Interview: All We Are - “We don’t see it as a short-term thing”

Crossing paths from three separate countries, Liverpool’s All We Are are united in their love of psych.

It’s not quite funk, it’s not quite disco, and it’s not even psych. The three members of All We Are - Guro Gikling (bass, vocals), Rich O’ Flynn (drums) and Luis Santos (guitars) bond over a love of just about anything, and together in their early singles they’ve latched onto a sound that is neither one thing nor the other. It simply works.

Debut ‘Utmost’ Good’ was released back in the early months of 2013. Tagged with the eye-opening “Bee Gees on diazepam” description, it gave hints towards psych giants Unknown Mortal Orchestra, only it arrived with an even more deranged, under-ether take on things. Follow-up ‘Feel Safe’ (the band’s first single on Domino) was a little sharper in approach, its funk slides and clipped guitars possessing a razor-edge.

The group’s eclecticism could be put down to different backgrounds. Guro is Norwegian-born, with the Ireland-bred O’ Flynn and the Brazilian Santos completing a rich and diverse line-up. But together, these three all speak from the same page. They love good music, good atmospheres and, above anything else, good booze.

Rich cites a recent getaway trip to the North of Wales as evidence of All We Are’s unorthodox routine. They packed their gear, recording equipment and a fortnight’s worth of liquor. “Our mission was to write a tune a day for two weeks. A couple of those were album-worthy. Three tunes in two weeks was pretty good, and we had a fucking load of fun,” he eagerly recites. “We lock ourselves in, enter this All We Are world and just write,” says Guro. “We’ll come out of it and be like ‘Woah, there’s an actual world out there’. This is weird. We have to go back to civilisation.”

All three of the band write together on a prolific basis. Sometimes it’ll involve far-out sessions, six hour “jams” (“nobody will ever hear them,” jokes Guro). Other times every member will swap instruments, entering into some distressed, free jazz experience. “I was on guitar and it was like ‘Fuck man,’ it’s a spaceship in here,” Rich says, as traditional guitar wizard Luis sips a mid-afternoon pint ahead of the band’s Great Escape Festival set.

“It’s not really funk that we do. It’s just groove-based.”

— Rich O’ Flynn

Together, they deny suggestions that they’re cosying up to one particular genre. “Disco” and “funk” are both dirty words according to Rich and Guro, with the latter narrowing down the group’s sound to “psychedelic boogy.”

“There’s an atmosphere to the tunes, an expansiveness. People might call it psychedelia, but it’s more a depth,” backs up Rich. “It’s not really funk that we do. It’s just groove-based. That’s always existed.”

If it’s just an initial taste of psych that the band tend to expose in their recordings, the actual psychedelic mentality they share was enhanced by recent sessions with producer Dan Carey. His conventional studio setting involves flooding the room with smoke and lasers. “We all came out of it as new people. Even spiritually. It was really special,” says Luis. “We really made a mate for life,” echoes Rich.

All We Are - "We don't see it as a short-term thing"

Of the sessions, Guro recites a process that sounds psych to the extreme. “By the end you start seeing things that aren’t really there, feeling things you didn’t know you could feel… It’s really weird, this one track while we were playing it, I felt like I was wading through water.” Carey might’ve brought out the inner acid trip in All We Are, but on record they still sound remarkably cool under the conditions.

An eventual full-length is expected to come out in the beginning of 2015. For the time being, the band are going to carry on writing. Signing to Domino gave them a sudden jolt in motivation, a desire to keep on penning songs. “They’re really supportive. They’re lovely human beings. They believe in what we’re doing,” says Guro of the label, before summing up the trio’s long-term plan. “We always wanted to do an album. We wanna make loads of albums. All We Are is a very new band when you look at the scheme of things. But we’re gonna stick around for a long time.” At once, the three of them burst into laughter. It almost sounds like a collective cackle, like they’re together planning on taking over the world.

“But we’ve really been focused on this,” says Rich. We always thought we’d plough on and see it through to the end. We love writing. We don’t see it as a short-term thing.”


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