In the busy world of the Leeds Music Scene, there’s always a few bands who slip quietly into the main arena. iLiKETRAiNS are one of these bands, playing their sometimes gentle, sometimes fierce, but always beautiful take on post rock theatrics.
With a new CD of songs on the way, I shared some e-mails with Simon and Dave from the band to ask them about music, hecklers, cine cameras and playing live amongst other things...
So the first question is the obvious one...
Where did you guys first meet and what made you decide to be a band?
Dave and Guy go way back to school days. The rest of us have joined one by one over the months and years through university and friends of friends. We thought forming a band would be a good alternative to living in the real world. Then tracked down Ashley, who we heard was into the visual arts and forced him to join. We learnt that he used to play cornet, and forced him to play that too. Ash's claim to fame is that he once played the cornet solo from Kevin Carter by the Manic Street Preachers live on Radio One. (Loser).
I notice a lot of different elements in your music, especially from the three songs available to download from your website. There's bits of Hood, Radiohead, Hope of the States, and maybe even people like Leonard Cohen. Who would you say most influence you as a band?
Musically, bands such as Sigur Rós, Múm and the Velvet Underground provide a lot of inspiration. Lyrically our influences include Nick Cave, Morrissey and Pulp. Ashley is mostly influenced in his cornet playing by Roy Castle. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg...
You guys are a very multimedia outfit, how did the projection stuff come about?
After we had decided to go ahead with live visuals we realised that run of the mill laptop style stuff just wouldn't sit well with our music. We decided to go back to the way it used to be with film and slides. If you look closely at our live shows you'll see Ash frantically rewinding, cutting and splicing films armed with a set of trusty scissors and roll of sellotape, and he also plays cornet at the same time.
With there being a lot of hype and press about music in Leeds and the whole Leeds scene at the moment, what do you guys think about it?
Leeds is pretty exciting at the moment. I think we are very lucky to be in this place at this time with so many good bands about. Ashley is from Rotherham, home of the Chuckle Brothers and Jive Bunny. If we're honest, Rotherham is the place to be.
Seeing as how we're in January, how do you see the rest of 2005 for iLiKETRAiNS?
Things are looking pretty good at the moment in the iLiKETRAiNS camp. People are starting to take notice of us and we have high hopes this year. We will see...
I see you were in Sandman Magazine for this month, how do you deal with the press and exposure aspect of being in a band? Is it something you particularly enjoy?
Well, it hasn't really been an issue quite yet. No paparazzi camping out on our lawns, although Dave and Guy got recognised in the street for the first time recently. Dave is often exposing himself anyway, so it won't be a problem for him. Simon was in an advert for Manning Stainton estate agents.
Can we expect any new recorded material soon? How do you record your music, do you produce it all as a band, or does someone take more control than others?
We have been busy recording our new demo, Stainless Steel, in a church and the iLiKETRAiNS cellar. The finishing touches should be completed within the next couple of days, and we are pretty pleased with how it is sounding. You can check out the website shortly for availability.
All the music is home-produced, with help from friends when needed, and we like to think of it as a band effort. But in reality it isn't. Guy likes to dominate the recording process.
Do you ever find it difficult to translate your very intimate, fragile even, sounding songs to a live setting?
Before we started performing live, it was certainly a challenge. We used to write and record material simultaneously. We recorded songs with a million different parts that would have required most of Leeds music scene to perform. Since then we have written songs predominantly with live performance in mind. When we come to record them they seem to come together more easily. Less is more as it were.
The question really is how do people react to the more fragile sounding songs in our set. Well, they talk loudly. People need to learn to moderate their voices with dynamic changes in a set.
Are you looking forward to the Drowned in Sound showcase gig thing down in London next week?
Yes. It's always good to get out and about, and this gig in particular, as our first proper trip to London, promises to be very exciting for us. We have had some good press from the Drowned in Sound article and someone had the big idea to put us on as headline act. We've only headlined in Leeds once! Whenever we go to Oxford or somewhere like that we're top of the bill and attract a good crowd. This is one of the advantages of being a Leeds band with the cities current musical renaissance I guess.
I have to admit that it was my mate who kept shouting random stuff at you whilst you were playing at the Tea Time Shuffle the other day - how do you usually deal with hecklers? He wasn't being nasty or anything, but he's very animated when he's had a few...!
We haven't had to deal with any bad hecklers yet. (Touch wood). All the audience 'participation' has been pretty amusing so far. There was an interesting debate about Rachel Stevens at one of our shows.
Do you have any favourite bands in Leeds, or anyone you particularly enjoy playing with?
There are lots of fantastic people out there. ¡Forward Russia! and This Et Al, Duels, ThreeKSeven, Drat and Napoleon III are the first to receive the coveted iLiKETRAiNS two thumbs up award. But there are so many bands out there at the moment it is hard to keep up.
We're a bit slow, and still need to check out I Love Poland (good name!), The Research and many many many many more.
To hear some of the bands music, visit www.iliketrains.co.uk and check it out. Thanks to Simon and David for the interview..