A flawless interview with Errors
Errors, the post-guitar, electronic-indie trio from Glasgow, have just released a new eight track mini-album titled “New Relics”. Now a couple of gigs into their 2012/13 tour, we caught up with drummer James Hamilton at London’s “Heaven” before they went onstage.
Pink Mattr: So, we’re here with James from Errors - how did the gig in Nottingham go?
James Hamilton: It went pretty well actually, it was our first touring night with Beck [Oliver] doing vocals for us live, she’s from a band called Magic Eye and did vocals on one of the songs on the new mini-album, we’ve sort of pseudo-kidnapped her for the second leg of the tour! [laughs] We’re like yeah, that worked, come on with us!
PM: It’s going to be quite a long tour and you’re off to America soon, do you have many wild nights or do you guys prefer a more reserved tour experience?
JH: We’re on it very occasionally if we’ve got a day off the next day, or if we can get up late we might have something which approaches wild, but not as much as we used to. Actually I was talking to Steve about this earlier – we were discussing a couple of the previous London shows we’ve done and the messes we’ve ended up being at like seven or eight in the morning, and we were like “God, we don’t do that anymore, we’re getting so old!” you know. Now it’s just like in bed for midnight, cup of Bovril, a pot noodle and the TV, you know.
PM: So you all get along when you’re on tour then?
JH: Yeah, I think the secret to getting along on tour is not really talking! [laughs] When I was younger I always imagined dressing rooms for bands being full of coke and hookers, and, you know, champagne bottles getting smashed, but the reality I’ve noticed in a lot of dressing rooms is people sitting on laptops with headphones on, and then the tour manager will come in and say “alright, you’re all onstage” and we’re like “yeah? - ok cool - Unity!” [laughs]
PM: Recording versus performing; which do you prefer?
Personally I prefer performing by quite some way, because recording is quite a – well as much as knocking ideas back and forth and stuff is, you know, quite fun with the whole creative process and that, but at the same time there’s a lot of very repetitive sitting around for ages saying “was that take ok…better try that again…blahblahblah” whereas I kind of prefer the energy of just going out and going “well, we’ve got these songs: BANG.”
PM: Cool, so in terms of the writing then, how does it normally work? Do you all just come up with ideas or does someone take the lead on a particular song…?
JH: We’ve got a very anti-social method to writing where we tend to write the songs in different rooms and not really communicate with each other when stuff’s getting written, and then maybe at the end of a day we’ll kind of come out of our little holes in the wall in our studio and be like “what’ve you got?” and then maybe “that sounds like it’ll be pretty good” and we might develop that back and forth, but we very rarely just get together in a studio and just jam stuff because it just turns into, like, just horrendous curb-man’s-krautrock, then we’ll go “screw it, back into different rooms!”
PM: Fair enough! So that’s how a lot of the sounds off “New Relics” were formed?
JH: Yeah just sitting, sort of like twiddling knobs really slowly and going “a little more decay on that – BAWNNG… DAWNNG…” you know?
PM: We looked back through your rather extensive back catalogue recently and were impressed by the dense, varied mixture of sounds you’ve got behind you now. How do you think you’ve developed from the early style of the group?
JH: I think we’ve developed and changed our style quite a lot, but I think we tend to do that from record to record. I guess there’s always that sort of thread of you know, it’s us and we’ll always have a sort of very definite, tangible thing where you can tell it’s us, but apart from the new one there’s generally like a year between the writing processes for different records, so our influences and what we’re listening to change, and what we want to do changes too, so we sort of go with whatever we happen to be into at the time.
PM: So, how does “New Relics” compare to “Have some faith in magic”?
JH: Actually to be honest I think that “New Relics” is probably closer in style to “Have some faith in magic” than, maybe, any of our previous records have been to the records preceding them. I don’t know if that’s just because we wrote it really quickly after we wrote the first one but…
PM: So some of the ideas kind of bled into each other?
PM: New Relics is available on CD, Vinyl and VHS, I was wondering if you could expand a bit more on the idea behind the choice of VHS as a format?
JH: The idea of the album, I guess - it has a sort of theme which is about how quickly technology becomes obsolete. Steve found his old iPhone [which he’d forgotten about] a couple of months after he’d got an upgrade - which is such a horrible start to the story but there’s a point – and it just seemed really big and clunky to him, and he was like “two months ago this seemed state of the art”, and it seemed so weird how quickly technology becomes obsolete nowadays. So there was sort of that underlying theme on the album which is why we thought we wanted a sort of visual representation of the album, but we thought it might be kind of cool to put it out on, like, a pretty old and obsolete format, because we’re pretentious and slightly kind of annoying as a band, so… [laughs]
PM: I thought it was a really sweet idea! [laughs]
JH: There’s also a visual element that VHS has that you can’t get on digital, especially with the VHS’s we’ve got – the pressing factory sent them to us but were like “err, we’ve kind of screwed these up, do you want us to re-do them?” and there are points at which the tracking just goes to hell and it sort of flicks into black and white and we said “actually, that’s kind of perfect.” It just adds that finishing touch to it so it sort of looks like an old copy of “Adventures in Babysitting” from 1987 on VHS that you might just find, and when you put it in you’re like “I don’t remember this looking this bad!” You know, it has this whole sort of vibe to it.
PM: Cool. So how do you all know each other?
JH: Well, can anyone really know another person? [laughs] Basically Simon [Ward] and Steve [Livingstone] went to school together, so they’ve known each other for years, and when they first formed the band I was in another band and their – Errors’s first gig was in Glasgow supporting my old band, so I met them through that, and then my band split up and they asked me to join theirs, and the rest, as they say, is equally uninteresting! [laughs]
PM: How did you get into music? Do you remember your first album?
JH: Yeah – I remember the first piece of music I ever bought was this seven-inch remix of Jeff Wayne’s “War of the Worlds” which was pretty amazing, followed closely by, erm, Duran Duran’s Bond theme “A View to a Kill”. Those were like the only two records I had when I was really young and then as I got a little older I got – I used to buy albums very rarely but the first two I remember buying were [laughs] a Technotronics album and The White Room by The KLF, and then shortly after that I really got into grunge when all that kicked off. I saw Dave Grohl playing drums in video and was like “I wanna do that.”
PM: And your first gig?
JH: My first gig was – actually was supposed to be – I had a ticket for it – my first gig was gonna be Nirvana at the SECC in Glasgow, but the gig got cancelled because he sort of killed himself. So instead, a few months later the first gig I went to was the metal band Paradise Lost at The Garage in Glasgow which was a whole different… you know… thing…
PM: Must have been a pretty intense first gig!
JH: It was quite funny, just lots of really, REALLY gothy guys and I was like, “is this what gigs are like?” But yeah I was big into shitty metal when I was younger. Still kind of am.
PM: So have you all got quite similar tastes?
JH: Nooo! Well, there’s sort of certain points where our tastes kind of overlap, but we’re all into a lot of very different music, which I think partially on the record shows up, but live I think, especially when we all start doing different little noodley bits – basically when we can’t censor each other live it becomes more apparent that we’re all into everything from Japanese noise rock to classical piano stuff and just shitty pop music – in fact we were having a bit of a 5ive revival in the band today – I don’t know how that started but… [laughs] I was amazed at how many of their songs I knew, you know, I sort of hate myself for it but, it was fun. They’re not an influence, just to make that clear, for the next record we’re not going to take our shirts off and you know…
PM: Could you give us a couple of artists or releases that you were really impressed by or excited about this year?
JH: This year? Oh, actually at Christmas – it’s not technically this year, but the end of last year – but “Fifty Words for Snow” by Kate Bush – amazing. I’ve actually not heard a better album than that yet, since then. And Dam Mantle’s album which is just out is totally amazing – in fact he’s on in the background right now playing.
PM: Yeah! I was going to ask how you guys know or heard about him?
JH: I think Steve knows him or met him through art school connections and, you know, we were all horrified to find out how young and talented he was, and we were just like “let’s take him on tour and just break him!” [laughs] So we’re getting there! He’s starting to show signs of wear already – we’re a horrible band to tour with. In a nice way!
PM: I thought you were all Bovril and early bedtimes!?
JH: Err yeah but we’re quite big on psychological torture though! [laughs] It’s just like we’ll take him on tour ‘cos he’s better than us but we’ll grind him down so he quits - none of that’s true by the way! Sorry, there’s kind of a reason they tend to not let me do any of the interviews ‘cos they’re like “God, James speaks the truth,” you know.
PM: Haha! Finally, you’re heading to the US soon, you played at South by Southwest a couple of years ago - how do you find American audiences in comparison to English audiences?
JH: At South by Southwest the audiences we played to were pretty much drunk constantly, and one of the gigs was weird because it was a Scottish Arts Council showcase, so everyone had come over from Glasgow to see us and we were like “right, we’re playing in Austin, but it’s like doing a gig in Glasgow,” so it was weird. But we supported Mogwai on a US tour not long after that, and it’s weird to judge because it was playing to Mogwai audiences who seem the same the world over, where there’s a lot of guys standing around stroking their beards and feeling really intense about stuff, you know. Like, yeah. I dunno, it’s weird. I think our audiences in general have developed as we have, because we’re not as dancey as we used to be live, you know, we used to play straight-up cowbell rave, like “WOOO!” whereas now we’re more like “mid-tempo excitement!” But occasionally we like to break out an up-tempo number just to confuse the older members of the crowd. But yeah, I guess people are people everywhere, so that’s quite a beautiful sentiment to end on! [laughs]
PM: Awesome. Well, best of luck and thanks very much!
JH: Cool, enjoy the show!
Have you ever found yourself in one of those situations where you’re out with friends and you’re really drunk. Better yet, have you ever found yourself in one of those situations where you’re out with your friends and you’re really high and you look at one of your friends of the opposite sex and imagine what it would be like if you went over to them right now and just kissed them? One day I stopped wondering. We were out. We all drank a lot. Some of us had smoked – I hadn’t. Some of us had dropped a couple pills – I was one of them. She was one of them too. We had all gone to a club. It was one of those clubs that could easily be a bar because of its size. In fact, it was actually a bar that pretended to be a club on some days. And we got there, it was dark, it was dingy, it was enigmatic. They were playing hit after hit. One song was about to reach a crescendo and then all of a sudden ‘Love will tear us apart’ started playing and I thought “this is it”. I grabbed her and we danced. We looked at each other and, to be fair to her, she may have just been looking at me because I was looking at her; but for me, I was looking at her with intentions. So I kissed her, and whether she kissed me back at the time out of want and necessity or mere practicality I will never know but I can base some basis on the former because the next day we woke up together. And we’ve been waking up together so for quite some time ever since.
PinkMattr are putting together the first issue of their magazine. The concept for our first issue will be the topic of LOVE. To coincide with the release of our first issue, we will be launching a plethora of LOVEly content on PinkMattr.com and our Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts. This is where you get involved. We want people to get involved and create content for us.You can create whatever content you like, all we ask is that you base it on the topic ofLOVE. LOVE, however, is open to be interpreted however you like.
We want photographers, writers, designers, illustrators, the lot, to make us content. We want to create a big melting pot of creative collaboration. We want to receive all sorts of weird, wacky and beautiful stuff, let your imagination run wild and see what you can come up with. So get involved, now, as if your very existence depended on it! Okay, maybe it doesn’t, but it’ll be great exposure for your work and it’ll put a big pink smile on our face. If you’re interested in sending us content, or would simply like to have a chat to find out more, drop us a line at email@example.com - our proper email account is out of service because we receive about 4,807 spam emails per day, pesky spaminals!
How does one recover from the greatest moment of their lives? It sounds like a daunting task, but honestly, accepting and appreciating the fact is all one can do. I’m doing my best at the moment, minute by minute, song after song. What happened to me this weekend? Bestival happened. A blissful, unbelievable conglomeration of great music, great people, great weather, a great atmosphere, and the greatest stroke of luck imaginable. Bestival 2012 could be summed up for me by two words, ladies and gentlemen, Artist Passes.
Upon arrival at around 9:30 pm, and checking in at artist liaison for our camping and parking bands, we were taken via shuttle to what was to be our spacious, accommodating camping site that happened to be perched on a rolling hill overlooking the entirety of the festival, with the main stage at the heart of it. On the van we discussed our plans for the weekend, how we’d be getting mashed, and reviewed a moment of true enchantment - a hoodie-clad wonder goddess of cool we’d seen on the ferry - she’d be our ideal of the “festival girl” we would each hope to acquire and share speechless moments with.
After a quite comical and none-too-sober thirty-five to forty-five minutes of tent pitching, it was finally time to head out to the pre-festival night and explore. What lie ahead was an expanse perfectly arranged and organised to allow for the best of festival experiences. A phenomenal carnival/traveling troupe-esque decor and attitude to all the stands and sideshows, awesome stages, none too far, yet never the slightest bit acoustically careless.
We spent most of this first night at an incredibly DJ’d stepped tent area playing hit-after-hit that kicked our whole weekend off in perfection with Roy Ayers’ splendiferous “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”. Little did we know, by the end of this magical weekend, we’d have been drenched by endless sunshine throughout, with temperatures hitting the thirties. Sounds like best-ival weather to me. Some interesting people met, a “key” contact made for the weekend, and by three a.m., back into the tent for the all-important blaze-aided team meeting..
We awoke to the glorious sunshine in a spotless sky bluer than the word, the centre of our system giving us it’s own friendly wake up call - a baking tent - to ensure we got as much out of every passing day as we could. A beer and some baguettes for breakfast and friendly accommodating showers that would never be too packed.
Following a shuttle back to artist liaison, we began to learn just what our passes entailed. I booked myself a 12:10 with the hairstylist, my “bandmate” got his massage in at 12:30. Everyone was extremely helpful and adequately good-looking making our experience blissful from the get go. A quick run to the market liquoured us up and provided us breakfast for the next couple days, nothing too heavy. We provided a ride to a friendly stilt-walker who proved the compact quarters of our society as she turned out being the older sister to one of my closest mates’ first love.
Friday’s lineup was a whirlwind, and as we started out with some bottles of wine and Warpaint, our ferry trip became all too relevant. Their, as she sang, and played guitar, was our very-own “hoodie girl”, Theresa Wayman. Who would have thought we’d share our ferry with a member of Warpaint, an omen for what was to come. The rest past all too quickly, between the booze and the non-booze fun-makers and the meeting of friends, splitting and regrouping of the core, and all that is expected of frenzied festival Fridays.
Things slowed as it reached time for The xx, which was an intimate, soul-touching experience, one I somehow took in closest to sober I’d get after nightfall, and without much company. Just them and me, and an incredibly affecting performance that was all I had ever hoped for and more (as I hadn’t yet heard a single track off “Coexist”). The paced picked up again afterwards leaving me with blanks until recalling a smasher from Sub-Focus and then some SBTRKT and Jamie xx, who’s intense bass thumping minimal gave the already eccentric ‘Roller-Disco’ arena an eerie feel.
My mates Dingus Khan tore apart the “Replay” stage with yet another cracker that should see only stardom on their radars in the near future. If you’ve never caught them live before, or even heard of them, get with the program please! Late late, I ended up at an intimate, hip, little artist/staff bar/after hours with a new friend, a fitting way to say bon nuit to an awesome first night.
Saturday got going much the same way, though it was me who’d be getting a massage, perfectly timed to miss our “synth/keyboardist” chatting with Justice over a cigarette outside. Saturday would turn into the fitting peak of our weekend with a harmoniously flowing lineup of bands, booze, and pure bliss. Notably starting out with a fantastic Greg Wilson set at Bollywood Tent, we amalgamated two more to the group, a couple of sun-drenched freckled beauties and proceeded to get to know each other over some Grey Goose and De La Soul.
The ‘carnivale’ passed around the grounds around this time, to an enchanted crowd, pumped by the array of colours and talented performers. What a mood! An incredible Kavinsky set (probably one of my top three-four of the weekend), Death in Vegas (pure intensity), Major Lazer, and New Order blazed by in rapid fire, before my heart slowed to New Order returning to the stage for an encore; one certain ‘Transmission’, and of course, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ in tribute to their former iteration Joy Division and their fallen genius Ian Curtis. A moment locked in time for me eternally.
Justice blew me away with blazing bass levels and a light show more powerful than the most magnetic of MC’s. Those Frenchies know how to put on a damn good show. Some wandering followed, at which point you really take in the plethora of incredibly fun and well-thought out side acts that litter the festival in true carnival spirit. Reconvened with a pair from the group and headed for some Brodinski back at Bollywood, which was home to consistently smashing electronic acts - a tent perpetually drenched in it’s own sweat. Saturday was one hell of a night, and bittersweet, knowing as you laid your head to rest, this was the last night you’d wake up with enthusiasm and optimism. But the memories made helped ease the mind.
Sunday was the day to enjoy every passing minute. Enjoy the minutes we did! Some grub, some showers, then the never pleasant task of deconstructing our homes away from home. Following this tear-jerker we headed to artist liaison for our final rounds of pampering and touch ups. An even livelier tent this time around, we got to chatting with many different occupants including various band members and sound engineers. Sigur Ros and a photo together put an obscenely large smile on my face and on the face of my “guitarist”. With one last alcohol-fuelled dance off by the vehicle, we proceeded to the festival grounds for an all-out assault.
One of my clear regrets is only getting to the “Ambient Forest” Area on the Sunday, for a walkabout to take in just how actually phenomenally beautiful the wildlife/forest area is at the site, and all the homely, delicious, farmer’s market edibles are. Every turn you took was filled with smiling, friendly individuals and there truly was SO much to do: natural wooded amphitheatres for comedy and performance, tents for poetry and spoken word, meditation spots (we failed in our quest to David Lynch Transcendentally Meditate in time) and breathtaking views of the whole grounds. The festival is so well thought out, laid out and decked out that it’s offerings virtually guarantee repeat visits for years to come, if only to experience a fraction of all that is on offer.
After some delicious (local) tomato focaccia sandwiches and mouth-watering fudge we headed to watch the DOOM squad and get the musical ball rolling. Sigur Ros were that much sweeter having met them, and their set was soul-blowing. Stevie Wonder had many kind words to say and put in play such a positive atmosphere for the main-stage crowd to enjoy hit after hit of his canon. Some excellent tribute songs, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and John Lennon’s “Imagine” were truly memorable as was The Beatles’ “She Loves You”.
Following an excellent set was an even more amazing firework show that was unfortunately botched by the strangest of musical choices, some random CD tracks whose off sound had no relation what-so-ever to the mood nor the pace, and that I found to be quite a large speed bump in what was so far so smooth sailing. My mates rushed off to some Friendly Fires and I ventured out a bit more.
The Lost Cinema was an area I tabbed as ‘must-visit’ but of course never got the chance to inhabit, until this last night. A fantastically cozy tent area home to film and R&R enthusiasts alike. I caught some film karaoke, spoke to some obviously friendly festival-goers and reconvened with my band of brothers to explore the final two hours. I Highly recommend the Burlesque tent that had some thoroughly enjoyable shows/acts in witty and spectacular style, in the vain of the vaudeville acts I’d so long wished to have eye witnessed in the early parts of the 20th century.
We ended Sunday, and Bestival with an appropriately awesome wind/mist storm and Grimes at the Replay stage before searching for an again missing twosome from our quadrant.
All in all, I feel as though you could not name a festival “Bestival” and get away with it for years and years unless there were some true goods being delivered. People don’t just give away the title “best”, and nothing’s been given away here, between the location (on an Island, at the very least!) to the weather, to the attitude, to the acts, to the side shows, to sheer joy oozing out of everything and everywhere … Bestival packs the best of all it is we love in life: camaraderie, art, humour, kindness, nourishment, and nature and condenses it to three-four days of out-of-this world memories.
I’ll never forget my first Bestival, artist passes or not - although those did help, if only just a little ;) , and I doubt most won’t either. 360 days left and I can’t hardly wait!