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

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Image by Ben Benoliel

Teesside-based four-piece Cigar Cigar release their debut LP, The Edge Of The Conversation, this month, a 12-track record which has taken 18 long months for its members to produce. The album’s soundscape is a nostalgic one, blending across the rock genres to encapsulate many inspirations.

Singer and guitarist Russell Smith explains how his inspirations changed throughout the writing process. “Naturally you’re sat at home, listening to a lot of music, and you hear stuff that you haven’t heard before; you start hearing other bands and you’re wondering if that should sound a bit more like that.”

Lockdown had an influence on all artists, but for a group putting out their debut release, it reshaped how the record took form. “Things change, you think this should be done over two months, you’ve got it mapped out, and then all of a sudden somebody says you’re going into a national lockdown… When you go back in and you’ve already got the picture in your head of how you’re gonna record it, the world’s moved on.”

The album’s title track is an upbeat and memorable rocker that calls to mind Manic Street Preachers, laden with playful riffs. By track three, Rink End Mafia, the pace has now moved to American country rock, and their restless spirit is further encapsulated on closing track Old Lines Lovers, which is full of reflection and melodic brass.

If I could just help one person feel like they are not on their own, and connect through this record to let them know that there is hope, then that’s job done for me

The Edge Of The Conversation isn’t just an aural experience, the band also collaborated with Northern School of Art students to create music videos which accompany each of the album’s tracks; Russell explains that he wanted to give back to others in a way which had benefited him when younger: “I studied at Hartlepool sixth form college, we were fortunate that we had a musician come in at the time, and it really stuck with me that she’s taken the time to get involved and explain a bit about the industry, so when it came to making the films, I really wanted that local input.”

One video already on YouTube is Warsaw Skyline, which perfectly encapsulates the holiday feel to the track and the longing within it for a sense of romance. “Northern School of Art have got a fantastic film-making team, and we gave them absolute free reign, which was a massive risk because of their interpretation of what the song is about…that was an absolute revelation because most of them got what the songs were about straight away.”

Russell explains that the band’s focus has increasingly settled in the North East. “The local scene’s been left a bit too long and it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. We’re not a London-centric band, we did all that before, and you get a bit sick of driving back up the A1 having played to about 30 people in some shithole in London.”

Russell’s honesty is refreshing, and it’s an attitude which is reflected throughout the album, with song themes touching on mental health topics. “There’s an awful lot of the record which is based on mental illness, which in a way actually benefited it; it’s a very honest album, which deals with serious issues. If I could just help one person feel like they are not on their own, and connect through this record to let them know that there is hope, then that’s job done for me.”

Cigar Cigar release The Edge of The Conversation on 4th April.

Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout