feel to be receiving so much positive attention, and what are your immediate plans for the band after Indietracks?
Elizabeth: I think we're just really happy that people like our album, because I think we're all quite proud of it. We were sort of doing it on the fly, I was just writing some songs the night before or something, and then we'd go in and record the next evening. So it was quite hard work, but we had an amazing time making it. Simon made us work really hard and it's paid off I think. We put an awful lot of heart into it.
It was a really big honour to do that Maida Vale session for 6 Music - lots of the DJs on that station have been really supportive, and it just makes you feel really lucky. It was a really weird feeling to be in such a famous place, like we were in Bowie's favourite room to record in. It was the size of a basketball court. I don't know why they've kind of picked out our band when there are so many amazing bands around at the moment, but it feels nice. It feels like the wider music world is starting to pick up a bit on what indiepop bands are doing, and they like it, which is really cool.
Immediate plans after Indietracks are a European tour with the Smittens, and probably a UK tour in August, and then maybe release a 10" EP at the end of the year. Sean's got us working hard, which we're happy to do!
Along with lots of other Indietracks bands like Standard Fare and POBPAH, you recently played SXSW festival - what was that experience like? Do you have any interesting tour stories?!
Elizabeth: Mike and Greg were definitely the most rock 'n' roll, like they got tattoos and stuff. I kind of get overwhelmed by big crowds a bit and ended up going back to the hotel and watching CSI instead of watching the Pains (!) But I told them about it the next day and they forgave me. Our friend Jonny from the Wave Pictures turned up to one of our gigs in a full cowboy outfit one night when we played in a Mexican restaurant - I think that might be my enduring image of SXSW. It was awesome, but really really weird.
Elizabeth plays in Tender Trap and Bill plays with Darren Hayman - how much have Amelia and Darren influenced the music of Allo Darlin'? And how do you find the time to play in so many bands!
Elizabeth: Well it's kind of embarrassing, but I didn't really know much of Amelia's music before she asked me to join the band. I think I only knew Beatnik Boy. But Amelia is just a really inspiring person - she has two little kids and a really really proper job, but still makes time to rock out every week. I only wish I could ever be as cool as that.
I'd say Darren's influenced my songwriting, definitely. Often the middle eights in our songs sound to me like Hefner middle eights - like the one in Kiss Yr Lips especially. I don't know what Darren would make of that. Maybe that's quite a weird thing to say! But also personally, you know Darren's just an amazing guy. It was kind of through his records that we found out about Simon. And now Bill plays in his band and we see him quite a lot. He's a very inspiring person too, though he would never admit it.
Bill: It's very hard to find the time and not just for Elizabeth and I - Mikey and Paul also play in Hexicon and the Treetop Flyers. I think it's hard to say how much influence Amelia and Darren have had on the music of Allo Darlin' - of course we're fans, but that's just music. I think that being in these other bands is great because it makes us all better players with the advantage of having a couple of different perspectives. But more than that the best thing is having these great friends, this great big group of people in your life who make up the different parts of your life. And life is what influences whatever you do right?
Elizabeth, in your interview for the Indietracks blog in 2008 you said that Dave Tattersall's dad really liked you, and that you were "Dad Pop"! Is this still true? (I guess you are literally Dad Pop now that you have a Allo Darlin' baby..:) )
Elizabeth: Haha that's really funny! I don't know if we're that Dad Pop anymore, I think we try to relate to people our own age, but I guess good pop music has no age restrictions! But yes you make a good point. Bill is definitely growing into this whole 80s dad look. He does it very well. He even makes dad jokes now! Well, actually, he kind of did that before anyway. But now he's allowed :)
Bill: Tilly loves Allo Darlin'. And she's coming to Indietracks.
Indietracks always divides everyone into campers and non-campers. Are Allo Darlin' campers or Travelodgers? And do you have any handy festival tips for our readers?
Elizabeth: Well I can only speak for myself, but I'm definitely a camper. This will be my third indietracks camping experience. That's where all the fun happens!
Bill: Campers. Bring earplugs or join in the campsite disco.
Which bands are your top tips for Indietracks?
Elizabeth: Standard Fare are still my favourite band at the moment. So many of our friends are playing this festival it feels wrong to pick them out! But it will be nice to see The Pains on a big old festival stage. Having seen Dave Tattersall's solo show at the Borderline the other week I can tell you that he's amazing without the band as well. They're all good!
Bill: The Smittens! The Just Joans - and also, the inevitable unofficial, unnannounced, not-so-secret, secret Weepop party.
Other quick questions we always wanted to ask:
Elizabeth - why do you usually choose to play ukelele rather than guitar? Is there a particular reason for this?
Elizabeth: Well, I'm definitely a better ukulele player than I am a guitar player. I write the songs on uke, just because I find it much better for that. And then, I don't know, Matthew from the Duke of Uke gave me this really expensive ukulele for free, and I just love the way it sounds when you turn up the gain really loud on an amp - it doesn't really sound like a uke. But you never know. The next album might be all guitar instead. I don't really want us to be typecast as ukulele band.
Why are you called Allo Darlin'?
Elizabeth: Well my old band was called the Darlings, but we had to change our name because there are a million zillion bands with that name. And because I worked in Soho I'd have to walk past the grizzly old market traders every day, and they'd just catcall "allo darlin'' when i walked past. So it kind of stuck. Then that band broke up and now we have this band. It's a stupid name, but it starts with A, which is good, and nobody else has it. That's how we got it.
What do you all do when you're not in Allo Darlin'?
Elizabeth: I gave up my old job in Soho to give me more time for band stuff, so at that moment I'm a dirty temp. Which I quite like, because I have no responsibility for the first time in my life!
Please tell us some interesting facts about Allo Darlin' that people may not know yet! Any unusual skills, talents, unusual crushes, guilty pleasures etc!
Elizabeth: People may not know that Paul, in addition to being a mega guitar player, is also an amazing animator and illustrator. He's just made our first Allo Darlin' t shirts. You can see some of his animations in youtube if you type in his name. Mike is a teacher, and is apparently pretty scary in class. I have not witnessed this with my own eyes, but Bill has, and he says it's frightening. Mike also tells really, really good stories. I don't know if he makes them up half the time or what, and I can't repeat them here, but if you see him at indietracks, buy him a drink, and ask him to tell you one. You won't regret it.