- Kieran Collingwood & Charlie-Tribe Smith
Interview: LIFE on playing festivals, their recent album & Brexit
Hailing from the North of England, Post Punk band ‘LIFE’ are no strangers to the live circuit. Now with several tours and a multitude of releases under their belt, the band have emerged as a distinctive leading figure in the UK’s underground scene. We recently caught up with lead singer Mez after their headline set at Hyde Park Book Club.
For our readers who don’t know, who are you and what’s your music all about?
We’re a band called LIFE; we’re from Hull and we’re very proud of our roots. We’re a very community driven band and we incorporate all sorts of people in our team. We are honest, we write what we write about. Our most recent album ‘A Picture of Good Health’ is very much about me and my last six months, coming out of a relationship, becoming a single dad and finding love again and like tryna to just be brave with stuff and putting it to music. The first album was broadly political. I’ve only just given up my day job as a youth worker and that has kind of informed how I think and how I write.
Your most recent album, as you said, touches on your mental struggle; what kind of music were you listening to get you to that picture of good health?
For me I was listening to a lot of stuff that isn’t actually what we sound like, like I was listening to Leonard Cohen, Yolatenga, LCD Soundsytem, an amazing band. I just came back from New York with my girlfriend where we were singing LCD sound system all the time. But writing this album was very therapeutic for me, you know? I’ve tried counselling and stuff but it’s never really worked but writing these lyrics made me feel like it was off, it was gone and now the albums come out and the reviews have been amazing.
I’ve read a lot that people write songs as an outlet for them and then release them to the public and feel like it’s no longer theirs. Do you think you still have that connection with your music?
I think playing live brings back everything to me. It’s almost like now I’ve written it, it’s a way of me saying that’s done now. But it’s a way of also telling other people it’s alright
to think about these kinda things – we’re tryna be very honest with what we’re doing.
Recently IDLES have praised you and you have worked with the likes of Luke Smith from Foals.
Yeah Luke Smith did the first two Foals albums and then it was mixed by a guy called Claudius Mittendorfer who mixed an album for Parquet Courts’ ‘Wide Awake’ album. So we were very lucky to work with these so amazing people.
How did it come about?
Well it just came about because they got in touch with us. They’d listened to the first album and said we should make an album and that’s what we did.
I saw that you toured with Slaves a while ago?
Yeah we toured with slaves we toured with IDLES. We’ve toured with a few of the bands that are doing really well.
Did that unfold in a similar way to your work with IDLES?
Yeah so Slaves contacted us and I’m good friends with Joe from IDLES so it’s a no brainer. We’ve like grown around the festivals together and they’ve done amazing things for British bands who are trying to say something so it was a no brainer to go on tour with them really.
What’s the best festival you think you played?
Well we’ve done so many. But like obviously for me, in the UK Glastonbury was a highlight this year.
Oh really, what stage did you play?
We played Left Field Stage which is like a Billy Bragg Stage which is quite political.
Oh right, my dad loves Billy Bragg
Yeah man! It was amazing and Billy Bragg was there for the full thing. But like yeah some of the European festivals have been amazing, ‘Behoda’ in Slovakia was just insane like we were playing to 3000 people a night.
The thing is that I’ve heard a couple of different things about festivals in terms of being able to expose your music to a new audience. I’ve heard of acts struggling with the influx of people coming in and out of tents?
I think festivals are a great way to access music, I mean it’s almost like a menu isn’t it? The people that are at the festivals they’re just choosing who to go and see and then sometimes you stumble across an artist and you’re like shit they’re fucking amazing. Urm, so that’s a great thing about festivals rather than a standalone gig where you have to buy a ticket for it and you have to like that band. It’s a great way of expanding your reach. But I mean all festivals are the same so it is actually better for an artist to play in a venue where everyone is there to see you because it’s so intimate.
So Euromillions was born out of the anger of the Brexit vote. Do you reckon the outcome of the vote is going to have an impact on British music in general- touring, for example?
Well I mean it keeps getting extended so you never know what’s gonna fucking go on. I do think its gonna have a major impact though I mean we’ve just come back from a tour of Europe and we didn’t need visas we just went through the borders.
Now, if it goes through we’re gonna have to apply for each country that we go to for visa and that costs loads of money for an artist and when you’re not making much money in the first place it’s a killer, it’s a sad time.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us man, before we let you go just a couple of quickfire questions: What’s your biggest musical inspiration?
Probably the Mark E. Smith or actually Jarvis Cocker.
Who’s the father figure of the group, the glue that kinda sticks you all together?
Either me or Stew, the drummer. We’re the eldest of the group my brother is younger than me and so is Lydia.
And finally, whats the plan for after the tour?
Yeah so we finish December the 7th so still a long tour to go – I’m surprised I’ve not lost my voice yet! And then yeah we’ve got Christmas off and then we go straight back on the road again.