In the lead up to StrangeForms Festival we had a chat with John & Dan from self-styled 'turbo-prog' band, Cleft.
*StrangeForms Festival takes place over the Easter Bank Holiday (19th & 20th April) at Wharf Chambers and features sixteen post-rock, post-metal and math rock acts.*
Bad Owl Presents: You guys have just released your debut album 'Bosh' which has been fantastically, and deservedly, well received. It's obvious from social media, blogs and music sites how well regarded Cleft are - has it's success still been surprising?
John: Definitely, we have fun making music we like and it's always really nice when people like the stuff we do. There's a state when you've written and recorded an album where only you have heard it that you're completely unsure whether anyone will like it, and you listen to it so many times when mixing & mastering it's hard to work out if it's actually any good.
BOP: It always looks like a lot of fun being in Cleft and that you never take yourselves too seriously but we know that you guys also work really hard - do you find it hard balancing the fun side of being in a band with having to put on your 'serious faces' when it comes to organising gigs and putting out records?
John: After we spent about 3 months on mixing, mastering, vinyl production, album launch booking and all that jazz, we got back in the rehearsal room and realised that we were actually a band. We do manage pretty well with the balance thing though, and you get through all the desk-job stuff knowing you'll get to riff the hell out and have a big fun as the result of it.
Dan: I think we do a fairly good job of balancing the fun with the serious organizational bit - but that's easy for me to say as John does LOADS more of that side of things, I generally get pissed, dance about, play some riffs and put up pictures of cats on facebook.
BOP: Your set was one of our highlights at ArcTanGent last year - how much did you enjoy yourselves playing in front of that many people and how much do you think it helped in exposing yourselves to a wider audience?
Dan: Arctangent was by far my best festival experience, both as a performer and a punter - such an incredible line up. It's done us a lot of favours in terms of exposure and it was HEAPS of fun playing on that big stage in front of so many people. We will most certainly be going back this year!
John: I second that man above. It were brilliant.
BOP: Cleft will be playing on the Sunday at StrangeForms - are you planning on sticking around for the day or weekend and, if so, who are you looking forward to seeing?
John: Yep, we will be around for the whole weekend - there's so much good stuff we'd be meat-based fools to miss it all. Our buddies and eternal faves Polymath, Alpha Male Tea Party and Lost In The Riots are always a good recommendation, but I'm also looking forward to seeing Monsters Build Mean Robots, The Fierce & The Dead and being pleasantly surprised by any of the bands I've not seen before...you never know what awesomeness you might discover on these kind of line-ups!
BOP: Cleft are asked to curate their own gig - what four bands, past or present, would you have on the bill?
Dan: My two would be Faraquet and Vasquez off the top of my head. I'm utterly obsessed with Devin Ocampo's playing, both in Faraquet and Medications. And Vasquez (vasquez.bandcamp.com) are sodding brilliant, we toured with them and Alpha Male Tea Party in Scotland last year and had the best time. They have some of the grooviest catchiest riffs of all time.
John: For my two I'd probably put Strawberry Girls on, because I'd really like to see them live and they live in the USA, and then Tune-Yards because they're fascinating. To be honest, I edited my answer about 5 times so I need to stop writing before I change it again.
BOP: And finally, other than StrangeForms, what are Cleft's plans for the rest of 2014?
John: Lots of gigs this year, then we're going to make some stupid videos, have a sausage, and then go and record some more stuff. We've got plans to do an entirely live EP or album using the least amount of microphones possible, in a cool space somewhere. This is of course if we can stop eating sausages for a few minutes.
Cleft are due to play StrangeForms at 8pm on Sunday 20th April.
Weekend tickets cost £15 from Jumbo, Crash, Wharf Chambers & BadOwl.BigCartel.com
Day tickets cost £9 from WeGotTickets.com