True beauty is often found in the most incongruous of places. And especially on album covers. Matthew Bennett delves deep with The Twang’s Phil Etheridge to investigate the notion of arresting aesthetic and discuss proto-rap, moody neighbours, and the terrible scheduling of Christ’s crucifixion.
It looks on the surface of things like you might have been pissing off your neighbours, Phil?
Yeah. We have basically. We moved into this warehouse about three years ago now and there was another warehouse that it backed onto, and they turned into these real posh, high-end flats. So everyone with loads of money moved in and didn’t realise there was us, loads of DJs and even a club downstairs. So they realised the reality quite quickly and started leaving notes. That was one of about five that they’d left. That one, she’d put her hand through the door and Blu-Tacked it to our side, and it just read really poetically to me. So I took a photo of it and put it on Twitter because, you know, we had a song on the first album called ‘The Neighbour’, and everyone loved it so I thought, ‘That’s the album cover done really’. I hate choosing album covers.
10.20pm ain’t really THAT late is it?
(Laughs) I know, it’s not at all. And our bass player was stupid enough to give her his mobile number so every night at 10.15 she’s phoning him and going (patronising voice): ‘You know, are you going to stop really soon, John? Cos it really is beginning to get a bit late now!’ But we don’t always stop. We were there first! You shouldn’t give people your phone number, simple as.
There’s an incredible amount of light bursting from your letter box; almost as much as one would expect from Christ’s Second Coming unfolding in your vestibule.
That’s the power of Photoshop. That’s called ‘sexin’ it up’. We’re pretty pleased with it. When it’s time for the cover you always end up with all these people bringing you stupid ideas all the time. We ended up with a fox in a parka jacket on our first album! And that fucking fox caused me many sleepless nights.
Is your neighbour religious? Because if she is then maybe suggest that it was Christ’s Second Coming - and she might pipe down a tad.
I’ll try that! We’re also gonna drop an LP round to say sorry.
Hmm. She might not actually like that.
How would you feel about this situation?
It would depend on what picture was banging off the wall at 10.20pm to be honest. I suppose if I was in a rock band I’d be quite pleased. It makes you look rock ‘n’ roll. AND she’s put in a big-hitter expletive with “fucking”.
It reads to me like an old MC lyric, you know: “Sharp like a razor / Cut ya make ya bleed” - that’s why we used it. It has a poetic flow to it.
It certainly does. Speaking of mutilations, if your neighbour WAS religious, she should know that when Jesus was crucified it was described in the Bible as being in the ‘Third Hour’, which way back then, according to the Jewish observation of time, was between 6am and 9am. Now Jesus was obviously making QUITE a lot of noise as he was getting nailed to the cross, so your neighbour can shut it basically!
I don’t know where you’re going with all this religious stuff, but I’m happy to hear it. I don’t know what to say mate; we were just rehearsing and rehearsing. Are you religious?
I’m a total born again Christian mate.
Really, since when?
Since I started researching your album cover.
(Laughs) Fair play. I was pleased it found us so quickly. I love really long album titles and it is such a nonsense time of the whole process when you have to come up with all this stuff. ‘Call it somethin’ and fucking move on’, know what I mean? You’re gonna get slated anyway!
Indeed. So if you sell a few albums are you gonna treat yourself to a new letter box, because that one looks like it’s on its last legs, Phil.
Well, it’s not our building. But the landlord has just had all his bricks stripped back so I think he’s going for that vibe, you know? The shabby London pub vibe.
Words by Matthew Bennett