Photo: Julien Bourgeois
It is perhaps not too cruel to suggest that Field Music were as surprised as we were when it was announced that they were one of the twelve nominated acts up for this year's Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize.
'Plumb' is the album getting the nod this year, with the feeling being that the underrated two piece deserve their place for having created a brilliant body of work over the years and are reaching their peak with their most recent release. We caught up with brothers Peter and David Brewis at a recent Mercury concert in London to find out how they are feeling ahead of the big reveal this November.
How does it feel to be nominated for the Mercury Music Prize this year?
David: Lovely and surprising.
When did you discover you were nominated for the award?
David: They let us know a couple of days beforehand because being in Sunderland means you can’t just go to the ceremony. You don’t get a call from them saying, ’You’re on the Mercury list!’ but they ask if you’re free on certain dates and whether they can have a few more copies of your album. I didn’t believe it until it happened, I thought it was a terribly elaborate hoax.
The Mercury is a prize you put yourselves forward for, is this something you have done with all of your albums?
Peter: We’ve never done it, it’s always been our label (Memphis Industries) who have put us forward.
David: Some years we’ve said, ‘OK’ and other years we’ve said, ‘Really, are you sure?’
Did you do anything to celebrate the news of your nomination?
Peter: I was at the Hospital Club for the announcement and I got absolutely blottoed.
What does the Mercury Prize mean to you as a band?
David: It’s an award that really celebrates the album. Rather than saying this is about the best or the biggest maintains a semblance of the concept of what the album is about and that’s what gives it credibility.
Peter: Basically, it’s not the BRITs is it?
Which Mercury nominated albums of the past are Field Music big fans of?
Peter: Not many, to be honest.
David: There’s not that many British and Irish albums of the past twenty years that I’ve really loved, actually. ‘Parklife’ by Blur is great but then that got beaten to the title by M People, didn’t it? I don’t think ‘Loveless’ (My Bloody Valentine) was nominated either. I’ve got a copy of ‘Screamadelica’ (Primal Scream’s 1992 winner) at home, I quite like that.
And what about your fellow nominees this year, are you fans of their work?
David: I haven’t actually heard any of the albums on the list. My wife has the Django Django album but she likes it so much she hasn’t shared it with me. She keeps taking it away to listen to.
What would winning the Mercury mean to Field Music?
Peter: Flying pigs, probably! I think it would be ridiculous if we won, it would probably be unfair. Apart from Sam Lee and Roller Trio we have sold less copies of our album than anyone on the list. The music industry would be right royally p*ssed off if somebody who has sold half as many copies as some of the others ended up winning.
You spoke earlier this year about the tough realities of being in a small band, in particular when it comes to money. Are you hopeful this nomination will change that and have you seen any sign of that yet?
Peter: We wouldn’t expect anything but presumably more people will hear our music than before.
David: It can’t be bad, can it? We’re not in a position to get a backlash.
There are a lot of debut albums on the list this year whereas yours is your fourth as a band. Do you feel ’Plumb’ is actually the best of all your albums?
David: I think of all our albums our first (2005’s ‘Field Music’) is actually our worst. There are lots of good ideas there which we didn’t quite pull off. Our second album (’Tones of Town’ 2007) is the most conceptually tight and then the third, ‘Measure’, was massive and just packed full of ideas. All of our albums are very ‘albumy’ is ‘Plumb’ is possibly the most album like of them all.
Peter: Of all our albumy albums, this is the most albumest.
Finally, how have people back home in Sunderland reacted to your nomination?
Peter: I don’t think they’ve heard about it yet.
David: Lots of our friends and the people we know through the local music scene quite rightfully feel that it’s reward for the work we’ve all been putting in for the past ten years.
The Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize winer is announced on November 1st.