Interview: Eyes on Film
Published on April 19th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Rocksucker is really rather excited about the dirty, slightly sinister yet fantastically catchy melodies of London five-piece Eyes on Film, so we sat down with the band ahead of the release of their debut single “Something Wicked (This Way Comes)” to find that, as well as sounding thrillingly like a cross between Queens of the Stone Age and pre-Mobile Disco Simian, they’re also jolly entertaining company…
How close would you say you are to releasing a full album?
Dan: Very, very close, but still a little way off! It’s hard to say. I don’t think we’ll be one of those bands that’s demoed sixty songs and takes an album from them. It scares me, you always hear about bands making a record and saying, “We had so many songs.” What really reassured me was reading The Maccabees saying that the songs on their last record were the only songs they’d been working on.
Dave: Dan’s a very precise writer; he comes up with the concept for a song, absorbs the influences around him and sees what will work lyrically for what he’s intending to say, then he’ll come to me and say, “Can I have this type of guitar riff?” and so on.
Dan: Daisy’s inspired me a lot in terms of bringing more of an electro element to it. It’s making us think a lot about what kind of things we could do next. Playing live does influence a lot, and we’re a pretty new band so I think it would be a bit stupid to rush the record while we’re learning stuff from each other. So, let’s say it’ll be out in five years.
There might not even be a world to release it into by then.
Dan: That’s a good point, actually. Armageddon is nigh.
When you’re playing live, do you aim to recreate the sound that’s on the record?
Dave: We try. We try to get as much energy into the performance as possible, but unless you’re playing to a backing track it’s always difficult to recreate exactly what’s on the record.
Joe: I disagree…
Dan: There’s already friction! (Laughs)
Joe: …because I think that the way we produced it was with live performance in mind, and I think that we do reproduce it very well…
Dan: I think what Dave is saying is…
Dave: That’s not the aim.
Dan: Yeah, the aim is for it to be a show. We try to execute it well but the whole point of live music is for it to be more exciting because you’ve got a couple of extra dimensions to play with, which we play with heartily. We have a really good time onstage, and I think that’s as important as executing it well.
Daisy: Well, we do execute it, but in a different way! (General laughter and assent ensues) There are a lot of electronic-y rubber stamps on the recordings that we don’t use live, but for some things we can just use a loop.
Dan: Joe reproduces loads of stuff. He destroys the egos of sound men across the land!
Daisy: He destroys their eardrums. The guy last night had blood coming out of his ears.
How do you guys know each other, and how long have you been going for as a band?
Joe: We haven’t been going for long, really. With this line-up, since January, but we’ve mucking around with the songs and doing the groundwork over the last eighteen months.
How did you come to the attention of MI7 Records?
Dave: At Glastonbury last year.
Dan: Well, in a different incarnation; I’ve been playing with really bad bands for a long time now!
Joe: We came up with the idea of putting a recording studio into Glastonbury festival, so I got musical friends and people close to me to help me do that, and we collaborated with Greenpeace. MI7 Records also collaborated with Greenpeace on the same project, so that’s how we got introduced to them.
Dan: The idea was that we were going to get big artists off the main stage and into the studio to make a record and make some money for charity. James from MI7 was doing that, and I was like, “Oh, so you work at a label? I write songs,” and he was like, “Do you? I don’t care.” But I got him to come and watch the band I was playing with at the time, and he said, “Yeah, that’s alright.” We knew that we had some really good songs, and they are genuinely music people, sort of the record label equivalent of Asterix and Obelix. (Mirthful commotion fills the room, punctuated by Daisy’s cry of “careful!”)
You mean physically?
Dan: Yeah, physically! But seriously, for them to be doing what they’re doing – and I know they worked with Mumford & Sons, but they never got a big financial kickback from that – so for them to be doing what they’re doing and winning, and for Island to buy into them and stuff, they must be very business savvy. But when you go in there, they really are music people; you play a mix and a bunch of kids will walk in from the other room, all these young producers working there and stuff, they come in and just start dancing! (Laughs)
So we just persevered with them, got them to come and see this line-up, and when they heard a song that we haven’t put out yet called “Rage #7”, they really flipped for it and wanted to get involved.
How many songs have you got in your set at the moment?
Dan: Six or seven. It’s fucking awful to go and see a band that no-one knows and for them to hang around too long, so we have a rule about packing as much as we can into twenty minutes or so, then getting offstage. Short and sweet, keep it really intense and energetic for that period of time. That’s what we’re doing at the minute.
How did the Boots Electric support come about?
Dan: Our booking agent just said, “Do you want to do it?” and our booking agent thought it would be great for us because when Jesse [Hughes] booked the tour he said, “I want to be playing every single night” and I suppose he thought that’s what we need. And it was what we needed, because we got better.
Dave: It was hilarious.
Dave: He’s an incredibly nice man, yeah. Just don’t talk about politics. (All laugh) But seriously, he was really kind to share the dressing room, share the booze, and I’d even bought tickets to go and see Boots Electric at The Garage ’cause I’m a massive Eagles of Death Metal fan. And then we ended up supporting them! They were just a really nice bunch of people, really generous.
How did you get Teo Miller on mixing duties? He’s got quite the CV!
Dan: You know Teo quite well, don’t you Joe?
Joe: Yeah, he has [got quite the CV]. He was very instrumental in coming up with the sound that broke Placebo, and that led to him working with a number of other major acts. We just like what he does and thought he could bring something to us, especially as he thinks out of the box and is very musically driven. He’s always talking in musical terms rather than technical terms, which makes him a brilliant engineer. He’s a man of few words, Teo; you have to get to know him quite well before he speaks. He came to Glastonbury with us last year and he didn’t really speak for the first three or four days…
Was he high?
Daisy: Or sedated?
Dan: No, no! I remember he went to see Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and when he came back he went (mimics a sort of excited outpouring of words). That was the first time I’d really heard him talk and I thought, “Oh, he’s really nice.”
Joe: He came to see us play a gig at Notting Hill Arts Club and it turned into a mosh pit; there was a stage invasion, everybody went nuts and it was an absolute sweat pit. There was a lot of excitement in the room. I went up to Teo and said, “What did you think?” and he just said, “Yeah. It’s got four legs.” (Ensuing hysterical laughter indicates that this might be the other band members’ first time hearing this.)
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
Dan: Hoodlums; they don’t sound anything like us but they’re one of the hardest working bands, the best bunch of guys and some of my best friends on the planet. We’ve also got friends in Spycatcher. We’re not from a scene, we just have friends who happen to be in good bands!
Daisy: We’re from the jazz scene!
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?
(Rocksucker is only able to discern Frank Zappa, Aphex Twin, Radiohead and Tom Waits from the ensuing discussion, as well as Daisy saying something that sounds like ‘Testerfac’.)
Eyes on Film, thank you.