Bristol three piece Armachair Committee are gaining a rep as one of the bands you simply must see live. Their sound channels the raw energy of punk, skirts round the edges of rock, while still allowing, and indeed paying homage to, the influence and vibe of their contemporaries to weave its way into their sound – some like to call it ‘swamp rock’ .
The band have just dropped their latest track “Rawgabbit”, recorded at the legendary Coach House Studios, Bristol, and produced by Tom Dalgety (Turbowolf / Dinosaur Pile-Up / Royal Blood), is due for release on December the 1st. The B-side of which is a cover of fellow Bristolian’s, Portishead’s “All Mine”. With a string of live dates coming up, we thought it was high time we called them up and gave bass player Dave the opportunity to introduce themselves …
BM: So, who’s who? Where are you from? And how did you all end up together?
DL: We are Tom Hackwell (Lead Vox, Guitar), Dave Larkin (Bass, Vox), and Charlie Inshaw (Drums, Vox).We are from the City of Bristol.
Myself and Tom met in college many moons ago, we wrote a lot of the first Armchair Committee songs while staying in North Carolina, and recorded them in a filthy home studio. When we came back to the UK we moved to Bristol and and met Charlie shortly after moving here.
BM: This wasn’t the original line up though , was it?
DL: We first existed with original drummer Dan Frost behind the skins, but after parting ways in mid-2015 there was only really one person to ask – we’d always been impressed with Charlie’s drumming, and he also rides a motorbike and has a beard so it’s clear he was destined to be in a rock band. It came together very quickly indeed and since then we’ve written a load of new material.
BM: Did you have much experience of been in bands before Armchair Committee?
DL: We’ve all played music many many bands and projects, Most notably, Charlie used to drum in Cursor Major, Dave occasionally plays guitar in The St Pierre Snake Invasion, and Tom also operates under a more quiet side persona known as only as Dragoman.
BM: People are labelling your sound as ‘swamp rock’. How does that go down with you guys?
DL: While we’re not from Louisiana and we don’t sound like Creedence Clearwater Revival, we like the term and feel like our brand of noise does sound like it’s been dredged from the muddy depths.
BM: How would you describe it?
DL: Three drunken robots fighting over volume supremacey in a swamp.
BM: What about your band name? Where’s it come from?
DL: A somewhat sarcastic side-swipe at ‘internet warriors’. The kind of people sit around publicly venting their issues with the way the world is, without having the knowledge or ambition to take any direct action to address said issues.
BM: Are you a band with a message?
DL: Similar to the above. Get up. Get out. Take action for what you believe in. Take against against what you don’t believe in. Let your voice be heard. Learn. Create. Evolve. Stop making stupid people famous
BM: You’ve just dropped your latest single, “Rawgabbit”. Tell us about it
DL: We’d just finished an album (entitled ‘Half as Gold, but Twice as Grand’, which will be out in early 2016), and wanted to write a separate single which sums up the sound and feel of the album. The album is pretty varied, and so we wanted a track which had the full-bore rock sound of some tracks while keeping the melody and stomp of others. The word ‘Rawgabbit’ itself is an archaic Scottish term, with a definition of something along the lines of ‘a person who speaks with total confidence on a subject they know nothing about’.
We recorded it at Coach House Studios in Bristol, which is where Massive Attack and Portishead recorded some of their very first work. We actually recorded ‘All Mine’ by Portishead as the b-side track as a bit of a homage to the place. It has a cool vibe to it, and it’s always interesting to walk into a studio and think about some of the other tracks which have been recorded through the same wires you are. We recorded it with our long-term Producer/Engineer Brendan Davies and it had both tracks mixed with Tom Dalgety at his studio in Bath. He has worked on some of our favourite records of the past few years (Turbowolf, Killing Joke, Dinosaur Pile-Up etc), and he’s a total wizard.
BM: As a group, how do you go about constructing your tracks?
DL: We tend to write 90% of our music in a room together. We’re a three-piece, so it’s a pretty democratic process. It’s also quite easy to be out-voted if you come up with an idea which the other two don’t like. This can prove difficult at times, but it also forces you to have a lot of humility and not get too precious about ideas. In the case of ‘Rawgabbit’, Tom came up with a riff which became the intro/outro section and we just worked a very stompy, ominous verse to complement that.
BM: Were you aiming for any particular sound?
DL: There wasn’t really a specific point of reference for it really. I’ve kinda thought the intro guitar riff is kinda like an alarm – it just grabs your attention straight away. Personally I just wanted to get the most angry, carnivorous gnarly bass sound I could.
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BM: Do you think the artwork and imagery around a band is important?
DL: It is very important, because music tends to evoke a mental image anyway. In the case of the single artwork the logo idea came from an old sketch, which was developed and textured to make it look as dirty as the track sounds.
BM: What about influences? What music do you listen to? And is there anything you all really bond over?
DL: The easiest point of reference is Queens of the Stone Age, because it’s a band people know, and they’re a proper rock band who put emphasis on good tunes and good performance. Every band says this but our spectrum of musical taste is very wide. Dave will be listening to Refused while Tom will be listening to The National and Charlie listening to Tibetan throat singing. We’re all muso nerds and tend to rave about albums which have really good production value, while still being raw, rude and urgent sounding. We all love the sound of Horehound by The Dead Weather – an album tracked totally live, with extremely minimal overdubs and total tunes.
BM: How about growing up? Was music part of your life as children?
DL: I think we’ve all had a musical upbringing to some extent. I know that myself and Tom both had a bit of a musical awakening when we heard our respective Dad’s playing Led Zeppelin vinyl. I remember hearing the bass guitar in ‘The Lemon Song’ and actually really noticing it as a musical instrument for the first time. I remember thinking ‘this isn’t just a repeated pattern, he’s changing it each time’. I think it’s probably the first time I recognised what improvisation was. It think it then took me a further ten years or so start to understand the extent of how effortlessly talented John Paul Jones is.
BM: You’ve got some live dates coming up soon. What do you enjoy the most? Playing live? Or getting on record?
DL: We’re in an extremely lucky position in that we actually are always in the studio – we co-run a studio, where we also rehearse. With that in mind, the answer would actually probably be ‘playing live’ – because getting out in front of a crowd into a sweaty venue is actually the true test of a band. Nearly all bands can perform well ‘live’ when they’re in a comfortable studio and have perfect PA mixes etc. The best bands are the ones that perform well under limitations. The true test is if you can still pull off an awesome show in a venue where the drumkit doesn’t fit on stage, no one can hear each other properly, you’ve broken two guitar strings and the PA is on fire.
BM: What was your first gig like?
DL: We’ve had two first gigs…The first gig under the name ‘Armchair Committee’ was as a two piece in a venue called Shakedown Street in North Carolina. That gig was very inebriated, and probably terrible. The second first gig was when we moved to Bristol, formed as a three-piece and played at The Croft in Bristol (sadly no longer with us). We actually have a third first gig coming up in December, as our first live show with Charlie on drums. We’ve actually kept a track of every show we’ve ever played as part of an archive on our website HERE.
BM: To date, which is your favourite gig?
DL: In July this year we played our first European festival at Rock En Stock in France. It was the biggest stage we’ve ever played on, and it certainly seemed the crowd were less reserved than some English crowds can be!
BM: What about the worst?
DL: We’ve played some pretty bad ones…it has to be at a certain venue in Bristol (that won’t be named) where the PA didn’t work at all, the vocals were only coming out of the monitors, but the crowd couldn’t hear anything. I say ‘the crowd’ – I think we had one very drunk friend there, who kept threatening to murder the sound man.
BM: Which of your songs go down best live?
DL: Our new single ‘Rawgabbit’ has a good solid groove to it, and it’s a track a lot of people know the words to. There’s also a track that will turn up on our album next year called ‘Domovoi’ which is probably the loudest, thrashiest riff monster we play.
BM: I’ve not had the privilege of catching you live yet. Tell me what it’s like…
DL: Akin to month-old bed sheets: pretty damn dirty and dripping with the sweat of more than one person.
BM: Bristol has a bit of a rep for producing good bands/artists. Who do you think people hould look out for?
DL: Bristol has a fantastic DIY music scene full of some incredible bands. Friends, tourmates, and labelmates of note are The St Pierre Snake Invasion, Memory of Elephants, Downard, The Plainviews, Brockley Forest, Forgery Lit, Disfavoured Party, Backhand Jags, Anta, and oh-so-many-more.
BM: So, the singles due to drop on December 11th, what other plans have you got?
DL: We have a few scattered live dates lined up, we’ll write some more tracks, and then it’ll be on to getting the final pieces in place for the album release next year.
BM: And finally;can you tell us something that we haven’t asked you about…
DL: Yes – it is a fact that ants can survive in a microwave – they are small enough to dodge the rays!
“Rawgabbit” is released as a single on December 11th
Catch Armchair Committee live:-
Friday November 20th – The Frog & Fiddle, Cheltenham.
Saturday November 28th – The Winchester Gate, Sailsbury
Thursday December 3rd -The Victoria, Swindon
Saturday December 12th – The Louisiana, Bristol
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