Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Indietracks interview #17: Language of Flowers

Language of Flowers were a 5-piece indie-pop band originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland signed to San Francisco indie label Shelflife Records. As of 2006 its members are located in London, Manchester and Belfast. The band’s sound is characteristic of the British C86 movement with heavy use of jangling 12-string guitars, airy female vocals and bright pop melodies.

The band signed to Shelflife and released their debut album Songs About You in 2004. The album was well received by international fanzines with reviews noting the band’s classic indie pop influences from the aforementioned bands Field Mice and Heavenly as well as The Smiths, Comet Gain, The Go-Betweens and Lush. The band spent 2005-2006 playing across the UK with other indie pop bands Camera Obscura, Trembling Blue Stars, Malcolm Middleton and Pipas as well as touring around Northern Europe.

Language of Flowers went on hiatus in 2007 but are back for a special Indietracks performance. They’re also playing at The Menagerie in Belfast on Saturday 23 June.

Hi Colm, Indietracks is the fist show you've announced since you disbanded in 2007. Why have you decided to reform now?

Marc and I played the first gig as Language Of Flowers back in August 1992 with Heavenly in Derry so it seemed a nice thing to do 20 years on. Marc has been my best friend all that time and it's funny to be practicing again in his bedroom 20 years on.

Who will be playing in the 2012 Language of Flowers line-up? Is it all the same members from five years ago?
No. There is still me, Tara and Marc. We've taken Ben Ambridge and Louise Winfield from the ashes of Help Stamp Out Loneliness, which is good as they are possibly the nicest couple I know and are also great to play with in a band. It's always reassuring to have a drummer in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. We've also brought Stuart Watson in on rhythm guitar, as David is concentrating on his gardening. I spend most evenings with Stuart when I go to Belfast, drinking morosely, then dancing and falling over to his DJ sets.

How long are you reforming for - is it just this summer or a longer reunion?

It'll probably just be for this unless we really enjoy it and others do too & we are asked to do more gigs.

Will you be playing new songs at Indietracks or recording any new songs this year?

No. We live in Belfast, Manchester and London, so it's pretty hard to even rehearse the old songs. There's a couple of old unfinished ones knocking around though.

Have you started rehearsing yet? What will/does it feel like playing the old songs again?

We have had two days in Belfast, not with all six of us at once yet. It was surprising how quickly it all came back and nice now to have keyboards and female backing vocals. Marc even smiled for a second.

Lots of people will recognise some of you from Help Stamp Out Loneliness. How would you describe Language of Flowers to a HSOL fan?

It's pretty different, though 'Record Shop' and 'Sola & C' were both originally for Language Of Flowers. We recorded two versions of Sola, but it was never right. On Last FM it says we sound like The Cranberries. That's pretty damning. It's definitely more Indie Pop.

You originally formed in 1992, played a single gig and then split up for 10 years. What happened?

We used to sit listening to Sonic Flower Groove and Sarah stuff in Marc's house and so formed a band to try and reproduce that, as all the bands in Belfast were punk bands at the time. Unfortunately we weren't very good at it. We played the one gig with Heavenly and were so bad that we never did anything else for 12 years. Amelia said that we sounded like Huggy Bear, which was great. Unfortunately we were trying to sound like The Field Mice. I moved to Leicester after that and Marc descended further into the Goth world after that.

How has the world of indiepop changed since 1992? Do you think it's easier for new bands nowadays what with the internet and all that?

It's incredibly easier. We used to have to write letters to people and through that move onto ringing them and arranging. We were pretty cut off, which is why we arranged Heavenly to come over for the Irish tour. You can find everything on the internet now and find out about stuff or listen to manic ramblings of people on Anorak and stuff. By the time of trying to find a label for our album, we were able to use these kind of forums to find out about lots of different labels. Before that, it was just by writing to the bands, or tracking down fanzines. I remember being pleasantly surprised by the turnouts for the Heavenly gigs, as we had no real idea if anyone would be interested.

Any favourite memories from your trips to Indietracks over the years?

All my best memories involve Dan from Pocketbooks. I'm sure everyone remembers being shown his saucy playing cards several times last year, but I still enjoy the night I wouldn't let him leave my hotel room until he'd drank all the remaining vodka with me. It was also nice to play the main stage in the sunshine last year as the hot air balloon came down over the stage. Then the sound system blew up.

Let’s hope the hot air balloons come back again this year! See you in a couple of weeks.

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