Cheese on Toast spoke to Ryan on the phone the other week from Hamburg in Germany – it was just after 9am in the morning there, so, being someone in a band; he was pretty tired – as someone said to me over the weekend “If you get up in the morning you’re not a musician” – and speaking of cruel and unnatural acts I wondered if there was a story behind the reference to a torture devise for the album’s title “In The Belly of The Brazen Bull”. Ryan explained, though that Gary had come up with the album’s title a while ago and had been quite insistent upon it. They had bought a book about methods of execution and torture while they were visiting Iceland – and an ancient greek method was the Brazen Bull – whereby victims were locked inside a hollow bronze bull under which a fire was light until the poor soul inside was basically roasted alive. Ryan explains he’s just really into that sort of thing; “When I was really young at high school someone lent me Faces of Death… It probably warped me in some ways”
“When we first started we all lived together and I think that’s why the first two records were simpler. There was a more singular vision to them” Ryan tells me – but now that Gary lives in Portland “and I don’t really live anywhere” – he comes over to Wakefield for a few weeks to write and we then go over to Portland for a few weeks to carry on writing. He tells me that this relocation and change of scenery is a really healthy thing for them to be able to write. He recalls when they made Ignore the Ignorant with Johnny Marr – because everyone, at the time, lived in different cities – they had to meet up in a room in Manchester and it started, at times, to feel too much like “work”.
Johnny has since left the band, on amicable terms, Ryan tells me – but I had often wondered how weird it must have been to be The Cribs – three brothers, successful already, to all of a sudden have Johnny Marr in the band. Ryan explains that it all just started reall organically – they had met a few times and had had a few drinks together, and as musicians tend to do when they drink, started to talk about writing a song together; so they did and before they knew it, it just worked so well that they ended up with an album’s worth of material. But, now, Ryan tells me, he looks back at that album and see’s it much more of a collaboration record – The Cribs with Johnny Marr; “Even though he’s a brilliant guitarist and I have a lot of admiration for him – we are supposed to be a three piece band – it’s what we are.” he tells me. When Johnny said he was going to leave they had already actually started making this record without him anyway – “If we had tried to do another record together (with Marr) out of obligation I don’t think it would have gone particularly well.” Ryan tells me.
This new record was recorded at Tarbox Road studio in New York with David Fridmann – The Cribs had long wanted to work with Fridman – having been huge fans of Weezer’s Pinkerton. “As a teenager Pinkerton was one of my favorite records” Ryan explains how he loves the organic, live and natural sound of the record – and how he’s always been a fan of records that sound like a band playing live in a room. “I don’t like too much time in the studio nit picking and changing stuff” he remarks.
You can listen to the whole interview here – Wakefield accent and all…
Watch the video for their latest single, Come On Be A No-One here