INTERVIEW: Post War Glamour Girls | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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“I moved away from the baritone because I was sick of people constantly saying I sounded like Nick Cave and that the band therefore sounded like The Bad Seeds, which is pure lazy journalism… we’ve never sounded like that musically. What I want to know is why is no one telling Nick Cave he sounds like James Anthony Smith: what’s all that about, eh?”

Post War Glamour Girls have built a reputation on a grand, rumbling post-punk sound that owes as much to Swans as Simple Minds, stuffed full of arcane references and social critique – but that’s not to say they’re even remotely po-faced. Catching up with their frontman James Smith on the release of their third (and best) album to date, Swan Songs, and ahead of a UK tour that brings them to Cluny 2 in Newcastle on Friday 12th May, it’s a refreshing change to come across a rock band as engaged, witty and intelligent as this.

Discussing the band’s decision to hole themselves away in the remote Highlands of Scotland to record Swan Songs, Smith informs me, “We chose to leave Leeds for this one so we wouldn’t be distracted. We wouldn’t have any other commitments to consume us and we could be fully focused on the record for the first time. It worked unbelievably well. It’s amazing how you actually manage to work faster and get more done when you remove the countdown of the clock.”

Instead of just setting to tape their latest batch of songs, the quartet arrived at the studio with unfinished, untested material. “It was about 40% complete, most songs had a start and an end, but there was a lot of colouring in and joining the dots to be done, and what we had written on it was done in 2015. When we got to Scotland we felt incredibly well-oiled as a band, because we’d playing together loads, but then at the same time were incredibly free because we weren’t restricted by what we’d written. It’s a confidence we’ve never had on previous records, to feel good enough as writers and musicians to embrace the unknown and put that on record led by instinct.”

Indeed, the ambition of the material and arrangements that the band pursued on Swan Songs has led to the band temporarily expanding to a five-piece for their upcoming tour. “We’ve roped in Bobby Slater (Mi Mye, The Spills) to play some of these tour dates with us, he’s doing a bit of everything. Keys, guitar, bongos, strings, so on. But we can play all the songs as a four piece because we recorded them all live in the same room as a four piece. Having Bobby on board just makes it easier for me to not have to think about playing guitar and singing,” Smith jokingly adds.

For their Newcastle date, the band play with a superb support line-up including Heat Death of the Sun, Okay Champ and Ten Sticks. Of the latter, Smith enthuses, “Ten Sticks are ace, we went to university with their drummer, so we’ve followed each other’s work for a while. They’re putting our Cluny show on, and we’ve been saying we’d do some gigs together for a while. He’s a bloody good egg shat from the golden goose is that boy, so we’re really looking forward to it.”

Post War Glamour Girls play Cluny 2 on Wednesday 10th May. Swan Songs is out now on Hide & Seek Records.

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