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Little Comets Interview

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We sat down with the Little Comets to discuss the release of their second album entitled Life is Elsewhere and talk about the recent completion of their first North American tour.

Name
Little Comets

Location
Tyne and Wear, England

Record Label
Dirty Hit

Two congratulations are in order with the release of you second album and the completion of your first North American tour. I’m sure these past few months have been a whirlwind.

Little Comets (Rob): Ah thanks, yep we’ve worked pretty hard. I think before we came over to the States we wanted to make sure we extended our energy as much as possible but also had enough left to take in the experience – enjoy visiting places, seeing the country and meeting new people. We had a great time. I don’t know, I suppose that when you are grafting and having fun time flies…

How did the writing/recording process differ while working on your second album, Life is Elsewhere, when compared to your first release, In Search of Elusive Little Comets?

Little Comets (Rob): Much of the first album was written in a rehearsal room with a drummer – rather than constantly disrupting the process to make alterations, the songs developed in a more linear way and were very much recorded separately as fully formed ideas. They were written and then we produced them. With “Life is Elsewhere” we no longer had the constraint of writing whilst rehearsing so could be more nuanced early on – production happened at the same time as writing and so the song could progress in very different ways.

Some of your songs speak to strong subject matters, alluding to current issues. Your latest album’s single, Violence Out Tonight, speaks to the prevalence of domestic abuse. What was your inspiration for this song?

Little Comets (Rob): I read an article that 2 in 10 women are affected by domestic violence at some point in their lives, which is a pretty shocking statistic. I didn’t set out to write a song about this but I guess the thought had been lodged somewhere in my head so it unwittingly took on the subject matter almost before I realized it. As an issue, it really isn’t talked about much, but I guess it figures – we live in a pretty male dominated society and nobody likes to confront demons in such blunt ways…

Sony Australia’s recent decision to remove themselves from the release of your album is another example of major record labels making unfortunate decisions based on questionable perspectives. What have you learned about the music industry from this experience?

Little Comets (Rob): (laughs…) I don’t know. Nothing much surprises us anymore. Those who try, do; those who don’t, work for a major label… There’s just so much bullshit involved in the whole process, so much falsity and decay – really it should just be about a person listening to a song that has been written to express an honest and deep feeling. There are so many unnecessary fences that have been installed and ornately decorated that any meaning has largely disappeared from whole parts of contemporary culture.

How has the transition been to indie label, Dirty Hit? Do you find they compliment your style better?

Little Comets (Rob): Yep much better. We still have plenty of disagreements – we like structure and logic whereas sometimes people who run labels are very instinctive and self-confident. “Trust me” crops up a lot, which we don’t really have a lot of time for. The greatest thing about Dirty Hit is that they completely back us creatively – they have total belief in what we do musically and this gives us great solace. They release our music because they like it and have passion for it – it’s a healthy starting point. We really appreciate this.

You recently completed your first tour of the US. What were some of your highlights?

Little Comets (Rob): Man, that’s a tough question – being from the North East it was very special for us to just go and play in the USA. Not many musicians from our region have had the opportunity, so we really appreciated the enormity of getting to play our music in a different country – and a country from which such amazing music has emanated. Me, Mickey (guitarist) and Steve (tour manager) have known each other for about 14 years, so the first thing we did on arriving was go for a jog in Central Park together – that was lovely. Erm… every gig was a highlight (we played some fantastic venues), seeing the Lincoln Memorial, playing the same building that Purple Rain was filmed in, visiting Michael Jackson’s family house, people singing our songs back to us, driving through Idaho and Oregon, Seattle coffee, World Café in Philly… aaah the list is endless.

What’s your ideal setting/venue to perform in?

Little Comets (Rob): We literally don’t mind – as long as there is an attentive audience we are sorted. It’s just lovely that people want us to play.

Can you explain the hanging instruments you feature on your stage during live performances? How did this start?

Little Comets (Rob): It started in such a basic way. We found that by picking up and dropping these flimsy percussion instruments constantly during a set really disrupted our playing and they kept breaking… so we came up with the idea of having them in stasis around us. We even had the idea of constructing a percussion quadrant for the audience to use at a gig but then decided it was a good way to have lots of percussion stolen. (laughs)

Your vocal harmonies create deeply layered beautiful songs as your lyrics play and intertwine with the instrumentals. Have you found that some of your songs are too difficult/complicated to play live? If so, what song makes you the most nervous to perform live?

Little Comets (Rob): Ah thanks, we’ve tried really hard since Mark (our old drummer) left. Mickey now sings a lot more and the harmonies sound a lot fuller for it. I think by all singing, it can make a song that bit more rounded – I think my voice often sounds a little thin so this counteracts it. The hardest song to play is “A Little Opus” – no one knows what the time signature is, so if one tiny thing goes wrong then the whole song collapses… (laughs) no pressure…

A question for Matt. You look like you’re having the most fun while on stage. It’s almost as if you’re just playing around up there the entire time. Do you enjoy performing as much as it seems? How much of this depends on the crowd’s energy?

Little Comets (Matt): I genuinely do enjoy performing on stage. All of my movements are very organic and come from the song/part I play/other members/how I feel. The audience does play a part in how energetic I feel but, I wouldn’t say that it rules the performance. Sometimes when a crowd aren’t jumping and going crazy it makes you focus on things musically a bit more. I just like to get into the music and do what feels comfortable and natural, I suppose.

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