Intimate Interview with THE CRIBS
By alexander laurence
Ryan Jarman: guitar/vocals
Gary Jarman: bass/vocals
Ross Jarman: drums
The Cribs are three brothers from Wakefield. It’s a suburb outside Leeds.
They have been playing since they were teenagers. They have done a few albums.
The New Fellas (2005) is their most recent. They were ready to go ahead and do
another. The Cribs are busy guys. They have been on the road constantly the
past few years. They had a single in the charts. I got to talk to Ryan Jarman for
a few minutes during their show in Los Angeles in November 2005. Look for
more from this band.
AL: I don’t have to ask you how you met because you are all brothers. How do
you all write songs in the band?
Ryan: I don’t know. It’s weird. We have only started writing songs for the
new album. It will be our third album. It’s been so long. I have forgotten what
it is like being in the studio and not on the road. We don’t think about
writing too much. We go to our rehearsal space in Wakefield. It’s in this really
old building. They are going to knock it down to make yuppie flats. Nobody
wants a yuppie flat in Wakefield anyway.
AL: Are you going to get a real estate deal there for having been there
Ryan: Yeah. And then sell it for an over-inflated price a year later. We just
finished making it nice. We fixed it up. We just put in a ping-pong table. We
have a Double Dragon, the arcade game, in there. Some guy was selling it down
the road. When I was a kid I always wanted one. We were able to buy it for a
hundred pounds with our advance. Being in a band, and buying that machine, we
have been able to satisfy one childhood dream.
AL: What is the studio like? Do you have a lot of gear?
Ryan: We have a lot of stuff. It’s like a youth club down at our place. We
don’t do anything strenuous or anything where we run around.
AL: Do you want to move to London?
Ryan: Everyone asks us: “When are you going to move to London?” I don’t like
big cities. I like going back to small towns. People in small towns tend to
be weird and more interesting. It’s good to go back to. You know that you
don’t want to live there, but it is okay to end up back there.
AL: There are more fashionable things to do in London. If you live in the
suburbs you end up working more and not being distracted.
Ryan: Yeah. If you are in a band, the record company always expects you to be
at certain parties and gigs. If you lived in London you would have to hang
out with a bunch of these people. I can’t be bothered with these people. That’s
not what I want to do. I would just rather go home and sleep. It’s just us
three and we hang out all the time.
AL: You go to the NME awards?
Ryan: Yeah. We will go to that party. It was fun. We went to the Q Magazine
after party and stuff. It was just like hanging out with lawyers. It was all
about getting pissed and slapping each other on the back. I don’t know why we
bothered going there for a round. It was the opposite of what we usually enjoy
AL: You played in California in June 2005. Then you came back for one more
show at the end of the year. Did you plan a bigger tour?
Ryan: Yeah. The second time around we just did New York and Los Angeles. We
were supposed to do a larger tour. But for financial reasons we wanted to share
a bus with another band. Nobody was happy with sharing a bus with another
band and a crew. It just turned out that we couldn’t do the whole tour and it was
canceled. I would like to do a proper tour of America, and not just a few
dates. We played CMJ and SXSW. WE have played east coast and west coast with
Kaiser Chiefs. And we would play some extra shows on our own when we could. It was
a long tour but not long by American standards. It was only like three weeks.
AL: What do you think about some of those articles in the NME about The Cribs
being part of “the new grunge?”
Ryan: It is just one of those things. It is just a label. We don’t get
involved in it too much because “grunge” was a stupid word anyway. Every band that
was called grunge was probably embarrassed by the name. I am not sure what the
fuck it means. It was just some fashion term. People used to wear ripped
clothes. There was also a focus on being a band from Leeds. We were the first band
signed. Then there was the Kaiser Chiefs. Then there was this New York-shire
term. That was Leeds and Sheffield and everything in Yorkshire. Whenever there
is this new tagline, you have a bunch of shitty bands that get signed. I
never really liked Leeds. In Leeds at the time there were all these bands dreaming
about getting a deal. They are really bitchy. They were going “Who are these
guys from Wakefield, and how did they get a deal?” We paved the way for all
these bands in that area to get signed. We got them exposure. It’s sort of
irritating. We were known way before we had a deal because we had played so many
AL: You had a website back then?
Ryan: No. I didn’t know anything about computers back then. We just did it by
pressing a lot of vinyl. We played a lot of live shows and handed out
records. Didn’t know that the Internet would make such a big difference.
AL: I know you are all brothers. But does the one brother feel left out
because he is not a twin?
Ryan: Probably not because Ross has a girlfriend. He doesn’t need us. I have
been hanging out with Gary all the time. The funny thing is I don’t think that
he likes hanging out with me anymore. I don’t know how the whole twin thing
works anymore. We all get on really well. But when we go to hotels Gary and me
get put together as one entity. We never intended it.
AL: We all this song “Hey Scenesters!” over here. How do you choose the
subject matter for the lyrics?
Ryan: Either my twin brother or I write the lyrics. We don’t sit down and
think about these things. The main hook line was written when we were practicing.
We are from a small town. Last year we started to go to other places like
London. A lot of these shows were like being in the playground. There were all
these fashionable people. They would look down their noses at people and they
thought they were cool. We were just shouting at people like that for a laugh.
It’s all about having a main idea and a hook for the song.
AL: You sing all the songs you write the lyrics for?
Ryan: Yeah. Whoever gets to the microphone first. Much of the time we sing
AL: What do you think of the shows in America this year?
Ryan: I really liked it. I was really excited about the Kaiser Chiefs shows
because it was like a party in the crowd. Our own shows went pretty well too.
We were told that American crowds are quieter but we had fun. It’s fun to go to
different places. It’s great to go to New York to California. In New York it
is fucking freezing and in California right nice weather. It’s cool.
Unfortunately we have to leave tomorrow. We have to fuck off. We have played like 300
shows in the past year. I usually have one day off a month.
AL: Do you ever get to see other bands?
Ryan: It’s rare. You only get to see bands that you are on tour with. There
is nothing going on in Wakefield. There is nothing going on in Wakefield. You
have to go to Leeds if you want to see bands. We play Leeds all the time. I see
bands there quite often. But we started putting on gigs in Wakefield. They
started out just like rehearsal. But every time we put on shows the cops come
because people are drinking. We stopped doing it. It is a lost cause.
AL: Do you have any other hobbies?
Ryan: I do a lot of writing. I write lyrics but I am always writing. I like
to read books too.
AL: Are there any writers you like?
Ryan: It’s all clichéd but I read the Beat Generation writers, like Kerouac.
I like this guy named Italo Calvino who is this surrealist type of writer. I
really like If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler. That is my favorite.
AL: How do you record the albums?
Ryan: We do it all live. You can’t think about it too long. You have to enjoy
it. It’s like if you think of a word too long it loses its meaning. Producers
have to be open to our ideas. You always have to have control of your record.
We trust Edwyn Collins who did the New Fellas record. Bernard Butler did the
latest single. It was a brand new song. I like both those people. It’s hard to
let anyone mess around.
AL: I heard Bernard Butler was really into production and Pro Tools.
Ryan: That is what I heard too. He lots to do a lot of layers. He likes to
have loads of guitar tracks. It’s cool. It’s the first record that was played
on daytime radio, which is proper mainstream shit. I just heard that today.
It’s a song called “Your Gonna Lose Us.” It’s not on the album. The radio played
the wrong version. They played the one with all the swearing. They got us in
AL: Are you going to take some time off and do an album?
Ryan: We are going to England and play a few shows before Christmas. We were
going to take off loads of time. But it turns out that we are going to Japan
in January 2006. Then we are going to Australia and Germany for a little while.
After that there will be another tour of England. I don’t know when the fuck
we are going to have some time off.
AL: When did The New Fellas come out in England?
Ryan: It was around June 2005. We want to get on with the new album. Before
we basically did two albums in a year. We don’t want to take too long doing the
new album. We have loads of ideas at the minute. I want to get on with it.
AL: What are your shows going to be like in Early 2006? Are you going to play
Ryan: It will mostly from the second album. When we released the first two
albums we played 200-300 shows a year for two years. We have played some of
those early songs so many times. Maybe now it will be cool to play an old one
because we haven’t play them in such a long time.
AL: What bands that you have played with have you liked?
Ryan: There is this guy from New York called Jeffrey Lewis. He used to be in
The Moldy Peaches. We took him on tour in England. It was just him and his
brother playing acoustic. We played some big halls. He was doing some songs
without a microphone. He would just stand onstage and shout. He is a genius
songwriter. He is one of those guys who don’t give a shit. His songs are really good.
He played with us at Mercury Lounge. We saw him play the other night.
AL: What is the best part of being in a band?
Ryan: I like it all. It’s all a good laugh. I don’t see it as being a job.
Especially in England right now, many people see it as being a job. With Indie
Music being so big in England at the minute it can be seen as a career move.
You can sign an Indie band for a million pounds. I can’t understand how that
can be done. I think that a lot of the bands are losing the attitude. We get to
go out to a different city every night and meet people and get pissed for
nothing. I am not worried about TV appearances. People have lost the plot.
AL: You were always doing music?
Ryan: Yeah. In Wakefield there is naught to do. I was maybe into video games.
When I was ten years old, some guy burgled our house. He took all our
computer games and all we had left were guitars. We had nothing to do.
AL: What does your parents think of the band?
Ryan: They come to shows when we are close to home. They are really into it.
Before that it was either go to college or work in a factory. They are
pleased. My mum plays piano and guitar. She could play songs by the Beatles. She
played them like they were nursery rhymes. I didn’t realized that these were songs
by the Beatles. I think she was in a band in the 1960s.
AL: Are you into collecting guitars and gear?
Ryan: I love my guitar. It has been broke so many times. It was nice when I
got it. It’s like a diseased guitar. People say that I should get some
expensive guitar. I have been offered some ghastly things. It makes me want to keep
my guitar because it is so disgusting.