Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shrag in Scared To Dance's Autumn Fanzine!


Scared To Dance have just launched their Autumn fanzine! Their lead interview is with Cats On Fire who talk to them about new material and coming back to play in Britain. Also, they've got a track-by-track rundown of the new Tender Trap LP Dansette Dansette by indiepop legend Amelia Fletcher and The Specific Heats tell them about their recent European tour. Meanwhile they catch up with Shrag, Pocketbooks and Moustache Of Insanity. Here's a taste of the fanzine—an interview from the new issue with the wonderful Shrag!

How did Shrag come into the world?

Helen: Slowly and by surprise. A group of friends who accidentally started making songs together…

Bob: It's like any kind of birth. It takes you a few years before you realise you exist. After that it was surprisingly easy.

You’ve said that your eponymous debut LP felt more like a collection of material you’d recorded up to that point, rather than a self-contained record. Were you happy with the result?

Helen: Oh yeah of course, you know I NEVER thought we’d actually have a full-length, so I was thrilled and we are proud of those songs, I think some more than others. But I guess because all of those songs had already been released – albeit in tiny runs of 300 – there wasn’t quite that feeling of “What will people think? Do we suck? Are we any good?” Having said that, the fact that WIAIWYA asked us to put them together as an album meant that far more people got to hear them than would have done otherwise, they reached far more people, and it got reviewed as an album by people who wouldn’t have listened to the singles, so it was exciting.

Bob: I'm still not convinced by the album format. A great album is more than a collection of songs. The debut LP is a collection of songs. Good ones though.

You supported The Cribs last year and they’ve been incredibly supportive of the band. How was the experience of playing such large venues?

Helen: Equal parts terrifying and exciting. I tried not to think about it once we were on stage to be honest, though there was one point where we played to what must have been a three quarters full London Astoria, and I looked out and had an actual knee-trembler. The Cribs are the loveliest boys in the world, sweet and funny and gentlemanly and incredibly tolerant of us, we must have been so annoying, we had absolutely NO CLUE about proper big tours like that, their tour manager would ask for things like stage plots and we’d just stare back at them blankly. 

Bob: I find the experience strangely comforting. The sound is always good and if you break a string someone you’ve never met before runs on and helps you change guitar. Then they offer to carry things for you. Brilliant!

During your recent gigs you’ve been playing quite a lot of new material. How have the new songs gone down?

Helen: The vast majority of the feedback we’ve had has been good and encouraging. I think we got some criticism because we stopped playing a lot of the older songs a while ago – Sean Price (Fortuna Pop!) told us off for doing that, because I guess they were the only songs people had a chance of knowing – but really we had been playing those songs for ages and we were just excited about the new stuff and wanted to try it out. We do realise this is not particularly astute in terms of good business sense, but then that was never really our forte… (sorry Jervis).

The subject matters in your lyrics on your debut record were based on very specific events. Do the new songs open up to more general themes?

Helen: Yeah you’re right about the first album. I think at that point, I had a certain feeling with the lyrics that they needed to have a concrete idea behind them. I was maybe a bit less confident, I’d never written lyrics for a band that were actually going to record before, it had all been the kind of thing you do with one other friend in your room, that kind of thing. So I think I felt, for some of the songs at least, that I needed to have something solid and sometimes a bit silly to write about. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t care about those things or that they were disingenuous in any way, but I guess this time I think I tried to be a bit braver and write about stuff that was happening to me and the people around me that I care about in a way which at least tried to approximate how these things really felt, and stuff in my life is rarely that defined or immediately coherent, especially the last couple of years. It felt important to not maybe hide so much behind a robust, easily delineated scenario. Saying that, “Tights In August” is pretty silly.

You’re releasing your second album Life! Death! Prizes! on Monday 4th October. Tell us about the record.

Helen: It’s got 12 songs on it, some are louder and faster than others, and it has lots of umber and orange and red and empty chairs on the artwork. I think musically we’re a bit better, have been a bit braver, have had more of a sense of what we might be able to do. Oh and one song has real strings on it! I’m especially excited about that.

Bob: I think the album is structured like a really good live set. It was important to me in case we get asked to do one of those Don’t Look Back shows in years to come. We won’t of course, but it’s always nice to be prepared.

Will you be touring later in the year in support of the album?

Helen: Yes! We’re just finalising everything as I write this. We will be doing a UK tour from the Monday 27th September until Sunday 3rd October, and then we have our album launch show at the Lexington on Thursday 14th October. And then, providing we get our Visas, we’re going to New York to play CMJ and some shows around the East Coast, but we’ll see.

In the new issue they also talk to Fortuna Pop!, Big Pink Cake, Colour Me Pop, Brilldream and Dandelion Radio! And an Odd Box Records Showcase EP, Bless Me Iggy For I Have Sinned features exclusive songs from:

1. The Humms – Are You Dead?
2. The Blanche Hudson Weekend – Fever Van
3. Sarandon – Expecting Joe
4. Boundary JIM – House of the Seven Gables
5. The Medusa Snare – Tripping

Each copy is £2 plus P&P. Please email Paul Richards at admin@scaredtodance.co.uk to order. You can join them on Facebook and become a friend on Twitter.

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