After releasing the grungy gothic brilliance that was their EP ‘Fun’ back in March, Backseat Mafia put some questions to Esme from the band.
First of all, how are you? How are you coping with the pandemic? Any message for your fans?
2020 was a flaming wheelie bin of steaming shit and 2021 has not been showing much sign of improvement. Out of the 3 of us in the band, 2 of us are tattooers by trade so have been out of work for most of the year, and with lockdown restrictions we haven’t even been able to jam away the blues. We are, of course, all ragingly pissed off at our spirit-crushingly incapable government. I feel like if we had ANYONE else as Prime Minister right now, like a toddler or a potato, they would have done a better job at keeping vulnerable people safe and not letting the entire country fall into insurmountable debt and depression in the process.
As a band, although we are desperate to get out and play some shows, we are using this time to throw ourselves into writing new material, and create some well thought out videos and artwork to accompany it. We have a lot of fun things in store that we cannot wait to show you all, and we hope that this extra time to focus on the ‘behind the scenes’ work is going to be a silver-lining through this nightmare of a year.
With regards to a message for fans out there – first and foremost, look the fuck after yourself. And don’t beat yourself up – everyone is having a fucking horrible time too and waking up everyday looking and feeling like death, so don’t be hard on yourself on the shittiest days. And if you are out of work (like us), try and pick some fun projects to work on to keep your mind occupied. Do that thing you always said you’d do but haven’t had the time to – like learn a language, or how to knit, or the lords prayer backwards. Pick up a new instrument to play or buy a state of the art vibrator. We’ll never be in this situation again where we are forced to stay in, so if you are getting bored and miserable, try and see a little silver lining in being able to come out the other side with a new string to your bow.
And finally, keep supporting your favourite creatives during this time, however you can. All the full time performing musicians that I know are totally without an income so if you like a band, and this goes for any band – not just us – anyone that you want to see carrying on to make music at the end of this pandemic, then go buy some merch. If you aren’t in a financial position to do that, just show them some love, share their pages and stuff or we are gunna come back to a world without a live music scene and that’d be rubbish.
I love your name. How did you fall upon the name and did you consider any other names for the band?
“Sadness & Complete Disappointment” was a name that had been floating about for a few months before we actually formed the misery-trio that you see today. It’s basically just exactly where we kept ending up no matter what we tried. Me and Kit had been writing un-officially under that name since their last attempt at forming a band ended in me getting pinned down and horrifyingly molested by our old creepy meathead ex-bassist. He fled the country after we threatened legal action. Although that project fell apart, we didn’t have any intentions to stop making music, and this abhorrent departure only gave way to the joining of our perfect and totally NOT disappointing third member – Beka. If Kit and I are two slices of bread, then Beka is the tasty, tasty, spicy vegan-chicken substitute, the creamy sauce and the leaf of gem lettuce that makes us such a succulent little sandwich.
At some point “Sadness & Complete Disappointment” went from a catchphrase to our official name. Nothing else seemed to fit, and we looked around ourselves and couldn’t think of anything that fitted our situation or our sound more, and couldn’t think of anything more relatable or representative of the national mood. That was back in 2019; little did we know, that the world was on the path to getting a whole lot sadder, and a whole lot more disappointing.
If you’re trying to explain who you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say?
We have a few different genre names banded about around us so far, I think “misery-grunge” seems to have stuck, but we also have been called “kate-bush-core” which is pretty apt. The recipe for a “Sadness & Complete Disappointment” track is to take the gloomiest of 90s grunge, and add layer upon layer of dark, sexy bass riffs with melancholy-soaked guitar, until the instrumental parts feel almost uncomfortably claustrophobic, then top it off with some hazy soprano vocals that sound like Lana del Ray had a baby with Brody Dalle and they raised it in a grey and rainy suburb just south of London. Couple that with the spookiest choir of backing vocals you can come up with and you got a SACD song.
After hearing your singles I am so looking forward to the EP. How are you guys feeling about the EP? Are there any surprises?
We are uncharacteristically happy with the EP. Recording it was a bloody nightmare – if I didn’t think we might get in some kind of legal trouble I would tell you a whole lot about one producer you must AVOID AT ALL COSTS because he is a lying chimp of a man who will steal your money and treat you like a toilet bowl. But, sadly – I think for legal reasons I can’t go down the road with that story, but awful producers aside, we are dead happy with the actual music, and we had a couple of awesome friends swoop in last minute to save the day with regards to salvaging production and mastering (massive thank you to Mikesh/Mike X – @mikewhatyousayin and Will from Goliath Sound Studios for being total heroes on that!)
“Surprise” isn’t really the word I would use, but the next couple of tracks we have coming out are some of the band’s favourites so you are definitely in for a treat. The biggest surprises in store will be with the videos – as we have had all this time off from playing live shows, we have put a lot of time and energy into finding ways of making really unique and fun music videos with the absolute bare minimum of crew, in fact due to lockdown restrictions – all the videos have been made with only the three of us in the band and our friend Tom, so we have had to be extraordinarily inventive with shot choices – the hard work has definitely paid off cos the upcoming videos are a hoot!
How does a song develop within the band? Where do you find your inspiration? Do you start with a riff or does an idea come out of a band jam session?
One of the best things about being in this band, compared to projects I have been involved in in the past, is that songs are developing in totally different ways. Sometimes one of us will bring in a little riff idea to practice and we will jam on that until it takes a full on song shape, sometimes we will start with a vocal line and we build a song around it, sometimes we all have instrumental bits we like that we have written individually, and we manage to Frankenstein them into a functioning song, and sometimes one of us will just have creativity strike and knock out a whole song alone and bring it in pretty much fully formed and ready to play. That’s what we are enjoying most about the writing process – it is all very free, and we are all equally involved, so it fully feels like OUR band, no one person is the writer or the leader, all of us combined is the only way we can write a SACD song.
Did it take you long to find your sound? What bands or artist inspired you to create the music you create? Who inspired you to take up music in the first place?
It took us almost a year of playing together before we came up with the sound we ended up recording and we are still developing and building on it now. The music we are working on now already feels like a big step up from what we recorded for this EP.
All three of us have quite different taste in music and I think that has been a real bonus for us because it has meant we draw influence from all over the shop. We are all fans of 90s grunge music and that influence is probably quite clear, but aside from that our tastes thoroughly vary. I am really into psychedelic (bordering on stoner rock) music as well as post-punk and had been listening to a lot of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Black Lips, Weyes Blood along with Future of the Left, Youth Man and Raketkanon, when we got together. Oh yeah, and I fucking love Portishead. However, the more we played together as a band, the more I felt like we leaned towards a kind of Placebo-y sound which was all good in my books.
Beka brings a lot of groove to the music, as well as a lot of etherial vocal harmonies which is a pretty magnetic combination, and she was playing a lot of people like Jade Bird, Meg Myers, BANKS but also some Wargasm while we were writing this EP. She’s also a big fan of post-grunge bands like Badflower and you can definitely hear some of that kind of influence in what we write too. And Kit is a proper 2000s kid, and they always have a kind of punk drive to what they write, with their biggest inspirations being people like Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! and a weathering nostalgic love for Blink-182. All of these wildly different musical inspirations crushed together is probably why it’s been a tricky task to slot us completely into one single genre, but also why I think we are creating some really exciting sounds.
With regards to who inspired us to take up music, we honestly just couldn’t avoid it. Chatting with the rest of the band, there really wasn’t any one of us who have been specifically driven to make music because of one band or one person, it was just a natural urge for us all that wasn’t something anyone could really stop.
What songs are you looking forward to playing live when you get the chance? How much are you missing playing live?
Fun fact about Sadness & Complete Disappointment – we have actually never played a live show as this band! We had officially formed in October 2019 and straight away focussed on figuring out a sound and then on song-writing, and that process took us right up until Spring when lockdown began and live music got criminalised!
But yes, we are absolutely gagging to get out on tour – we have been working so hard for the best part of a year and half, making music, refining our set, getting absolutely raring to go and it is so frustrating not knowing when our first gig will be. We are all missing live music like we would be missing oxygen if it suddenly got taken away – we just want to be out there playing (and just going to) gigs SO, SO MUCH.
The next single we have coming out is called ‘Survivor’s Guilt’ and is set for release on the 11th Feb 2021, and this one is possibly the most fun to play live. It’s in 6/8 which has always got a bit more of a jaunty jig vibe and we love that. I’m sure when you hear it you’ll know exactly what I am talking about, cos I think it’s clear even in the recording how satisfying it is to play.
Are there any bands past or present you would love to have played with or even been part of?
My personal favourite band right now are ‘Tropical Fuck Storm’, and I would love to play with them because they just create such a mood – it’s both a tonne of fun, but also absolutely gut-wrenchingly emotional at the same time.
We would love to get on a tour with either ‘Blackwater Holylight’, ‘Le Butcherettes’ or ‘Wargasm’ because they would just be such a good fit with our sound. In all honesty, I think this is too much of a big topic to answer without it completely taking over the interview – my list is absolutely endless of bands I would have wanted to play with, or would still want to play with for the few that are still alive and performing… I mean we are talking like fantasy life right? So I can say; Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Portishead, Eyedea (& Abilities), The Stooges, Nine Inch Nails, Baroness, The Distillers, Zeal & Ardor, Nirvana, Metz, King Gizzard, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Death From Above 1979, Against Me!, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, Kikagaku Moyo, Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, Hole and Dolly Parton. And OH MY GOD – Pink fucking Floyd, both with and without Syd Barrett. I can say that right?
Difficult to talk about future plans, but what does the future look like for you guys? Do you have any goals or plans you want to achieve?
We just wanna play a fucking show! Literally ANY SHOW. Aside from that, we are cracking on writing lots of music ready for the next recording session, and we are looking forward to pummelling the world with our full EP once that’s finally released on March 5th. We have so much music brewing, we are just dead excited to record it all and get it out to all you lovely people.
What music are you digging right now? Are there any bands out there you think people should be taking more notice of?
Again, this is so hard to whittle down to a select few but the number one has to be Haggard Cat who released one of my all-time favourite albums this year – ‘Common Sense Holiday’. It came out right at the moment the world went into lockdown so they haven’t been able to tour it which is such a crime cos it’s a fucking epic. So if you haven’t already, then STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING and go listen to that in its entirety.
Other people to watch are ‘Bicurious’, ‘CLT DRP’ and ‘Bitch Falcon’ – all of them are making regular features on whatever playlists I am making for myself, and smashing out pretty blinding music at the moment so keep your eyes and ears peeled for whatever they are doing next.
Find out more about the band via their Facebook
Purchase the bands EP here
Have a listen to the bands acoustic version of Oh, Rapture!, below: