Those amongst you who are UK based fans of indie and not currently residing under a rock, will no doubt already be aware of the recent music video featuring the tabloid’s favourite erstwhile politician, and sometime reality TV contestant, Lembit Opik. What may have escaped your attention though, given the media focus on the star of the video above all else, was the fact that there was a band behind the music as well. An unsigned band in fact. London based indie-rock foursome, The Good Suns, whose track, “Pop Wound” was the backdrop for Lembit’s lip-synching and hip-shaking.
The band has been around the London scene for a little while in various guises but it is the current line-up, Bobby McBrierty, Adam Smith, Stew Capper and Greg Sullivan, that looks the most likely to kick on and succeed. “Pop Wound” is only the band’s second single, recorded a year or so ago, and they are now heading back to the studio to record some more tracks, hoping to strike while the Lembit inspired iron is still hot, even if the attention did catch them somewhat by surprise, Singer Bobby McBrierty told NME that they had never really considered the consequences of having such a well known figure star in their video.
We caught up with McBrierty at the end of what had been an incredibly hectic week to find out more about the band itself, the reaction to the video and what they plan to do next. He sounds exhausted when we speak, no doubt recovering from the media scrum as well as a hastily arranged gig the previous night.
We talk about the band’s sound, with only two tracks out, there’s not a lot for new listeners to go on. According to McBrierty, it’s not indicative of where the band is going either. The band has grown and matured over the last year, since “Pop Wound” and “Before I Sleep” were written and the new songs, soon to be recorded, reflect that, as well, he says, as an upswing in quality. “Pop Wound” may be their best known track now, but he says it is not their best, that is yet to come.
”We’re going in with like, the strongest song we’ve ever had by miles”, he explains. ”So we’re all incredibly excited about it. I think it’s a big chance for us to show what we’re all about.”
That must be important right now, given the level of interest in the band and the relatively little amount of music they have recorded, right now that broader spectrum will only come from a live show. So how has that been going?
“You can always get a gig like everywhere in London, put shows on all the time, like every night of the week. You’re never short of opportunities to play live which is brilliant, but at the same time there’s, like, crazy amount of competition and it’s very difficult to stand out because of that. Every time you play you have to be absolutely giving it everything you’ve got in order to make a statement or whatever.”
It’s encouraging to hear that the live scene is still full of up and coming young guitar bands, given the apparent dearth of them in the mainstream right now. McBrierty isn’t worried by that though, he’s certain that indie will rise again.
”These kinds of fashions of what’s mainstream at the moment might come and go, but inevitably it always resurfaces after like a break. I think in the 90s and the noughties there was a few years where indie rock music was number 1 in the charts and mainstream, and it just goes away for a bit and then it’ll all come back again so yeah, we might be in a bit of a one of those times when its gone away but I think that’s absolutely fine for the bands I think it just means you have to make something really good in order to you know capture people’s imagination again.”
Given the viral success of the video for “Pop Wound”, social media must be a way he feels bands such as The Good Suns can do just that, capture the imagination. Ironically, it’s something he says they need to get better at, in the past they have been too focused on letting the music do the talking.
“It never really occurred to me to do anything apart from trying to write good songs and have good music. I just assumed once you had like great songs, someone would just do that for you, but I think we kind of realise that might not happen and maybe if we did it for ourselves then we’d have a better chance of getting to the point where people would start to do stuff for us because if you can’t do it on your own then you can’t really expect it to just happen I guess. You have to work quite hard.”
Hard work doesn’t always pay off though; you need an edge, a hook to draw people in, something different, like say, a well known politician singing and dancing in your music video. Try as we might, to talk about something else, it would seem that all roads lead back to Lembit for the band right now. Brought about by a connection between the video’s director, Christopher Poole, and the former Lib Dem MP, as well as Lembit’s love of sending himself, and everyone around him, up; the video was shot on a rooftop in Greenwich and quickly went viral. Views for “Pop Wound” were up 7000% on their previous video, for “Before I Sleep” and interest came from all angles. The mainstream news (BBC) and music outlets (NME) as well as the political side (The New Statesman), amongst about a thousand others, all wanted to know about the video, and about Lembit. Some even thought he was launching his own music career; such was the focus on the man rather than the band. Did this bother McBrierty at all?
”Well, I just find it funny. I wouldn’t want to, like, look a gift horse in the mouth. If someone had told us what the views had been like this week, I think we would have been mortified. Cause like, it is a bit crazy and obviously the reason people are watching it is because of the visuals rather than the music; but the amount of positives we heard about the music has been pretty flattering and yeah, most people aren’t interested in that when they’re watching it but if some people are then that’s what’s really important to us and that’s great so yeah, can’t complain really.”
You hear stories of bands and artists being picked up by a label after a success like this, and we wondered if there has there been any interest of that kind amongst the hundreds of phone calls he has taken in the past week.
”We heard like little things here and there but nothing very concrete, but erm, I think maybe like. I dunno…maybe we were caught a bit unaware like. We weren’t really prepared for the situation so like, it wasn’t like we had like some game plan where we were like ‘we’re gonna suddenly strike while the iron is hot’ and have some sort of scheme in place where we were gonna like try and like utilise this moment or anything.”
Although McBrierty does appear to be instigating some sort of iron-striking scheme, possibly subconsciously, as he adds, We sort of started to get worried that our next gig was in March and we probably like missed the boat by then maybe or something. I mean, how long do people care about this type of stuff for? Probably like a few days and then you know, people forget so we had to book in some like emergency gigs. Yeah, we’ll see! I’m not sure how much you ever know until someone like approaches you properly so we’ll see about that one I guess.”
Are they planning a quick turnaround on the new tracks then? Build on this new found fame before people do forget.
”It’s really hard to say. I think it’s pretty important like, if we can release these next songs through somebody, whether that be just like a small Indie label or just something so that we don’t have to do everything off our own back again, cause we’re not experts at like, doing it ourselves and we’d kind of benefit a lot from having some help in that department I think.”
We are encouraged that the band are making plans and are keen to keep their name out there in order to build on the recognition that they are getting at the moment. Live performances are key to securing a loyal fan base while they are in the process of recording their new material. ”Well we’ve just done a winter tour where we’ve gone a bit around some places in the Country, and we’re like really keen to go straight back out and do that again. We’ve played a lot of gigs in London because it’s very convenient but we’ve loved going up to, like, Manchester, we went to Blackpool the other day and we’ve had some great gigs outside London and like invaluable experiences as well.”
Given the band’s enthusiasm for live performing, and given the title of their recent song, we were keen to hear more details about any hideous pop wounds of their own ”I played a gig at the Wheelbarrow last week and erm, that’s in Camden, and I pulled a muscle in my leg during the first song because I was like, jumping around a bit too much, well not like jumping up and down but like being quite energetic and I never, it never occurred to me to like stretch or anything before a gig but you get erm, you get a little older and you suddenly like pull a muscle and you’re like ‘shit, I’ve got the play like seven more songs and my leg’s like completely dead!’ So that was pretty embarrassing, I had to tell the audience that I’d pulled a muscle and that they’d have to forgive me for like standing a bit like rooted into the spot for the rest of the set.”
We’re mindful of the week that McBrierty has had, and that he still sounds like he could do with about 36 hours of sleep to help recover; but, before we let him rest up, we want to know more about the new songs, what can we expect and what are his influences?
”My favourite band is Girls from San Francisco and their latest album Father, Son, Holy Ghost is incredible. I just think, like, that they just span so many different styles and ideas through their songs. They’re never pigeon holed to one sound or sort of style that you can really pin down because, I dunno, I think that they’ve just got too much imagination for that to happen. All the stuff that I’ve been doing for like the last sort of few years has been an attempt to, like, vary as much as possible between like style and songs, to have like quite a well rounded like group of songs where you can kind of like show off quite a lot of different things amongst them.
“I try to aim quite extreme with the sound, and then, if you kind of get half way there, hopefully you’ll sound like yourself and not like anyone else, like, if you’ve done your job well. So yeah, we’re definitely going in the studio to like do something quite dramatic and not really, well hopefully not really, sound like very many or any other bands as possible, I think that will make me proud if we can achieve that, but I dunno if we can, but that’s my kind of, we just have to like do our best with that as long as our intention is that in mind then I think I’ll be pretty pleased with what comes out.”
It’s quite a lofty ambition but one thing is for sure, if they hit it, they won’t need any more politicians in their videos to get people’s attention.
Stalk The Good Suns.