AFTER releasing one of the best albums of the year so far, reporter Andrew Trendell talks to Errors guitarist Steev Livingstone about music, Mogwai and never needing to sing.
When they first burst onto the underground scene with their minimal, slightly dance-y, slightly post-rock approach, many questioned how long they could last with such a stripped back sound.
Now, on their third critically-acclaimed album, Have Some Faith In Magic, Errors show no signs of stopping any time soon.
It seems to be universally accepted that your new album Have Some Faith In Magic is pretty ace. How have you found the world’s reaction to it so far?
S: There have been a lot of positive reviews of it, which is pretty encouraging. There are also a couple of things online which are quite negative, but that’s just something that happens. It does seem like the mainstream press are getting behind it.
Where Come Down With Me was quite dance-y, this album seems quite epic and more expansive. Would you say that there’s more space and scope on this album?
S: Yeah, that’s definitely true. This isn’t a dance record and, to me, it isn’t really a ‘band’ record. It wasn’t really recorded live. It was done quite electronically with headphones on and that kind of determined how people are going to listen to it. There’s quite a lot of sound going on and there’s quite a lot of layers to stuff and there’s a lot of depth to it. Rather than spread it across a couple of years like we often do, we started the recording sessions in May and finished in September, and we were quite consistent and intense during that time, and you can hear that on the record – there’s a similar aesthetic that runs through the whole thing.
What made you decide to keep things instrumental?
S: We’ve always been quite anti-vocals because we think that can really ruin a song. If you like what the instruments are doing then you’re able to get into the music, but if you don’t like the style of the vocal then that can really put you off the whole thing.
I was arguing with a friend of mine the other day, who said that instrumental songs by a band like Mogwai always feel incomplete. Would you agree that the music itself makes it complete?
S: Well, we’ve never heard an instrumental band and said ‘that really needs a vocal over the top of it’. It’s just a different reference point. There’s not a single tune in our back catalogue that I’d go back to and put vocals on. We just wanted to work in a different way. I’m not saying we won’t have any vocals on the next record, but that’s so far away that I have no idea.
You’ve toured with the likes of Twilight Sad and Mogwai, and when you look at you all on paper, you’re all bands that are quite hard to pigeonhole and define. What is it that you think makes all your bands’ fans go down so well with each other and what, if anything, do you have in common?
S: I think it’s down the audiences. All of our fans are a bit more open and aren’t as set in their ways as people might have previously been where they say ‘I just listen to dance music and don’t go to gigs’ or ‘I love Oasis and nothing else’.
Having worked so closely with Mogwai and being on their label Rock Action, would you say that there are any major lessons that you’ve learned from them?
S: We’ve learned about touring and how not to be late. Your tour manager will shout at you. They’ve also given us a lot of helpful tips about being away. One of our first big tours was with them and we were pretty young and didn’t know what was going on but they were very good to us. If you go on tour with a band you don’t know then chances are that they’re going to hate you, but they turned out to be quite nice.
With yourselves, Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit and the like all with promising albums out this year, what would you say it is that makes Scottish independent music so healthy at the moment?
S: I don’t know. I think it’s because the focus really isn’t on Scotland right now. There was a lot of media attention around Franz Ferdinand about eight years ago but now the focus is off and there’s no pressure. It was quite unhealthy for a while after that but then people picked up a DIY approach and started doing things for fun. We can all just do what we want and not have to worry about it. Obviously if you’re putting out a record that’s quite bad then you’ll know about it, but so far so good. At the moment we’ve all still got part-time jobs, so the goal eventually is to be able to do music full-time. I work in a pub, pulling pints and serving food – which is pretty much was most band in Glasgow bands do. That’s where to go in Glasgow if you want to spot some indie bands – you will find us in pubs.
Errors are set to play The Cockpit in Leeds on Friday 17th February