Hailing from Manchester and now South London-based, The Early Mornings are an up-and-coming band with very clear ideas which they’re keen to put into practice. We got a first taste of that with their recent self-released EP, Unnecessary Creation, a record with a provocative title and enough ambition to bounce between different genres and suggestions, held together by a thread of tense guitar which runs from track to track and is the most outstanding feature of the band’s unique sound.
Blending in pop chords with a punk edge, their work is dense in content while showing the ticking cogs of the development of a newly-formed voice – intriguing enough to want more and compelling enough to listen again.
Chiara Strazzulla spoke to the band about their origin story, the EP release, and where they’re planning to go from there.
CS: How did The Early Mornings start? How did you get together, and what’s behind the band as a project?
Annie: It started out with me and Danny, originally thinking we would write all instrumental songs, with just bass and guitar. We quickly realised we wanted drums and vocals, and then it took us a while to find a drummer. Luckily, Rhys saw an ad we posted and we got on straight away.
CS: Your EP, Unnecessary Creation was recorded all in one day – can you tell us something about that whole process, and the experience that went with it?
Annie: We like recording live and we had practiced the songs a lot so we could get through them pretty quickly.
Rhys: We went to this house which has been turned into a studio, the engineer, Will [Falkiner], lives there and has a mixing desk in the garage. We were in the big front room of the house, under the chandelier, with microphones placed around. There was a pond outside which some past musicians had apparently fallen into.
CS: Your sound seems to blend old school punk suggestions with something more mellow and more contemporary. Are there any artists which particularly inspired you?
Annie: Kim Deal, who I think does exactly what you described. Also, Cate le Bon and her other band Drinks, with Tim Presley.
Danny: We always end up saying the same bands for this one, so I’ll go for some other stuff we love, like The Kinks, ’60s French Yé-yé, Bert Jansch, The Dream Syndicate, Cornershop, The Gun Club, Pere Ubu and The La’s.
CS: If you had to define your music in one sentence, what would it be?
Rhys: Something vague and elusive.
Danny: All natural artificial flavour.
CS: I’ve seen you’ve been described as post-punk – do you see yourselves in this term? If so, what’s post-punk to you?
Danny: Describing music in this way is really difficult and generally doesn’t really do it justice. Post-punk particularly, because there was the original usage of the term back in the late ’70s and ’80s and now it has seen a resurgence in its use to describe contemporary bands that don’t quite fit into our classic notions of rock, indie, or whatever. Even before this, back in the early 2000s there was another so-called post-punk revival so it really isn’t a very descriptive term. Also, sonically, there is a huge discrepancy between bands that fall under the genre – there is a darker, heavier, more atmospheric sound that’s more goth, and then there’s the sharper, poppier side with bands like Fire Engines, The Raincoats, and The Yummy Fur, which is closer to where I’d place us.
CS: I really love the EP title, I feel like it speaks to a very intriguing view of what it’s like to make art. What’s behind it, and can you tell us some more about it?
Rhys: Danny wrote a line in a poem, “punctuate my days with unnecessary creation.” I think if life was to be purely “necessary,” it would be boring.
Annie: Art is unnecessary, but we wouldn’t want to live without it.
CS: This lyric from the EP also stuck with me: “There’s nothing I want, but I’m not content.” I think in a way it channels a mood we’re all far too familiar with in the present days. Would you say it’s this frustration that fuels your music, in part? What other themes do you feel are important in your songwriting right now?
Danny: I think there’s an ambiguity to that line (and others) – you could see it as negative or positive. I wouldn’t say frustration fuels our music, we don’t want to set the world to rights and be moralistic or have an overtly political message. It comes more from a place of being playful and having fun, both with words and music, and I’d like to think that ultimately it is uplifting. I like that you can take whatever you want from it though.
CS: The last two years have been especially difficult for artists, and particularly for the music industry. What was your experience like? How does it feel to release an EP in the middle of all this?
Rhys: At first we had a little break, but then practiced a lot and worked on new stuff before recording the EP in January. Releasing it in June was nice ’cause I think we had just started playing gigs again, so can’t complain too much.
CS: You come from Manchester, which has one of the liveliest music scenes in the UK, and you’re London-based now. What are your favourite grassroots haunts? And a place you’d really love to play?
Danny: In Manchester, there is the legendary Peer Hat, The Castle, Fuel, and The White Hotel (you know, any place named after a book about the erotic journals of a fictionalised patient of Sigmund Freud is going to be interesting). The Windmill in Brixton is our new local and we loved the couple of gigs we’ve played there so far. We’ve not been to Scotland yet, so that’s definitely one to look forward to and then hopefully even further afield.
CS: What’s the most memorable thing that’s happened to you at a gig?
Danny: I once played a gig without making a mistake.
Annie: The feeling of fear when I dropped my guitar face down on a concrete floor before opening up for The Raincoats. The damage wasn’t too bad though, could’ve been much worse, like last week when it fell and the head snapped right off. The guy who repaired it has done a good job though, thankfully!
Rhys: I broke the skin on my snare during that gig as well.
CS: Lastly, can you tell us about what’s coming next for The Early Mornings?
Annie: We’re recording the second EP next month and got loads of gigs coming up in September – Southampton 4th, London 9th, Portsmouth Psyched Fest 18th and our first gig back up in Manchester on the 24th.
The Early Mornings’ debut EP, Unnecessary Creation is out now. Check it out on Bandcamp, here.
Photo Credit: Through the eyes of Ruby