FFO: Living Body | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Currently in the middle of a UK tour, performing as a 5-piece with two drummers, lots of hooks, vocal harmonies and anti-capitalist energy, Living Body are set to perform at The Cumberland Arms on Thursday 16th November with Waves of Dread and Madeleine Smyth, their last tour for a long while before recording a follow-up LP to their debt Body Is Working.

Fresh off the release of their new single and live video for NO DEBT (watch below), Leeds-based US-immigrant bandleader Jeff T. Smith talks us through three songs which offer some insight into their new single and the band’s musical lineage.

People have often commented that it’s hard to pigeonhole the sound of Living Body. While remaining in the pop/shoegaze/math/post-rock arena of the ‘indie-rock’ spectrum I also listen to a lot of African music, reggae, ambient, electronic and music that doesn’t sound a lot like Living Body. Also I grew up near Detroit in the 1990s. Motown was still everywhere and ‘classic rock’ was always on the radio. I think this has a lot to do with why I place so much emphasis on interplay between bass, drums and a solid vocal melody as a foundation to anything else in our music. As weird or varied as a song can get, there are usually still these timeless elements within.

This made choosing only three songs to represent the band’s entire sound an impossible task, so I’ve chosen to interpret this FFO specific to our new single. If you like NO DEBT you will probably like these bands and vice versa! Also interestingly, these are all bands I’ve been listening to since I was a teenager, so there must be some sort of formative influence there on my songwriting in some way, which makes a pretty good starting point. What do you think?!

Do Make Say Think – Reitschule
I mean, what can I say, it’s fucking Do Make Say Think! A huge band with two drummers, amazing grooves and evolving harmonic structure to pretty much their whole discography. I was given a burned CD of their second album in high school and had to sneak in the venue the first time I saw them at the Magic Stick in Detroit as I was underage. Fly Pan Am opened. I managed to see them play a lot around the midwest up until around 2009 and it always ripped – tour tight and a big cohesive unified energy between the band and audience, as good as live music can get. And I can’t think of a better ‘post-rock’ band.

Dianogah – At the Mercy of the Mustang
A three-piece band comprised of two bassists and a drummer. Iconic Chicago stuff. When I was 18 or 19, I went to see Dianogah at some venue in a more abandoned area of Detroit where I have not been to before or since, which had more of a ramshackle DIY vibe than I had probably experienced much at the time. Small room, everyone’s on the floor, dude in the corner dancing his ass off to this song by himself. Pure enjoyment. When I later moved to Chicago before moving to the UK I got to see them a couple more times and always loved the drumming in this band. Their last  album Qhnnnl is also great and a bit more diverse (with really nice additions from Andrew Bird and Stephanie Morris), but this track is classic Dianogah.

Pinback – Grey Machine
Someone told me after a show once that NO DEBT sounds like Pinback and I kinda get it, but to me when I was writing it, I was thinking more of Dianogah (lol)! However, there’s no denying Pinback, who I’ve also listened to on and off since I was around 18 or 19, must have had an influence. Their bassist has a next-level ridiculous melodic quality to their playing, it often sounds like two instruments at the same time, adding melodies with their pinky etc. while the guitar is often more minimal. Their songs are usually a typical length, however this song is 11 minutes long and just shouldn’t work. It’s like several songs smashed together in the best possible way with hook after hook and never gets old, and is a great introduction to the band. Also I didn’t really think about it until I was putting this list together but lyrically this song is also about money. NO DEBT is about student loan abolition, so there’s some crossover. Enjoy!


Living Body are currently on tour and will be performing at The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle on Thursday 16th November and Songs From Northern Britain at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Saturday 18th November.


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