Interview: The Lovely Eggs speak ahead of This Is Eggland Roadmender gig
Lancashire duo The Lovely Eggs are about to embark on their final run of shows on the back of their latest album This Is Eggland and headline the Roadmender this month.
When it was released earlier this year, the LP was met with critical acclaim with the DIY outfit selling out venues across the country.
The husband and wife duo of Holly Ross and David Blackwell cranked up the distortion for This Is Eggland for a heavier, angry offering, in comparison to their previous blend of indie and psychedelia.
Ahead of their Northampton gig, David Jackson spoke to guitarist Holly about this album cycle, how a drunken conversation led to the band working with a producer for the first time in their career, staying true to their beliefs and David’s recovery from another bout of pneumonia.
Q – Before we properly get under way, how’s David? Fans will have seen your photo of him in hospital recently recovering from pneumonia.
A – “He's getting there. He's out of hospital and resting. Every day I take him up his breakfast in bed and his tea on tray. He's still done a couple of gigs because we refuse to give up, but he's been resting as much as he can. He had it before in April and he started to feel a bit rubbish again. We were playing two sets in one day and he was an absolute sweating mess, a gibbering wreck, we went to the doctors and they rushed him straight to hospital.”
Q – The end of the Eggland tour is in sight, how have things been this time around?
A- “It's been brilliant, better than we could ever have imagined. It’s been a mad year, but a good year. It's been non-stop but we have to take a break now so we can do it all again. If we keep playing gigs we can't write, especially doing it all ourselves. It's not like we can leave someone else to do things. We have to stop one thing so we can concentrate on another."
Q – This is Eggland has probably been your most commercially successful album, what do you think was the key to its success?
A – “It's been building for a while now, we've been going for 12 years. This album has changed things for us, we started selling out our gigs before the album came out which is amazing. When the album came out, it all went a bit nuts. I think more people are getting into us through word of mouth and there’s an element of having the longevity. We think the album's really good and if it wasn't as good as it was, it wouldn’t have had the momentum. It was a mixture of longevity and stubbornness I think.”
Q - For a band this far into a career with five albums to date, are there still new experiences on the road or in the studio?
A - “Every single gig of ours is different and if it wasn't, we'd have packed this band in years ago. We play so many gigs - if they were all the same it'd just be boring. We do the band for our own amusement really, we're not doing it for anyone really. We do it because we love it, if it stops being that, we wouldn't. Live, there's always surprises, it's always different. Always expect the unexpected, it's random fun and a party. It's never become a 'clocking in and clocking out' thing for us', yeah, we make our living from it, but it's not a job. This tour we started taking poets with us and that made a difference. We had Phill Jupitus with us doing his Porky The Poet on the February tour, then we had Rob Orton who’s joining us again. Having a bill with really good acts on and poetry as well as music makes it interesting for us and the audience.”
Q – It was the first time you’ve worked with a producer on an album. How did the partnership with Dave Fridmann come around?
A – “Me and David were talking around the kitchen table about who would be our dream producer and we said Dave Fridmann. I decided to try and contact him. He doesn't publish his email address on his website just in case people like us email him. I found a phone number for the studio when I was drunk. I got two wrong numbers at first, one was a takeaway and the other was a garage. The next time I got through to the studio answerphone and left a message to say how we thought he was a fabulous producer and if he would think about working with us. A year later we got an email from him saying he'd listened to his answer phone message and he wanted to produce us.”
Q – This Is Eggland has a noticeable heavier sound compared to your previous LPs, was that a conscious move or something Dave Fridmann brought out of you?
A – “It was defiantly a conscious direction. Dave could only work with what we provided him with. If we'd provided him with a folk album, that's what he would have produced and mixed. We were raging basically for quite a while about a lot of different things going on in the world. Things like Brexit, about not being taken seriously because of where you live, what accent you've got, what privilege you've got and coming from a working-class background. People might say we're not a political band, but we're a massive political band because of what we're doing - the statement in itself that we self-release everything and are very much DIY. We haven't moved to London like a lot of people do to get famous and 'make it'. We've never done that and it's a big thing in the music industry where that's what most of the bands do."
Q – Have people tried to push you ‘South’ over the years?
A – “We're buggers for sabotaging our own careers for the benefit of being true to what we're doing. Sometimes I think we could have done things differently if we'd not been so stubborn. It feels nice to stay true to what you believe in because so many bands seem to not. A lot of these 'political' bands which are cropping up, not naming any names, are all moaning on about ‘this and that’, but are on a massive record label who have shares in God knows what. Don't spout off like that unless you're going to practise what you preach. Don't go and sign to a major label and then go and preach about socialism because you can't do that.
“We've made 'wrong' career decisions in the past but it's not about a career, it's bigger than that for us, it's about dedicating yourself to a way of life. Me and David have always said we're not rich enough to have morals, we’ve done a TV advert before because it paid. We're too working class and poor to say ‘no’. It's OK if you've got a lot of money in the bank to say, 'No, I don't want to do that advert', but we did because we had already written the song. We were like, 'Do we watch telly?’, yes, OK, let's do it’. I was skint and pregnant and thinking what were we going to do for money for the next year. We couldn’t tour because of our new born baby, it just came up like it was meant to be. We couldn't afford to say no. I'd be very hesitant to use the world 'integrity'. I'd like to think I've got integrity but with some stuff, I do stuff I'd rather not do cause I'm working class and poor.
"We can't write when we go on tour because we've got a kid, it's chaos, we don’t get a quiet moment, there's no way we'd have time to write. He's five now, when he was a toddler we were going to a lot of soft play centres in the day and parks. Now he's older, he likes museums. Every day we need to be doing something. By the time we get around to doing the gig, it's a relief. Because of this, I've got no idea about the next record. We haven't even started thinking about it. We know we need to block off time to do it. We're not going to even think about touring so we'll just address it when we come to it. It's different every time and I think each album informs the next one. I don’t know if the next one will be as heavy or not.”
Q – Despite the hard work of being an entirely DIY outfit with a five-year-old in tow, you still seem to hugely enjoy The Lovey Eggs.
“If you want to be in a band, do it full time and not work a rubbish office job, you have to do it yourself. You have to live on nothing for a long time - beans on toast every day. Live frugal and do it yourself and then you can live the dream and play loads of gigs around the country. People often feel trapped in their own jobs which I do 'get', but a lot of time it is a choice. You just want nice fancy things. Forget the fancy things and you can have the lifestyle you want really, but lot of people what to have the cake and eat it.”
The Lovely Eggs headline the Roadmender in Northampton on Sunday, October 21.
Doors open at 7pm, tickets cost £10 in advance before fees and are available via https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-lovely-eggs/roadmender/1225432