Interview The Cribs: ‘We Never Blow Our Own Trumpets’

We love The Cribs’ new record so much, we sent Coral Williamson off to hunt down the Jarman brothers to find out a little more about it.

The Cribs might have lost Johnny Marr last year, but clearly going back to being a band of brothers did the Jarmans no harm at all; as they found themselves back in the Top 10 with their fifth album, ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’. And they’re in our top 10 Albums Of 2012 too; sitting at number 3. We sent Coral Williamson off to quiz the Gary and Ryan’s heads all about it.

Congratulations! ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’ is one of DIY’s top albums of 2012. How do you feel about that?
Ryan: The record’s like a document of a very strange period of our lives. It’s nice that it went into the charts, but it wasn’t our intention to get back into the top 10, it’s not what we set out to do. But the fact that it was received well, and did well, it’s a bonus really. Of all the records we’ve made, it’s the one we’re the most comfortable with being proud of. We’re just modest people really; we never listened to our own music, or hyped it up or blew our own trumpets. But we definitely feel a sense of pride in this one.
Gary: Awesome, thank you very much. It’s a great privilege; we never get blasé about stuff like that. The fact that anyone’s interested in what three brothers are doing in the bedroom, once upon a time… it doesn’t get lost on us. It’s really nice. So thanks.

Why do you think people responded to it so well?
R: There’s a load of factors going into this record; the fact that it was a return to being a three-piece… people were going to go over it with a fine tooth-comb, saying, ‘Let’s see what they’re like without Johnny [Marr] again’. But people seemed to respond to that really well.
I’m glad of the way people have responded to it; I think maybe people started to understand the band a bit more with this record. We actually really enjoyed the writing of it, all the songs came so naturally. We were enjoying hanging out together as brothers and doing what we wanted. When we started out we couldn’t get Queen producers; it was just acting out on whims. It was very liberating, so I enjoyed it for that reason.
G: What I’d like to think is that nowadays, because there are so many different trends and fads, and so many years down the line people realise that we always kept away from that. And when we put this record out, people can think that it’s really cool we’re still around and still doing that. To a lot of people it was a reminder of why they liked us in the first place. And then other people just thought it was cool, I don’t know. I’m not the kind of person who can say why people should like us, because I don’t really feel like I’m vain enough really.

Speaking of producers, what made you switch between them?
R: When we made the fourth record, it was a very democratic decision, where we were going to do it, who we were going to work with. So this time, we decided to just work with all the people we’d always wanted to work with. After being around for a while, we’ve spoken to a lot of producers before, and we’d wanted to work with David Friddman for years. Growing up I always loved ‘Pinkerton’ by Weezer. It’s the best produced record I’ve ever heard. But at the same time we also loved Steve Albini; he was always the absolute top dog as far as we’re concerned.
In the end it was a case of taking all the best stuff from the sessions and trying to make something cohesive out of it. There’s still lots of odds and ends left over.

Can you quickly sum up the themes of the record?
R: It’s a heavier record in themes, for me it is anyway. The realities of life, it’s more kind of introspective, it’s a lot more philosophical in general.

And what are your personal favourite tracks from the album?
R: My personal favourite is ‘Back To The Bolthole’, it’s the one I like the best. One of the reasons why is that it was one of the first riffs we came up with for the record. I was out visiting Gary in Portland at the time, and we went on road trips all around the north-west. Just before we left we came up with this riff, and we recorded it, so we had it on a iPod in his car. We wrote it right at the beginning, but it didn’t get finished until mid-way through the record, it was this thing we kept coming back to. It’s one of the songs that means the most, I enjoy playing it live the most. When I think of the record it’s the song I think of.
G: Really, I always feel closer to the stuff we play less, because my feelings are still in the studio, when I was thinking about it. All the stuff we did at Abbey Road at the end of the record, I’m still passionate about that. And the acoustic track – ‘I Should’ve Helped’ – I like that. Overall, I think the best song’s ‘Glitters Like Gold’.

The Cribs’ ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’ is at number 3 in DIY’s Albums Of 2012 list. Find out more here.

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