Monday, March 26, 2012

10 Questions with Great Cynics


Great Cynics is a fantastic power pop, indie/punk rock band from London, England.  Last year the band released their full-length debut album (one of the best of the year IMHO) Don’t Need Much and their latest release is the excellent In the Valley EP (read my reviews here and here).

This interview was conducted with lead singer/guitarist Giles via email March 8-25, 2012.

For more information on Great Cynics check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Last.fm pages. 

Dave:  Great Cynics originally started as a solo project.  Why the change to a full band? 

Giles:  The change to playing as a band happened sort of by itself. I decided the 10 songs I'd written for the album would sound better with drums, so Bob and I started practicing. We started playing shows with Iona on bass only after we’d recorded Don’t Need Much. I feel pretty lucky, it all just sort of fell into place.

Dave:  You just released the In the Valley EP.  What’s the story behind the record? 

Giles:  In The Valley is a 7” EP of three songs I released when I was playing acoustic, this time recorded as a band. We'd started playing some of those old songs live as a band so it felt right to put the new versions out on record. They were some of the first songs I originally wrote as Cynics.

Dave:  Are there any plans for a new full-length album in the near future?    

Giles:  We’re talking about it and writing at the moment. Writing and recording songs is the most important thing about this band. We want to keep on releasing records as much as time lets us. Both times we’ve been in the studio we’ve recorded the backline live, then tracked vocals and extras on top of that. That’s something that works for us, so we’ll be recording the next album the same way. Maybe we’ll put on a few extra instruments this time. My brother rules at playing blues rock on guitar, so we might get him involved at some point.

Dave:  Your music seems to have a strong ‘90s indie/punk rock feel to it.  Were you big fans of a lot of bands from that time/scene? 

Giles:  Quite soon after we started playing as a band we realised that each of us has a strong connection with punk rock/indie records from the 90’s. We dig that hazy, steady melodic sound. Lemonheads are our biggest influence, and Come On Feel is probably our collectively favourite album. There will be a big 90's punk/indie influence on the next album.

Dave:  Where have been your favorite places to tour?  Are there any specific cities or venues that have really stood out (for good or bad reasons)? 

Giles:  I was touring for a few years on my own before we became a band in early 2011. Playing in towns where I’ve previously made friends is always a good time. Particularly, The Windmill in Brixton, The Fighting Cocks in Kingston and The Cavern in Exeter are a few of my favourite UK venues to play. When we toured the East Coast of the US it was all house shows. Walking around Philadelphia, getting a burrito in this one amazing Mexican place near West Chester, PA and playing at The Atlantic in Gainesville were all incredible experiences.

Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?  Has that changed at all since playing with a full band? 

Giles:  I am so stoked I'm in a band with Bob and Iona. We have the same ideas and they both rule at what they do. The songwriting is different for every song. I write all the guitar parts and lyrics, and I'll have ideas for drums and bass. But if the others come up with their own thing that works, then that's cool. We don't over-think that stuff.

Dave:  How is the music scene in London?

Giles:  There are a few different punk rock scenes in London, but we only see one of them just because of friend groups. The small scene that we’re part of is awesome. It’s easy for new bands to start going on tour because everyone will know someone in some town that will help you out and put you up. There’s a lot of positivity in it. I live in a house in South London where we have house shows, so when we see that someone we’ve heard of is coming through town and needs a show we’ll try our best to help them. There's a strong sense of community in our small punk rock scene.

Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question.  What are your top 5 favorite artists/bands, albums, movies, television shows, books/authors? 

Giles:  Top 5 Albums: When Feeling Blue (in no order)
Lemonheads - Come On Feel
Limbeck - HI, Everything's Great
Billy Bragg - Back To Basics
Motion City Soundtrack - Commit This To Memory
Lifetime - Self-titled

Top 5 TV Shows
1. Seinfeld
2. Peep Show
3. Community
4. Louie
5. Arrested Development

Dave:  What’s next for the band?

Giles:  Writing, recording, touring. To the best that we can.

Dave:  Any final thoughts? 

Giles:  Thank you for the support! You were surprisingly right in your review of In The Valley about our influences. No-one usually notices the Sebadoh, Superchunk and The Thermals comparisons.

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