Interview Eagulls: ‘We Were Cheesed Off, Stuck In Jobs We Hated’

Eagulls may not intend to cause a ruckus, but these punk upstarts have a knack for causing controversy.

“It would definitely have been an easier past year without it, though some people think it’s benefitted us. It’s been blown out of proportion – in the grand scheme of things there are a lot more important things for people to get pissed off about.” In a noisy pub in Soho, Mark Goldsworthy, guitarist and founder member of Eagulls, is talking about the open letter that the band put on their website in January last year.

The letter – calling out “beach bands sucking each others’ dicks” and saying “fuck you and all your mums and dads that pay for you to ‘do the band full time’,” among other things – certainly ruffled a few feathers. Are there any regrets about posting it? “It was George [Mitchell, Eagulls’ singer] who wrote it. I agree with most of the sentiments though it’s been misinterpreted a lot. It was a genuine piece but if you know our band you might misconstrue the intention.”

The piece has since been taken down by the band, and though it might be what Eagulls are best known for at the moment, all this is set to change with the release of their debut album. It’s a record that turns the anger, resentment and pissed-off attitude of that letter and sets it atop some of the most blistering post-punk you’ll hear. Not quite the mellow tunefulness of the West Coast country-rockers they very nearly share a name with, then. Where does the name come from? “It was at Primavera and it was an in-joke that went too far. It was just three of us together 24/7, so the unfunniest things became hilarious. We saw this samba band covered in feathers and we said we’re going to start a punk band called the Eagulls when we get back. We never thought we’d be sat here talking about it now!”

Rather than the Eagles, the Leeds quintet’s sound has been compared to everyone from Dinosaur Jr to Gang of Four and The Cure, their songs charging from glowering post-rock into exhilarating punk. There are also elements of the local hardcore scene they grew up in (Liam played guitar in Fast Point and Mark in Hordes) but there’s a more melodic drive at play here. “Post-punk is such a broad term that we’re happy for people to call us that,” says Mark. And it’s a sound which has been capturing a lot of attention. Playing on Letterman and up for awards, do they feel their popularity growing? “It’s all superficial at the moment so it’s hard to tell. I take it with a pinch of salt – if there are more people at our shows then that’s what counts.”

The band is impatient to get the album – a record that has been ready for over a year – out to people. “It seems a long time ago since we started it so it’s hard to have an opinion on it anymore. You have to step back. There are little things that niggle you but when we get it on vinyl I’ll see how it sounds.” ‘Eagulls’ has seen them plunge into darker waters than their early songs suggested – with a harsher sound coming more to the fore. “’Tough Luck’ is my favourite song because it’s the old and the new,” says Mark. “It’s got the melodies but it’s also quite abrasive. If there was a Venn diagram of our sound that would be in the middle.”

This harsher edge seems linked to the fact that the band were all working full-time at local bars and shops to make enough money to get by – making recording a frustrating process. “We were all cheesed off and stuck in jobs that we hated. When we were at university we were writing more optimistic songs but we became more cynical. With the jobs we couldn’t get the time off, everyone was in a shit place and it crept into the songs.” Not that leaving their jobs and joining the ‘glamorous’ music industry will see their anger subside. “We’re leaving our jobs soon but parts of being in the music industry are just as soul destroying.” He looks up and laughs. “We’ll always find something to moan about!”

It’s this feeling of disillusionment with what they see around them that drives a lot of their songs. Is there a political element to the band? “Not overtly, but I think some of the things George sings about are affected by the political situation – being sold a fake dream that you could get a degree, and then getting a shit job. We don’t have a political stance – we’re just pessimistic about everything!” he wryly notes. Yet for all this cynicism there’s a definite belief in the music they make together, a belief that was vindicated when last year’s SXSW ended up with a bidding war for the band.

They ended up signing with Partisan Records, the decision made partly due to the band’s desire to maintain control. “The record label haven’t pressured us at all. I used to see press and it would make me hate a band thinking it was them but now we’re in it you can tell they were pushed into it. It’s hard not to fall into those traps. What we’re doing at the moment is far more than I’d ever expected and I’m very happy. My ambition is just to stay in control of the situation and not get sucked into it all and spat back out. We want to rely on ourselves, not get pushed about and keep the integrity of the band.”

“We don’t want to get sucked into the media bullshit either,” he adds. “That’s why the letter got blown all out of proportion – with the internet it got regurgitated and put under the microscope.” So he doesn’t use Twitter then? “The band has one to let people know when shows are on but, personally, I don’t trust myself on it.”

Eagulls’ self-titled debut album is out now on Partisan Records.

Taken from the March 2014 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.

Tags: Eagulls, Features

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

March 2024

Featuring Green Day, English Teacher, Everything Everything, Caity Baser and more!

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY