Interview The Answering Machine

Here at DIY, we’ve been waiting for The Answering Machine’s debut album for a long time. Luckily for us, it’s out in May. Martin Colclough (vocals, guitar) tells us about it, their recent tour with Ra Ra Riot, and, erm, Answering Machine nipple tassels…

Here at DIY, we’ve been waiting for The Answering Machine’s debut album for a long time. Luckily for us, it’s out in May. Martin Colclough (vocals, guitar) tells us about it, their recent tour with Ra Ra Riot, and, erm, Answering Machine nipple tassels…

Hi there, how are you all?
We are really good actually! We’ve just finished our UK tour with Ra Ra Riot and have our debut single coming out in a couple of weeks. The video’s just been finished and it looks great. Things are really starting to come together.

How was the Ra Ra Riot tour? Any mad stories to tell?
It was brilliant actually! We were trying to keep the tour as cheap as we could, so we were driving ourselves back to Manchester most nights, and living off Ready Salted crisps on the rider (underrated flavour, however), so no mad stories here. But we did stay over in London on the last night, and there was some End-of-tour party going on in the venue. We sweet-talked the barmaid into selling us some cocktail called a Woo Woo at student prices. They tasted like fucking Refresher bars, and slipped down far too easily. That, mixed with the black Sambuca, led to a messy last night. I went missing for an hour and no one knows where I went. It’s all Woo Woo’s fault.

How pleased are you with your debut album, ‘Another City, Another Sorry’?
It’s the biggest achievement from us collectively as a band and also in our personal lives. Although it was a couple of years in the making, we believe we needed that time to develop our sound and give the songs enough variation. The album now has a great mix of joy and intensity. Working with Dave Eringa was an honor too. He has injected our songs with a new level of passion and drive. All in all, we think the album’s a huge success.

Do you find it frustrating that so many upcoming Mancunian bands are compared to the likes of The Smiths or Oasis merely due to their location?
To be honest, we’ve never had a comparison to either of these bands. There is a huge musical heritage in Manchester, and many bands from the city do get caught up in that trap. It’s usually because they declare themselves the next Morrissey or Ian Curtis. But why put yourself through that?! It’s obviously going to lead to comparisons, and the original will win hands down. To me, new music from Manchester is much more diverse than people may think. There are art-rock bands like us, Polytechnic and Airship, New Wave bands like Dutch Uncles, there are big folk collectives like The Travelling Band and Magic Arm. It’s a fresh and vibrant city for new music, you just need to look in the right places.

Apart from Manchester, where in particular do you always enjoy playing?
We have always had great shows in Brighton, Colchester, Swindon and Lancaster. Generally speaking, smaller towns are always great to visit on a tour, because the crowds there make such an effort to come out and see you, and they appreciate a band traveling so far to see them. There are hundreds of bands playing shows every day in the major cities, but some of these towns only get a couple of shows a week. We’re all originally from small towns, so we understand the excitement. Once, Babyshambles announced a show in my hometown of Crewe. My mates from home were going crazy about it, it was weird. But the band pulled out a week later. I guess Crewe has a reputation.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a band?
Mine and Pat’s friendship has always been based around the band. We met in the last year of Uni, and we’d started up The Answering Machine about a week after meeting. We’ve always been playing in one band or another since we were kids, so we’d probably still be making music. Me and Pat used to joke about owning a late night café and record shop in Manchester, with a record label on the side. We even went into detail on the specs, down to what beers we’d have on tap. We also agreed to have waitresses who walked around serving olives all night. Needless to say, that was a heavy night in the pub right there!

What is your stance on illegal downloading, good or bad?
It’s extremely bad but there’s always a positive side. A lot of people argue that they download the music illegally first, before buying it in the shops, just to check they like it. But when we were young we didn’t have that freedom, it was all about taking a stab-in-the-dark on an album. The problem with illegally downloading music is that it places no value on music, and it becomes a commodity. I don’t believe you can be a music ‘fan’ if you only use illegal downloads. I don’t think it’ll be an issue soon though, because Spotify answers all these questions. It allows you to stream the music first, before you go on to buy it.

Vinyl, Cassette, CD or mp3, which is your favourite?
Oh, good question. Vinyl for nostalgia, but mp3’s for ease and accessibility. We’re just releasing our single in these two formats. CDs are great too, but they just get lost and scratched. Cassettes are fragile little buggers, the underdog format, but it was a lot of fun making mixtapes when you were 14.

Who has the best body odour in The Answering Machine?
Can’t say I’ve smelt the others recently, but mine’s great. I sweat Sure For Men.

What has been the worst type of merchandise you’ve ever seen and which band was responsible?
I don’t want to mention names, but there’s a lot of bands out there that get all their merchandise made by some huge merch company. I just find it so impersonal and upsetting. There’s no control over the products, and you end up with cigarette lighters with the band’s name on. We’ve had experience of using these companies, and it’s just no fun. We now make our own merchandise. We buy the t-shirts and then press them ourselves, and sell them in take-away bags. We do the same with canvas bags too. We have a badge-maker and make our own badges. We’re also making limited edition tour CDs at the moment, and Gemma’s writing the tracklisting out on each one, a thousand times. Maybe the joke’s on us. I guess we didn’t think this one through. Every opportunity he can, Pat tells me about Interpol’s venture in selling girls’ knickers on their merch stall. Genius. Bring on The Answering Machine nipple tassels.

What questions do you hate having to answer?
What’s the meaning of life?

Single ‘Cliffer’ will be released on 9th March.

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

February 2024

Featuring The Last Dinner Party, IDLES, Yard Act, Crawlers, Remi Wolf and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY