M caught up with Tim to discuss songwriting, their second album Pollen and what is was like working with Björk producer Lexx.
How did the band get together?
I was at University in Liverpool – James and Carl were born and raised in the city. We all met through the local music scene and worked together on a few different things. We were looking for a drummer for some time and Carl stumbled across Vidar playing in a bar and asked him if he wanted to join the band. He did and some years later, he’s still with us.
Your debut album Wave if You’re Really There was released in 2009 – was it hard work recording and releasing the record?
It certainly wasn’t a smooth ride. We had a deal for a single with Chess Club for a couple of releases but it took us a while to get a longer term deal. We hoped it would happen quicker than it actually did. So we ended up recording the album ourselves.
That can be a good thing. If you’ve got the skills to do it, then it’s very liberating. However, it’s also very involving and means you’re deep into the material. You’re writing, recording and performing it – it can be quite an intense process.
After we made the record, things started to pick up – we were able to mix it properly in a studio with Lexx (producer of Bjork, Arcade Fire and Goldfrapp). Things got a bit easier although there has been a great deal of hard work involved in the process since the beginning. In this job, you’ve got to be prepared to put the hours in – it’s not easy!
Now you’re on the brink of releasing your second album?
Yes we’re releasing a second album in January. We dropped a single earlier in the year called Counting Birds. It was the first thing we’d finished and we were just keen to get something out because we’d been away for a while.
We toured a lot across Europe so as far as the UK was concerned, we’d gone to ground. We only just finished the album at the end of summer. So we decided to put Ill Fit out - it’s been quite well received so far.
Is this new record a progression in terms of songwriting?
I definitely had a lot of the things I wasn’t happy about with the first record in mind when writing this one. I was really keen to make it better and up our game. We really wanted to make something great, which is why it took us so long to finish the album. We were writing things we thought were good but, to be honest, just weren’t good enough. In terms of a progression, it just had to be better - otherwise we didn’t really see the point in making it.
Where did you record the second album?
It was a mixture of places. We went down to a studio in London to track the drums at the start of the process. Then we came back to Liverpool and completely reworked the material.
Did Lexx work on the first record?
He mixed the first record, which is how we met him - he made a few changes while we were mixing that I thought were really musical and boosted the songs. We were really pleased with how the songs worked out and this time wanted him on board earlier. In the end, we ended up working on the material on and off for nine months. It was really useful to have someone outside the band having some input. At times it really worked and occasionally it wouldn’t. But that’s cool – you have some hits and some misses with any kind of collaboration.
I’ve never had that experience before – and before we’ve always used each other as sounding boards. Occasionally you need someone to be more brutal. And we are honest with each other - we’ve been mates with each other for a long time. We don’t massage each others egos. But he did advise us to scrap some music – which was very liberating. It had some wicked results.
I’m really happy with how the new songs sounds – they sound darker with some big moments thrown in. I think people are gonna like it.
Any advice for aspiring songwriters?
One lesson I’ve taken as a lesson worth heeding – sometimes persistence is more important than talent. I’ve seen so many bands who I thought could make it who haven’t been able to hold it together. If you can stick with it, then persistence is the best way to work this songwriter’s muscle. Keep doing it – it’s the best way to get better.