The Great DIY Debate 2023: English Teacher, Porij, Orla Gartland, Matt Maltese, and Bill Ryder-Jones

Interview The Great DIY Debate 2023

We gathered a bunch of DIY faves in one room to look back at the highlights and big music moments of the past year.

As we draw the curtain on another year, tuck ourselves in for the Christmas season and get ready to wash the metaphorical duvet covers for the fresh new dawn that is 2024, what better time to reflect on the past 12 months of music and merriment? And who better to do it with than a fivesome of DIY faves - namely Matt Maltese, Orla Gartland, Bill Ryder-Jones, English Teacher’s Lily Fontaine and Porij’s Eggy Moore? You can shove your list this year Santa, cos we couldn’t wish for anything more.

Let’s kick things off with some personal highlights. Orla, you started an indie supergroup of sorts in FIZZ - what’s it been like being in a band rather than going it alone?

Orla Gartland: Supergroup is a strong word but I’ll take it! We’ve all been friends for about ten years so it’s not a Louis Walsh audition situation, it happened very naturally. It’s been good - hard in moments, though, because there’s no frontperson.

Bill Ryder-Jones: Like a democracy or something? That sounds unbearable…

Orla: I’ve been trying to chat to people who’ve been in bands for a long time and gather advice, and the general consensus is there’s always a frontperson that gets the final veto and because we’re very democratic that’s not the case.

Eggy, Porij: I feel like being in a band is 50% music and 50% ‘can you spend every second of the day with these people?’ It’s quite political, but it’s nice to have a community.

Lily, English Teacher: I’m such a control freak and I just want to make all the decisions, so I’m learning to delegate.

Orla: Sometimes it feels company-esque, delegating heads of department.

Matt Maltese: What department are you head of?

Orla: I’m the Head of the Department of Nagging.

Are there any big no-nos for keeping a harmonious band dynamic?

Eggy: Leave your ego at the door. Everyone’s feelings are important and even if three people love it and one person finds it uncomfortable, you need to move as a unit and listen to them. You’ve got to make sure everyone’s happy.

DIY: And don’t shit on the tour bus.

Matt: I’ve heard about [shitting in] plastic bags…

Bill: Pint glasses, it was. How many plastic bags do you think there are on a tour bus versus pint glasses? I’m talking about the early 2000s, when I was shitting in cups. I was in a group with all-male school friends, all uneducated gobshites, so it’s lovely to hear all this [talk about feelings] because my experience wasn’t like that at all. It’s nice to hear that things have changed.

Lily: I’m trying to process how this relates to me because [the rest of my band] are male, but I feel like I have the most masculine energy out of everyone in my band. They’re all really lovely and I’m the one that’s like, shitting on the tour bus. I think I’d probably be the most likely to start a fight. I can be ranting about football and they’re the ones telling me to go to bed at 8pm.

The Great DIY Debate 2023: English Teacher, Porij, Orla Gartland, Matt Maltese, and Bill Ryder-Jones

“The only stadium gig I’ve been to is Michael Bublé when I was 11. It was incredible.” - Matt Maltese

Porij supported Coldplay this year - what’s it like walking out to a stadium, Eggy?

Eggy: Good craic, to be fair! I quite liked it! We had a week at the Etihad which was totally weird because we used to rehearse in this falling-down old mill in Manchester where you could see the stadium; it was a real full-circle moment. Catering was unreal. I had the best roast dinner of my life on the Sunday. It was crazy though looking out at that many people; it was a bit like seeing a screensaver.

Orla: Is Chris Martin as nice as he seems?

Eggy: We didn’t meet Coldplay but they did send us a bottle of bubbly so that was nice. There was a big runway but I wasn’t allowed all the way down the end. There was a certain point you can go to which is like, a third down, and then they’d cut [the signal] if I went over.

Like when you try to wheel your supermarket trolley out of the bounds of the car park and it stops you or you don’t get your pound back.

Bill: Except by pound, you mean career.

Eggy: That probably is worth about a pound by now, the state of the music industry…

It’s been a big year in general for stadium gigs: Blur, Arctic Monkeys, Beyoncé et al. Did anyone go to any?

Orla: I’ve got tickets for Taylor Swift but that’s next year.

Matt: I don’t think I’ve ever been to a stadium gig… Oh no, maybe Michael Bublé when I was 11. It was incredible.

Bill: That scans so fucking much…

Matt: It does scan, I know. He did this incredible thing where he sang off-mic at The O2 and I could still hear him perfectly; it was mental. He was fully locking into the part of like, mums wanting to shag him. There was some filthy chat. All innuendo.

The Great DIY Debate 2023: English Teacher, Porij, Orla Gartland, Matt Maltese, and Bill Ryder-Jones The Great DIY Debate 2023: English Teacher, Porij, Orla Gartland, Matt Maltese, and Bill Ryder-Jones The Great DIY Debate 2023: English Teacher, Porij, Orla Gartland, Matt Maltese, and Bill Ryder-Jones

“I have the most masculine energy in my band. I’d be the most likely to start a fight.” - Lily Fontaine

Hopefully you’ve brought some of that into your own stage show - of which there have been many all over the globe this year! Any favourite places from your travels?

Matt: All of Asia was amazing; it was so far away from everything I’ve ever seen or been to. All the fans are crazy. I didn’t do any karaoke or anything; I’m very boring outside of, I mean maybe even in the show. Early nights. We did 12 flights in 15 days so I couldn’t really do anything mental, but Singapore Airlines was the best airline.

People tend to give good fan gifts in that part of the world, it seems…

Matt: Yeah, loads of stuffed toys. In America, I got a Lego version of me on a piano. And I got a doll that looked a lot like me.

Lily: Someone gave me a book of all of his poems that he’d written - not about me, just in general. Poems and ideas for music, it was very much like a journal so there were drawings and things.

Matt: Do you think if you have a big song, he’ll sue you? That happened to Disclosure - they had someone sue them, saying that they’d allegedly discovered this woman’s journal on a tube and used it for lyrics.

Eggy: I don’t think I’ve had a gift but people do chuck things of Quaker Oats sometimes. Again, this band name is coming back to bite me.

Bill: My old flatmate met this fan of mine online and she came over from Asia to West Kirby where I live and they started dating, and she brought a doll of me and that freaked me out. I remember sitting on the couch when she gave it to me and saying, ‘That must have taken you a long time’, and my flatmate leant round and went: ‘Four months’. But yeah, it did move about a bit.

Eggy: What do you mean, ‘It moved about a bit’?!

Bill: I’d be like, ‘Has anyone moved that doll of me that used to be under my bed and is now on the kitchen table?’ Then I threw it in the sea. No, I’m joking, but I throw so much shit in the sea: phones, photos of girls, all kinds of carry on… I live by the sea and I just go: ‘Right, what’s going in today?’ Get the fuck in the sea. Next door’s cat…

Moving swiftly on: Lily, you’ve just recorded an episode of Later… with Jools Holland! Was that a big one off the bucket list?

Lily: It’s top of the bucket list. I don’t really know where to go now from that.

Bill: There’s always the Hootenanny.

Lily: We played in Liverpool the night before, went down [to London after] and got into the hotel at 3am so most of the preparation was just sleeping so we didn’t look like freaks in front of the camera.

If you could be on a non-music TV show, what would you all choose?

Eggy: 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. I’d be shit but it’d be a good time.

Orla: Bake Off? I love a bake. I say bake, what’s the other one… Cooking.

Matt: But cooking to a timer is just horrific…

Orla: I do think I’d be stressed but I’m OK with that. I like a cook that has lots of different things and they all have to be ready at different times. A bit manic. It’s such a thrill.

Matt: I’d go on Who Do You Think You Are?. I’d like to know but I’d just want it to be as good as the Danny Dyer episode - he’s descended from the King or something.

Bill: One of my favourite things that ever happened was when he tweeted, ‘I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since them slags drove that plane into the Twin Towers’. As a result of that, I went back and looked at some of his other tweets and they’re all fucking genius. There’s one where he went, ‘Took my little boy to the park today. No ducks anywhere. Fucking slags.’ Everything’s a slag in Danny Dyer Land.

The Great DIY Debate 2023: English Teacher, Porij, Orla Gartland, Matt Maltese, and Bill Ryder-Jones The Great DIY Debate 2023: English Teacher, Porij, Orla Gartland, Matt Maltese, and Bill Ryder-Jones The Great DIY Debate 2023: English Teacher, Porij, Orla Gartland, Matt Maltese, and Bill Ryder-Jones

“You can’t hate Elton, but he is banned in the house.” -Eggy Moore

Bill, you’ve recently announced Album Five - is there any wisdom you can impart to those in the group still working on their debuts?

Bill: No not really - I don’t wanna give anyone a leg up… I don’t think I’ve learnt anything new. I think the thing I very much believe in is that you’ve got to think about a record as a period of your life and there’s no point doing it if it’s not gonna obsess you and surround you and half drive you mad. That’s when I know I’m doing good work.

If you haven’t thrown at least five things into the sea…

Bill: A couple of songs. Half an album. I’ve lashed an album into the bloody sea before - my fourth record. I binned it. Well, I sea-ed it; that’s the correct term.

Orla: In what form? Like the hard drive or an actual disc…

Bill: In this case, it was more of a mental sea-ing, but I’m sure I could burn a copy and lash one in.

Looking out to the wider landscape of 2023, did anyone catch Elton’s final goodbye set at Glastonbury?

Eggy: Don’t talk to me about Elton John at Glastonbury. I was clashing with him for one of my Glastonbury sets and it was rough out there guys! Elton was heavily-attended, I hear… You can’t hate Elton, but he is banned in the house.

Orla: I don’t think they should let anyone else play at that time. But then not everyone likes Elton.

Eggy: That’s what I thought Orla, but it’s not true babes! They all love Elton!

Madonna is another icon out on the road at the moment. She’s got costume changes, she’s got routines, she’s got…

Matt: A death wish? My dad one year was talking about James Brown and was like, ‘I thought his heart would have given way by now’ and then two weeks later - dead.

Eggy: You’ve got power in your family.

Bill: He was taking crack and cocaine for the best part of 60 years though…

Eggy: Yeah, but it was definitely because of what [Matt’s] dad said.

Lily: Can your dad just say ‘Nigel Farage’ quickly for me…

Finally, are there any new year’s resolutions, hopes or dreams for 2024 that we’re manifesting today?

Lily: Write a new album. The first one’s recorded but I need to write the second one. I just dumped my boyfriend so maybe that’ll help?

Eggy: Bill will throw him in the sea if you need.

Bill: I’m sorry, I never throw a person in the sea. I draw the line at murder.

Thanks to Colours, Hoxton for the use of their space.

Tags: Bill Ryder-Jones, English Teacher, Matt Maltese, Orla Gartland, Porij, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the November 2023 issue of DIY, out now.

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