In conversation with Bull
Feature photo by Gregor Forrest. In text photo by Michael Parr.
We caught up with the wonderfully eccentric Bull, who have represented some of the best of the York music scene for many years now – in their own words, “giving a f**k about not giving a f**k since 2011.” As you can imagine, we had a lot of scope for a very funny chat with Bull about some of their recent exploits.
So, we saw that you’ve just released a new EP today – Das Deutsch KD – can you tell us a bit about that?
Yes! Okay, so this EP is about when we went to Germany a few weeks ago.
The plan was to tour in Germany for a bit, but in the end, we didn’t have any gigs booked. We had sent thousands of emails out asking to play and got about three replies back all saying no. Still, as flights to Hamburg were literally £15 we decided to go anyway without any gigs, and the plan was to just do some busking instead.
Some of the best times we had were in Berlin. One night, we were just having a drink at a bar – and we were on the stairs and this guy just turned and said he liked Tom’s hat and we got chatting. It turned out that it was Spiral Stairs, the guitarist from Pavement! We’re huge Pavement fans – he also used to play in Poses, all those cool 90s bands we love. We stayed until about 9am in this bar, that was the Friday night.
And we had this house party gig set up on the Sunday – and we’d already invited this band from Holland we’d met, called Canshaker Pi, they’re great, they’ve supported The Cribs – so we just invited Spiral Stairs to come and play as well – and he did! It was great, like 50 people came to this house party, crammed into this tiny room.
A lady called Petra had let us stay at this place called the CVJM while we were in Berlin. It was basically the YMCA, and it was full of these big Christians all playing folk music. We stayed in the basement there for six days – it was great. So, we asked the Christians if they wanted to come to the house party as well – like 10 Christians came and joined all these different groups we’d been meeting all week. One of the Christians got arrested actually! One of them called Merlin came and got locked up for spray painting or something. When we left he was still in German jail.
So, in the end, even though we didn’t have any gigs booked when we went out, we still managed to play quite a few times. There was a good atmosphere. People found it hilarious that we were just going into bars and asking if we could play on the night, it felt like it was so crazy that they let us.
Then we made these EPs really cheaply afterwards – we just had a massive production line going in the kitchen. Someone was burning the discs, someone was sorting the labels, all of us were hand-decorating them, it was great. Because of the tour we’ve called them “Kompact Discs” as a joke and yeah, we’ve got a few here.
That sounds fantastic! So now that you’re back in York, what have you got coming up? Obviously, you’ve been on the York scene for quite some time, so is there anything in particular you’re looking to do?
We’re hoping to do some recording now – hopefully with some of the guys at Young Thugs Records. We’ve also got some shows coming up.
November, Bull / Gwen / Ten Foot Tom and the Leprosy Crooks @ The Captain Cook Inn, Straithes
November, Bull / Crybaby / The Sunset Radio / Glass Traps @ The Basement, York
December, York Music for Refugees presents: The Howl and the Hum / Bull / The Blueprints @ The Crescent Community Venue, York.
We’d love to get down and cover some of those shows. So, have you ever toured abroad before?
Yes, we have – we did a long route around Europe last summer, through Amsterdam, Cologne, Munich, Budapest, Prague, and Paris. We did a show with Sofar Sounds in Prague which was cool – we played with Amy Winehouse’s guitarist! We’d actually like to do some more touring abroad and then come up with a themed EP based on each tour – like how we’ve done with this EP. Then we’d like to put it all together at some point into one record.
That sounds like such an interesting way of making a record!
Yeah, we’ve got some visions of having very targeted EPs as well – so if we have some tracks that are more sort of punk based or whatever, they’ll all go onto one EP. And then the same with more indie songs. Then, if we want to target particular shows or play with certain people we can send over the stuff that they’ll like!
And who are you listening to at the moment? Who would you say are your influences?
We like a lot of stuff really. At the moment we like: Car Seat Headrest, The Lemontwigs, Canshaker Pi…
*confusion emerges over whether The Lemontwigs are good or bad, depending on which festival they had been seen at*
Also, Alvvays are great. [Tom] Yeah, the frontwoman (Molly Rankin) looked at me when I went to see them. [Dan] Yeah, she has these Mona Lisa eyes that just follow you around and make you think she’s staring at you. [Tom] Noo, she was staring at me. I gave this massive cheer and she looked right at me. [Dan] Yeah, she does that to everyone… [Tom] No! She definitely looked at me and was like this guy’s cool.
What do you think of the local music scene here? Which bands do you like in York at the moment?
We like Sewage Farm, …And The Hangnails, Gwen – we’re all in Gwen apart from Tom. It started out as The Lungs, an acoustic two-piece, and now it’s more of a full-piece band. We like Fat Spatula, Pat Butcher, Washing Machine Repairman – basically everyone that Young Thugs Records work with. Then there’s the Howl and the Hum – oh god <laughs>. We always have this thing, like if we’re playing with another band, would we be able to take them in a fight. And wait – can you write this down – are you sure you can get this in? We could beat the sh*t out of the Howl and the Hum. We could. I mean at least we wanna start it.
*Bull start discussing which band members they could take*
Thank you for a great chat! Ok so finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Bull. Um…not really….well we’re all vegans. We believe in aggressive veganism. Well, not aggressive maybe – but yeah, actually maybe someone should start the fight.
And who better to start it than Bull? If you want to see some new-age veganism and hear some fantastic live music, get down to some of their upcoming gigs this next month!