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INTERVIEW: Fragile Creatures

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We’ve been very well thanks, it has been an exciting start to the year, finally releasing our debut album and things seem to just keep on getting better and better!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Stowaways”?

‘Stowaways’ was written quite early on in the life of Fragile Creatures, it was one of a batch of about six songs that I wrote after we’d formed the band, so one of the first songs written specifically for the project. When I put it together on just the guitar I thought it was a really weird song – there a slightly odd bar count in the verses, the chorus chords shift around themselves in a way I thought was unexpected and the song is all about fleeing our doomed planet with some (hopefully) friendly aliens. Once James, Aaron, Tom and Adam W had worked out their bits we realised it wasn’t weird at all but a spectacularly catchy number, and we haven’t looked back since!

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

I (Adam) think several mundane things combined together one lazy day. My girlfriend at the time complained in the morning that I never seemed to write any love songs, I watched my housemate Ru playing some amazing gypsy jazz rhythm guitar and stole a couple of chords and caught the tail end of a 50s Sci-Fi film called ‘When Worlds Collide’ on day time TV. The song fell together pretty quickly with those ingredients.

How was the film experience?

Filming the music video for ‘Stowaways’? It was interesting, I often had these crazy narrative ideas for videos that we were told we would never be able to pull off. At the time we made ‘Stowaways’ Fragile Creatures were in limbo, waiting for our album to be mixed, and there was no one to tell me not to, so I wrote a script for the video and, with about £50 to spend on props and my mate Jon roped in to film and edit we just went for it. I think the band thought I was mental and it was a waste of time, and certainly when we first finished it we didn’t think much of it. Luckily when we were approached by Brightonsfnest to release the album, Frank saw the merit in it and got us to spend a little bit more time perfecting the button moon bits! I’m actually really pleased with how it turned out now, so we’re planning on making another one, hopefully with a slightly bigger budget!

The single comes off your new album …And Other Wild Things – what’s the story behind the title?

We all hate naming things when there’s no obvious title – one of the reasons why the band is named after the song ‘Fragile Creatures’ so naming the album was a bit of a chore. We were looking a lot at Wes Anderson, particularly Fantastic Mr Fox, when we were putting together the look of the album, so we wanted a title that sounded like a children’s book. For a while I was stuck on the idea of calling it something like ‘The Misadventures Of Magnus Caput’, because Magnus Caput is Latin for ‘big head’ which is a reference to the “our heads are too large” line from Fragile Creatures. We were worried this might be a little too esoteric and eventually settled on …And Other Wild Things as we felt it hinted at the band not being as Fragile as the band name might suggest. This is also echoed in the album artwork, if you look closely at our reflections in the water you’ll see there are wild beasts peering back at you.

How was the recording and writing process?

I’m not sure there was a distinct writing process, it’s our first album so it is made up of songs old and new. I write songs all the time and Aaron and I try to get together regularly to write too for a slightly different flavour. The songs for this album just gravitated together, they’re the tracks the band sounded best on – with the exception of ‘Grace’. I really wanted to end the album on that melancholy note, so ‘Grace’ ended up being more of a studio construction built around a solo guitar and vocal performance. The recording process was a little protracted, ‘Into The Night’ and ‘Almost Home’ were recorded at Brighton Electric studios, but sadly our publisher at the time, David Vatchnadze, died on the last day of the sessions. It was a while before we were able to get back into the studio and then there were more delays. The actual recording time was swift, roughly 17 studio days, with songs being built upon live performances with as few overdubs as we could manage. The process was more spread out more than we would have liked, but it just makes me excited for the next album, I’m hoping we can record it quickly and soon!

What was it like to work with Stuart Bruce and how did that relationship develop?

It was great to work with someone who has so much experience and knowledge, Stuart was a close personal friend of David’s so he was brought in partly as a favour to him. Stuart and I would have long late night conversation about the material and song craft in general. He pointed out some great artists to me who I hadn’t really explored before, like 10CC who we reminded him of. He also knows exactly how to grill a salmon fillet!

How much did he get to influence the album?

Stuart had some excellent arrangement suggestions, which really helps the songs to flow within themselves. He had some great little snips on ‘Ready To Go’ and came up with some brilliant ideas for ‘You Don’t Get It’ which really helped that song to grow. Stuart knew from the beginning that he didn’t want to get too fussy on this album, with production ideas. At first I think we were a little disappointed he wasn’t going to bring in all the cheap tricks of the 80s, like huge gated snares and ridiculous vocal reverbs. He thought that a debut album, from a band like ours, should be an idealised version of what the band actually sounds like live., so people who come and see us after hearing the record get exactly what they’d expect. I think he’s done a great job in this respect – there’s nothing too show offy about the production, it all just sounds… er… right!

How are you seeking to reinvent guitar music with this album?

I’m not! I think there can be a bit too much reinvention for reinventions sake in the music industry. I think we’ve had a lot of bands who present music which is all surface, all sheen, but no depth, no meaning. I think as well people like to present recycling as reinvention – which is just plain lazy. When I started writing for Fragile Creatures, once we’d named the band and pinned down the line up, I was really interested in great song-writers, classic song-writers. I’m not saying I am one of them, but I certainly aspire to work in that sort of way, led by melody, songs that mean something and don’t follow a prescribed formula.

What role does Brit-pop plays in your music?

I was a teenager when Britpop came around – it was the music form that made me get into popular music. It was fantastic growing up in a time when what seemed to be the central genre of the mainstream was all about people playing instruments and writing songs. I’ve never been particularly into Electronic music, I think people are doing some interesting stuff now, there’s a lot more cross-over but in the 90s I saw the two tribes as being quite partisan and proudly stuck my flag in the Britpop camp. Looking back it all seems very contrived – many of the bands didn’t really sit well together, they were all lumped into one genre by journalists who saw the illusory scene as a way of selling magazines to teenagers. I could be more cynical about it but it was very inspiring to me – hit me at the right time and is probably one of the reasons why my own musical muse is so eclectic.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics on the album?

Well every song is different, so they all have different inspirations. A lot of it comes from personal experiences, but I have this habit of cloaking my own emotions in other peoples stories, which come from what I’ve been reading or watching or sometimes the depths of my subconscious. Some are very specific, like ‘Poison Apple’ which is about WWII code breaker Alan Turing, who ended up committing suicide after being chemically castrated for being homosexual (which was illegal in 50s Britain). Others are more fantastical, like ‘Body In The Boot’ which is about a mythomaniac – someone who tells compulsive lies to the point he becomes convinced by them.

Any plans to hit the road?

We’re hoping to get some more radio play for ‘Stowaways’, that should help people discover us further up the country. We are putting together some UK dates around the country in July, definitely Brighton, London and Manchester with possible forays into Leeds and Oxford. We’d love to just drop everything and go on a massive tour but we need to build awareness of the band first – unless we get lucky and get asked to tour with someone more established. I’m sure it’ll come though, I’m predicting a full on UK tour by the Winter!

What else is happening next in Fragile Creatures’ world?

We’ve pretty much written the second album! We’re fine-tuning the songs in rehearsals at the moment, and trying a few out at shows, ‘Monster’ has been going down very well! I think this second album is going to be a bit harder – people love songs like ‘You Don’t Get It’ and ‘Ready To Go’ live so we’ve sort of naturally leaned towards more powerful, up-beat material. We’re not so fragile any more!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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