2008 has seen The Whip step up and finally claim their rightful place at the forefront of the indie-dance movement in the UK. Their loyal following is spreading outside of Manchester thanks to some relentless touring and some bloody good tunes in the shape of Divebomb, Blackout and the inescapable Sister Siam.
Bruce Carter (vocals and guitar, pictured) took a little time whilst on the road to answer some pressing questions from the Motel...
Hello Bruce. First off, how long did it take to put together X Marks Destination, and what was it like working with Jim Abbiss?
We had a good laugh recording the album. We’d recorded most of it in my spare room, but 'cos we were playing live so much, we had to do bits on the old open road. We recorded bits from the laptop on trains, the bus, even a bit in a disabled toilet in a church in Norwich while some girls were listening through the door. We just did it where we could.
When we got to the studio with Jim, we just got a good drum and bass sound and took it from there. He was good at saying “that bit it’s needed, and add a middle bit there”. We had some fun playing with him in the live room to get a couple of outros sounding interesting. He tied it all together for us nicely, and is a fine English gent.
We spent about a month in the studio but surprise, surprise, we were gigging while we did this. A lot of the time I’d be in the studio, go to a gig and get back for the morning, it was a fun time.
The revival of previous influences and sounds – whilst giving them a contemporary twist - seems to be a really big theme across all genres in contemporary music at the moment. Is it something that you’ve tried to reflect consciously in your sound? Or do you think it’s more of a natural thing for anyone making music, and it’s just recently that the music press has chosen to make such a fuss about it?
I think music has come to a time now where there have been a lot of good sounds and production techniques used over the last 40 years, so it’s only healthy for a band like us to be influenced by a bit of this and that. People are much more open minded about music these days and don’t just listen to one kind of thing. We listen to all sorts of stuff, and I guess it shows in what we make musically.
This might be tricky given how phenomenal 2007 was for the band, but can you pin down a highlight or highlights?
We had a lot of fun going here and there, and we were really lucky 'cos we didn’t even have an album out. This year looks to be more exciting still. I think going over to Japan was a highlight, and playing Fujirock. It’s a nice festival and we had a laugh with everyone else that was there. Festivals are the most fun you can have playing live.
What’s been your most surreal moment of the past 12 months?
Turning up in Japan for the first time and seeing a big cardboard cutout display of our faces in a record shop.
How did you find SXSW? Was it the first time you’d gigged in America? Did you get chance to catch any other bands who’ve since set your world alight, or was it all work-work-work?
We had a great time over there. We played 6 gigs in 4 days, so it was pretty much non-stop, but we didn’t sleep inbetween so we got to see and do a lot of fun stuff. MGMT were really good, and we saw MSTRKRFT and Bloody Beetroots, which was a messy night.
It was the first time we’d been over there, so we were playing to come back. It was fun, and we raised our game. Michael Stipe from REM came to two gigs, which was crazy! We’re going back for a tour later in the year.
On that note, you’ve acquired a reputation for relentless touring. Do you find being on the road helps you generate new ideas for songs, or does it have to wait until you sit down and have a chance to take stock?
It can help to be playing in clubs between DJs. This for us is the best place to hear new sounds that excite us and give us ideas, then if we’re busy playing other gigs we get in to putting down some ideas while we’re still away from home. It did take us a bit longer that we’d hoped to get the album out, which is why we what to get the next one out this time next year.
If you can put it into words, what kind of feeling marks a truly memorable live gig for you?
Live stuff is the best thing about being in a band or listening to music. It’s about sharing a vibe in a room for an evening. We love feeding off the crowd and it works both ways. It’s about two sets of people making what they can out of some music and a good night, and forgetting all the shit that they had to put up with before they got to that moment.
What’s been stuck in The Whip’s stereos on repeat of late? Anything or anyone you feel our lives depend on listening to?
I love the new MGMT album and we listen to a lot of dance stuff. The Bloody Beetroots keep coming up, D.I.M, Crookers...
Finally, was there any one particular moment for any of you in the past 12 months when you thought “bloody hell, this is it…things are about to really take off.”
We’ve not really stopped to see what the hell is going on. We’re just happy to keep carrying on getting out there and playing as many gigs as possible. We get a twitch when we’re sat at home!
interview by Kate Goodacre, April 2007
The Whip tour again in May: 07: Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh (14+), 08: Fibbers, York (15+), 09: Trinity College Ball, Dublin, 10: 53 Degrees, Preston (16+), 12: Jericho Tavern, Oxford (14+), 14: 93 Ft East, London, 15: The Great Escape, Brighton, 16: Joiners, Southampton (14+), 17: Plug Neutral, Sheffield (14+), 19: J2, Cambridge (14+), 21: The Barfly, Cardiff (14+), 22: Academy 3, Manchester (14+), 23: The Cockpit, Leeds (14+).