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Interview: The Good Natured

With their new single ‘5-HT‘ out next month and a highly anticipated debut album just around the corner, Alex Cull caught up with The Good Natured for a chat about their favourite 80s records, the chemicals that keep us happy, and how they did in school…

PlanetNotion: Firstly, how are things in the Good Natured camp? What have you all been up to recently?
George: Things are excellent thank you! Right now we’re getting the finishing touches to our live show sorted ready to start touring in the coming months. The album sounds amazing and we’d like our live set to replicate that as much as possible. Practice, practice, practice!
Hamish: We are very well thank you! We have had a few photo shoots recently, one of which was for our album cover which was amazing. Unfortunately I had a shoulder operation in December so we haven’t been able to play any gigs, but I’m getting better now and we have tours with Swiss Lips and Imagine Dragons coming up which we are very excited about!

PN: How’s the album coming along? Is there anything about it you can reveal to us yet?
Sarah: The album is finished! It’s taken us a long time, but we’re really pleased we’ve taken so much time and care over it. We’re extremely proud of every song and we can’t wait for everyone to hear it. We’re keeping the track listing a secret for a little while longer, but our song ’5-HT’ will be the first single, which will be released on March 11th. You can pre-order it now on UK iTunes. It includes amazing remixes by Kat Krazy and Ghostwerk which we love, plus our cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ ‘She Drives Me Crazy‘.

PN: Compared to your previous releases, how would you say the new material stands up sonically?
Sarah: We’ve had a lot of releases over the years, and it’s taken us a while to find our sound. ‘Warriors’ was the first EP released, that was literally just me singing and playing my Grandma’s 1980s Yamaha keyboard which I rescued when she put it in the trash. I wrote my first ever songs on that old thing so it has a very special place in my heart. By the time the Your Body is a Machine EP came out Hamish had joined and we were still experimenting, although that EP got us some great attention from amazing blogs and radio. It wasn’t until we met George in 2010 and went on to release the Skeleton EP along with our song ‘Video Voyeur’ that we really defined ourselves as a band, with our own unique style and sound. It’s like Katy Perry meets The Cure, or Debbie Harry fronting The Killers- you’ll hear more of that on the album!

PN: What’ve you guys been listening to while working on the album? What’s been inspiring you?
Sarah: Hamish and I grew up listening to a lot of 1980s vinyls our parents listened to in their youth, e.g. Siouxsie and The Banshees, David Bowie and Blondie. These records were always on around our house so became a huge inspiration for us. We grew up with them and have a lot of happy memories listing to them as kids. As well as my love for 80s records, I listen to a lot of modern music too. I love Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Their melodies are incredible. Most recently I have been listening to The Weeknd, Haim, Colette Carr and Passion Pit.
George: I’m on a complete pop binge at the moment. I’ve been listening to the album ‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry non-stop- pretty much every song on that record is a pop classic! After watching her movie and seeing the live set-up she has, the production aspect of the show itself and the response from the crowd is such an inspiration for an up and coming pop band like us. Definitely something to aspire towards. Also the album ‘Red’ by Taylor Swift has been a favourite recently. I’ve always been a big fan of hers ever since her debut record, simply for the musicality of the songs she writes and the musicians she has play on them (her drummer Al Wilson is one of my favourite players). ‘Red’ is such a cool progression in her sound which makes it a really interesting record to listen to.
Hamish: Recently I’ve been listening to quite a bit of Chromeo, Dead or Alive and Toto. But the band that inspired me most has to be the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, I have been a fan of theirs for years, and it was their songs that originally got me into playing bass as Flea’s bass lines are amazing. Ever since I first listened to them I have wanted to be able to play the bass lines and learn the techniques required to become a better bass player. A more recent inspiration for me is a bassist called Victor Wooten, he has incredible technique and rhythm and his covers of ‘Norwegian Wood’ by The Beatles and ‘Amazing Grace’ completely blew me away. These inspirations have given me the drive to be the best I can be, especially in our live shows.

PN: Have you got anything exciting lined up around the album’s release?
Sarah: Hopefully touring in as many places as we can. That’s one of the best things about doing this, being able to travel to incredible places and meet amazing people along the way.

PN: Your new single ‘5-HT’ takes its name from the chemical formula for serotonin. Is anyone in the band a science buff?
Sarah: Er, I’m very proud of my A in GCSE science…
George: All I can remember from science lessons was the awesome saying ‘carbon dioxide turns limewater milky’. It’s a classic!
Hamish: I did physics for A-level which I really enjoyed, and I’m still really interested in it. I love to watch Brian Cox’s shows like Wonders Of The Universe.

PN: Can you explain the link between serotonin and the song itself?
Sarah: The song is about love being a drug. When you are in love, serotinin is released in your brain, giving you a natural high.
PN: As the B-side for ‘5-HT’, you’ve covered the Fine Young Cannibals’ ‘She Drives Me Crazy’. Are you fans of theirs? What inspired you to cover this particular slice of 80s pop gold?
George: We decided to cover a classic 80s song as the era and it’s sound has been a massive influence on The Good Natured from the very beginning. We started throwing a few ideas around and looked at videos on Youtube until we decided that ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ was the one! As a drummer I love the beat running through it, it’s got a really awesome sounding snare/clap which was a lot of fun trying to replicate, and I also got to rock out on a shaker and tambourine, which is never a bad thing!
Hamish:  Yeah we love Fine Young Cannibals, especially ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ as it’s such a classic bit of pop. It’s a really  fun song to play, and when we started to learn it everything just seemed to seamlessly fit into place, even with our own twist on the original!

PN: If you had the choice to cover any other 80s tune, what would it be and why?
Sarah: I’ve always wanted to do a studio cover of ‘Mad World‘ by Tears For Fears. It’s so strangely beautiful, and one of my favourite songs.
George: I would always be up for covering ‘To Cut a Long Story Short‘ by Spandau Ballet as that song was the topic of one of the first conversations I ever had with Sarah! It was just before we moved to London for University and it was that awkward stage where everyone tries to make friends before getting there. I’d never really listened to too much 80s music until then apart from ‘To Cut a Long Story Short’, so as soon as I found out Sarah was massively into all these incredible 80s bands I used my one bit of stand-out 80′s tune knowledge and started talking about it! It’s an amazing song and covering it in the future would be so much fun.
Hamish: ‘You Spin Me Round‘ by Dead Or Alive. It’s probably my favourite 80s song and it’s so fun and upbeat I think as a cover it would work really well.

PN: Finally, you worked with Vince Clarke recently. How was the experience and how was he to work with? Would you collaborate with him again in future?
Sarah: Vince Clarke is a legend, his music is a big inspiration to us so it was a real honour to work with him. He is a fan of the band so he got in touch and sent over some synth tracks he’d written. I immediately started imagining a weird funfair when I listened to them- the end result was ‘Ghost Train’! We’d love to work with him again but for now we’re focusing on our own album and making The Good Natured a success.

- Alex Cull

’5-HT’ is available for pre-order via iTunes now.

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