Interview with The Cribs’ Gary Jarman
The Cribs are releasing their 6th studio album on the 23rd of March, “For All My Sisters”. After coming on the scene back in 2002, they’ve just strived for greatness in the music they produce. The Mic caught up with Yorkshire lad, Gary Jarman, bassist and singer for The Cribs the afternoon before the start of their UK tour in our very own Rescue Rooms in Nottingham yesterday.
The Mic (TM): Hey Gary, I’m Gabby and this is Annabel, we’re from The Mic. So of course you’re all siblings, but how did you get about creating music from the very start?
Gary Jarman (GJ): Just sheer boredom really. I mean we didn’t really have a great deal else to do. I think.. I’ve said it before but none of us were into sports growing up and I think in the North of England it’s like you’re either into sports or you’re like.. I guess.. a geek playing D&D or something, and so we were kinda in neither of those positions at that point. I started playing violin when I was a little kid, which I guess is slightly geeky or whatever. We started doing that when we were little kids and I was always into music anyway. I was really into Queen when I was 10 years old and I moved into guitar from that. Main reason why we play together is because y’know we knew some people we played music with, but it was just easier to play together, and when Ross got older, his feet would actually reach the peddles on a drum kit, so we were like let’s just get him doing it y’know? I am the oldest, I am a little older than Ryan, slightly older than him, and Ross is 4 years younger.
TM: So your new 6th studio album, “For All My Sisters” is being released on the 23rd March right? Can you tell us a bit about the new material and sort of the creation process – what influenced you to produce it?
GJ: We had a weird year because.. 2012 we put out Brazen Bull which is the 5th record. 2013 we made a compilation record, ’cause it’s 10 years of the band and it seemed like a good time to do it, but we were also in a situation where we couldn’t really release any new music that year because the contract we had kinda finished I guess. We were sorta in limbo basically, so we couldn’t make a record. We just spent a lot of time together writing, we were playing festivals and er.. we all live apart now so when we’re together we just had to y’know, had to make the most of the time. So we wrote at festivals, we just wrote a lot that year, we wrote a lot in 2014 when we were doing festivals again. And we did the Weezer cruise, they did this cruise ship thing and we played on that and after that my brothers came to visit me in Portland, and we have a basement studio there. We’ve just been beavering away a lot y’know because we couldn’t really do anything, so we had a bunch of songs, we just chose the best ones. Kinda the most poppy ones that was the idea, to make a more poppy record. I think it’s more consistent, like because the previous record, we were really inspired on that previous record. Every single idea we came up with we used, and we were sorta purposely trying to be.. on the 5th record we’ve got our fan base now pretty well established, so we can kinda do whatever we want. But with this record we think it’s more concise, we cut a lot of stuff out, that was always the ethic of the band really to be in the first place, just keep things as stripped back as we could, and what I think with this record is.. it being concise really.
TM: I mean it kinda establishes where you are now, from where you started out.. early 00’s?
GJ: Yeah like in 2002 we started and I think that we used to have a reputation for being separatist which I think the reason why is.. not sure how old you guys were in 2002, but it was a really vibrant scene, and at the time there was a lot of bands, and everyone was really high on rock’n’roll and electro clash and stuff. It was really like an odd scene for us, ’cause the rock’n’roll bit that was around was kinda like really old school. I think it really macho and stuff, and we tried to keep away from that. We had a reputation of being separatists. But then over the years it’s been like a lot of that stuff has fallen by the waste side a little bit, and I think maybe people understand us a little better now. And I think in the last couple of years, it’s been weird like a lot of the band we’ve been playing with on tour have listened to us when they were younger, and that’s like a weird feeling. Makes you feel old! But at the same time it’s really good because most the band are great, and it seems like they do like us. If they were influenced by us in any way it’s because we were trying to be separatist y’know, so.. I just think we’ve got a niche now. People kinda know what we are and we don’t really need to.. we’re not really in that phase any more where bands kinda had to prove themselves. We always used to be frustrated because we were always trying to make sure we were represented properly, and that people understood us, ’cause we were like the small fish in a big pond for a while. Whereas now it’s like.. now all that stuff’s gone.. people know what we are and that’s the greatest liberty that we have.
TM: I like that, good. So yeah back to your new album! What are your favourite tracks from it? I mean so far online all we’ve heard are “Burning for No One” and “An Ivory Hand”.
GJ: I really like “Burning for No One”, but it’s like really obviously pop; it was funny because the music I was listening to last year, I was really nostalgic and really we through a phase listening to the stuff I grew up on.. well not really listening to but hearing. A lot of it was like this 80s pop music.. I listened to a lot of 80s pop music. I think somewhere it’s kinda filtered into a song like “Burning for No One” which might weird some people out. I’ve always had the intention to do something like that, I really like that one. I really like the last song on the record – it’s called “Pink Snow” and that’s a really long, and experimental track. I really like that one. First track on the record’s called “Finally Free” .. I really like that one too. That kinda sounds like a 50s song, like a 50s rock’n’roll song, but it’s really dirty and cool so.
TM: So yeah, your tour starts here tonight, and you’ve mentioned about going to America and stuff – I mean you live there now! What has been your favourite tour so far and what are you looking forward to in this one?
GJ: I mean it kinda varies what I look for in a tour. In my mind, the best tour we ever did was our tour with Death Cab for a Cutie and Franz Ferdinand in America, and it was in Arenas. It was the beginning of 2006, a 7 week tour, and in America the distances are so vast, but because it was an arena tour those band had buses and trucks and stuff, and we just had a van, So we’d have to play, as soon as we’d finished playing, and then drive like 600 miles, sometimes overnight, get to the next arena and go straight on and sound check and play straight after. It was a really difficult tour, but in a lot of ways it’s one of my favourites. I mean sometimes some of our least favourite tours, were when we were on a bus, in big venues, and it’s the same thing every night. That’s what people want at that level of consistency, the crew wants consistency, everyone wants a smooth show, and as tours end I still remember them very fondly as it really just blends into one. This tour that we’re doing right now should be fun, because y’know the last time we played at some of these venues was in 2004 or 2005, but I think the inconsistencies and the limitations is what makes it good for us. If you have everything your own way.. we just really thrive on adversity I think. Yeah I mean we always did, we were always the type of band who’d throw in small gigs like that, but it became more and more difficult really. You have a certain responsibility towards the crowd y’know and we had shows before where we’d like announce a secret show, and people would get hurt so you’d always feel bad about that. A lot of people couldn’t really hear what you were saying ’cause you were on stage the whole time, but with the setlist here, we’re going to try and mix that up. We put it all on a list the other day, a setlist for this tour, and we have 106 songs now, and it’s like running in a play, like a scene or 20, so now we have to mix it up and drop stuff. We can’t just keep on playing the same set; that’s like 80 songs you’re not playing every night.
TM: Plus you have this new album to include with all your old stuff too..
GJ: I mean we’ll do about 10 or 12 old songs, and like 6 to 8 new songs, which is probably a good ratio.
TM: I mean you’re never going to please everyone.
GJ: No it’s true, it’s true as well y’know, I mean we have a lot of fans who want us to play the B-Sides. I mean I love that we have a fan base who want that, that’s important but if you do that maybe 80% of the audience will be like “I don’t know what the f**k that was”. I mean you can’t keep everyone happy but we really do try and keep the hardcore fans happy first and foremost. Sometimes to our detriment because like I said, you don’t want majority of the people to be alienated. There’s a certain element of my psyche which is like “Do whatever you want”. There’s another part of my element which is like, from my influence from listening to Queen growing up, to make people happy and give them a good time. Kinda balance it.
TM: What songs from your past material are your favourites to perform live?
GJ: I really like the gentle, touching songs y’know. They’re they ones I like to play the best, because the feeling that I get comes from a place that’s not nihilistic. I mean a lot of the aggressive songs were written from a place of negativity; I really enjoy playing gentle ones ’cause then y’know it just has a stronger response with me when I play live, and plus I get a rest from destroying all my vocal chords all the time. It’s really physically hard to sing like that. And that’s what I was saying with that Death Cab for a Cutie tour, it was 7 weeks, and I blew my voice our like on the first couple of shows, and it was like..
TM: A lot of honey and lemon?
GJ: The amount of honey and lemon I’ve had over the years.. I actually had to have an operation on my vocal chords because I had just damaged them over the years, and I had to like go to a vocal coach, Chris Martin’s vocal coach (laughs) when I was coming out of that operation to teach me how not to destroy my voice. None of it works y’know; I’m back to doing what I used to be doing. I guess I’ll just worry about it when I’m an old man who can’t speak any more.
TM: At least you’ll have a good life to think about!
GJ: Yeah exactly, I just think I’m going to be those gravelly voiced old dudes.
TM: Harassing kids to get off your lawn
GJ: (laughs) I’m bitter already.
TM: So, if this was your last day to live ever, would you still be doing this? Or would you be on a beach somewhere or..?
GJ: I’d just probably.. just hang out with my wife and dogs really. Y’know the happiest that I am, I’ve become a really simple person now and I used to be this really frustrated person. I really wanted to travel, I really wanted to get out of this town I grew up in. I’ve taught so much over the years, the thing that makes me happy is that I’d like to be at home with my dogs and my wife, and I know that sounds kinda boring, but to me that’s like a total vacation. Being in one place, for more than one day, I really miss that. I guess the grass is always greener and all that, but as a kid I was really frustrated for being in the same place. Now.. I love Portland so much, but I guess like I still love to play shows, but it’s more having a place to go, it’s just so transient for you. I nearly went off the rails a few times, but that’s just normal right? I guess?
TM: I’m looking forward to that, I feel a bit frustrated, need to travel, but I want to stay home..
GJ: But that’s when you get really motivated y’know, I think that necessity is the greatest motivator, The amount of stuff we had to do – I feel we had a lot of adversity back then which is what fuelled it, and it’s what we thrive off, adversity, still. It’s like the best motivator. I don’t regret any of it. It’s just good to proactive I guess. If you get comfortable you get complacent.
TM: Just keep moving, and do what you do best. I think that’s all from us, really nice to meet and have a chat with you Gary!
GJ: Alright cool. Thank you.
By Gabriella Ahmed and Annabel New