Interview: The Good Natured
Published on June 16th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
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Good Natured by name, good natured by…erm…nature. Twenty-year-old Sarah McIntosh may come across as modest and polite but put her behind a keyboard – or indeed behind a camera lens – and she damn well near explodes with self-assurance and genuine star quality.
Having just been confirmed as the Saturday night headliner for Glastonbury’s BBC Introducing Stage – a performance which will come just one day after they support The Killers at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park – Sarah’s band The Good Natured look to have a future so bright that you’ll have to avert your gaze after staring into it for a few seconds.
Rocksucker caught up with Sarah for a bit of a chinwag as she and her bandmates await the July 4th release of their Skeleton EP. Pick the bones out of this…(sorry)…
Congratulations on the Glastonbury billing. When did you find out? And how did you celebrate?
Thank you. They officially announced it a few days ago but we’ve known about it for a few months. I haven’t actually celebrated it yet but we’re really excited because none of us have been to Glastonbury before. It’s going to be really good.
Is there anyone you’re particularly looking forward to catching there?
The thing is, I’ve actually broken my foot – I’ll be performing in my plaster cast! – so getting around Glastonbury will be a bit difficult. We really want to see Beyonce and The Chemical Brothers if we manage to. It’s a bit annoying but what can you do?
How did you break your foot, if you don’t mind us asking?
We were performing in Liverpool and I had quite big heels on. I managed to do the whole performance but then fell off a couple of steps afterwards, face to the floor! I broke my heel bone and another bone in my foot so I had to go to Liverpool A&E on a Saturday. I’ve got a few weeks to go in my cast.
How would you describe your music to the uninitiated?
I’d say it’s like pop music but with more of darkness to it. I try to make the lyrics meaningful so hopefully it’s a bit more deep and meaningful than some other popular songs. Yeah, I’d say it’s pop with an emotional and dark twist to it.
Tell us about the writing process: do the songs start life with just you and a keyboard, or is it more collaborative?
It depends. Sometimes I start with a keyboard riff or a musical thing, sometimes I start with lyrics and find inspiration from that. It’s kind of different every time. I’ve been doing quite a lot of co-writing as well; it’s really cool when you find someone you work really well with because you can bounce ideas off each other. So I wouldn’t say there was just one specific process, it’s more down to how I’m feeling at the time.
How long have you been doing The Good Nature for?
Three-and-a-bit years. It all started in my bedroom when I was seventeen; I recorded some demos and I sent one to Huw Stephens. He played it, which I really wasn’t expecting, and that was the point where I thought, “This is really cool; I want to make something of this.” I’ve been doing it ever since and it kind of took off. I used to do it on my own and when I started performing I got my brother to play bass for me. Then about a year ago I went to uni and I met George our drummer, so we’ve had this set-up for a year but it’s been about three years since I started writing.
Have you put your further education on hold for the time being?
I dropped out of uni because I met my manager and we started doing a lot of writing sessions so I kind of found that I wasn’t really there. I was doing a course to do with the music industry anyway so it was what I wanted to do. I think dropping out was a good decision because it allows me to have a year of writing every day, pretty much.
You’ve done a lot of music videos considering how early on you are in your career. How long do you typically spend making each one?
Not very long; they’ve all been really low budget so we could shoot them in a day as a favour from a friend. They’re great for what they are and they’ve done what we wanted but hopefully next time we’ll be able to spend a bit more time and money on a video.
How much persuading did you need to shoot the opening scene for the ‘Prisoner’ video?
(Laughs) I wasn’t so sure about the idea but again it was like a favour. We wanted to have some visual elements that could build a sort of buzz around it, so this guy – a friend of a friend – thought it was a great idea and I was like, “Okay.” I don’t think it’s very good! But it gets people talking; there are comments on the YouTube about how the loo roll is rather than the actual song, which is quite funny.
One eagle-eyed viewer called you up for not washing your hands afterwards…
(Laughs) I didn’t actually go for a wee!
Was it your idea to do a cover of ‘For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti’ by Sufjan Stevens?
Yeah it was. I’ve always been a big Sufjan fan and I think the song is really beautiful. I wanted to do a cover of it so I literally just went into the studio, did it and we got it around the blogs and stuff, got it on Hype Machine which was good. I’m quite pleased with it.
When can we expect a full album from you?
Beginning of next year, like January/February time. At the moment I’m doing it kind of in bits and bobs; I’ve been going out to Sweden a lot to do it, as well as writing a lot here.
Have there been any telltale signs of imminent fame? Someone spotting you in the street, perhaps?
(Laughs) I heard ‘Skeleton’ being played somewhere while I was in town recently but no-one knew it was me!
How was SXSW?
It was amazing. We played like six or seven shows, at least two every day. It was a really fun week; the weather was really, really nice, we met loads of people and we were staying in a house with an outdoor pool. We met loads of great bands as well so it was really, really good.
Finally, could you name – as of this very moment – your top three albums of all time?
Fever to Tell by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kaleidoscope by Siouxsie and the Banshees and Funeral by Arcade Fire.
The single Skeleton is out now. The Good Natured release the Skeleton EP on 4th July 2011. For more information, please visit thegoodnatured.co.uk