Gestating purveyors of “noisy pop” Crushed Beaks have made rather a habit of being blogged about and mentioned in ‘ones to watch’ lists. Now a double-A side, Close-Ups/Sun Dogs, has popped out through the Too Pure Singles Club and the duo, Alex Morris and Matthew Poile, have been confirmed for the upcoming Brainlove Festival.
We decided to get all stickybeaked about what’s next, and prevailed upon Alex Morris to answer questions about their embryonic career to date. Not only did he field the questions, he lobbed some answers back.
musicOMH: How did you form and start making music together?
Alex Morris: We have known each other for a while. We went to the same secondary school in our home town and we used to talk about music out the back of the school during break times and over cigarettes. Matt was in a band with the guys from Torches and I played drums in an instrumental post-rock band and we used to do gigs together at this local pub. Somehow, we both ended up going to the same university and one night in the pub Matt asked me if I wanted to put some drums to his tracks. We got a gig fairly soon after that and, although it was fucking messy, people seemed to like it. That spurred us on a lot.
OMH: What are your main musical influences both in songwriting and sound?
AM: I think this is perhaps where some of our differences show. With regards to guitar music there is definitely an over lap, we both listen to a lot of shoegaze and black metal. However, I listen to a lot of nasty electronic dance music. This has definitely had an impact on my drumming style, I seem to end up repetitively hitting things very hard a lot.
OMH: How is it working as a duo? Does it make the writing and decision making process easier?
AM: The two-person line up makes it so easy to write, record and just generally organise. We both have experience of playing in bands with extended line-ups and we both felt that with too many people the songs became cluttered and too derived from where they should be: strong, memorable and to the point. The two-person line up also serves another pragmatic purpose: our spatial (shed) limitations.
OMH: Crushed Beaks sound is extremely powerful considering it is just the two of you. Is it a conscious decision to ramp everything up to create that powerful sound in lieu of any extra instruments and members or is it entirely natural?
AM: Of course it is a conscious choice, we wouldn’t realise anything unless we are 100% happy with it and therefore we would make a contrived effort to make it the way we wanted to make it.
OMH: Tell us about your debut single Sun Dog/Close-Ups. Were they among the first songs you wrote and are they indicative of Crushed Beaks’ sound in general?
AM: I think they are indicative yes, especially when listened to together as one. When Sun Dogs came out everyone jumped on the whole ‘they’re a shoegaze band’ thing and drew a lot of comparisons with My Bloody Valentine. I think when everyone heard Close-Ups a few weeks later they understood our sound a bit better. To be honest, I don’t think we are that shoegazey and I think this is something people will come to notice when they hear more of our material soon.
OMH: Sun Dog and Close-Ups are both fairly stripped down and lo-fi. Is that a sound you want to carry on with in the future or will you be exploring more advanced studio techniques?
AM: Definitely the latter, we are already exploring various methods/locations for the next batch of recordings. There will a step up in terms of production quality which is an aesthetic choice that is also aligned with our current song output. You’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
OMH: You have covered VTOO by your fellow London band Torches for a free download split single. Can you tell us more about why you selected that track to cover?
AM: It’s one that everyone knows as it was the song they released at a similar time to ours last year. Likewise, they covered Close-Ups, which was our single. It makes sense to cover something that everyone knows. Also, if we covered one of their unreleased tracks, or vice versa, it would be as if we had written it.
OMH: Do you feel a close affinity with Torches as another up and coming band from the same area?
AM: For sure, yes. I already mentioned earlier that we have a musical history with them. We really like what they are doing and they are a great live band. I think musically we are both very different but when we play shows together it definitely works. Our show the other week at Power Lunches was great and I’m sure there will be something similar coming up in the not too distant future.
OMH: Do you think it is a good time for new bands in the UK?
AM: I think it always is a good time for bands coming up to be honest. Everyone points to piracy as this destructor of the music industry, but the internet and the various means of communication that come with it its of increasing use to new bands I think. When you are small and very few people know who you are, you need to embrace all the publicity you can get. If you look around now in the UK there is a lot of really great (and varied) music being produced and released. The evidence is there.
OMH: Finally, what can we expect from Crushed Beaks in 2012; is an album in the pipeline?
AM: Maybe not an album this year, an EP for sure though. You’ll have to wait and see.
Crushed Beaks’ single Close-Ups/Sun Dogs is out now on Too Pure. The band have just been confirmed to perform at the Brainlove Festival in London on 26th May. Questions were posed by Martyn Young.