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Meet our BOTW: Warm Brains

Rory Attwell has been known as somewhat of a project polygamist when it comes to releasing music. Since the disbanding of Test Icicles in 2006 (*weeps*), Raary Decihells moved on to form RAT: ATT: AGG and KASMs, before landing at Warm Brains. Not to mention a discography of production credit with bands that distort “post-hardcore and slightly weirder indie things” (think Yuck, Big Deal, Paws and Evans the Death). After two years since his last Warm Brains venture, Old Volcanoes, Rory is readying the release of his Happy Accidents EP.

The EPs title-track is full of those slacker-pop guitar lines and a dose of nostalgia-tinged vocals, with references to a 90s afternoons watching Saturday Grandstand. In true Art Is Hard style, the independent label have prepared the release with a limited batch of football-style scarfs and a cassette.

We gave Rory a call to chat about getting back in the studio as Warm Brains, recording on the Lightship 95 and the disposable nature of music…

Planet Notion: It has been a little while since Old Volcanoes, how have you spent your time between the two projects?
Rory Attwell: It’s a funny one really because I probably could have produced my own album a lot sooner. I have been pretty busy working with other people and just been taking little bits of studio time here and there to work on the songs that I have had for quite a while. If you were in a normal band, you would normally have a bunch of songs and keep writing all the time, then go into the studio and smash it out. But doing it two hours at a time has been kind of a weird process. I’m pretty much done with that now.

PN: Has the production work with different bands had an influence on your new material?
RA: Not really, it’s a weird one. You can’t really help but be influenced by the things that you are doing, so there probably are things that I am not aware of filtering into what I am doing. I don’t think I have changed much, what I do will always have the same element. It might change slightly, a sound change or a spiral change, but it will be a similar kind of approach to lyrics and stuff like that. The whole point is that I’m not really trying to sound like anyone else.

PN: Was there a particular direction you had in mind for the EP?
RA: I recently wanted to do this acoustic thing. I had a bunch of songs that I had written and I quite liked the guitar by itself, and I had never really done anything that was really stripped down. So I was initially going to make this 5 track guitar and vocals project, but it sort of strayed away from that a little bit. It has become a way of finishing some other songs that I wasn’t sure if I was going to do, and it turned out that I was really happy with them. It’s confusing because now I have other songs that I think I should finish as well.

PN: And with the upcoming album, how has it developed from your last record?
RA: The only thing that has sort of changed is that it’s not quite as dark as the last record; I went pretty insane with the last album. Not necessarily a lively, creative insanity, just this kind of morose, ominous quality, which I didn’t even realise at the time because I was kind of in it.

PN: I guess if you are doing it on your own, it’s not like you have a drummer to tell you that it’s getting a bit dark…
RA: You don’t have anyone else to go ‘why don’t you make a chirpy song about going to the beach or something.’ You are just in it and thinking that’s an interesting song. Some of my lyrics are a bit cryptic and not necessarily really dark, but maybe with the way they were written it was inferred that they were heavier than they were. The stuff I’m doing now is some of the weird elements that the first album had, but it generally sounds not quite as heavy.

PN: Can you tell me about the Lightship 95, what’s it like recording on a boat?
RA: It’s a funny one really, it is quite an unusual space. I was approached by someone else who originally set up the boat, a like-minded engineer/producer from a similar background. Like the sort of post-hardcore and slightly weirder indie things that we are into and work with generally. So he asked me to get involved with this ship, which is basically this fucking ridiculous, enormous steel lightship. It used to get left in the North Sea for months at a time being lashed by massive waves. It’s quite a strange place to do some recording.

PN: With the production work, was there a particular band that made you want to get back into the solo stuff?
RA: I guess maybe just with friends more than anything, bands that I am close to. It kind of just put a bit of perspective on how long it has been. So I have been hearing different people doing their stuff and that made me think ‘I should get my shit together now’. It’s fun having your input on other peoples music but it is almost scarier doing your own stuff. You put so much work into something and if no one gives a shit it’s really hard. But at the same time it is really fun playing, so one of the other reasons why I wanted to get on with it is so I could play some songs to people, rather than hiding in my studio and fucking about with these songs for the next three years.

PN: I guess if you are making music you might as well be putting it out…
RA: It’s hard to create something, or anything that is art, culture, music or whatever. Just keeping it to yourself is a really strange thing to do. The whole point of it is that you are supposed to be able to entertain people, but if you are just keeping it to yourself it is just kind of weird. Then if you get back to that same really simple principle and no one else gets any joy out of it, then it loses its worth.

PN: The way music is released has changed a lot since Myspace and it was as simple as putting up a demo whenever you felt like it. Now, we have kind of lost that generation.
RA: I would say more than other ever, which is an extension of the Myspace thing – or just the internet in general – that people’s attention spans are quite short these days. I think new music now is almost like little bits, you get pieces all the time, especially with blogs. I don’t feel that a lot of the time people would necessarily pursue a band in the way that they used to. When I started making music like 7 years ago, people were really eager to have it all – the t-shirt, the album, the whole package. Now it feels to me that music is more of a mixtape of things. It is quite different in general, they want more information to them quicker.

PN: It’s definitely more disposable
RA: I think working with bands; it is almost a bit demoralising. When bands are a bit younger, they will get this wavered enthusiasm for this thing that they literally wrote two weeks ago. It will go on ten blogs and everyone will be going on about it and be fussed about them for a couple of months. Then when it dips down because they have moved onto the next thing, bands really struggle to comprehend what is going on. They will implode or change their sound and this doesn’t lend itself very well to the fast turnover and disposable way that things are going at the moment.

- James Embiricos

The EP is due out on 16th December and Art is Hard will be putting out the release as a ‘football-style’ scarf with a cassette, both limited to 100 and available to pre-order here

Warm Brains will play the following dates:

Dec 05 Cool for Cats Xmas Party. Catch Shoreditch
Dec 06. Sixty Million Postcards, Bournemouth
Dec 11. The Wharves Split LP launch. The Macbeth, Hoxton
Dec 22. The Rainbow Warehouse and Garden, Birmingham



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