Gigwise continues the countdown to this year's Get Loaded In The Park festival in London with an exclusive interview with The Cribs, who are set to perform ahead of headliners Razorlight.
Here Gary Jarman chats about the band's plans for the festival, how they're currently coping with the departure of Johnny Marr and their next album.
The Cribs are back playing together after a brief break earlier in the year. Does this feel like a new beginning or more like a return to where you came from?
“It's a bit of both really. We are definitely inspired by being back together like we were in the old days - and that is a very liberating feeling - but it also feels like the start of a new phase in the fact that we all live in different cities these days and so we have been decamping for writing sessions in my basement in Portland for a month at a time, and then same again in Ross' garage in Wakefield etc, so its a very varied approach. I think there is a lot to be said for the influence of your surroundings and that is something that will be evident on the new record I think. My life in Portland and my friends has really shaped who I am now, and it has certainly had an impact on me being part of such a creative social group.”
Johnny Marr recently left the group. Being such a legendary figure you must have learnt a lot from your friendship with him, about making music and the industry. What do you feel the legacy of Johnny’s tenure will be for The Cribs?
“We were pretty savvy about the industry from the start I think. Coming from the background that we did there was a lot of cynicism towards the business of making music, so we were certainly not naive or overwhelmed by that, and I think that stood us in good stead early on. Johnny was a nice guy to have around and certainly it was flattering and interesting to have him contributing to our songs, and I would like to think that that is the enduring legacy of his time with us - the album basically.”
Now that you are a three piece again is it difficult to perform material from ‘Ignore the Ignorant’? Or are you already focused on playing new material?
“We have our friend David Jones from Nine Black Alps as a touring guitarist filling in the extra parts.”
The Cribs have worked with a number of other incredible musicians in the past, including members of iconic bands such as Sonic Youth, Suede and Orange Juice. Is there any one else you have a desire to work with?
“I am not sure if there is anyone we are actively seeking to work with - it's a funny one being in a band with your brothers because it is such a close-knit group that you occasionally feel the need to involve someone else, to avoid you losing context, if you know what I mean? I just contributed some stuff to Jim Fairchild's (Grandaddy, Modest Mouse) new project All Smiles with my friend Joe Plummer on drums, and some vocals for Rebecca Gates (The Spinanes) new record. That was all really fun - to collaborate with some people outside of The Cribs. I have also been doing a lot of recording at my home studio, some of my own stuff really, and we also recorded some bits for the new Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks record there. Ryan has written some songs with Edwyn Collins recently, and has also been doing some producing (Comet Gain and Frankie and the Heartstrings)...so we have been getting our fix of that stuff recently anyway! There is some stuff for the new album which would lend itself quite well to another spoken word collaboration, but we will see if we go down that route again or not.”
Being a band of brothers, do you handle disputes as a family matter or do you treat it as business?
“We never treat the band as business to be honest...but having said that, family is something that you really have to try and put to one side. I hate the idea of having to consider stuff like that when trying to work on something. Those guys are far from uptight though, so it's OK most of the time.”
The Cribs have a penchant for springing surprises on their fans. Anything secret in the pipeline you’d care to disclose?
“Not right now, I am sorry to say.”
The Cribs have always had a strong live reputation, which, in the early days, was based tearing up smaller venues. What do you take from the live experience and will it inform what you do with your next album?
“I think our ethic was always based very much in that kind of purism - trying to keep things as raw as possible and not hide behind loads of layers and studio trickery, but I am at a point now where I think that we should put the song first and not be hamstrung by the practicalities of performing it. We have some ideas for the new record which should involve more crafting and arranging, but on the other side of the coin we are planning on doing some sessions entirely live and trying to record a lot of it in just 2 weeks, so I am not committed to any specific approach yet. We are a bi-polar band really.”
You’re one of the biggest names playing at this year’s Get Loaded in The Park. What do you get out of festivals? Do you find it harder or easier to feed of the energy of a big open air crowd?
“I have a love hate relationship with festivals. On the one hand I find them unpredictable and uncomfortable, and feel an obligation to try and be a cheesy frontman to engage that amount of people - but on the other hand some of our best ever shows have been festivals, and there can be occasions when you realise that there is a load of people there that just want to have a good time and are therefore really receptive and suggestible, which is kind of amazing really. After last year's Reading/Leeds and a couple of years before that when we headlined the second stage I was probably the most moved I have ever been in my life from my feelings toward a bunch of strangers. I know that sounds terribly corny and phony, but it is one of those things that you can't prepare for sometimes and you can get a little overwhelmed. It is not a normal situation at all!”
You once sang that “a man’s needs apply to me”. What are your creature comforts when touring?
“We are pretty low maintenance when it comes to touring. As long as we get some alone time each, and I can get a shower each day I am OK. We don't pull any rock star stuff at all. We have some weird compulsions and obsessions though which can make touring tougher.”
We understand you’ll be working with Queen and David Bowie producer, David Richards on your next album. Does that give any sort of clue as to the direction your thinking of taking?
“Well, maybe. We are obsessed with 'Innuendo' and that is why we originally wanted to work with him - plus it is such an unusual prospect for a band like us that we feel we should really explore avenues like that. We have some real pop songs that we think would work well with someone like David, but as I mentioned earlier we also have some really raw stripped back stuff that we wanna do live and urgently. A band of contradictions. We are talking about 3 different producers right now, all very different to each other. I just love that we are on a label that let us do what we want and think we would be fools not to take advantage of that situation. People can read too much into things like producers and directions etc, but I think that really you should do whatever you want if you get the chance, regardless of the risk or whatever. I would hate to look back and realise we played it safe...that would be the worst thing in my mind.”
Get Loaded In The Park takes place at Clapham Common on June 12 and will be headlined by Razorlight. For more information, check out the Gigwise Festival Guide.
The Cribs - live photos