The Scaramanga Six - Fengende galskap

Intervju - 16.04.2008 - Skrevet av: Eirik
Håper dere er klare for galskapen som er Scaramanga Six. De står for den mest originale plata jeg har hørt på år og dag, en vill miks av humor, driv og originale ideer. Er det mulig å sette dem i en sjanger? Hvordan er det å drive eget plateselskap? Metal Norge tok seg en prat med det Hovefestivalaktuelle bandet fra Leeds i det som raskt ble årets dypeste intervju. 1.Let’s get the basics out of the way: When and where did The Scaramanga Six form and who plays what in the band?

Steve: Shhh, don’t tell anyone but we’ve actually been together in one shape or form for nearly 13 years now. Well actually you can tell who you like – unlike most of the British music industry, we’re actually proud to have been around a long time. Longevity is a dirty word over here! It all started while we were all living in this total wreck of a house in Huddersfield after all doing really badly at our university degrees. With nothing much else to do, we concentrated on triple-distilling our mundane lives into a heady cocktail of mind-bumming rock. I twat the hell out of a bass and do all the shouting, Paul does the more crooning vocals and plays filthy guitar, Julia does all the girly vocals and plays a very spangly guitar, Gareth beats the crap out of a set of drums and Chris stares the audience out whilst hitting more drums and tickling the organ.

2.What is in a name? If my counting skills don’t fail me you are only five people? How did the name come about?

Steve: We make our own rules – and that includes mathematical rules. There are Six of us – in our minds. The ‘Scaramanga’ part of the name is one of a couple of things – firstly, it’s the character played by Christopher Lee in the James Bond film ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ but I also understand that it is the name of the largest shipping port in Greece. We were originally just ‘Scaramanga’ but a year or two into our activities we changed to ‘The Scaramanga Six’ as there were actually six of us at the time and it sounded well gangster. Since the, we’ve stuck with the name because it rolls off the tongue nicely and we are far too stubborn to change it.

3.What do you guys (and girl) do when you are not playing in the Scaramanga Six? Glamorous day jobs?

Julia: Works with kids and young people – plays stupid games and writes lots of serious and complex reports & designs biscuit people.

Paul: I make TV commercials, corporate videos and pop videos. I also play a lot of online scrabble.

Steve: I work part-time doing some completely indescribable I.T. job for a huge American corporation. The rest of the time, I run the record label, play in about a million other bands and research into the anatomy and behaviour of deep sea cephalopods.

4.For those of us who are not from the UK: Tell us a little about the Huddersfield/Leeds area.

Julia: Two different worlds. Huddersfield is where we live and it’s our retreat – a fairly quiet place with cheap houses, nice countryside and virtually no music scene. Leeds – a big city with a thriving music scene, lots of shops and bars etc. Like London, but much friendlier, less pretentious and a lot less people.

Steve: West Yorkshire in general is a complete juxtaposition of beautiful hills and valleys interspersed with the rotting remnants of the industrial revolution. I love it up here – it’s both grim and lovely at the same time.

5.What is the music scene like where you live? Are people tangled up in predictable styles or is it a nice melting pot of music? Any friendly bands to recommend?

Paul: Leeds is a hive of band activity. There are at least a dozen gigs on every night and you are usually spoilt for choice as to what to go and see. There is no Leeds ‘sound’ as such though. Lots of different bands playing all genres of music – often in the same set. There seems to be a friendly competitiveness between bands in Leeds which means that people are trying to musically outdo each other all the time. This means that the standard of music from the city just gets better and better.

Steve: It’s absolutely crazy here at the moment – and has been for as long as I can remember it. The thing that makes Leeds unique is that it is full of bands that do exactly what they want, as opposed to what is fashionable. Everyone is so co-operative too – must be something in the water. Too many good bands to mention, but some from up here you should definitely check out are International Trust, Eureka Machines, Shatner, Napoleon 111rd, Instant Species, Quack Quack, The Research, iForward Russia!, Red Stars Parade to name but a few.

6.I understand you run your own record label. How easy or hard is it to get your music out there? Do you have many helpful hands in the task?

Steve: I could talk for hours about all this, but I will spare you the lecture. It is incredibly difficult to get your own music out and about and have people take you seriously – certainly in the UK. The label is no bloated corporation – it’s mainly all done from my spare bedroom! We do pretty much everything ourselves, right down to the stuffing things in envelopes, though recently we have enlisted the help of some great people in a few different territories, such as the Nordics where we have a couple of great guys doing the press/radio/bookings for us. We’re certainly finding other countries a lot more open and less jaded when it comes to our music. You have to have utter blind faith in your music to be able to promote yourself – any doubts and people will pick away at them straight away. It’s a great way to learn about how to (or how not to) conduct business.

7.Now “The Dance of Death” as your latest effort is called is quite the advanced album when it comes to instruments and production. Tell us about the recording process. Was it long, expensive and nail-biting or are you so experienced in the studio that you managed to just enjoy yourselves and play music?

Paul: We tend to have been playing half the songs live for a while then work out the other half especially for recording before figuring out how to do them live. We work with Tim Smith (of Cardiacs) as he is a god-like genius and seems to catch us at our best in the studio. We record in short bursts – a couple of days here and there – and get a lot done very quickly. Most stuff is first or second take. We don’t like to pull things apart and over analyse the recordings for bum notes – we keep it in.

Steve: Over the years we’ve become adept at recording everything as quickly as possible – just get in there, get as much done as is humanly possible, then get out. We know exactly what we are doing before we even think about going into a studio. The real fun comes in the latter stages of recordings – once we’ve got all the basic parts down, then we can have a bit of fun adding the ‘relish’ – the extravagant bits and bobs that turn it into a truly preposterous recording – tubular bells, brass sections, barking dogs etc. It has to be fun – there is no point otherwise.

8.Now for the more difficult questions: Is it possible to classify your music? I have listened to your latest record over and over and every time I get a new idea and catch a new possible influence. Would you rather be impossible to pinpoint?

Julia: We don’t try to be impossible to pinpoint – we totally steal other people’s ideas sometimes, and we’re not afraid to admit it. There seems to be an unwritten law in the music industry that you have to fit into a category. Maybe we are a category!

Paul: Well I guess we are a rock band of sorts. We have loud guitars but no curly perms and spandex trousers though.

Steve: We just do what we do. I’d like to think that despite all the stuff we steal and imitate, once we’ve all chewed it up and digested it, it gets washed down with a barrel full of our own personalities and all shitted out as our music. The world can ‘pigeonhole my cock’ as far as I’m concerned.

9.Let’s go deeper into the music: There is a really strange sort of opposition to be heard on your latest album. With strings lifting up certain tracks and horns blasting together with organ sounds it seems kind of epic. On the other hand there are just straight forward rocking tracks, undeniably catchy. Can you really do both?

Julia: I think you’ll find we can, and jolly well have.

Paul: We scale our sound according to the song. It’s good to keep some things simple and good to add whistles and bells on others.

Steve: It’s like cooking – sometimes you want roasted haunch of venison in a rich jus of juniper berries and chocolate served on melee of seasonable vegetables. Sometimes you just want cheese on toast.

10.Tell me about the songwriting process: There are so many details on your latest album. Take for instance the harpsichord sounds, the bells and the piano on “The Towering Inferno”. How do you write a 7 minute long song like that and not run out of details and ideas?

Paul: The songs generally start out as what we can do live as a four or five piece guitar band. Then we augment things where we see fit. The key to this is that if the dynamics don’t work when you are playing as a four piece then no amount of extra stuff will make it any better.

Steve: Our Paul generally writes most of the material, but I chip in with a few usually very muddled and choppy songs. For both of us, the ideas for the arrangement and dynamics are all there before it even gets tried out in the band. Julia is our judge, jury and executioner when it comes to song selection – she never sits on the fence. Play her a new song and it’s either “That the most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard ever” or “I hate it I hate it I hate it and I would rather die than have to play that crap”. The more me & Paul work together on things, the more ridiculous and overblown the arrangements get – it’s like we are constantly engaged in a war to see who can be the most pompous. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of our potential.

11.Okay let’s move over to playing live. Obviously it would be hard to bring the horns and the string arrangements from “The Dance of Death” out on tour. How do you make up for it when you get on stage?

Julia: Pure loud rock action. Oh, and sometimes we play with a brass section, or rope in whoever’s around and fancies chipping in.

Paul: When Chris plays live with us, he tends to be playing a couple of instruments at once. Usually the drums with both hands and a nearby keyboard with his face.

Steve: As well as musical augmentations, we also like to add some theatrical stuff live – makes it more of a spectacle. We’ve got these ‘audience mind-control devices’ that are basically boxes that light up with the words ‘applause’ and ‘Shut It!’ on it. It’s fun to play with their minds!

12.I have found several videos of you guys on Youtube really rocking out live. The songs seem even more intense live. Tell me a little about giving it your all every time.

Julia: We just do what we do. People pay to see a performance, and that’s what they get. It doesn’t occur to us that we’re really intense – it’s just how we are.

Steve: You have to play every gig as if it’s your last – no performance is valid unless there is some kind of injury to your body, brain or voice. But it is the way we’ve always done it. Why go out half-cocked? Any musician who isn’t exhausted after a gig simply isn’t working hard enough.

13.From what I have seen of your on stage banter humour is also important to you as a band. Is the rock scene a little bit too serious? Have some bands forgotten to have fun?

Julia: I think some bands have never had any fun in the first place.

Steve: We are the most serious band in the world – we just like to enjoy ourselves while we do it. Audiences actually like being abused too.

14.You guys where confirmed for the Hove festival here in Norway just a few days ago. Tell us a little about your expectations to this adventure. Have you ever played Norway? I know you have been to Sweden. What was that like?

Julia: Sweden – people with good manners, fish, schnapps and excellent hospitality. Not mean like people in the UK. We hope Norway will be similar.

Paul: Apparently Norwegians have great taste and are very good at buying records – especially ones found by us at www.wrathrecords.co.uk

Steve: We’re really looking forward to coming over to Norway – it’s our first time. We’ve heard great things about this festival and the line-up looks brilliant. We’re going to be playing on the Friday night, so make sure you come and see us!

15.I am sure there must be a lot of great tour stories. Do you have a short one to share with us or have they all been labelled top secret?

Julia: No matter where we play in the UK, we always try to stop at Tibshelf Services to get fantastically cheap bacon baguettes and coffee. Sometimes we go out of our way to stop there, because we love it so much. Our conversations whilst standing and eating get filthier each time. In general, tours involve us getting increasingly puerile and disgusting, and laughing until we’re nearly sick. We have good manners though!

Paul: Julia has to have a separate attachment to our tour van full of shoes. Chris likes nothing more than leaping out of the van when we stop at traffic lights and seeing how many times he can run around it shouting ‘Japanese fire drill!’

Steve: Our drummer Gareth is allergic to chicken – it makes him shit like a volcano. So, we try to hide bits of chicken really sneakily in his food without him noticing. Great fun in the van guessing how long it’s going to be before needs a crap. Most of our gig expeditions involve large amounts of food, swaggering about like we own the place and excessive cruelty to each other – some times we arrive at a venue in tears but nobody is allowed to know why.

16.What kind of a stage will the Scaramanga Six play? Are you more comfortable in small clubs or do you like the large stages?

Julia: Both are good, though you lose rapport sometimes on a big stage. It’s nice to keep eye contact and pull faces at each other. If we had more money, we’d probably play big stages and all bunch up together, and then fill the space with outrageous pyrotechnics.

Paul: Even if we were on the largest stage in the world, Steve would still end up ham-fistedly bumping into me and de-tuning my guitar.
Steve: I do it on purpose just to try and put him off. We are comfortable on ANY stage.

17.Allright. That was everything I could think of. Any last messages to the readers of Metal Norge?

Julia: Yes. Come and see us in Hove. We’ll be the best band you’ll ever see.

Steve: To borrow the words of the infamous G.G.Allin – “You get what you deserve, not what you expect”