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INTERVIEW: Common Tongues

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

Good thanks! Had a busy couple of weeks with releasing Pioneer and then rehearsing and playing over the The Great Escape weekend in our lovely Brighton. Can’t complain too much though as were starting to get hot sunny days and it turns the city into one of the best places on Earth.

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

Pioneer was one of the first songs we wrote for the album, it’s kinda like a complete self contained version of how we wanted the whole album to sound. It begins with some familiar acoustic themes, like our previous E.P ‘ Tether and Twine’ but  then opens out to a newer more progressive sound. It was a great sonic springboard for us to take to Gavin for the new record.

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

(Tom) At the time I had just come out of a pretty long relationship, so the track was written about my own experiences adjusting to that. I guess the song is pretty self reflective, and looks into what it meant to me to be suddenly searching for something new or different, and some of the difficulties in that process.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

There is a video being created as we speak. Its being shot on film, so we are pretty excited about that as it always has a really organic quality. We have a great creative relationship with a London based artist Oliver Godwin who’s done some great artwork for us before, most notably his oil painting ‘Brother’ that we we used for our EP ‘Tether and Twine’ cover. He’s a creative powerhouse and we’re all excited about seeing what happens when he turns his hand to a music video, should be available to see a little later in June.

The single comes off your new album Divisions – what’s the story behind the title?

‘Divisions’ was originally the name of one of the tracks, but the more we thought about it the more we saw it was actually a thread that runs through a lot of our lyrical themes, whether it be divisions in society, divisions in ourselves, a division between two people etc… Also this album has come at a point where we ‘re stepping away from our folkier roots and turning to a new sound. Safe to say we agonize over the names for our songs and releases so were really happy to have something that encapsulates a lot about us and what we’re doing.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was the first time we had ever tried to tackle a large group of songs as a body of work. They all have a depth that came from locking ourselves away for days at a time exploring ideas. This meant we could work through lots of different arrangements and really give each idea time to sit before we put it down. We pretty much made a demo of the whole album before we went into the studio, so were really prepared when it came to recording. Thats not to say we didn’t toy around with things up at The Magic Garden (where we made the album), the recording process was really creative, but by making the demo it was super efficient too.

What was it like to work with Gavin Monaghan and how did that relationship develop?

He has a really special ability to understand and capture what your pushing for with your songs, we were always on the same page so the things he suggested trying were always amazing ideas. Being able to just trust each other in the studio is really important and makes the process really enjoyable and exciting.Working with someone with that depth of experience is always an honor, he’s worked with some amazing artists like Robert Plant and the Editor’s and it was great to benefit from that as well as take pride in that he wanted to work with us.

How much did he influence the album?

Yeah we were really lucky to have Gavin at the reigns. After hearing our previous records and seeing us play he was totally forthcoming in saying he wanted to help us achieve something a little rawer and more aggressive for a new album. Something a more akin to our live sound. He took this forward and really tried to capture some of the energy from performance, which sometimes is lost in the process of recording.  He was also very respectful of what we already had, we’re a band who endlessly refine our parts and look at how they intertwine with each other, having really listened to our stuff before approaching us I think he had that in mind from the off.

What made you want to seek for a rawer direction?

It started with us messing around with effects and pedals…  Andy would pick up his violin and put it through a distortion pedal and suddenly it sounded like a train crash,  Oli and I both got lent some lovely Gibson guitars around the same kind of time and were messing around with delays and threading arpegiators through whole sections of tracks.  The band’s rawer sound just seemed to take shape around this experimentation, it felt like a very natural progression born from out relationships with our instruments and each other.  And then having someone like Gavin actively try and pull that out of us for the record it all just slotted together.  We’re a band who’s always changing, taking on new influences, who knows what our next record will sound like!

Any plans to hit the road?

We are heading out on the road a little later in the year, probably around the end of September/early October. It will be a tour, but with a difference. We had a lot of fun at our Sofar-sound gig up in London recently, and have decided to team up with our tour buddies and do a tour using them (sofarsounds).  We really loved how special the gigs seemed, and how everyone was there to watch the music so the audience is super attentive. They run them all through this country and across the world, so hope to take advantage of that.

What else is happening next in Common Tongues’ world?

 We have our album launch on June 16th @ The Haunt in Brighton, so we are all gearing up to make that show something really special. Going to be sharing the night with our favorite acts and friends so it will be a great way to release ‘ Divisions’ to the world. We are also excited to be involved in launching our own little label with our good friends at Time For T called ‘ Last Train Records’. The musical community down here in Brighton is amazing and really close knit as we all support each other loads, so it is set to be something special. To be releasing under the same umbrella makes a lot of sense and hopefully helps capture the essence of the musical family we have down here.

Listen here

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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