Crunching numbers with Ginger Snaps ahead of Northampton gig
Ginger Snaps are back with their latest single Number Crunching and after headlining The Social in London this week, bring their UK tour to the Garibaldi on Saturday.
We sat down with frontman Jay Brook and guitarist Lee Irons to talk about the band, Jay’s plans for orchestral and brass sections and the conditions under which Lee will play live.
Following on the back of Phat Kids and Paranoid, Number Crunching is another sub-three minute infectious alternative pop gem.
“The reaction has been great so far,” explains Brook. “Lee had a great slide guitar riff and then we just did what we normally do.
“We had a break underneath it, I played a funk bass line and then added my usual anxiety-ridden lyrics that only make sense after I've read them back.
“There's a little bit of hope in there somewhere. At the end I go 'all of these things in life are a problem but at the end of the day, you can't do anything to change it’, so you may as well punch your ticket.”
Ginger Snaps were approached by Killing Moon to release the single which was mixed by Dan Gautreau with the US label which previously released Phat Kids also wanting to put it out.
Tonight (Saturday), they join Fox Chapel at the Garibaldi Hotel in Northampton.
“I really like what they’re doing,” explains Brook, “Especially as they’re sounding more like The Cure now. After that, we’re playing in Brighton and then Manchester.
“This is the first proper run of dates we’ve have done with Ginger Snaps.
“The live side is really coming together. I've got two amazing DJs who are working on the project.
“John Swan used to work on Goldie's label in London and James Kelly lectures at the University Of Northampton. The two backing singers Nicole Obi and Stacey Pierre are incredible.
“They legitimately sound like they could have been part of Phil Spector’s wall of sound.
“I think I'm the weakest person in Ginger Snaps,” he jokes.
“There was a moment when they looked at me in a practice recently with a 'why are you telling us how to sing vocals', look. They were completely right. I backed off.
“They’ve started moonlighting and were on 1Xtra the other day doing a session just off the back of the gigs we've done.”
With three releases under their belt, Ginger Snaps have received support from countless independent publications, BBC 6 Music, Virgin Radio and Radio X with the Independent featuring them this week.
“I had a bit of a feeling when we did Phat Kids that it had enough about it that people might ‘get It’,” explains Brook.
“Lee and me have always said we're doing music for mental people - we didn't think anyone would like it.
“Nothing has really been planned, every time we’ve tried to plan something, something else happened to make it different somehow.
“We thought it was going to be a slow burner, but it’s gone a lot quicker.
"It's mad considering this is a project which we feel we've put the least amount of effort into so far.”
Both Brook and Irons balance their work with Ginger Snaps with OhBoy! - with Brook admitting the former has helped him get over writer’s block which had been stalling progress on OhBoy!’s debut album.
"I'm always going to write dirty grunge songs,” Brook explains –confirming his commitment to the band.
“One thing I've learnt about writing is I've stopped trying to plan it.
“When I'm in a studio, I don't think ‘tonight I'm going to writing an OhBoy! or Snaps song’.
“I'm just going to write and it's whatever comes out.
Although Ginger Snaps is a partnership between the pair, Irons doesn’t currently feature live – however, there are plans to add him into the fold.
“The initial idea when we got asked to do some live gigs was to make it as simple as possible,” explains Brook.
“We rehearsed it as a band and it was a great, but it'd almost been taken too far away from the essence of what it was - which is sort of a hip-hop thing with breaks and loops over the top of it.”
“To bring a live band in straight away felt a bit too much,” adds Irons.
“I've seen Jay do it live and it's a bit weird hearing my guitar parts but me not playing them – and hearing the right notes being played at the right time.”
“In my mind, Ginger Snaps is a 24 piece James Brown style orchestra,” explains Brook.
“Although, once you start introducing elements that would make up that, you're like, 'yeah, but it wouldn’t be as good as if we had a brass section as well’.
“Imagine that wonderful guy at The Social who does sound. Imagine him trying to mix brass and keys and backing tracks. It’s just not gonna work for a 20 minute set to 50 people.
“What you’re getting at the moment is the ramshackle Jay monologues. If you wanna pay £12 a ticket - you get Lee as well.
"Until you're gonna foot the bill, we ain’t bringing it.
“We’ve got plans for Dan Battison to play bass but the lifestyle he leads - he’s expensive and you’ve gotta make sure people are willing to buy into it.”
As the pair continue to joke about the practicalities of adding more band members, they explain the plan is to finish the album they’re writing with fellow OhBoy! members and also work on an album of Ginger Snaps material.
“Looking back, now it's obvious why the OhBoy! album has taken while because as we had new brilliant members join,” explains Brook.
“It took us a little while to find our feet about what OhBoy! was about again.
“We needed to give ourselves a bit of space and to mess it up a bit.”
Irons adds: “One thing I'd say about both projects, is we all work full time so we do what we can around that. Everyone else has lives and it can take its toll on stuff.
“Both projects are very important to me and Jay but there’s only seven days in a week apparently.”
Number Crunching is out now. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/gingersnapspop