Art Brut interview
Eddie Argos - Vocals
Jasper Future - Guitar
Ian Catskilkin - Lead Guitar
Freddy Feedback - Bass Guitar
Mikey B - Drums
One of the weirdest UK bands in recent memory, ART BRUT, comes off as part prank/part fun rock band. They have already conquered the UK. In November 2005 they played a few shows in the USA. They even played for the first time "Moving To LA" in LA. The band has been together for about two years. Even though they were mostly Bournemouth based, ART BRUT happened rapidly in the beginning of 2004 in London. Eddie Argos (singer) was inspired by attempting to be a pop star. Their first song was called "Formed A Band."
Argos quickly recruited his old friend Ian Catskilkin (Guitar) and Freddy Feedback (Bass). They met drummer Mikey B on the back of a bus and Jasper Future (guitarist from Eddie's old band, Art Gobblins) joined a few months later. The original member Chris left soon after they were formed. ART BRUT released several successful singles including "Modern Art" and "Emily Kane." There album "Bang Bang Rock and Roll (2005)" made a lot of people's best of the year's list even though it hasn't been released in the USA.
ART BRUT themselves are a diverse cast of characters. Eddie looks like a mix between a britpop star and Keith Moon. Ian looks like he would be more comfortable in a heavy metal band. Freddy looks like a member of Elastica. Mikey B looks more like a member of some disco band. And Jasper looks more like one of these new Swedish bands.
I got to meet Eddie Argos on their recent tour. I had a bunch of questions for him? Who is Emily Kane? Does Modern Art make him want to rock out? Why does he take off his shoes when he performs? Where did he get his hats? Hopefully in 2006 their debut album will be released in America. Hopefully they will come back soon?
AL: Let me ask the question that everyone wants to know? Where did you get your hat?
Eddie: I bought this one. I have a lot of hats. I have one hat that I have worn a lot. It's in the video. I lost one in Norway. Since I was wearing a hat a lot, someone presumed this was also my hat. So they gave it back to me. I didn't say anything. I kept it. I like this new one. It is a great shape. It's lightweight.
AL: How has the American tour been going?
Eddie: It's been loads of fun.
AL: When did the dream of Art Brut begin?
Eddie: I found out recently that there is no Top of The Pops in America. What is the point of us being here? I am going home.
AL: We have talk shows like Craig Ferguson and David Letterman where bands play. It's like Jonathan Ross.
Eddie: Oh, okay. Top of The Pops is on Sunday now. It used to be on Friday at 8pm. They should bring it back to Fridays.
AL: Is that how the dream started? You wanted to be in a band and be on Top of The Pops?
Eddie: That is it. I was very young when I made it up. I didn't know any better. I was five years old. When I got older, I tried to play guitar and couldn't do it. I tried to play everything: bass, keyboards, and drums. I couldn't do it. I just can't do these things.
AL: The drinking came much more naturally then?
Eddie: Yes. That started around when I was five years old. I figured out that I was like Lou Reed and couldn't really sing. But if I was going to be in a band, I would have to be the singer. If Lou Reed can do it, so can I. It's easy. That was the first plan. Next was getting on Top of The Pops. That was my next mission.
AL: How did you get the band together?
Eddie: I had an old band that fell apart. We were playing when we were at university in Bournemouth. I moved to London to start a new band. I met Chris at a party. He is not in the band anymore. We were both a bit loaded. We said, "Let's start a band!" He wanted to meet girls. I wanted to be on Top of The Pops. His next-door neighbor played bass. I knew Ian in Bournemouth. We met Mikey on a bus. We were just trying to make friends. We were just putting together a band randomly.
AL: Did you live in a certain neighborhood?
Eddie: Not really. We ended up being a South London band. We were just mucking about.
AL: Why did Chris leave the band?
Eddie: Chris didn't want to tour. He gets tired easily. He is busy. He has another band. He is writing a book. He left because of that. He has been replaced by Jasper. I have known Jasper for years. He was in my previous band. I phoned him up: "Chris has left. Do you want to join?" And he said: "Sure. When?" I said "Like Today!" He had to move and leave his house.
AL: You did that song "Moving To LA" last night. Was that the first time you played it in LA?
Eddie: Yeah. It's a Art Goblins song. I have been singing that song for seven years. It's very funny doing that song here. I usually point in the direction of LA. I was pointing down toward the ground last night. In England you can get away with pointing in any direction. But when I was in New York City, it was like the West Coast is THAT way. I was pointing to LA. People were telling me it's actually over there. Sorry, I didn't know. I was just guessing.
AL: It seems like you have ideas for songs and then get carried away, whether it's about Los Angeles or Modern Art.
Eddie: It's true. I get excited by art and then write about it. "Moving To LA" is a sad song. I wrote it on a rainy day and I was sitting in a pub. I had just broken up with a girlfriend. I didn't want to be there. Where could I go? LA! It's about escapism.
AL: "Formed A Band" was the first new song you did with Art Brut?
Eddie: Yes. It was written when we were rehearsing for the first time and I was singing for the first time. They had never heard me sing before. I was trying to convince them not to sack me. I was singing about all the things I wanted to achieve.
AL: What about the song about the Velvet Underground?
Eddie: It was fun to do that song in New York. I am always afraid to be on a radio station and they play that song and Lou Reed calls up. It would be good to talk to them. I like that band. But I got bored of all the bands trying to be like them. It's been going on now for four years.
AL: We have all these bands that sound like Gang of Four too.
Eddie: Yeah. I am tired of that sort of thing too. When I wrote the words to that song everyone was trying to be like Velvet Underground and wearing dark glasses. It's a very angry song. It would be good if they were trying to be influenced by certain bands, but they are not doing that. They are just wearing dark glasses and taking drugs.
AL: The album has been out in England for a while.
Eddie: That is why we are over here. We are trying to sign a deal.
AL: When you play the songs live, it's different. At the end of "My Little Brother" you have that bit about smoking crack and Pete Doherty. There is an element of improvisation.
Eddie: I am always trying to update the songs. I get bored if I sing the same thing every night, so it's fun to muck about.
AL: The drummer stands up when he plays. I haven't seen that style of playing in a long time.
Eddie: He says that he likes to stand up and stretch his legs. It's not true. He is a show-off. He likes to be looked at. I think that is what it is. Don't tell him I told you. There have been some people who played standing up like the drummer in Jesus and the Mary Chain, and of course, Mo Tucker. But Mikey just wants to be looked at. He is a very vain man. He has a big head.
AL: How have your experiences in America been?
Eddie: Every show is different. It's been loads of fun though. They told us in New York "No one here dances." And then, every night, everyone danced. People were drunk and leaping around.
AL: Did you go to college?
Eddie: No. Some did and some didn't. I failed my O levels and was stuck without a band. Jasper went to college. They all studied for years, apart from me.
AL: Did anyone study music?
Eddie: Ian studied music at a university. His dad was in a famous band. The singer from that band recently joined Genesis.
AL: What is Bournemouth like?
Eddie: It's a beach. It's mainly old people and students.
AL: You did a lot of festivals this year?
Eddie: Yeah. It was aces. We played the second stage at Reading and Leeds. We were at the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury. We played at three or four in the afternoon. Sometimes we played at midday. I couldn't believe the tent was packed. People got up early to see us in Belgium. I was amazed. Kids were waiting for hours.
AL: You are always referring to yourself onstage. You say "Art Brut, are you ready?" like you are at the helm of a ship.
Eddie: It started when we were crossing the street or walking around. I would say to them collectively "Are you ready Art Brut?" It just ended up sticking. I don't know why. Jonathan Richman used to do that too: "Are you ready Modern Lovers?" I always liked how that sounded.
AL: Are there any other bands that you liked recently?
Eddie: Yes. The one from last night. They are called Porterville.
AL: So you will probably come back to America early in 2006? Maybe you will go to some more cities?
Eddie: Yeah. In March 2006, we hope. We will find out. We are recording another single when we get back. It will be released in England. We are not sure what song yet.
AL: You have some new songs you are playing now?
Eddie: Yeah. We have three or four new songs. I have written the words for a lot of new songs. But we have to get back and start working on the music.
AL: How do you write songs?
Eddie: I walk around and write songs in my head. I sing them into the phone. I go home and put them into my book. Once a week we will rehearse. They write the music and I go to my big book and select some lyrics.
AL: All these songs are about your life?
Eddie: They are all true. It's all about me. I would get bored singing about other people who are made up. I like real people.
AL: What is up with this song "Rusted Guns of Milan?"
Eddie: The guns?
AL: That is a metaphor?
Eddie: Yeah. I couldn't just sing about my cock. I had to change it around a little bit.
AL: Maybe on the next album you can write a "cock" song that is more in your face?
Eddie: (laughter) Maybe? Who knows?
AL: Can you talk about the song "18,000 Lire?"
Eddie: There were these terrorists in Italy. They didn't hurt anybody. They did a bank robbery. They were rubbish. They only got 18,000 Lire, which is about four pounds and seventy-three. That is about two American dollars. It sounds like such a huge achievement, but it isn't really. I wanted to write about.
AL: So many of your songs are just inspired by everyday things like what you read in a paper?
Eddie: Yeah. It happened. It's an old song. It is not about me.