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

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Image by Martin Francis Trollope

The common misconception is that District Attorney are a band from South Shields. They’re not, they’re actually an omnipotent ball of matter racing through space and time at incredible speeds. It’s rumoured that every leap year if you squint at the first puddle you come across upon waking, you might steal a glimpse of them.”

Getting a straight answer out of District Attorney is not always the easiest task. Your standard Q&A session with them ends up with something more free-wheeling, raconteuring in style: apt perhaps for a band whose songs are stuffed full of wry character studies, dark wit and literary flair.

In actuality, District Attorney is a four-piece featuring former members of The Union Choir and Here Comes Good Sailing, and having garnered themselves a cult following for their impassioned performances since coming together in 2019, their debut album Someone Is Safe is a strong collection of ruminative folk-infused ballads and raucous rock and roll anthemics.

Asked about their sound, bassist/vocalist and lead songwriter Ian ‘Doc’ Smith notes: “There’s lots of playing the bass like a guitar, and that definitely plays into that Wedding Present kind of sound. We’re blessed with two great guitarists in this band, so I write songs on bass and a lot to them are given free reign to do their thing. I think we’d all be flattered to be mentioned in the same sentence as Frightened Rabbit. To be honest, it’s been pretty hard to listen to since Scott passed, but it’s definitely that kind of song writing that we aspire to. Martin once described us as a glam Pavement, which was really funny and kind of on the nose.”

District Attorney’s songs are stuffed full of wry character studies, dark wit and literary flair

Alongside already released singles like the barnstorming Thou Art and the recently released 37YO are songs that showcase the softer, more ruminative side of the band, like album centrepiece St Catherine. “I wrote St. Catherine about a friend of mine who passed away. We were raised Catholic together, and she died on St Catherine’s Day. I tend to get into the nuts and bolts of something I’m writing, and I found that St. Catherine is the patron saint of unmarried women. That’s a terrible anachronism, but not the worst one the Catholic church is guilty of. That was the jumping off point for me, in terms of the lyrics. It’s one of the rare times on the album I play guitar: recording it was nerve-wracking as it’s not my instrument, but the guys helped me out by watching the Sunderland match in the control room and ignoring the mistakes.”

Although the album is only scheduled for release digitally at present (guitarist Ian Pippin hints at a later vinyl run –“it’s both having a huge resurgence in popularity and, selfishly, I want a copy for my collection”), Someone Is Safe is both a testament to the band’s strong songwriter (and guitarist/producer Martin Trollope’s thoughtful recording style) but also a welcome souvenir of their live show, according to drummer Grant Lagan. “The track list and the live set kind of merged as one. It happened naturally and it felt right when playing live so it made sense to keep it that way on the record. The tender moment of the more stripped-back set hopefully leads to a false sense of comfort before we increase the energy levels again.”

District Attorney release Someone Is Safe on digital platforms on 18th December. The band present a listening party via YouTube on Thursday 17th at 9pm. Click here for details


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