We’ve covered this when we spoke before, but for those unfamiliar with the band, can you give me a potted history?
Jim: Myself and bass player Mikey had worked together in a previous band. We’d stayed in touch and decided to write and record a bunch of new songs. We invited Martyn (guitars) and Danny (drums) to join us in the recording studio for the sessions. We worked so well together, we became a band shortly after.
And you have a new album coming out on 2nd June (coincidentally, my birthday, a lovely present, thanks) again, what can we expect to find there?
Jim: We certainly do. It’s called, ‘Thrift Store Troubadours’ and is a collection of some of the strongest songs we’ve written. We’ve been locked away in the studio making a lot of noise, working hard, and we’re all very happy with how it’s sounding. Anyone who’s been with us so far won’t be disappointed, but we’ve pushed our songwriting and introduced several new influences and sounds this time. There’s still the big pop influences that we’re known for, but there’s some folk rock kind of things and some pop punk; I think this album will surprise a few people, we can’t wait for you to hear it.
Peter Holsapple is again guesting on three tracks. What’s your connection with him, and what does he bring to the project?
Jim: Yes, Peter plays on three of the new songs (‘A Gentle Reminder’ and ‘Winter Coats’ are out now on our bandcamp). I’ve been a fan of Peter’s for many years, from The dB’s to his work with REM and solo stuff. It was just a case of asking him if he’d like to be involved, I figured he could only say no. He heard some of our songs and said he’d love to.
The album is out on Futureman Records. Can you tell me a bit about them and how you came together?
Jim: Futureman has a great reputation for releasing great music, we’re certainly going to be in good company. We’ve been on the Kool Kat Musik label till now, but just felt the time was right for a change. There’s no bad feeling between us and Kool Kat, Ray’s one of the good guys and very supportive, but it was just time to move on. We’re looking forward to working with Keith and Futureman Records.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I would assume that he contributed digitally rather than boots on the studio floor. How easy and enjoyable is such a process compared with traditional recording methods?
Jim: Yes, Peter recorded all his parts from his studio over in America. We sent him the basic tracks and let him do whatever he wanted with them, you don’t really need to tell Peter Holsapple what to play. We bounced ideas around, and it all came together pretty quickly. It’s certainly a different way of doing things, but it’s no less creative and enjoyable.
Does the writing process change when you work this way, or has the writing always been the same for you and the band?
Jim: Writing the songs will always be the same for us, Martyn or Mikey will send me a bunch of guitar ideas, I’ll write to the ones that grab me, then we’ll get together in the studio with Danny and work on the arrangements. Sometimes you can hear a song needs a certain something, as happened with ‘Winter Coats’ where Peter added the mandolin, but the basic process will always start with a guitar idea.
The band is often described as power-pop, is that fair and if so, what does that term say about your sound? Is there a better genre, or are such labels largely irrelevant outside journalistic circles?
Jim: We’ve never paid too much attention to labels, we just focus on writing the songs. People are going to label you whatever you do, so we just leave it up to them. As long as folks are listening and enjoying what we do, we don’t mind what category they put us in. I guess there are elements of Power Pop in what we do, but I wouldn’t say we’re a Power Pop band, there are too many other influences in there.
You have the album release show at the International Pop Overthrow Festival at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. It’s a great event and not your first time. What’s it all about, and how did you get involved?
Jim: Yes, we play International Pop Overthrow, or IPO, as it’s known, on release day, Friday 2nd June. IPO is an American travelling music festival that visits Liverpool for one week every year. Bands fly in from all over the world to play, and it’s just a great event to be part of. Liverpool audiences are known to be some of the best in the world, and there’s always a great atmosphere, it’s kind of a giant rock and roll family. We should thank David and Rina for inviting us and allowing us to release the new album at the Cavern Club.
Any band in the pop and rock world who plays in such a space must be aware of the history of the place. Does stepping out on such hallowed ground help or hinder the performance?
Jim: You’re certainly aware of the history that surrounds you as you walk out on that stage, it really is quite a buzz, but you have to stay focussed on playing and doing what you’re there to do. But you’d be lying if you said it didn’t affect you.
And with the album launched, what does the future hold for you and the band?
Jim: Once ‘Thrift Store Troubadours’ is released and out there, we will be supporting it with live shows and there will be a couple more singles released from the album. There’s talk of a show in our home city of Lincoln too, so look out for announcements very soon.
A pleasure as always to chat with you and best of luck with everything for the future.