Before their gig tonight at Brighton’s Komedia, read more about the gig here, I spoke to lead singer Ellie to ask her 13 questions about herself and her bandmates. Of all of the interviews I’ve done, this has to be one of my favourite because of its great straight-shooting honest replies. I look forward to seeing the band live tonight! You can check out their social networks below the interview. Enjoy!
13/4 – Signals Band Interview
1. For those not familiar with the genre, what is math-rock and is it cooler than it sounds?
DEFINITELY! Well probably not. It’s a bit nerdy to be honest. It basically takes elements from jazz and rock and metal and pop and mashes them up. It allows you to do so much more musically as a band, and you can push the boundaries and create something challenging. There is no direct formula to stick to and that’s quite exciting. I think math-rock specifically is defined as music that plays with time signatures, has certain playing techniques that crop up like ‘tapping’ guitar, post-rock qualities with builds and loops and textures, and tends to have really rad rhythmical qualities. It doesn’t really lend itself towards vocals though normally, which is why we have changed it up a little and involved a sprinkle more RnB and electronic elements too. We were trying to describe our genre more accurately the other day, and came up with ‘algebrock’. Algebra is math, right?!
2. Who takes the longest to get ready before a gig?
I’m pretty sure it is me haha. There’s no getting around it, I have more makeup to do than the others. Only slightly though.
3. Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
We like our food. Our bassist, Alex, tends to pass out when he hasn’t eaten for about 23 minutes, so snacking is imperative. We like getting the stage sound as top notch as possible in the time, and we love chatting to the other bands and learning new shit. No harm too in a little warm up with deep lunges, star jumps etc either, where appropriate of course. Like the mating dance of a bird of paradise.
4. What do you think your album artwork and band photos tell potential fans about you?
That we are hip, trendy, very important people, with great hair. But no, that we are probably quite anal. Mikey spends years on the artwork and finding really decent people to work with. Our promos are always quite serious and stern, but in person, we are pretty giggly. We take our music quite seriously, but not ourselves. Hopefully though, it generally makes the point that we work pretty hard and put the effort in to all sides of creating something. We are not ones to half-ass stuff. I think it’s quite easy to see a CD and think ‘oh that’s cool you have a CD’, when actually it’s taken years of crafting all the songs and working together and the production and the manufacturing and packaging and the visual representation we wish to portray and all of the official jargon that goes with a professional music release. We like to keep the quality as high as we can without just being ridiculous haha.
5. What do you when you’re not making music? (jobs-wise)
We lead a pretty successful interpretative dance group. Unfortunately though we still have to earn money somehow (damn, right), so we all have little jobs that, to be honest, all just get in the way with each other and we then realise that we only have like 2 hours a week all together where we can make shit happen haha. Ryan is a TA at a primary school and also teaches drums, but don’t be fooled in to thinking he’s a softie, because he hates kids. Alex is a music teacher on the Isle Of Wight, which adds the inclusion of ferry timetables in to our scheduling (most expensive stretch of water by the mile to cross IN THE WORLD (sort of) BY THE WAY – fact of the day). Ellie works front of house at an independent restaurant and teaches piano to littluns, so illness aplenty. Mikey also works at the restaurant with Ellie (can’t get rid of him), and runs a tea shop every so often, but can’t read our future in leaves yet, so he’s useless. We are also all in a function band together doing weddings so get to see a lot of punch ups, which is alright. Yeah, basically we are very busy, so now I’m writing this, i don’t know how we fit the band stuff in to be honest.
6. Favourite subject at school and why?
RE, because of watching all the movies, obviously.
7. If you had to split into teams on Countdown, who would take the numbers rounds and who would take the letters rounds and why?
I would probably take the letters round because, despite being in a math-rock band, i’m ashamedly poor at maths, and also Alex and Mikey can’t spell. So I guess that leaves Ryan with letters too, although they’d probably all end up being naughty words, and Alex and Mikey with numbers, but only if they could count with various mini snacks. God help us all. When is the general knowledge round?!!? Alex is a ceaseless fountain of irrelevant wisdom. Ceaseless.
8. Favourite unusual time signature and why?
We made something in 21/8 by accident the other day and that sounded quite snazzy.
9. Which songs mean more to you: the most recent, the first or the most popular ones?
Good question! We kinda hate the really old stuff to be honest haha because we’ve grown out of it, but Alex still loves it, because he joined a bit later, and was a bit of an embarrassing super fan first hahaha. We like ‘Paraesthesia’ because it was silly to write. Luckily, it seems to be popular so far too, so that’s always handy. ‘Trojan’ goes down well live too, so that’s satisfying to play. I think you always favour your newest one because it’s all sparkly and exciting to perform, so we actually have a new favourite one, currently called ‘Bird Bath’, that we are enjoying at the mo. It’s a bit heavier than some of our more twinkly orientated ones. If we created music based upon how popular it was, we would have died about 5 years ago haha. It’s equally for us as it is for fans.
10. If you could tour with any band or artist who would it be?
Everything Everything. They are rad and we are more in their vein of commercial music than most others (they call themselves ‘bizarRe&B’ so that’s close enough). There’s also an American band called ‘From Indian Lakes’ that we would cherish the opportunity to tour with. More locally, ‘Little Comets’, or ‘TTNG’ who we have played with before, and there will always be a little piece of our hearts attached to them. We’d have to contain our fangirling though. Wear our fangirl control pants.
11. Festival that you’d like to play in the next 5 years?
Reading & Leeds, ArcTanGent, Glastonbury. Please. Yep.
12. Who came up with the title ‘paraesthesia’ and where did you first hear the word?
We actually put a little competition up to name the song on the line and some amazing chap called Paul Armfield offered the term. It’s kinda the scientific word for pins and needles, or when a limb goes numb, and that made sense with the lyrics, because they relate to when you’re feeling numb in a relationship. And then you chop off your arm. You know, the standard. Plus it just sounds cool.
13. Finally, what’s next for the band? More gigs/tours/an album?
Gigs everywhere, festivals, recording in July. More EPs and videos hopefully. Would be beyond amazing to do a support tour maybe in winter, but we will keep you posted.