Ahead of the Southampton date of their UK tour in support of Franz Ferdinand, I caught up with Eagulls. I met Liam [Matthews, guitar] outside the venue, and on our way inside he greeted me with small talk about the Guildhall’s carpeted floor (‘bit weird for an O2 Academy’). Contrastingly with the racket they produce on record, the band are quiet and reserved, but good-humoured and friendly.
Tom Kelly [bass]: [Seeing my headphones around my neck]. I used to have them headphones.
They’re decent aren’t they?
Tom: Yeah, they’re good. A rabbit chewed through mine though. It chews through everything, won’t die though. It’s been around for ages.
Haha, I know. My rabbit chewed through my laptop wire. He also bit through a patch of our wallpaper, then when my mum painted over it he licked all the paint off. Nothing can kill him.
[Tom and Mark (Goldsworthy, guitar) laugh]
So, how’s it going?
Liam: Having quite a chilled day today, really.
Mark: Other than the first day, when we got off the plane and came straight here. The Monday night show was mega hectic. The rest of it’s been pretty chilled out and straightforward.
You’ve just returned from SXSW. That was a busy festival, wasn’t it?
Mark: Yeah, ten shows over like four days, so it was pretty intense. Three gigs a day on some of them. So, by the end of the day, we were all ready for bed. We were having a drink and that while we were playing, but there weren’t much partying going on.
Liam: We had some good gigs there, some good opportunities.
Is this tour with Franz Ferdinand the biggest you’ve done?
Mark: It is in terms of the amount of people, yeah definitely. It’s well over what we’re used to playing at. It’s all very regimented when you do a big venue like this, you get into a routine. Usually when we’re on tour, each venue it’s like you go onstage at a different time, you get there at a different time each day.
Liam: It’s different from what we’re used to. Apart from this one, the venues are quite similar, the academies and things.
What are the ‘Franz Ferdinand’ crowds like?
Mark: It’s hard to tell when you’re playing on these big stages. You can’t really see past the first few people in the audience. It’s hard to judge the reaction when there’s like a barrier in between you.
Liam: I think you can see a few people who are there to stake the claim at the barrier as well, it’s quite funny to watch, but you just try to play and win them over I guess. It’s good as well, because we’ve got Franz Ferdinand who are supporting us, telling people to come early and watch us, and giving us shout outs.
What size venues do you prefer, the bigger stages or smaller shows?
Mark: There’s a happy medium. Sometimes it’s a bit too close for comfort; a few gigs on the last tour we did mine and Liam’s pedals and gear was getting kicked all over. As much as it’s fun, the next morning when you get your stuff out and it’s all covered in beer you’re thinking ‘which one of these is ruined?’ We had to go out and buy new pedals last week when we were touring…
Liam: Sometimes you walk away from those and they’re still you’re favourite gig.
Mark: Yeah, definitely. I don’t really like barriers, but bands like Franz Ferdinand have got to have the barriers.
Tom: It’s for insurance and shit as well.
It’s a busy few months now, with the recent release of the album and now the tour.
Mark: Yeah, we’re with Franz Ferdinand until next Thursday, and then Friday it’s Manic Street Preachers, and a charity gig down our old practice room straight after. We’ll have Saturday off to nurse our hangovers and do our washing, then Sunday off down to London to play with Suede at Royal Albert Hall. After that, we’re setting up to tour round Europe for twenty eight days. A couple of weeks after it’s straight out to America for six weeks. Proper busy. You’ve got to be more professional about it, got to look after yourself…
Liam: Yeah, we’ve learnt that pretty quickly in the last two weeks; fruit is key.
Mark: Yeah, fruit and vegetables.
You used to work day jobs along with the band, are you still doing that?
Mark: We’ve all had to leave, it’s become a full time occupation. There’s a lot of touring; there’s not many jobs that would give us that many holidays.
Liam: It’s nice to not have to worry about that nowadays; it’s nice to know that you’re not off to work on Monday.
Mark: It’s still full time though. Through the day we haven’t stopped on our emails, and we’ve got interviews and by the time this is done we’ve got live checks. It doesn’t seem like it sometimes because you’re with your mates and you can talk!
Are you busy over summer for festival season?
Mark: It’s starting to build up.
Liam: We’re doing Leeds and Reading, Latitude, Beacons, Longitude, Visions…
Tom: We’re doing one in Australia!
Liam: Yeah, then one in Cornwall.
Mark: Then in September it’s American festivals. It’s hard to keep up, trying to take each week as it comes,;it’s hard to plan ahead.
I’ll be seeing you guys at Latitude.
Liam: What’s it like?
It’s quite a middle-class, family-based festival.
Tom: We’ll go down well there then [laughs]. It sometimes makes it a funnier situation when you’ve got people in your crowd like that. We’re on the family stage I think.
Liam: The play area. Tom’s doing face painting afterwards, balloon animals and stuff.
Mark: Tom’s actually doing a stand-up set on the comedy stage.
Mark: He should be, probably funnier than any of the comedians there.
Tom: [mock arrogance]Yeah, probs.
You won an NME award for the video of ‘Nerve Endings’. How does that feel?
Mark: Strange. Obviously it’s benefited us in a way because of the press you get from it.
Liam: It’s more an achievement in that we just made that video ourselves and it won against videos that probably cost like a million pounds.
Mark: You don’t know how sound the judgement process is.
Tom: It’s something good to tell your mum.
Henry [Ruddel, drums]: It’s still nice to be recognised, like, that’s the whole point of it. That’s always good.
Tom: I dunno where the award is now, I think it’s lost innit?
Henry: I think it might be in my bedroom. I found a finger.
Mark: Yeah, we had it in our hands less than five minutes and then the bracelet came off.
Tom: We wanted to see how it attached to the base, and just twisted it off.
Mark: We can all have a bit each now!
What hobbies do you have outside of music?
Mark: [gestures to Liam, Tom, Henry] These read, George [Mitchell, vocals] draws.
Liam: I organise.
Mark: The past few weeks have dragged us right into it, we haven’t had much time. I suppose music was our hobby anyway; we’re more full time now! Back in Leeds, it’s nice to go and see other bands, when you aren’t touring and stuff. It sometimes gets a bit much when you’re on tour, playing every night, you like having a bit of peace and quiet. Tom likes doing bar work when he can.
Tom: Yeah, I don’t like the money, it’s all about the passion.
Henry: He’s not even lying though.
Mark: He didn’t always get paid, used to have to fight for his wages.
Tom: Arseholes…don’t put that in.
Mark: [laughs] Put that in.
Eagulls released their debut album, Eagulls, on March 3rd and are currently on a UK tour with Franz Ferdinand.