Interview The Amazing Snakeheads: ‘We Can’t Be Anything But Ourselves’

Domino singings The Amazing Snakeheads are sticking to what they know best.

“F**k knows what they saw in us! Honestly, fuck knows!” The Amazing Snakeheads’ menacing frontman, Dale Barclay, is pondering what made label Domino offer to sign the Glaswegian band. “Laurence [Bell, Domino boss] just dug the music. He came to see us play, he dug it.”

The band – completed by bassist William Coombe, drummer Jordon Hutchinson, plus the new touring addition of multi-instrumentalist Andrew Pattie, (“a genius”, as William puts it) – are in a suitably grimy east London pub, hours ahead of their set at the none-more-perfect setting of the nearby Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.

They’re about to (and now have) release debut album, ‘Amphetamine Ballads’, a record that owes as much to the sounds of 50s rock’n’roll as it does the underworld – think seedy, dark back alleys and smoky basement clubs. Just don’t call it a “Glasgow sound”.

“We’re not really part of any scene,” Dale explains. “All anyone can do is just play your own stuff, and sound like yourself, no matter what it is. The minute you start trying to imitate something…”

Jordon steps in to finish his bandmate’s sentence.

“You lose something. You’re fucked.”

“You’re imitating,” William joins in. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the worst or the best thing ever, you can only ever be honest with yourselves and play your music, and sound your own way.”

“We just be ourselves,” Dale continues, “and try and let our influences come through, in a way that’s natural. We’re not contrived. One thing that we’ve tried to do, is to not think about things too much, just let it come out naturally. Our band sounds like our band, and that’s just great, because we love how we sound. We love our band, we love the music we make. That’s all you can ask for.”

The ‘dark’ nature of the record wasn’t intentional either, as Jordon’s keen to point out. “A lot of people keep talking about the fact that it was recorded at night,” he laughs, “but that was just a necessity! The studio we recorded in is in a light commercial area, and they can’t make too much noise until the evening. It wasn’t intentionally made to sound dark, but if it comes out that way, that’s good.”

The studio in question is Green Door Studio, in Glasgow. ‘Amphetamine Ballads’ was recorded there with the help of producer/engineer, Emily MacLaren.

“It was a natural choice,” Jordon says of the decision to work with MacLaren. “She’s the in-house producer, and we’ve been playing gigs with her band for a while.”

“She’s a friend first and foremost,” continues William, “so that helps a lot when you’re doing something as important as making an album. She knows us, and what we like and what we don’t like. That’s half the battle!”

Not that it sounds like they’ve had many battles to fight – they’ve only good words to say about the team at Domino. “They have had suggestions,” points out Jordon, “but it’s up to us whether or not we choose to accept them.”

“Yeah,” Dale agrees. “That’s the thing about Laurence, what he knew from the start with our band. We can only do it our way. We can’t be anything but ourselves, and Domino are happy for us to be ourselves, make music how we want to make it. You can’t ask for more.”

William chips in. “There’s no such thing as a bad idea,” he says. “Everybody’s putting ideas on the table, and that’s what it’s all about. Because we’re not gonna say that we know everything about music – this is the first band we’ve been in!”

Not only are they surprised that they got the attention of one of the UK’s biggest indie labels, they’re slightly bemused that they’ve won over as many people as they have.

“We didn’t think anyone would like our band,” quips Dale.

“We didn’t think we’d get signed!” adds William, attempting to one-up his frontman.

“We didn’t think we’d get any gigs!” laughs Jordon.

“We thought there might be some people who’d dig it,” clarifies Dale, “but not to the extent that it seems to have gone.”

“There was no big grand plan or anything,” interrupts William, “the fact that we’re here is brilliant. The fact that we’ve got an album coming out is fucking brilliant.”

“The fact that we’ve got to make an album has been brilliant,” Dale continues, “getting to go places and play shows, that’s enough for us. People seem to be digging the music, and that’s fucking great. Because however much we say we don’t give a fuck what people think – which we don’t, we started there and there’s been no reason to change that mindset – it’s great for us to see people digging the music, coming to shows and losing their shit. That’s the good stuff, that’s what it’s all about. If people dig the music, fucking great. If they don’t, that’s fine as well. But if people want to come and see us live – then bring your shit!”

The Amazing Snakeheads’ debut album ‘Amphetamine Ballads’ is out now via Domino.

Taken from the new, free DIY Weekly, available to read online, download on Android via Google Play, or download on iPad now.

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