Indie-folk trio The Staves returned with new album ‘Good Woman’ last week, an exemplary full length that pushed their beautiful songwriting in a host of fresh directions.
Clash Magazine spoke to Jessica and Millie from the band ahead of its release; they spoke about touring America, talking to Paul Weller on the phone and why you should always buy an album instead of a bowl of pasta.
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“It’s been about six years since the last proper release. We haven't really been off during that time though. It's strange because I think when you disappear out of people’s sight, they kind of imagine that you’re on a desert island or something, which would have been great, but we spent a lot of that time touring the record! We toured it for a good year or two I think, and then we moved to the States to tour it there properly, because you need to dedicate quite a lot of time there, rather than just fly over and do a handful of shows.”
‘Good Woman’ is out now and features the title track, ‘Satisfied’, and ‘Devotion’. They had the record finished before the UK went into lockdown last March and were preparing for the release right up to the announcement. “So yeah, I don't think we ever pictured it would take this long to come out, but obviously we've lost a year.
“We were getting ready with our band to start touring the album and we did a handful of shows in the UK right up to the lockdown being announced. We did the 6Music Festival in Camden in March and within like a few days after that everything went into lockdown. It's been really frustrating postponing it and rethinking it and eventually we just said, 'this has to come out!' We didn't want it to be this never-ending postponing album.”
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They’ve also lent their vocals to Paul Weller since their last record. Jessica received a phone call from the Modfather himself, recalling: “It was very strange and very exciting. He called me up and he was lovely. He said he was curious to see what we could do with no direction. He was really funny and down to earth.”
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has meant that many musicians have struggled, as they haven’t been able to tour and sell tickets to their gigs. The stereotypes of musicians are something that The Staves know as well as any other working band.
“The idea that we don’t seem to be classed as businesses makes me really angry,” explains Millie. “I think there's an attitude towards people in music that it's not a real job, and because you enjoy your job, you should be grateful for any scraps that are thrown your way and anything else is a bonus.”
“Well no, it's really legitimate... and think about a world without music. Economically, as well, the amount of money that musicians bring in is immense. Imagine all your fucking corporate parties without any music.”
Jessica adds: “I've got my own friends who don't pay for music streaming services and use the free version. I'm a musician! How do you expect me to buy a house if people don't want to pay for my music? People won’t pay a tenner to listen to an album but will happily spend £15 on a bowl of pasta in a restaurant that you're gonna shit out the next day.”
“That album is going to continue to nourish you, and a bowl of pasta doesn't cost 60 grand to record!”
In what could be the finest justification of paying for music, The Staves share the frustration that many musicians will relate to.
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‘Good Woman’ was produced by John Congleton (Phoebe Bridgers, Angel Olsen, Bombay Bicycle Club) who took their sound in a new direction.
“We wanted to make something that sounded more upfront and braver than we've been before. I think we were really enjoying experimenting in the studio with using our voices in different ways using them sometimes more like instruments rather than just like singing the lyrics of the song. It’s going to be bigger and bolder than anything we’ve done before.”
The Staves performed a live set through Dice on the day of the album release. Jessica promised Clash "a classic Staves gig" and they didn't disappoint. “Being in a room together, distanced of course, has been so nice. It’s so surreal how long it’s been,” says Millie. “It’s not ideal, but it has got some upsides. We can reach our entire fanbase with one show.”
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'Good Woman' is out now.
Words: Adam Laver
Photo Credit: Sequoia Ziff
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