22 November 2009

interview with the saudis

i'm working with a new magazine, called Mint, started up by two friends from home, Jamie Clifton and Ed Schofield. They recently asked me to interview the Saudis, here's what happened...

How did everything start?
Lias: The line up at the moment came together around April, but we were a group of the same name for about two years without any of these guys. Before it was just my brother and I, and a couple of other guys gigging around South London; Deptford and New Cross mostly.

Did the change in line-up change your sound do you think?
Lias: Well yeah, it was pretty rubbish before, no-one could play their instruments properly and we didn’t really know what we were doing! We went away to Algeria to do a tour, which is when Alex joined actually, and when we got back we sort of realized it wasn’t going anywhere and broke up for a bit. Luckily we sort of fluked our way in to finding some really good musicians, like Julian here, and got going again.

There must be quite varied influences between you all, do you all sort of mesh together?
Nathan: Yeah I think so.
Lias: Yeah, we do tend to argue quite a lot though! Not when we’re practicing but…
Julian: I think it’s good to argue actually, it’s better then because you get all your ideas out.
Lias: These two (Alex & Nathan) clash though!
Alex: Haha, you don’t need to commit that to tape, we can have an argument for you now though if you want!

How does the song-writing work within the band?
L: Everybody sort of contributes I guess, me and Alex tend to write the lyrics but there’s no hierarchy or anything, everyone does their own thing.
A: Julian’s the talent though, he can play anything.
N: Yeah he can play Metallica songs!
J: I’m the full talent really.
A: We found him in France, just sitting their on the street and took him back with us, now he lives at our house and sleeps on a fold-out bed next to Nathan. We should have taken you to our house actually, but it smells awful, we didn’t want you to get the wrong idea!

What else do you guys do outside of The Saudis?
N: We’ve all signed on at the moment, except for Bradley who’s at the Slade school of art, I just finished there this summer.
A: What are you talking about? You’re in the Algerian army!
N: That was before art school, my brother and I are half Algerian which is partly why we went and toured there.

Is there a noticeable difference between playing shows here compared to Algeria?
N: Oh yeah big time. You don’t play for women in Algeria, they’re not allowed to come to the gigs so there’s like 500 men there. It’s really weird you know, I remember when we first played there it was really shocking when we got on stage, just so many people.
L: There’s a lot of testosterone!
A: None of the electricity is earthed either, so when you plug your guitar in the whole thing is just humming. We had to stand on polystyrene blocks and wear rubber-soled shoes so we didn’t get shocked!
N: The crowds were mad as well, in the smaller towns they were a bit like ‘What the fuck is this?’ but in the cities they just went mental.
A: I think we were one of the first bands to play in some of those places; they’re so passionate about community and the music just brought them together even more, which was cool.

Did your time there inspire you?
A: Yeah definitely there’s no distraction there, it’s completely different from here, you can only do stuff in the morning and at dusk because it’s so hot in the day. We’re going back soon actually, a gig in France first then Algeria. We’re trying to do fewer gigs at the moment because we want to concentrate on writing. We’ve got a residency at The Macbeth but after that, I mean you need a manager to get gigs, constantly out schmoozing people in East London.

Do you guys prefer South London to East then? (They all live in Camberwell)
L: Well, I mean I like East London, I used to live there actually, but it’s a bit like one long party. I remember not doing anything with myself, except working at a pub, getting wrecked the whole time. It was great fun but at the end of it I hadn’t managed to keep my flat, I’d been kicked out of college and I was on the dole living on my mates floor, and it was just like oh fuck man… time to leave.
N: We’re not really connected to any area in the world, I don’t feel like anywhere’s my place, you know?

What prompted the move to London for you guys? (Lias & Nathan)
L: Well we were living in a small town in Northern Ireland and there wasn’t really any sort of music scene. I got in to art because obviously you do it at school, and my big brother went to art school so I was really in to that and wanted to be an artist, until I came to art school and didn’t really enjoy it.

What was your (Julian) plan when you got to London then?
L: Julian didn’t have a plan; he just came with his guitar, ready to rock out! And luckily we found him.
N: It’s true; it was meant to be(!)
J: Let’s have a try of a few gigs without me!
L: Come on Julian! This is what he does whenever we talk about him not paying his way; he goes “fuck you, I fucking won’t play my fucking guitar!” Haha, Julian is the talent though, we’d be nowhere without him.

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