Tribes... Out standing in their field
Published on May 17th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Listen and download
Camden rockers Tribes release their second album Wish to Scream on Monday, to be followed by a number of high-profile UK live dates, so Rocksucker caught up with the band’s guitarist Dan White for a bit of an anticipatory chinwag. In it, we discussed recording the LP at LA’s legendary Sound City studios and their forthcoming Rolling Stones support slot…
Do you think the LA sunshine infused itself into your new album, or does it not make any difference when you’re walled up in a studio?
Well, we spent twelve hours a day in the studio. The studio itself had more of an effect on the album than anything else, really: it’s such an impressive place to be, it’s got such a wonderful history and tradition of music-making, and to be part of that legacy was influential. We felt absolutely honoured to get the opportunity to go and do it there, you know, so we took the opportunity and I think that what we’ve made out of it is pretty beautiful. I love it.
Are there any particular artists and/or albums from Sound City’s history that stand out for you?
Oh, Fleetwood Mac, The Doors, Nirvana…it’s impossible to not be impressed by that, and the live room itself hasn’t changed since then. It’s this huge, white, open room that feels magical and energetic the moment you walk into it.
The tracks I’ve heard from Wish to Scream so far definitely sound bigger…
I think there’s a lot more space in them. That’s what the studio allowed us to consider. We love our first album still but that was quite a tight, angry little record, and we wanted to try and allow our songs a little more space to breathe, if you’ll excuse the cliché. The new songs were written on the road, on acoustic guitar on the back of a tour bus, so that’s why that kind of shift occurred. We just tried to embrace that and let it be what it wanted to become.
It sounds more reflective, maybe even a touch melancholic. Do you think that might be a product of all the touring?
I think it’s the opposite, actually. I think the first album was more retrospective, more about growing up, and this one was always more looking forward and trying to find our own little place and platform. It’s a more optimistic, forwards-looking record, I’d say.
You’ll be playing some of these new songs in front of a big crowd of Rolling Stones fans at Hyde Park…
We starting playing some of the songs a few tours back and they’ve been really well accepted. The live side to what we’re doing is really, really important: the most honest reflection on what we’re trying to make seems to be how they go down live. So far, it’s been great.
They’ve been getting a bit of radio play so people have been learning the words, which is nice. It’s a bit different this time so it might not be to some people’s tastes but then it might be to others’.
How did the Rolling Stones support slot come about, anyway? It must be tremendously exciting.
(Laughs) I’ve got no idea! Johnny [Lloyd, singer] just called me up one day and said, “You’ll never guess what we’ve got!” Our agent just pulled it out the back, so we have our agent to thank. We can’t believe it, it’s an absolute privilege. I hope I get to shake their hands, that would be really cool.
Hang out with Keith Richards?
Just shaking his hand would be more than enough. Don’t want to push it! (Laughs)
You’ve said that you thought of the title Wish to Scream before the songs themselves. Were there any rejected titles that you can share with us?
No, there weren’t at all, actually. I was in a bar with John in Germany somewhere: it was very late and I don’t know how it happened – it was just one of those drunken conversations – but we stumbled upon the title. We just went for it. It seemed to put a little pin in the map of what we were trying to aim for, at least in terms of lyrical content.
I gather you have a new keyboardist. Is that just for live shows or is he a full time member?
He’s a good friend of ours, CJ. We actually met at a party where he was playing the piano; it’s such a romantic story, but it’s true! He was always in the back of our minds, and when we got to California and started recording, we decided to use piano and organ and we thought, “Wouldn’t it be good to have CJ doing it live?” He slipped straight in and now it’s five of us. We’re looking forward to writing stuff together.
Do you tend to stockpile songs? If so, have you given any thought yet to a third album?
We’re always writing so there are songs that we haven’t put down yet. Sometimes we come back to a song and rework it, but generally we’re trying to write new stuff. We’ve got a few new tracks that we’re looking to start recording as soon as possible.
What new music from 2013 have you been enjoying, or is there anything not out yet that you’re particularly looking forward to?
It’s really nice to see so many great British bands coming out in general: Peace, Palma Violets and so on. I’m enjoying the scene as a whole because it’s a nice time for it. It’s always hard for bands to survive and sustain so it’s good to see.
Finally, why didn’t you go ahead with Jesus the Movie as a band name? It’s tremendous!
I’d have gone with it as well but no one agreed with me! How do you know that?
Meticulous research, of course.
Oh right. I was reading a book at the time called Tribes and, like the new album title, it just seemed to stick in terms of what we were doing and what we’re about.
Dan White, thank you.
Wish to Scream will be released on May 20th via Universal/Island.
For more information, please visit the official Tribes website.