Prior to stopping by Eagulls’ live show in York’s Crescent this 24th October, we had the opportunity to catch up with the band’s guitarist Liam Matthews about the band’s writing process and new album Ullages.
Your second album is called Ullages; was that name stumbled upon or were you looking for an anagram of Eagulls?
I think George [Mitchell, lead vocalist] has always been interested in having more depth in the lyrics and what things mean: one of the first songs we wrote was called ‘Acrostical’, and the first letter of each line spelt the word “Eagulls”, so he’s always had little things like that. Then he suggested “Ullages” as an anagram of Eagulls. It kind of doesn’t make sense; it’s meant to be the amount of a container that’s empty, but you can take it in the context of when people say “is your glass half full or empty?”. It’s up to you to take positivity out of the lyrics which sound quite bleak at times – it’s an outlet to feel more positive.
When you’re writing, do you think about your influences and the music you want to write or does it just come naturally?
I think it’s just more natural. When you’re all together, someone will put an album on you’ve not heard before – we all listen to such a broad spectrum of music. We get pigeonholed by lazy journalists: instead of thinking of a way to describe our music, they just say [we sound like] The Cure or The Smiths, who have covered so many genres within themselves. It’s nice to be compared to bands like that, but we never sit with the intention of sounding like a certain type of music or band. If you listen more closely you’ll find influences that you wouldn’t expect, like the Walker Brothers, stuff like that. Everything just comes into it – it all happens naturally.
I noticed that ‘Skipping’ was played on the TV show ‘Catfish’ the other night. It’s quite a big American show, do you think that helps you gain a wider audience?
I guess that’s one of the good things about when we’ve had songs on skateboarding videos – that’s how I got into music. When I first got into skateboarding and watched the videos, the music was one of the main things that got me into it; that feeling and the vibe you get from the songs [makes you] start checking bands out. I guess some people that don’t skateboard will find music they like through TV shows.
Your first album (2014’s self-titled Eagulls) is a lot heavier and faster than Ullages. Do you think that was conscious?
Yeah, like I said, it’s been a natural progression through the two. It’s more to do with the time and the mind-frame that we were in at that point. We started the band as a hobby: we were five mates first, we started playing gigs [whilst] we were working as well. It was frustrating to go to gigs and get stick for it sometimes. We wanted to play anywhere and everywhere, so it was frustrating – we wanted to write an album but we didn’t have much time or a nice place to do it, so we were getting an hour in after work to practice. If you play a slow song you don’t get to practice as much so we’d just smash it. With the second album we had a platform to take our time a bit more, so it was more that than a conscious decision.
Do you feel more comfortable with the faster or slower stuff?
I like them both as much. That first album is a piece of us all – we put blood, sweat and tears into that as much as the second. That album is good to play because it’s more frenetic and cathartic. This is more challenging and sonically full; in a songwriting, craftsmanship way, it’s something for us to be proud of, but the first album got us to do so many ace things. It represented us at that time and this one represents us at this time. The third one might sound completely different, who knows! But it’ll still be us.
Ullages is out now on Partisan Records.By Will Strickson