Interview Straight Lines: ‘We Take The Rough With The Smooth’

Kelly Betts catches up with Straight Lines to talk about what we might expect from their new live show.

Individually they might be Tom Jenkins, Dane Campbell, Todd Campbell and James Pugha but together they are Straight Lines, a DIY punk rock band from Wales who literally made the most out of what they had when it came to their debut, writing, recording, mixing and mastering the whole thing in Todd’s garage. Kelly Betts catches up with Straight Lines to talk about the recording of ‘Freaks Like Us’, Xtra Mile Recordings and what we might expect from their new live show.

Your debut album ‘Persistence In This Game’ was released back in 2010. How did the recording process differ to that of ‘Freaks Like Us’?
‘Persistence In This Game’ was recorded in Todd’s (bassist) garage over the space of about four weeks back in 2009. The songs were written by Tom and Dane and were taken into the studio before we had a band name or had even played together as a group. The recording part was fun but the funding part was tough. We’re used to working with the bare minimum so we took the rough with the smooth and got on with it. ‘Freaks Like Us’ was recorded in Todd’s garage again. We weren’t exactly sure if we were going to make an EP or an album with the new songs we had written, all we knew was that we wanted to get it released as soon as possible to keep the momentum going from the first album. In the end we decided on making it into a ten track album but due to time factors and finances we went back into the trusty garage for three weeks to record it.

‘Freaks Like Us’ is now out. Do you think fans of ‘’Persistence In This Game’ will appreciate this one as much as the first?
I hope so! Admittedly, it is a little different from the first album in the sense that ‘Freaks Like Us’ has a rawer sound to it and maybe doesn’t sound as polished, but that was what we were aiming for. I think the song writing has definitely progressed since ‘Persistence In This Game ‘without losing our style or sound so I don’t see it being a massive jump for fans not to like it.

Did you have as much control over it as your debut album?
Yes, we had total control. Nothing had really changed between recording the first album and recording ‘Freaks Like Us’. We were producing it ourselves and funding it so we didn’t have to answer to anyone or use other people’s ideas.

You made the debut album before you had even gigged – what was that first show like?
It was pretty much the same as every band’s first show, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. We were still getting used to playing the songs and learning how to play them as a band. I hope we’ve come along since then haha!

What advice would you give to other DIY bands wanting to do the same thing?
Learn to love sleeping on floors, being skint, late nights, early mornings and being tired. More importantly, enjoy it. At the time it’s hard, but when you stand back and look at it all, you’re having great fun and gaining experiences that you would never get otherwise.

You’ve got some great gigs coming up this summer, what’s a live show like from Straight Lines?
They’re loud and can get very energetic at times. We like to move around the stage a fair bit. I’ve been told in the past that our songs sound heavier when we play live so I guess it’s just a good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll show.

Do you have many bands on the circuit that you love to gig with?
There are a few. We toured with Canterbury back in January/February and they were spot on every night. They put on a great show and are real dudes too. There are too many great bands to list.

What’s been the highlight of being in Straight Lines so far?
Playing to a full tent at Download and playing at South By South West in Texas is definitely up there at the top of my highlight real.

Lowlight?
Driving all the way home from Glasgow at a maximum speed of 50mph when our van broke.

What’s the ultimate dream for the band?

Upgrading to Premier Inn from Travelodge on tour.

Finally, can you sum up Straight Lines for us in five words?
Punk rock in a van.

Straight Lines’ new album ‘Freaks Like Us’ is out now via Xtra Mile Recordings. The band will be heading out on a full UK headline tour this September, for more information visit straightlinesband.com.

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