‘Well, we actually call it the Dungeon!‘
The boys from Nature TV laugh to themselves as they introduce me to their production studio, which also doubles as lead guitarist Solo’s basement. This is their first time being in the same room for several months, thanks to Covid-19.
Based in Brighton, the four boys have captured a newstalgic, soft rock sound, that feels completely unique. I reviewed their second EP, appropriately called EP2, last year. I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk to the guys over Zoom two weeks ago.
Over 20 minutes or so, I talked to Solo, Guy, Zal and Josh about how the pandemic has affected the band (briefly). We talk about their music, their influences, and their distant dream of finding a decent keyboard player…
TH: Thanks for having me today guys! So, you’re are back in studio today. Must be exciting! What are you up to?
Solo: “Yeah, well we’ve actually just finished recording our fourth EP together! It’s been recorded over the process of about five or six months, actually. It’s been quite a long and staggered process! We tend to record drums up in a drum-specific studio in London, and that normally gets done first. Then we home-record the rest of it… so that’s a combination of each other’s’ houses and in the dungeon, of course!
“So yeah we’re kind of spoilt cos, not to get into the pandemic and stuff too much, but we basically got everything we needed pretty much before going into lockdown. And then it’s been a case of mixing and… dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, really!”
TH: Nice, sweet! I suppose we’d better mention the pandemic anyway, even just for a second. I mean… things have completely changed, that goes without saying, in the last few months. How do you guys feel about it? Has it impacted you personally? Has it affected the music?
Zal: “Well yeah, um… I usually play in theatres as a regular income. And obviously they’ve been closed, so I’ve started working at Asda, just driving to get by. A lot of people are in the same situation where you just don’t know… what form it’s going to come back in, and how ticket sales are going to work and all that stuff… but I don’t know, it’s been a crazy time.”
Solo: “Yeah well these guys, Guy and Josh, they’ve been doing a lot of livestreams just by themselves, cos they’re the only ones that are allowed to see each other really!”
Guy: “Yeah, it’s been weird. I was furloughed, all the gigs were cancelled, and tours and all that stuff… but we’ve just been doing lots of weird livestreams which has been really fun! And trying to write new stuff too. Gives me something to do!”
TH: Yeah, I can imagine! I mean, you guys are working during the week and I guess gigging and writing during the weekends when times are more normal. How do you think about the band? Is it a passion project? A hobby? Something else?
Solo: “No, it’s something that we’re taking really seriously!”
Guy: “Yeah it’s the main thing really!”
Solo: “Yeah, it’s the main… musical outlet for all of us really. And, what’s really nice is that… we all give each other input on each other’s’ roles. If I’m producing a song, then I’ll take everyone else’s opinions and feedback into it.
“But at the same time, the way that we’re working is that the initial ideas for songs, chords and lyrics, are Guy’s. And then, that song itself will warp and change as all our parts are added. So, Guy might write a ballad, but Zal puts a hip-hop beat under it and it’s completely changed! Then Josh might put some different chords on the keys parts, and then suddenly it takes on a new genre or musical theme… we work together, but we have complete ownership over our own musical contributions.”
TH: Okay, that’s interesting. You normally create EPs, and you’re still working on your fourth… is that a deliberate choice, or is that just how the music has been made? In these little batches of four or five songs?
Guy: “Yeah, I guess they come out in little groups. So that’s just the way it is. And, well we’re tentative about doing an album. We always wanted that to be special, so we’re holding off on doing it until the right occasion, I guess. But yeah, an EP is a nice way to do it. And I think people are a bit more inclined to listen, especially if nobody knows who you are! Short little packets to try and entice them.”
Solo: “It means that we can release more frequently as well. You know. And it feels like we’re constantly looking towards the next project, rather than getting bogged down. It’s a really dynamic way of working on music.”
TH: Sure, that’s interesting. I mean, I remember reviewing EP2 for BSS, and it was amazing. I remember listening to ‘Sanguine’ and ‘Moonlight’ and, like, I could see VCR lines! It had such a distinct sound! It almost felt newstalgic. I mean, is that how you guys would describe it? What do you think about your sound?
Guy: “Yeah, I think it’s all very sincere. And it’s all sad!”
Josh: “Yeah I think from mine and Zal’s end, as the rhythm section, it’s soul and groovy stuff largely. But, there’s a mix between us in terms of what we love. We can give space for Solo and Guy to do their thing.”
Solo: “Yeah, and I think Guy’s right. The songs themselves are quite… well, really, sincere. And I think sincerity is making a comeback. I think for a time, nobody wanted to feel their feelings, and express their feelings. Everyone was too cool for it! And now it’s like: ‘Oh no, it’s actually quite popular to express, like… your sadness?’”
Guy: “It’s all very emotional! I’m just very emotional!”
Zal: “We’re all quite emotional!”
Solo: “Yeah, but the last time that would have been so popular would have been back in day, when people were singing their stuff!”
TH: Yeah. Is there… a core element to your songs? Is it the lyrics? Is it the guitar? Or is the way that it comes together its own little special package, I suppose?
Guy: “Yeah I think it’s the final thing. I think all the lyrics are just very personal to me, I suppose, but they’re all vague enough to be… well, to give a point to it all. I don’t think of myself as a poet or a wordsmith, so the overall vibe is what is important, I hope!”
Solo: “Yeah I think that we jump in terms of our sound a lot, even though it all has this vintage thing. People ask us ‘what genre are we’ and we never really have an answer for that. But I think the thing ties it together… we can dip into any musical style and we have Guy’s voice. And, that’s probably the most distinctive thing about the band.”
TH: Yeah sure! For each of you individually, where were your influences? How did you start getting into music?
Guy: “Oh, I hate to admit this, but back in the day when Limewire came about… I filled my boots with everything I could get basically! You know, all those ads; ‘You wouldn’t steal a car’ or whatever, so don’t steal music…”
TH: “Oh I remember them, super-nostalgia for them! Every movie, every DVD!”
Guy: “Yeah, it was great! There was that, listening to music, and my Dad would come in when I started discovering all this stuff that he was listening to back in the day, and he would show me more. That was it for me, basically.”
Josh: “Yeah, similar for me. I just learnt guitar, and decided at a young age that music was for me. And then, just overtime devoured as many different genres. Funny story, actually, I went into HMV once, and I bought ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen,’ and also Black Sabbath’s Paranoid at the same time. The guy just looked at me and went, ‘You alright, mate?’ I was just keeping it broad!”
TH: “There’s nothing wrong with them! I’d listen to them back-to-back!”
Josh: “I know, it was funny! I think he was just being helpful, thinking I was having a mental breakdown or something!”
Solo: “Yeah, I’m not really into any one genre or musical influence… I compose some music for ads and commercial work. So that really keeps me on my toes, having to listen to whatever kinda brief I get given. Different production techniques and different ways of writing… but then with these guys I’m just trying to be as sympathetic as possible… and many of my musical loves have come from these guys! Being introduced to smooth, groovy, late-70s soft rock. These guys have been educating me over the last few years!”
TH: Cool. One last question. I normally ask this to bands that I interview… Imagine that you guys can’t carry on for whatever reason. You can do one last thing together. What’s the dream for the band?
Guy: “Uh, well, I guess it depends on the circumstances of us breaking up!”
Josh: “Well, yeah, not driving off a cliff or anything!”
TH: “Haha, no! Nothing tragic! You’re all healthy, everything is fine!”
Guy: “Yeah, well, I think it would probably be record an album.”
Solo: “Yeah, and I think see it on vinyl as well. I think that’s a real landmark we want to hit as a band. To see ourselves on an album, in physical form.”
Zal: “Yeah, or play the Albert Hall with, like, a horn section.”
Josh: “Yes! Horn section.”
Solo: “Oh yeah! Extra instrumentation, for sure!”
Zal: “Find ourselves some ’70s-style brass band.”
Guy: “Yeah, an extravaganza!”
Josh: “Come in on horseback…”
Guy: “Yeah, that would probably be 90% of the budget!”
Solo: “Or just being a bit more real, playing our songs with a keys player!”
Josh: “Yeah, so if you know a keys player let us know!”
TH: “Yeah, I know someone in Exeter who is a mega keys player. I don’t if he can make the trip to Brighton or not… I’ll ask! You’ve sold a ticket for Albert Hall show, by the way! I’m sold!”
Guy: “Well, at least there will be one!”
Zal: “Yeah, just sell the one ticket to you, can have the whole place to yourself.”
TH: “Well, surely you’ve got friends and family! Surely your Mums are gonna turn up, aren’t they?”
Solo: “Yeah, well we could probably fill a few… we only have to fill half!”
Zal: “Well yeah, with social distancing we probably could fill the Albert Hall! One every three seats!”
TH: “Very true! Nice guys, I’m done. Got no more questions, so thanks for your time. Much appreciated!”
Guy: “Yeah, thank you!”
Solo: “Thank you so much!”
Nature TV’s most recent EP, Emotion Sickness is out now on Heist or Hit – available to Stream/Purchase here.