Next month, Everything Everthing will DJ at the Reset Magazine launch. Jasmine Phull caught up with the NME best new band nominees to talk about money, Kurt Cobain, and why Manchester is just as good as London.
Date published: 27th Jan 2011
‘People aren’t selling out. They’re trying to survive’ assures Everything Everything front-man Jonathan Higgs.
Although the ensnaring pull of advertising is no more appealing than it was 20 years ago, a plummet in record sales and an increase in free downloads leave today’s bands with little to no choice.
Reminiscing back to the dolorous woes of the late Kurt Cobain, EE can’t help but wince in mourning for an industry that is no longer a commodity people want to pay for: He despised selling his music in a commercial way but ‘God, at least people were buying [his] records’. But things are very different now.
In a download society, one of which Everything Everything admittedly subscribe to, the NME Best New Band nominees can only stick to what they know best. Not too impressed with London, the Manchester based band are staying put; relishing in the noticeably smaller scene.
Jonathan Higgs talks to Jasmine Phull about the irrelevant dribble bogging up the music industry pipelines and the ‘blank pages’ that make it all worth while.
Did your hometown of Northumberland help shape your love for music? Was there a music ‘scene’ when you were growing up?
Not really. I grew up in a tiny little village. We were pretty isolated, so I just had my brother and sister’s tapes and my parents’ records. But all of us in the band were in orchestras when we were growing up so we all had classical backgrounds and that’s how it sort of started. And then we all got our ‘rock’ instruments out.
So then did you start making regular trips to a bigger city like Manchester or London?
Yea as I got older I started making trips to Newcastle which is the nearest to where I lived. When I was 18 I moved to Manchester and that’s where I met Jeremy. We were studying music in Salford so we were completely bombarded by all sorts of music. Though really crap funk seemed to be the order of the day.
And where are you guys based as a band?
Three of us are in Manchester and Alex lives in London.
So how do you compare Manchester and London in terms of music? Is there much difference now that bands seem to be traveling back and forth?
No. There’s not much difference in sound. I’ve lived in both and I’ve just found London to be an expensive version of Manchester. It’s quite nice being part of the smaller scene in Manchester because you get noticed quicker and when you are a band trying to break out you can do it much more successfully here.
Debut album Man Alive was released in the UK on 30 August 2010. Are you working on a follow up?
Yea I’m working on it right now actually! (He gives a little demo on the drums). We’re touring in February and March so we’re trying to get some new stuff off the ground so the people that have seen us 50 times can have something new to listen to. But it’s not looking too good. We’ve run out of time and we don’t want to do a half-baked version of anything. So we’ll probably stick to the hits for the NME tour and add some new stuff for the European tour.
One thing you took away from the process of creating your debut?
Time. You never realise how much time you had to get the first one ready. We haven’t really laid down solid plans for the second album but even still I’m already wishing I had more time.
And do you think the first or the second release has more pressure surrounding it?
The second ones tend to fail far more often; it’s rare that a debut would kill a band. The pressure is bigger for the second one although the impact is probably bigger for the first – which is unfortunate. Then again, my two favourite records recently have both been second albums so.. I don’t know.
What’s the most expensive thing you ever bid on on eBay?
Probably some stupid microphone that never gets used although I don’t really use eBay; we have a man who gets anything we need. He manages to get it free for us usually, which is pretty ridiculous.
You ‘have a man’. Wow. That’s a sign of a good debut.
Is there something that’s missing in the music industry that was there 10-15 years ago?
Yea money. It’s all gone. No one buys anymore and everyone has to do advertising. It’s all a different game. I was actually thinking about it this morning; I was thinking about Kurt Cobain and his woes and the fact that he didn’t like his music being sold in a commercial way. He was so famous and he didn’t like it. I was thinking ‘God, at least people were buying your records, mate’. For bands nowadays the pressure to give music to advertising is… it’s like you have to do it otherwise you won’t survive. People just download it. If you wanna survive, you have to. People look at Blur or Radiohead and say: ‘Oh well they never did that in their day’ but things were different 20 years ago. People aren’t ‘selling out’ they are trying to ‘survive’. It sucks though because you don’t want to give your music to Ford or Reebok - that’s not why you wrote it. But then I’m to blame just as much as everyone else for downloading.
Do you think the role of a band has changed as if creating good music is no longer enough to be a successful band?
Yea there is so much self-promotion going on that most listeners aren’t even aware of. A lot of it is just so irrelevant to music.
Exactly. It’s like you have to constantly keep churning out this crap so people can be like: ‘Oh they still exist’.
Totally. Just to keep relevant.
Yea or keep irrelevant. (Laughs)
One track that makes you feel elated?
‘Emerge’ by Fischerspooner.
Which do you prefer: studio or stage time? Why?
I really like the potential of going into the studio because you know you are going in with a blank page. I just love the feeling of potential. With a show there’s less surprise.
One great - recently deceased - artist?
Leaving out the obvious one - I’d say Jerry Rafferty.
On February 25th, Everything Everything will join Delphic and Kid British for DJ sets at South in Manchester, for Reset Magazine’s launch party. Tickets cost just £10, with all proceeds going to men’s wellbeing charity CALM.