It's a busy month for Leeds quintet Duels. A slot at T In The Park, two singles and the release of the band's eagerly awaited debut album, "The Bright Lights & What I Should Have Learned". Sophie Barnes asks the questions...
The interview begins bizarrely with a long conversation between James the drummer and myself on the plot of Home Alone 2. This all comes about because of my seriously retro eighties Dictaphone which apparently is just like Macauley Culkins'...
How are you feeling about playing Reading/Leeds festival this summer?
Jon: Yeah it'll be great; we're really looking forward to it. Reading was the first festival we went to so we've got good memories.
Do you prefer recording or playing live?
Jon: I think it depends, it's kind of equal really. We love playing live - it's great, you can't really beat it. We've set up our own studio as well so the recordings become even more enjoyable as we're not constrained by other people. We just do what we want to.
What was your motivation when starting out?
Jim: When we started out there was no recording, it was just about messing around onstage, and then we suddenly started to take it seriously. Music's suddenly become a viable career option, which was never the case when we started out four years ago. We thought "let's see what comes out" and actually what came out was rather good.
What's your opinion of the Leeds music scene and the media hype surrounding it?
Jon: I think it's justified. It's normally a big bunch of bands copying each other but Leeds is different to that, there's just loads of great bands all doing very different things. I think there's more of a community because of that; because everyone's doing something different, it's not competitive.
Would you like to be commercially successful or remain on the edge?
Jon: You always like people to like your music. I think you get into dangerous grounds when you start setting goals for yourself as to how popular you want to get. It's worth keeping an eye on what you're doing because you can get a little bit too subjective, ending up in a little room somewhere with an album of ambient music.
Jim: Our influences have always been classic song writing, the White album by The Beatles, classic but reasonably eclectic. I don't think we ever intended to be an underground band, but then we don't see ourselves taking over the world either. When you set out you have that goal and then you focus less on what's outside and what's important in the band.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Jim: I like nasty, noisy guitar music whereas you're more of a singer songwriter type [addressing Jon].
Jon: I'm listening to a lot of Wilco, also Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond; he's got a great voice.
James: I'm listening to Wilco as well, a lot of the live stuff.
Jon: It's probably one of the best live albums, I hate live albums generally.
Do you think you do yourselves more justice live or on recordings?
Jon: We tend to be quite a lot heavier live. We did an acoustic gig at the Faversham, which was quite a wake-up call, we realised that the songs bared down revealed a lot more. I think we're changing a bit, in a state of flux.
James: There's things you can't get across playing live that you think do come across.
Jim: Playing acoustically is an intense experience. You rely quite a lot on giving your music to a person standing on the other side of the room who's going to make it sound in a certain way to a certain amount of people, whereas there's none of that acoustically so it's very raw. To a certain extent it's more real, much more focussed on what you play so you put across what you intend.
Duels' new single, "The Slow Build EP", is out on Monday 24th July, with their debut album following on 31st July.