Maggots feasting on pigs brains in basements, hysterical laughter over vomit… It doesn’t sound like Eagulls are the world’s most refined band. However, despite a period of minutes when the band’s singer George Mitchell couldn’t stop laughing at bassist Tom Kelly being sick in the tour van, my conversation with him was surprisingly enlightening. Eagulls’ line up is completed by guitarists Mark Goldsworthy and Liam Matthews and drummer Henry Ruddel. The band have drawn a multitude of comparisons from The Cribs to The Cure and The Clash. Here I talk to a band who are gaining a name for themselves with increasing momentum, and do it with a prevailing honest and down to earth attitude.
When I call to speak to George, the band are en route to Liverpool in what he tells me is a 9-seater van with, great luxury for a small touring band, a bed in it. I ask him how he feels about the prospect of spending the next three months in such close quarters with his band mates, and if things will get a bit messy. He tells me: “Tom got confused with his sexuality…” Cramped conditions and confused sexualities aside, I’m interested in the bands excitement to return to their hometown of Leeds for their sold-out album release show at The Brudenell Social Club. George replies simply “There’s nothing better than going home”. Growing up near Leeds myself, I’m intrigued as to whether the city is a good nurturer and source of inspiration for small bands such as Eagulls. George reminds us how the city is a source of great unity among people: “It’s a place where people just turn up. Most of the people who come to watch the bands aren’t actually from Leeds, they’ve just arrived here for some reason or another and come together through creativity and music.” He feels however that he is most inspired to write by the realism, the grittiness of where he grew up. Clearly, Eagulls are a band who stay true to their roots.
Leeds is not the end though, oh no. Once done here, the band fly off to Austin, Texas and straight back again to support Franz Ferdinand on their UK tour. A fantastic opportunity for the band to further establish themselves, it seems the partnership grew out of mutual respect: “they asked us (to support). They’re one of those mainstream bands that still have that sort of garage sound. It’s nice to support someone who’s actually quite colourful.” Are Eagulls always going to stay true to their sound, in the face of ‘the mainstream’? “We don’t stick to a certain regime. We just naturally do what we do and that’s just what we do.” Couldn’t be more frankly put I’d say. George tells me the only thing they would change would be “Tom being sick in a bag. But, he’s been a good boy today; he didn’t get any on his shoes.” I am then offered the excellent piece of advice of “always carry wet wipes” in case of such emergency sticky shoe situations.
George is sounding a little on the rough side: “It was quite a hectic night. We’d just been at the NME awards. It was pretty funny.” The band won the award for best music video for ‘Nerve Endings’ a creation which gained headlines. The police were called to the bands house after a gas man discovered a decomposing brain in the band’s basement. George tells me “he probably thought it was like a child’s brain”. In fact, it was a pig’s brain which the band purchased to film its process of decomposition for the Nerve Endings video. NME certainly approved of the effort. I’m just interested in the thought process behind such a creative endeavour. “It goes with the lyrics. It’s an endless cycle (of life). The brain and body decomposes, the maggots feast on it and it give source to life” he explains. When I ask if the basement is a frequently used mad experimentation zone, George disappointingly tells me that no other such strange natured and smelly studies have been undertaken.
It seems there is an air of controversy surrounding the band, regarding a letter they posted on their blog. Several journalists picked up on it as displaying offensive attitudes towards women who are in bands. However, I came away from the interview feeling presumptuous and naïve for taking a media representation as truth; it seems Eagulls are quite misunderstood. I asked if the band are worried about gaining a reputation as some sort of women haters and George replies seriously: “Personally I find it really disgusting that people think that of me. We don’t have views like that at all. I didn’t actually write anything like that towards women. I don’t understand where it came from and can’t stand that people think that. It’s daisy-chained into something that was just stupid because people don’t actually read it properly.” He highlights the damage that can be done to bands reputations through people misinterpreting their words and intentions. I probe further about the controversy of Eagulls and find it completely unwarranted: “Usually people who are in bands are trying to be rock stars and we’re just normal people. So when we just act normal, people seem to think it’s a bit different.” Their authenticity and refusal to mask themselves in a rock star façade is certainly endearing and refreshing. He says that being “normal people having fun” is what seems to have gained them this “crazy status”. People expect them to be arrogant, and they’re not. He discusses how representations in the media can be skewed in order to attract readers to stories and “gain hits and likes”. Their normalness just doesn’t seem to cut it in the media world. He says “people don’t focus on the more thoughtful things we do”. People are naturally interested by the crazy, which makes me wonder myself about creating faithful representations in features- have I put too much focus on pigs brains and sick bags?
Even their punky, angsty-sounding music seems a little misunderstood: “I think some people tend to see it as a ‘fuck the world’ attitude, but really it’s more thoughtful than that.” He perfectly encapsulates their music in one line: “I would just say it’s truthful”.
The band are rather cultural and diverse in their interests and inspirations: “we all listen to different kinds of music and we’re inspired by different kinds of things, from art to a crisp packet on the floor.” This I feel finely puts the bands ability to combine inspirations from the finer things in life with their honest to life, gritty and real approach. George tells me how three months in a van on the road is frustrating because he can’t read or pursue any of his artistic enjoyments such as drawing. Hysterical laughter over vomit aside, it seems Eagulls are a little more refined than I gave them credit for.
The band’s debut album Eagulls is released today, March 3rd on Partisan Records. March 6th will see them celebrate the release with their fans in their hometown in intimate style. “We wanted to make more of a show of it. We initially wanted to be on the floor (of the Brudenell), but there’s going to be too many people now so we’re going to have to play on the stage. We just want everyone to have fun really and be intertwined with us.”
By Sophie Brear