POWER OF POP MUSIC THE CRIBS: CAMP SYMMETRY ROUNDTABLE BY MELISSA NG

THE CRIBS: CAMP SYMMETRY ROUNDTABLE BY MELISSA NG

The Cribs Interview – Camp Symmetry 2013
2nd November 2013 

Power of Pop, along with representatives from other media, sat down with Ryan and Ross of The Cribs at Camp Symmetry two weekends ago, at a roundtable interview. It was conducted after their energetic, frenetic and rocking set at Camp Symmetry, and though the guys were tired and sweaty, they obliged us in answering our questions and were very fun to talk to!

How does it feel to be in Singapore?

Ryan: It’s good to finally be here, we wanted to play in Singapore for, maybe 8 years? It’s taken us a long time to come here. The crowd was great and people are really nice. It was really hot, really sweaty! I was wearing shorts before the show, but I put on jeans. That’s the only regret!

Is it everything you expected it to be?

Ryan: I guess so!

Ross: It’s so hot and we’re not used to it. But we’re not the sort of band that changes the gig to compensate for it being different.

Ryan: The crowd was really nice, that was amazing!

How’s the writing for the new album going?

Ryan: We did some festivals in Europe and did some writing then. We’ve written five or six songs? We don’t like to rush things and set a time when we’re going to do it. I don’t know when we’re going to write again, because I live in New York, Gary lives in Portland, Ross lives in Wakefield. So we’re going to travel around after this tour and do some writing, it’s going good. It’s going good but I don’t want it to feel like work. If it feels like work, I don’t want to do it.

Ross: You should write songs because you want to do it, not because you have to… So we’re at the start, but we’ll see how it goes.

You’re recording two new albums? Why not a double album?

Ryan: We could do a double album, and in this day and age, if you do a double album, you may as well do two albums! A double album hardly even exists anymore. Both sides are going to be really different. The last album, we did the album with Steve Albini and recorded four songs with him. We really liked it but they didn’t fit on the last record, so we’re going to make a new record and finish that one. I don’t think they would work together at all, they’re like two sides of the pan and two different records.

How are they going to be released? Is it going to be months apart?

Ryan: I don’t know, I would like to release them at the same time but it’s too early to know. We might not even do it! We talk a lot but maybe we’ll do it, I hope so.

What’s it like being in a band of brothers?

Ryan: Well, we get asked that question a lot! Apart from that, it’s actually good because we think that we have the same values and same tastes. If it was anyone else besides my brothers, I think after ten years, I wouldn’t want to do it anymore. I would be totally sick of it and I wouldn’t want to do it anymore. I would be like “fuck this, fuck those guys”. But because it’s my brothers, you can’t do that!

Well, that happened to Oasis…

Ryan: Yeah, but I don’t like Oasis! I ignore that.

Ross: You know what buttons not to press to piss people off when you’re brothers. Also, nobody can get away with acting like a rock star or whatever, cos’ you’re just going to be like “I’ve known you since you were four, so why have you changed all of a sudden?”

Ryan: I’m a rock star though, right?!

You guys have been in a band for a really long time, the way you reach out to your fans has changed, and the way your fans get your music as well. What are your thoughts? 

Ryan: I don’t want to be stuck in the past at all, I am aware of the fact that things are different. But at the same time, I think that an album is really important, like 12 or 13 songs. An album is so much more important than three singles, strong together. You have to be aware that younger people are getting it in a different way, and they don’t necessarily do it in a way that we used to do it. At the same time, the album is the main thing, that’s the main piece of art. We’re not going to compromise because Apple says that we have to, or because YouTube says that we have to. We’re not going to decide “oh well fuck the album, let’s just do one cool song and one video and sell it to an advert”. We’re just old guys I guess, I don’t know… Music has become very disposable and I don’t agree with that. So we’ve been trying to resist that as much as we can because I don’t think it’s a disposable thing at all, I think it’s a really important thing. I don’t just want to write a song for an advert or one song on YouTube, that’s not really the kind of people we are.

I’ve seen lots of your live shows on YouTube and I have to say that’s (the set at Camp Symmetry) the tightest I’ve ever seen you guys. 

Ryan: Well that didn’t feel the tightest, it doesn’t bum us out at all. I enjoyed playing, it wasn’t an easy show because it was so hot. The crowd was really good and that makes up for it. We enjoyed it!

What made you decide to do the “Best Of” album?

Ryan: I think it was just because we kept getting asked to make a “Best Of” record for a long time. We weren’t that interested in doing it, but I think that when we had been going for ten years, it just seemed like if we going to do it, we should do it now. And when we started doing it, it was actually really fun, looking at all the old songs and getting all the old tapes. Even though we originally kind of didn’t want to do a “Best Of” record, but when we started doing it, we really enjoyed it. As a band we’re obsessive-compulsive. So making a “Best Of”, we got to be OCD about it so it was fun! And it was a ten-year anniversary sort of thing.

How does it feel to be a decade old? Does it feel more like you’ve been here for so long, you feel like an icon, or does it feel like ten years passed by really quickly?

Ryan: It’s more like icons, really! (laughs) Nah, it’s kind of funny because especially in the UK the press sees us as being really bratty and just being punk kids and stuff. It’s like, how long do we have to be around until we become like the elder statesman and stuff? I don’t care! Because that would suck, that would really suck. We don’t’ care.

Well, you guys have such a really crazy and loyal fanbase, like Tim from The Guardian wrote #cribsbetterthanbeatles on Twitter and it’s still going on now! So what do you think keeps the fans together?

Ryan: I think it’s mainly the fact that even though we’ve been around for ten years, we’ve had the opportunity to sell out a lot of times. We don’t do it and we still try to stick to our values and speak our mind a lot. That sometimes pisses people off but a band should mean more than just music .You should be about your ideals and your opinions and if you do that, you will piss people off but the people that like you will really love you. And all the bands that I liked were the same growing up. Also, we’re just better than The Beatles. (shrugs and laughs) 

What would be your dream collaboration?

Ryan: The Beatles?

Ross: All the stuff we’ve done in the past when we collaborated with Lee Ranaldo or Johnny (Marr) was really not anything, it just happened. We never looked into collaborating with anyone; for some reason we just found ourselves in the situation…

Ryan: …where people wanted to work with us, and you can’t turn it down, it’s like they asked to work with you and you think “I guess we should just do that”. I think maybe Freddie Mercury would be the dream. (Since that’s not possible) maybe Brian May then. Maybe we’ll get to Brian May to play guitar for us.

When Brazen Bull came out, it was a big success. But making the album – was there a lot of pressure post-Johnny Marr?

Ryan: Well originally when he left, we were quite excited to be back to us three. It felt very liberating and exciting to be us three again. We wrote a lot, because (his leaving) really made us write a lot, so we didn’t really think about it a great deal.  It wasn’t until we started to put the album out and people started asking us. But I think that in the back of our mind we were determined that it had to be our best album, it had to be better than the one before, it had to be better than the record with Johnny, otherwise everyone would say “…(the record with Johnny) was good”. I think that’s why we made it heavier. Johnny is a great guitar player but he didn’t want us to be a heavy band and we kind of wanted that. So when he left, we were like “oh we’ll be heavier”. There was pressure but we didn’t notice it that much.

Ryan, you recently went to the hospital for a kidney problem. How are you feeling now?

Ryan: Not so great, but not too bad either. My voice is not so good but apart from that, the kidney thing is gone. I feel okay.

Has it affected the tour?

Ryan: We don’t let anything affect the tour, we always book tours and just go anyway. Sometimes we’re sick and tired but we just pretend that we’re not. When you go on stage, you don’t think about it.

Ross: Usually when you get home you fall ill for a week from being on tour. This tour we’ve been doing flight-gig-flight-gig-flight-gig and last night, we got in at half past two and we had to be up at half past six to soundcheck. That’s touring for you.

Ryan: We’re definitely going to bed after this, no question.

Ryan, did you get any heart-warming well wishes from fans when you were in hospital?

Ryan: Yeah I did, and it was nice. It’s always nice to know that people care. When I got out, a lot of people said “Oh I thought you were going to die”! So it was quite nice.

You are a band with a consistent guitar sound; what do you make of the shift toward electronic music in the mainstream? 

Ryan: I think guitar music has become all about reverb and that’s fine if that’s what people want to do. But when you get a sound that everyone’s doing, we want to do the opposite. We always want to do the opposite because we were always into bands like Nirvana growing up, into distorted, heavy kind of stuff. As I said, when Johnny was in the band he wasn’t that into that sound so when he left we went heavier. I’m just always happy when there are guitars in the mainstream, really. I think it’s a good thing even though I don’t necessarily like all the bands.  I just think it’s a good thing when young kids pick up the guitar and start playing. The rest is like, whatever. It’s all shite.

Ryan, have you found your guitar?

Ryan: I’m still looking! The guy that stole it, there’s a warrant out for his arrest so when he shows up, maybe I’ll get it back but I don’t know yet, I don’t know what’s going to happen…

Do you have any advice for bands starting out?

Ryan: Buy a van because you’ll pay so much for rent in a van. We always buy a van.

Ross: We break down and I’ll be fixing the van!

Ryan: That’s why we’ve been able to tour so much because we have a van. You can tour a lot and it makes things much easier. That’s the best way to be able to find out, playing live.

Ross: Even if someone’s in a remote island in Europe, you can drive to it and they’ll give you a case of beer and a case of water and some fuel money. If you got your own van you can go do that when you’re starting out. We did that a lot in the early days. We just lived on tour and stayed on the road because we didn’t need any money then.

Fingers crossed for two new albums from The Cribs next year! 

Thanks to Camp Symmetry for making this feature possible.