Backstage interview
Sonar Festival: Post War Years interview

Post War Years are the type of band that Britain does better than anyone else: undeniably intelligent, quirky and fun. Imagine our delight when we found Henry Riggs and Simon Critten from the band backstage at Sonar just after their set. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to have a chat with a band heading for the toppermost of the poppermost!

Hi fellas! How are you finding Sonar?

Henry: It's one of those cities where everyone you look at or everything you look at is really beautiful.

What had you heard about Sonar before you came?

Simon: just that it was really eclectic. Its becoming a bit of a trend now, Brits going abroad for festivals.

H: We've heard loads about the bumper cars. Randomly our lawyer's here, and he's just banging on about the dodgems.

And how was your set?

S: It was really surprising to see willing people. People that quite obviously hadn't heard our music but were completely receptive in every way.

H: It's unusual. There are a few boutique festivals in England like this that but it's a rarity isn't it? To be fair, this is one of the first big European festivals that we've done but we've got a string of them over the summer so we'll see how it pans out. It's a good start though! I just feel that they're a lot more willing to experiment. It's a testament to their booking. I kind of feel like quite often because of the type of band we are that we occasionally get looked over by British promoters, but I kind of feel that we're definitely oversubscribed this year with European stuff. I think they like it a bit wonky and slightly off. They like to see something that's perhaps slightly unexpected.

Are people in Europe more open to wonky music?

S: Pretty much every gig we've played in Europe has been great; they sit down and listen and enjoy it whereas you play a gig in Oxford and you finish a song and you've just got a lot of scratchy chins.

What other festivals are you playing over the Summer?

S: We've just been doing our new album so this is where it starts for us. For the last month we've been living in Bath in a flat above the studio just recording constantly. We've been doing that with a guy called James Rutledge. He's one of the most exciting people we've ever met. It's a bit like bumping into someone you really really want to start a band with. You'll definitely hear so much more from him.

Are you playing stuff from the new album at the moment in the set?

S: We went into the studio and it came out a different beast to how it went in so I think we need to sit back now and work it out a little bit.

H: I wasn't expecting that. Its a bit of a cliché with the second album, that you don't know what you're doing, but that's what it's like.

S: The strangest thing is that beforehand we were talking about going in a little bit less electro and we came out of the studio and there's only live drums on about half the album.

H: that was really weird. We decided that it was going to be an organ, piano driven, choral song driven album that was really quite straightforward. We wanted to do that and connect with our beardiness, get down with the grass and smell it, but the exact opposite happened. James bought lots of weird drum machines and it turned into this glitch-fest.

S: We wanted to use everything available to us at the time.

Any kitchen sinks?

H: No, but there's an old VCR! One of the drum tracks on our new album is basically based around the sound of the wobbling flap on a VCR. We were hitting that with a pair of brushes and it's fucking flapping around, so we quantised it into this really dry, crisp drum-machine sound. It sounds really sick. It doesn't sound like a VCR machine so it's not that wank.

How will you do that on stage?

H:Get a VCR machine with a little mic inside.

S: We still stick to some rules and one is that we won't play to a backing track if at all possible. We haven't quite figured out how to do some stuff though, I guess.

Finally, what festival advice can Post War Years offer to the good readers of Clash?

H: Prepare for.... stuff. Bring pants too. There was a guy at Glastonbury I saw one year with just pants on and he had his wallet inside his pants. He had everything he needed; he could buy beer, what more could you want?

S: Don't mix European money with British money.

H: Don't mix languages.

S: And don't be an ignorant Brit.

H: I see myself as more European anyway.

Words by Karl O'Keeffe

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