UNCUT INTERVIEW: Schultz | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Warning: a lot of what you are about to read may not actually be true. What is true is the fact that Newcastle four-piece Schultz are making some of the most energizing and exciting post-rock music in the region now. Their single Vivid was a mash of alt and math rock sensibilities, with the distinctive baritone vocals of Brad Ringrose, the occasional wistful harmonies and hardcore screams giving it a unique and biting edge. As Brad describes it, it’s “post grim.” Or, as guitarist Jago Hallett-Miller puts it, “we are that guy who sits next to you on the bus.”

They’re now gearing up to release their next single, Vicious Van Gogo, which may or may not be expanded into an EP. “We have two tracks recorded, and we might do an EP,” says Jago, “but it might also just be a double A-side single.” Jago, alongside bassist Alex Greenup, is the voice of reason, but is also the quietest of the group (unusual given his screamo tendencies both on record and live). Brad and Liam Tellum are something of the Chico and Harpo Marx of the group, cracking jokes and almost attempting to outdo each other with their increasingly farfetched anecdotes. When Liam arrives late, the first thing he does is profess his love of garibaldis (“they’re the best biscuit by far”).

After a short chat about the merits of the Italian biscuit over other sweet treats, I try to get back on track and ask about the latest single. “It’s different from Vivid,” Alex says, “it’s more miserable than that and I suppose more natural.” Jago breaks his silence for a moment: “We don’t have any musical preconceptions or notions really. We’re free of that. Our next single could be a Lady Gaga disco classic, or it might not be. We just don’t know.” I pondered the idea of the group making their own version of Bad Romance for a minute. It was a more appealing image than I’d probably like to admit.

What the band do know is where the inspiration for their unusually titled track came from. The title references the roller derby skater of the same name, but not for the most obvious of reasons. “I think we were mortal one night,” Brad ponders, “and we were watching Storage Hunters.” Liam laughs and continues the story, “there was one episode where some guy found a pair of Vicious Van Gogo’s skates and that was it really.” I asked them if this might be the first song ever to be directly inspired by Storage Hunters. They weren’t sure, but were keen to take the credit nonetheless.

this might be the first song ever to be directly inspired by Storage Hunters

I moved back to asking about their musical influences and where else they take their inspiration from; Storage Hunters can only provide so much creative stimulus. Alex and Jago give each other pensive looks before Alex turns to me and says, “I don’t think we draw influence directly in terms of music. A lot of what we listen to just gets mixed together subconsciously when we’re writing or recording and then it’s only when we reflect back on it that we realise where some of the ideas might have come from.” Jago chips in: “we had a talk about some new songs for Evo Emerging, and we want to experiment more with our sound I think.”

It’s not surprising that they have few musical boundaries for themselves. They list Everything Everything, Battles, The Mars Volta and Deafheaven as just some of their influences and judging by what Alex had in his latest carrier bag of goodies, their inspirations don’t stop there. Liam encouraged Alex to share his latest purchases with the rest of the group and he produces a large pile of vinyls, going through them one by one. There’s a few Paul Simon records, some classic Talking Heads, Kubichek and “something I bought just because it had DFA printed on it.” You have to hand it to them, they’ve got mighty fine taste.

Liam was then eager to tell me the backstory of the single’s B-side, inspired by a true story, I Once Punched A Bee To Death, Twice. “This bee was all up in me grill,” he explains, “so I punched him once and he got up, he was a fighter. So I punched him again and that was that.” He tells the story with such a straight face that I almost fall for it but then I decided to probe a little deeper by asking him why the bee didn’t fight back. “I dunno,” he says, “I think it was dazed, I punched it pretty hard.” Fair enough, I suppose.

I brought up a rather obvious question to the group to round off our incredibly eventful session: where do they see themselves going in the future? “To hell,” Liam says almost instantaneously, causing a wave of laughter. Once they settle a bit, Brad offers a slightly more realistic answer. “Anything past being liked is good for us,” he says. He asked me if the final line of the interview could be his assertion that “people like us and that’s fine.” The thing is, it’s obvious that their sound is distinctive and intelligent enough to elevate them above other post math-rock groups. Despite their protests to the contrary, Schultz are likely to go far and be more than simply “liked.”

Schultz release new single Vicious Van Gogo on Monday 11th May.

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