“The band wanted to be this band that we are now”: An interview with The Computers (14/09/13)

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Myself and Connor Butler caught up with Alex and Aidan from The Computers after their packed out set at Southsea Fest! To give you an idea of the band, the motto on their website describes them as being “the saviours of soul, the heavy weight champions of rock ‘n’ roll”. They’re definitely living up to that!

Phoebe: I’ve never seen you live before and I thought your set was incredible!

Alex: Thanks! That was a weird time to see us – it wasn’t stereotypical. It was stereotypical of like a sweatbox show, but if you see us on a bigger stage it’s somewhat of a different experience.

Phoebe: Have you been to Southsea before?

Alex: No, not the festival. We’ve played the Wedgewood Rooms though.

Phoebe: So you’ve got quite a few tours coming up!

Alex: We’ve got a couple, yeah.  The main tour in the UK is with a band called ‘The Heavy’, and we’re playing the Wedgewood Rooms in fact. 

Connor: You’re going to Europe before that. How do you find touring Europe and the UK? What’s the difference?

Alex: There is quite a difference isn’t there?

Aidan: In some ways they’re completely different, and in some ways they’re exactly the same. A lot of the places we played, say we’ve been playing shows with Die Toten Hosen is where the smallest has been 40,000! So that’s quite a different experience! Our next show with them is at Dusseldorf Stadium, which is basically like playing a Wembley Stadium, not even the Arena! So that’s obviously completely different. A place like here (Edge of the Wedge), is quite a common place to play at, say, the Czech Republic, we’ll play a place like that. 

Alex: Yeah, but everyone will be smoking loads, it’s absolutely fucking horrendous. Like, people chain smoking straights.

Phoebe: Have you got any particular favourite venues to play in the UK?

Alex: Oh Yeah loads. KOKO is a great place to play which we are doing next for CLUB NME and then Shepherd’s Bush Empire which we will be at for our last show with The Heavy are two of my favourite venues.

Aidan: They’re classically built for acoustics and sound and look beautiful as well! Turn the PA off and it still sounds great.

Phoebe: It’s nice when venues aren’t just black and sticky and they’ve got a bit of character as well.

Alex: It’s the way you’d build a venue if you just had endless amounts of money. No-one would ever build a venue like that nowadays, because they’d just go “you know what, let’s not have all these ornate sculptures and shit, cos it’s a massive cost”. But back then they were built for free electric, they were built for theatre stuff.”

Aidan: We have a nice time at other places, not just London obviously. Newcastle, there’s a place called The Cluny.

Alex: I really wanna play Sunderland. We’re hopefully gonna do some shows with Frankie and the Heartstrings soon, and they’re from Sunderland.

Aidan: Birmingham’s always good!

Phoebe: They’ve got quite a vibrant music scene there at the moment!

Aidan: Big catchment area as well, being in the Midlands you can pick up a lot of people from all over.

Alex: We’ve played loads of really good shows recently! We’ve been spoilt for good shows!

Phoebe: I want to hear about your Weymouth cabaret!

Alex: That was great as well! That has to be one of the best places to play because that happened!

Connor: Were people stood or seated?

Alex: 90% of people stood up, and 10% were sat down, which is fine! I pulled a table out into the middle of the dance floor area and stood on that, so it was like a weird middle like Take That have when they walk out on the big stage!

Phoebe: Is it ever planned on what you’re going to stand on or is it spontaneous?

Alex: No, I hadn’t even seen the stage today cos I didn’t sound check. Also it was tiny! There was no room, that was out of necessity. We could only just fit on that. Also, I’m so short and no one could see me. I was really aware of that – it wasn’t out of the need for people to look at me, it was more because they wanted it. I knew they wanted it. The people wanted to see me.

Phoebe: Have you had a good festival summer?

Alex: Yeah absolutely, but I’m glad for it to be over!

Aidan: It’ll be nice to get into the routine of tour. A few days in you’re just really fucking sharp. Having all these weekenders is really different. Ain’t got a fucking clue what it’s like to go out on a Saturday night.

Alex: We had out first one in May, really early on. It was early enough on that it was freezing. So we’ve been playing between one and three festivals every weekend since then, including just random shows as well.

Phoebe: How do you reckon your sound has progressed over the years?

Alex: Ah it’s got wicked, hasn’t it! It was crap, so if you like our first album, you’re wrong! Nah, I appreciate that people like that record, they can still listen to it you know, now we’re an R&B band!

Connor: Was there a conscious decision that you wanted to go that way, or did it sort of drift and happen?

Alex: It was an absolute conscious decision.

Aidan: But I always see it like this – it just always happened in reverse. The band wanted to be this band that we are now.

Alex: We’re late by being ‘punk kids’. By growing up as being punk you’re gonna just go “ahhhhhhhh”, but in the original notes when we started the band, with what we wanted to sound like, there was a couple of hardcore bands in there. We played our first show with just three songs and just basically went on tour about two weeks after that. In that list of bands that we wanted to sound like, as well as a couple of hardcore bands, there was like The 101ers and The Hives, ya know what I mean?

Aidan: Elvis Costello.

Alex: So now yeah, we sound like The 101ers and Elvis Costello.

Aidan: We had to make that journey.

Alex: I didn’t quite figure out how to write a song like that until a later date, and that’s fine. You get child prodigies who can write these amazing things, but you don’t really get any life experience. Also the sheer lack of actually giving a fuck, to be able to say that being in love is complicated enough without being apart, that can be harder than tough. When we started the band, if I’d started a song like that, singing it, people would have gone like ‘youuuu dickhead!’ And I probably would have gone like ‘yeah, sorry.’ But now I’m just like ‘what, am I wrong?’ And the general consensus is no, that’s pretty right, I get it! So it’s that as well. That just suddenly clicked in my head. I wrote that line and that song and I just thought that is that then! That’s happening.

Phoebe: Do you mind being compared to The Hives? When I first listened to you, I thought there were aspects of their sound in there.

Alex: The Hives are one of those bands that have taken a lot of influences from a lot of places.

Aidan: We’ve sort of all eaten from the same table.

Alex: So we’re taking influences from those places as well. They’re fucking incredible tight players but I’m a much better singer than Pelle. He just yelps, but he’s a great front man! They know how to write a hook!

Aidan: In the early stages of the band there were elements of The Hives that we were just like blown away by.  Any good band should be. Their militant playing is incredible. That’s something that we would aspire to.

Alex: I think they would have moved on a hell of a lot more in their sound if Pelle had been able to sing pop. They do touch on it, and they’re the tracks that everyone skips on the record.

Aidan: What they do works, and they do that really well.

Phoebe: Can you give us some bands that you think we should be listening to now? Maybe modern bands?

Aidan: Ryan Lewis and Macklemore, he’s good. Maria Carey and that other bloke!

Alex: I like a band who are playing this festival, Drenge. I think they’re cool, they’ve got some cool stuff going on, I like their sparseness.

Aidan: I heard one song and I thought it was alright, which is quite a good compliment because I hate most stuff.

Alex: Frankie and The Heartstrings, The Heavy, we all come from the same sort of place. But to sum up, just listen to The Lemonheads.

Aidan: Have you heard of Justin Timblerlake? Because 20:20 is my album of the year.

Connor: I hear he’s bringing sexy back isn’t he?

Alex: He brought it back years ago. It’s done!

Thanks to The Computers, who’s new album ‘Love Triangles, Hate Squares’ is out now, and who are touring in the UK in November, with a date at Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth on 26th.

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