Leeds has a thriving music scene and some great indie guitar bands such as Post War Glamour Girls, Hookworms, The Wind-Up Birds and The Witch Hunt. One of the very best though are Eagulls, who have recently come to national and international notice following the release of their eponymous debut album.
We spoke to lead singer George Mitchell ahead of the band’s upcoming Newcastle gig at Cluny.
Despite their recent success the band still base themselves in Leeds as George confirms “in fact 4/5 of us live in the same house. It’s pretty cramped, but keeps us connected. Leeds is a great breeding ground for musicians and always has been. The first street I moved onto in Leeds 5 years back had 3 bands and a producer living on the same street. Must be something in the water? I think Hookworms are currently the best live act around. There is also a new band called Gun Dogs which are creating some Industrial, Goth and Post Punk sounds which prove interesting in their early stages.”
George has North East connections and remembers (just) fondly the last time they played Cluny. “We played in the amphitheatre shaped room and I remember arriving late to the venue from being in the boot of a two seated estate van covered in the rain as there was a huge leak. I also remember a light getting smashed onstage. With 2/5 of us growing up in Durham we appreciate Newcastle and we’re looking forward to playing there … and maybe smashing a light or two for old time’s sake.”
we’re looking forward to playing there … and maybe smashing a light or two for old time’s sake
We put it to George that the band seem to have deliberately courted controversy in the past – a Peter Sutcliffe themed gig and the notorious SXSW open letter and a new and shocking video being the most publicly known examples – deliberate or just ‘messing around’ without thought or care for the consequences? “We don’t plan these happenings at all, they just happen. Whether it’s buying a costume on the day of Halloween, writing a cynical open letter within 5 minutes, or having the police enter our house to inquire into our video are happenings without planning. Maybe we should quit writing music and just become publicity stuntmen … I think we’ll stick to music.”
Support for the Cluny gig are Autobahn who we caught at Beacons Festival recently and were impressed. We wondered what bands Eagulls had played with that had impressed George. “We have had the privilege of playing with a number of great bands over the last few years, but being asked to support Suede at the Royal Albert Hall has to be the most important.”
We also asked what band had disappointed live, not expecting such an honest answer. “I’ve always been a big fan of the band Flipper and when the opportunity arose we jumped at the chance to support them. They were so depressing and awful live that I can’t listen to them the same way as I used to. They also charged us for every piece of drum equipment we had to lend from them too. Highly depressing.”
Eagulls recently appeared on The David Letterman Show in the U.S. That must have been surreal? “It was very surreal. You’re left backstage for hours with a couple of apples and a few cans of Fanta waiting and watching the show’s on-goings, then suddenly it’s your turn to play and you’re in this Willy Wonka type moment where you’re actually inside the TV. It’s not glamorous at all and its freezing cold on set, plus I only had one hour’s sleep that night and I was exceedingly hungover.”
Finally we wondered what motivated George to be in a band. “it’s an outlet for my creativity. It’s also a way for me to get my message across about how I feel and what I see around me in an artistic and cathartic practice in which I would never be able to voice just by speaking my mind. My aim is to be honest and current.”
Catch the band being typically honest, very current and perhaps a little hungover at The Cluny, Newcastle on 9th October.
Interviewer: Russell Poad
Photograph: Jenna Cumbo