Dan Wray caught up with The Big Moon bassist Celia Archer ahead of their festival schedule to talk about the tour diet and the loved-up lyrics of their album.
Last updated: 14th Sep 2017
Image: The Big Moon by Pat Moore
Formed in 2014 by Juliette Jackson, the group's primary songwriter and singer, the London four-piece The Big Moon have been steadily honing a blend of grungy, hard-hitting guitars with rich, shimmering melodies through blasts of three-minute pop-rock gems.
After a variety of single releases, including a split cassette release with Yak, the group landed a record deal with Friction Records and their debut album, Love In The 4th Dimension was released in April this year to some acclaim. With the sugary appeal of the melodies and harmonic craft ricocheting successfully against the noisy bursts of guitar, creating a pleasing back and forth between grit and grace.
Currently, in the middle of a tour, bassist Celia Archer took some time to bring us up to speed on life in The Big Moon.
How is life on the road treating you? Are you all managing to stay healthy and sane?
Great! Well, I actually pulled a muscle in my back the first day of the tour so that's less great but other than that it's been wonderful so far! Right now we're setting up our gear in Belfast and Fern is speaking to the drums which may look strange to others, but is maybe when she is at her most sane and zen. Also been getting our five a day from the salad in our subway sandwiches so our mums are real proud.
Have you been pleased with how the album has been received? Do you feel people have fundamentally understood what you were intending to do with it?
The response has been amazing and we couldn't be more grateful for the support we've had across the board. It was especially nice for us to do the tour of record stores just after it came out where we got to meet people who'd bought it and loved it already. It's weird how much of this job involves sending stuff you've worked so hard on out into the digital ether and it's hard to process what likes and Spotify plays and YouTube hits actually mean.
It was great for the four of us to drive around the country and meet real people who were holding our physical record in their hands and singing along to words of songs we haven't even released yet and actually get to know who they were and what their relationship is to our music. It turns out people who like our band are really great and cool so that was extra awesome.
How do you feel you've evolved and changed as a band since you began? I guess things move very quickly during the formative years but I wondered how you felt the band had grown and changed.
It's sort of happened without us realising but if you take the first version of 'Sucker', which was recorded when we first started playing together, and compare it with the version we re-recorded for the album, you can hear how much more at ease we are with our parts and with each other. But that's what happens when you spend as much time together as we do.
It's like any good relationship, we all fell in love with each other fairly quickly but the time we spend working together has strengthened that and we've learnt how to support and bring out the best in each other.
How have you found the process of having a label and presumably a manager and booking agent etc - essentially the full transition into the industry, has it all been a smooth and pleasant ride?
We've been so incredibly lucky with the team we have around us. Our manager Lou Latimer was a friend of Jules' first so she's been there from the very beginning and we couldn't have got to where we are without her. She is an excellent and generous friend and is also ridiculously good at her job.
We have so much love and respect for her and so do a lot of other people in the industry, which means as the team of people who help us do what we do has grown, we've found some real gems.
I read previously that Juliette said if she wasn't in music she'd be working in a pub or something and be really miserable. Does the fact that you have nothing to fall back on force you to give everything you have to the band? Does it create a sense of passion and intensity?
Jules is such a hustler I feel like she'd make what she wanted out of any situation. I think she couldn't have done anything other than starting the band and making it successful because that's what she did. You know what I mean? It feels like a series of lucky coincidences but really it's because she's driven, she writes very good songs and she is most excellent at being in a band.
The band are very apt at blending rich overlapping melodies with often fairly raw bursts of guitar. I wondered who were some of your favourite artists who are also excellent at being as melodic as they are noisy?
We all listen to so much stuff and it's all so varied, it's quite interesting to see how that shows itself in the way that we play without us even realising it. It's like eating musical food and it gives you different kinds of energies but it makes it harder to point to specific influences.
For Jules I'd say; Pixies, White Stripes, Graham Coxon, Elvis, Roy Orbison. Crooner-y singers and grungy guitars. When people compare her to Alex Turner that makes a lot of sense to me. We get Elastica and Sleeper a lot but apart from the hits, they aren't bands I know at all so I find it interesting the ways in which we've ended up making similar kinds of music. Maybe we were eating the same food?
I know you've previously said you just wanted to cause havoc in a band and be like the Spice Girls - are you achieving that goal, do you think?
Most definitely. It's so crazy that our job allows us to run around the world meeting amazing, fun people and drinking all the free beer. But we're also very good at knowing when to call it a night, eat some chips and have a cup of tea. Again, our mums are super proud.
I don't know if you still do it but the last time I saw you were doing, 'Beautiful Stranger', a Madonna cover. Does that hold a particularly special place for you? What's the appeal of that song and the decision to cover it?
Jules met a beautiful stranger at a festival! They were both kind of out of it, locked eyes across the field, walked towards each other and started making out. So that's the reason we play that song! They're still together to this day and their relationship is all over this record in such a great non-gross-out way.
That's where a lot of the love that's in the album comes from. People have said that the record is really optimistic and makes them feel good and feel stronger which is what we wanted from it. Other people have implied that this is maybe a bit naive in a sort of cute and endearing kind of way, but the world is a pretty scary place right now, and we all have our own personal shit to deal with as well.
To keep choosing love and hope in the face of all the shit, and to share that with as many people as possible, takes a lot of work and is a courageous and generous choice. I think we're all very happy to be part of a band, and with a songwriter, that keeps making that choice.
You can catch The Big Moon on their UK tour and across stages at various festivals this year.