The Mountaineers gained considerable critical acclaim for their debut 2003 album â€˜Messy Centuryâ€™, with its unique blend of electronica and anthemic pop. But such things donâ€™t impress the suits - and the Welsh three-piece found themselves unceremoniously dumped by Mute records last year. Thankfully undeterred, singer and guitarist Alex Germains and keyboard guru Ceri James recruited â€œFight Club extraâ€ Trevor Gerrard on drums, and plowed on with a follow-up album. New EP â€˜Motions of Interplanetary Dustâ€™ - released on Valentineâ€™s Day through Northern Ambition - gives a tantalising taste of their new songs, which the band are currently touring. From their Liverpool base they tell Gigwise why getting a Christmas Card is not always a good thing, how to identify a drummer at distance - and give mad props to the lasting influence of Dire Straits.
What's been happening since Messy Century?
ALEX: The album came out, was widely applauded and thinly purchased. We went back to work, went on tour, then got dropped by Mute.
CERI: EMI bought them out last year and they had to make massive cuts, all the bands not making above a certain amount.
They're off your Christmas Card list then?
C: We're not off their's...
A: We got a card from them last Christmas! It was the generic card that everyone signs, but no one realised they were sending it to us. 'Happy Christmas! Hope All Your Dreams Come True!' What would they be? Not to be dropped by you! But we carried on with the new album. We thought, 'We can't stop now, we've got nothing else to do with our free time!' And we got Trevor in, the New York drumming genius.
TREVOR: I met Alex whilst exposing my penis in Le Bateaux [Liverpool club]. He said, 'Hey man, I like the cut of your penis, what do you think about playing drums for my band?' So I said, 'Yeah, ok.'
So he could tell by your penis you were a drummer?
T: Yeah, you usually can.
Because they're very small?
ALL: [Guffaws at fantastic joke]
A: When you drop a drumstick what do you do? You use your penis. Trevor often drops his drumstick, which is the sign of a good drummer, so Trev says.
T: It means you're not holding your stick too tightly!
What's the thinking behind the new EP?
A: We've got a whole album's worth of material, and the EP's four of the tracks that sound good together...
C: So we're bridging the gap until we get the new album out.
Has your sound changed since Messy Century at all?
C: Definitely more direct I'd say, bit more raw, less polished. We didn't record it in a room full of... anal men.
A: And we were quite angry when we were recording it. We'd also had an experience of playing quite complex music to rooms of people who'd never heard any of it before, therefore found it difficult to get into. It's a natural progression of simplifying what we do, but I don't think we've actually changed what we do.
There's a few Liverpool bands, including yourselves, playing showcases in London over the next couple of weeks. What do you think of the Liverpool scene at the moment?
Ceri: [loudly farts] Yes!
A: Spot on mate!
T: [who's sporting a mohican] There's a lot of very cool haircuts.
A: The trouble with us is we're not part of anything and we never have been. It's not deliberate, its just the way we are. The band's we get compared to - the obvious people; Super Furry Animals, Flaming Lips, Beta Band - I think we're not much like them anymore, but because those bands don't really fit into any scene, neither do we. We've always been outsiders. Its sort of depressing in a way. Imran (Ahmed, NME) was kind enough to include us in his article about the Liverpool scene, but he's not fooling anybody, we're not fooling anybody, we can't shoehorn ourselves into something where the shoehorn doesn't fit... the shoe. It's like trying to shoehorn jelly into another jelly.... with a cup.
Is it difficult ploughing your own furrow?
C: Very difficult.
A: Part of us start thinking, 'Are we going to be one of those bands that people say in ten years time they never quite made it but they influenced loads of other bands.' Or are we going to get another chance, which we feel we deserve. One serious investment, where someone says, 'Here have a go.' We need to impress the big cheeses, the people with the chequebooks...
What response have you been getting at your recent gigs?
A: We get what we always have which is people watch the gig from start to finish, but not exactly knowing what to think of it. We don't get one type of crowd or another. We get a lot of people coming up to us aren't particularly trendy, not particularly arsed about it, apart from the fact they like what you do, so that's quite nice.
C: Maybe its the same kind of fanbase for Dire Straits.
A: Exactly! I keep wanting to do a cover of Money For Nothing, but...
C: I put my foot down....
A: But with a few changes....
C: I value what it's done for music.
C: I can only speak from my experience, which was growing up constantly being exposed to nothing but Dire Straits, so it has helped and, er, influenced the melodies! My alarm clock's set to it...
The Mountaineers play live:
Feb 19, Notting Hill Arts Centre
Feb 25, Le Bateaux, Liverpool
Mar 4, Blowout, Beirkeller, Manchester
Mar 5, Zanzibar, Liverpool
Mar 9, The Fly, London
Mar 11, Evol, Liverpool Academy
Also check Themountaineers.com for details