New-pop pioneers, The Crookes have been wooing many fans with their blend of intelligent, romantic lyrics and infectious, upbeat tunes along with their devotion to the road. At Fierce Panda’s 19th Birthday party, the Sheffield band was set to play in front of their biggest headline crowd yet but were kind enough to put aside the pre-show jitters for a little chat about psychotic wallpaper, sharpie pen expenses, and more.
AMBY: So we’re about half way through the year, you’ve been touring relentlessly first with Richard Hawley and Little Comets, yet you’ve still found time to write, record two songs and then release videos for them. Do you find time to pause and breathe once in a while?
The Crookes: We sort of treat The Crookes as a 24 hour a day thing. It’s fairly all consuming but that’s the way we like it. When we said wanted to be in The Crookes seriously and do it for a living that’s what it has to be. We just get quite bored and relentless as well if you hang around resting on your laurels all day. You know there’s not an awful lot to do in Sheffield so we just spend all our time writing music and being in the van going on tour. That’s the way we like it.
AMBY: The Bear’s Blood video like the American Girls video has you drawing upon yourselves once again. Is this a bit of an obsession for you guys?
The Crookes: We thought it would be a cheap way to make a video but it took a long time to get off actually. Sharpie pens are expensive so we didn’t really cost it. George and Dan have a room in their house, a little box room, and we call it the writing room cos now its wallpapered in lyrics from the new album. So every inch of the walls are covered in new lyrics and we’re always worried our housemate, who we don’t really know that well, is just going to think we’re like serial killers in the making.
AMBY: So aside from terrifying your housemate with potentially murderous wallpaper, how’s the new album coming along? Will it differ from previous material?
The Crookes: It will differ I imagine. It’s interesting as the single we’re putting out next week is kind of an experiment really. We wanted to do two tracks that were very different from each other and see how they fell after a while and see how we enjoy playing them and if anyone else liked them. The difference is this time round, on “Hold Fast” we had a very clear idea and almost like a manifesto of what we wanted the songs to be and what kind of band we wanted to be at that stage and it came together so quickly. I think you can tell that in the sound of the record. It’s very energetic and sort of goes by in the blink of the eye being, I mean it’s only half an hour long. With this one we’re a bit less sure of what we want from it so it’s definitely going to be a bit more eclectic. To be honest I’m answering this question and I don’t even know the answer to it so that shows you that’s where we are at the moment.
AMBY: Dance in Colour’s video is a step in a more theatrical direction for the band. Where did this idea come from?
The Crookes: With Dance in Colour we wanted to do something that reflected the song better and obviously its a lot more introverted, its a lot more downbeat than Bear’s Blood. Dan and Russ really took the reins for the video and I think Dan really enjoyed the freedom to do a bit of writing that didn’t have to fit into a structured song or melody. There will be another version out in the future as well. It’ll be exactly the same video but a couple of minutes longer and instead of the song audio you’ll have the audio of what they’re actually saying in the video. So for the people who’ve loved the video but hated the song they can enjoy the video and not listen to the song when we put that up.
AMBY: We’re here tonight to celebrate 19 wonderful years of Fierce Panda Records, what marks them out for a band?
The Crookes: Something like the release of this double A-side coming up illustrates the point perfectly. They hadn’t even heard Dance in Colour or Bear’s Blood before they agreed to release it on 7”. We just told them we’d written two new songs and they said “Brilliant we’ll release them in a couple of months” and we were like “What you haven’t even heard them?!”. But because they only work with bands who they truly love, that means they have a lot of faith in the bands and there’s a lot of trust. It’s such a rare thing to find in the music industry these days that they will just put everything behind you and that’s what makes them such a rare breed now, maybe even unique.