Having dress rehearsed under several previous guises the sagacious scouse rock quartet 28 Costumes are ready for the main showdown. Their debut album ‘The Fake Death Experience’ hits the stores on the 1st November 2004. The guys; Chris (Vocals, guitar); Tony (guitar, vocals); Paul (bass, vocals); Nick (Drums, vocals) kindly agreed to chew the fat with us and provide an insight into their set up. Read on to find out why eye candy on the site of a street is more dangerous to a motorist than faulty breaks.
Describe the year so far for 28 Costumes has it gone to plan and what was the plan, if any?
Chris: I think the general consensus is that we're all really pleased with the way things have gone – we signed to a great independent label who let us do exactly what we want and the way we want to do it, we don't have to compromise anything ever, which is something that is very important to us as a pop-band. As far as I'm aware we've never had a plan. I'd say the year so far has been pleasantly surprising.
Paul: Yeah but if there was a plan I spose it was….play songs, record songs, release songs, have a few big gay parties, go places, play gigs and… who knows, coz I didn’t. Been pretty amazing really. Going to Berlin was ace, although too much booze can make things a little hazy/difficult at times. I’d say seeing The Ragdolls was a bit of a highlight – but I won’t, coz that’s a lie.
Tony: Hmmm, the last year…well if you can imagine a rickety wooden roller coaster with the carts all covered in shocking pink thick shag pile carpet, all your friends are onboard throwing custard pies at each other and pissed on the cheap buckfast a six foot penguin gave you on the way in, its been like that really. Which is, luckily for us exactly how we wanted the last 12 months to pan out.
Nick: This year? Fear, joy and smelling like a tramp on occasion / yes / to play as much as possible.
Lets talk about your debut album ‘The Fake Death Experience’ (out 01/11/04 on Spank Records). It combines elements of Psychedelic scouse rock with boo wop 60s pop and a hint of good old rock and or roll. It has a dark element to it in places ‘Fraudulent’; for example, what would you say is the overall mood of the album and which of your songs sums up your current mood?
Tony: Well for starters I wouldn’t say it sounds like Psychedelic scouse rock at all and I’m not sure there is an overall mood for the album, which is a good thing for me. I wanted the album to be as eclectic as it could be sonically and luckily Chris writes eclectically too. Some songs are about jealousy and heartache; some songs about the stupid haircuts of people who try way too hard and some songs are about the joy of buying prawn toast for a beautiful Russian girl who doesn't exist. If I was going to invite someone round for tea, I’d like them to be interesting, exciting, have a tale or two to tell, be a character, get me pissed, share openly their views and experiences of the highs and lows of girls and most importantly leave with a strong joke and a stylish flourish. If that man existed he would be called ‘Ian Danger’ and when he gets off his boat and comes round to tea, its very much like listening to ‘The Fake Death Experience’
Chris: Nah, I don't think that there is a 28 Costumes 'sound', you know, a trademark sound that bands such as the Strokes or Interpol have and I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing really but it's something that we've never been able to do. When songs happen, it very much depends on the mood we're in at that time and also what we've been listening to in the days prior, that influences the end result. Some of the lyrics are quite dark and have serious elements to them and others are just plain daft, it just depends, you know? But I've never really noticed the Psychedelic or boo wop elements; I'll have to have a second listen! We're all really pleased with the album, we wanted to make a record that touched upon a number of different emotions and I think that it does, it can have funny moments, sad moments, happy moments, angry bits and so on…have a listen.
Nick: Hopefully the album consists of a variety of moods. If they contradict one another then that's even better. Currently I feel optimistic; do you know?
Paul: Sum it up? Er, how about Trans-Siberian Express, coz for me, it’s been a bit all over the gaff. And maybe a bit off-kilter to boot.
Stand out track on your latest album is; ‘I Nearly Crashed My Car’. This is a dank tale of the death of a motorist distracted when driving passed sumptuous eye candy. What made you see such a dark side to this common occurrence? It is not based on a true story is it?
Tony: Well the whole ‘Nearly’ part of the title kinda implies no actual death, road traffic accident or loss of a no claims bonus. Only Christopher Macintosh and Charlie Wednesday can tell you of the truth in the tale…
Paul: … whilst on a frivolous road trip through Nepal with nothing in his pockets but a corkscrew and an old map of some hidden ancient artifacts. I think, or was he in Childwall. Oh I dunno.
Nick: Yeah, if it's true then it belongs in the recesses of the songwriter's twisted mind.
Chris: A lot of the lyrics we write aren't necessarily true, most of the time it's either stuff you've seen happen or stuff you heard someone talk about on a bus…the lyrics to that particular song are quite rude – it was the first song we ever done together and I think we were all feeling very horny at the time. I didn't realise that this was such a common occurrence but then again I don't drive. Are you sure it is?
Paul: Personally I did nearly crash my car once after hitting a central reservation whilst looking for a cassette in the glove compartment, which was preceded by a heavy petting session with an old girlfriend. Steamy windows, as Tina Turner once said, didn’t help either. Managed to stay alive/intact though. Maybe that could be a follow up. Or maybe not, might make me out to be some smooth snogging car dandyman type, which I ain’t. I haven’t even got a car now. And it’s not as interesting.
How hard is it following on from bands like The Zutons, The Stands and The Coral do you feel apart of all that? Have you in a sense felt a tad left behind or do you wish to disassociate yourselves from them?
Nick: I’ve never considered that as an issue really. We concentrate on making music on our own terms and in our own way. It's up to other people to decide whether we belong in this or that “camp”.
Paul: We’ve never purposely followed the Zutonian, Standish or Coralesque pathways. And we’ve never even played a gig with any of them, so personally I’ve never really felt a part of all that stuff. Twas nice watching the Zutons on the Mercury awards TV thingy though.
Also musically, I can’t see any immediate association to those groups, but maybe I need glasses. Or a hearing aid. I’ve enjoyed playing with/watching bands like Former Miss America, oo, Tramp Attack, Zombina, All Day Glow, Lovecraft, the Flamingo 50 and such.
Chris: I don't think we're following on from those bands to be honest so I'd say not hard at all, purely because we don't think of it like that. I'm pleased that bands such as The Zutons are enjoying commercial success because they deserve it, and the best part is, all the attention is back on Liverpool now so all the other amazing bands such as some of those Paul mentions can start breaking through, all these bands that have so much to offer and are so diverse. The Bandwagon was the only the start of what’s going to happen, it opened the gates, if you will.
Tony: Honestly, I don’t feel any need to disassociate ourselves from those bands cos I’m baffled why we are associated with them in the first place. When people say we’re ‘Following on from The Zutons’ or ‘Ploughing the same field as The Coral’ I just sit there with a blank expression and a four-foot question mark hovers over my head. Apart from the style of the bass line in Nearly Crashed I challenge anyone to listen to this album and draw any other parallels between it and any of those bands. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of The Zutons and The Coral, they make fuckin amazing records but I don’t feel apart, left behind or associated with them just because they are good and we live in the same town.
Who or what makes you angry?
Tony: I get angry at something everyday, in fact I think I’m just angry all the time really, I'm angry a little bit at you right now for that last question.
Nick: Liars. Two faced cowards. The term “culture”. Ignorant fuckwits.
Paul: Me, Prices at Service Stations, Credit reference agencies, TVs that don’t have a good reception so all the letters fall off teletext. Oh, and I get a bit miffed about Freemasonry at times.
Chris: Hehe, the price of goods in service stations makes me angry too, it's an outrage.
What are your current musical influences?
Tony: Today for me it’s the guitar playing of Robert Smith on the early Cure records.
Paul: Yeah we seem to have been digging out The Cure a bit recently, Wedding Present stuff, Depeche Mode, Still like to dance gaily to Erasure, like that new song by The Dears and Chris’ Talking Heads stuff (who who is it who who is it who…)
Chris: Currently the CDs in the bus include The Wedding Present's Seamonsters, Pavement, Talking Heads' '77, various Erasure remix CDs, Depeche Mode. We have been listening to the new Misty's Big Adventure LP a lot too…it's very, very good.
Nick: Personally I'd add Fugazi since I was thirteen. Talking Heads since I was but a boy.
There has been a much debate recently about the Liverpool people. How do you feel as Liverpudlians about the publics’ and the Media image of your fair city and the people who live in it?
Tony: I think Liverpool probably gets more stereotypical traits attached to it then any other city in England. When that Tory MP, Boris Johnson, recently said that Liverpudlians wallowed in their victim status, that really fucked me off. You wouldn’t be allowed to say that about any minority group but if you say that scousers are stealing moaning victims then that’s ok. But its not ok, its offensive, and he’s a stuttering upper class prick who couldn’t even get his facts straight about the number of people who died at Hillsborough.
Chris: On another level I'm completely unaware of the debate, if you're talking about Tocky and things that happened 25 years ago, all of the old horror stories have fizzled out. Our record label and management and friends are all based in Toxteth and it's sound, it's not intimidating whatsoever, on the contrary there's a really strong community spirit. It's full of students anyway, so it can't be that bad.
Paul: I can't answer this one coz I’m been up drinking booze with me nan and discussing the US presidency and the new world order. Copping out I guess. Liverpoolians have the strongest community spirit that I’ve ever seen. But I’m from Widnes so what do I know.
Nick: Don't care what other people think. They are responsible for their opinions and I am for mine.
Why should people check out a live 28 Costumes and what in your opinion can they expect if they do so?
Chris: We have fun, for a start. We're probably the most un-cool band in the history of cool-ness. Most of the time we go to pound-land and the 99p stores in the afternoon before a gig and a shit-load of glitter cannons, party poppers, balloons, streamers, confetti and sweets and stuff and dish them all out at the pop-show…we're not about standing there for half an hour playing our songs expecting you to shut the fuck up, stand still and nod your head, we want to give you your money's worth. We want you to leave you cool at home, come to the gig, have a giant hoot, eat some pie, explode some party poppers at us/each other, have a dance and perhaps make some love with a reveller. Come and have a joyous, unpretentious magical hoot. There. That's why.
Tony: And because we’re great. Expect to see a magical energy fruit fuelled assault of slightly off kilter pop songs that will be the best half an hour of your day, then afterwards our beautiful assistants will reveal a stand containing free money and pies.
Nick: Our music continues to develop. Some of the album tracks were committed to CD months ago. We continue to discover new things about them; hopefully we can involve all the people who come and see us in this process.
Paul: …but mostly it's a Gay pop party love sandwich injection.
Which modern day band would you most like to share a stage with?
Paul: Yazoo, or Client (their singer is a fine & sexy lady… not to say that Alison Moyet isn’t erm, sexy, erm… Great voice mind!). Modern day, eh? How’s about Bloc Party? (only joking, they wouldn’t let us..hee hee) Maybe The Dears? Worrabout The Maybes? Maybe not. Oasis? Definitely maybe no way. Bjork? Possibly maybe, probably not. Razorlight, hmmm…close shave. Nope. Fuck it, let’s get Yazoo back together – with Andy Bell on charabanc, Martin Gore on harmonium, Dave Gahan on Gillette Mach 3 and Andy Fletcher on the button ( a button that doesn’t do much, bless). Then we might share a stage with that shower … and the rest of the band will tell me to fuck off!
Chris: Haha, there are lots of bands I’d like to share a stage with…The Flaming Lips would be the first on the list I'd say. There would be so much love you'd be scraping it off the walls and injecting it into your eyeballs.
Tony: Or Pavement.
Nick: Supergrass, I can’t wait to play some fuck off huge gig somewhere.
Paul: On second thoughts, Client. Sexy lady.
How are you finding life on Spank Records are they an understanding label who give you creative freedom and how important is the relationship between a band like yourselves and their record label?
Tony: Life on Spank Records is a joy. They have helped fill the void in my spiritual life that booze and regular fellatio couldn’t satisfy. I love Spank Records, Jon has total faith in us creatively and moves giant boulders to help us do what we do. Its boss, and going round to Spank Towers feels more homely than going home.
Paul: Yeah to me, going round to Daddy Spank’s house with the band, having a natter about things over a beer and some fags just seems right. The Spanksters are really into it all. This might sound crap, but they’re putting a lot of time and money into all this and it seems to be going ok. They guide, we deliver (or try to). It’s good, and mutual.
Nick: And they allow us to be the sloppy fools we are. They are genuine and lovely people who care about their music.
Chris: What we appreciate about Spank is their integrity; it's all driven by passion for what everyone is doing. They do their own press, make our own DVDs, when we're on tour we get driven by Paul from Spank (who also does the tour management) in the Spank Tour bus, the tour itself is booked by Andy from Spank…Between Spank and ourselves, we do EVERYTHING ourselves and that is what we love about it all – if we were ever to see any fruit from all the toil, we’d all be able to say, 'well, we did this all ourselves. We worked hard and this is what we've done.' and that has to be more satisfying than being signed to any major label for any amount of money, ever, which is why we will always be with Spank Records, assuming they'll always have us.
Paul: Hallelujah baby.
Finally, please take the role of mystic Meg and tell us what next year holds for 28 Costumes?
Tony: Lots of touring in an old police riot van, making the second album and… that’s all I can see. I reckon our record’s boss, as good as anything else around right now, but how many other people hear about it, like it and buy the album or come to a gig is a complete mystery to me.
Chris: The Album comes out on the 1st of November and we're all really excited by it; it will be interesting to see how it is received. Once that is out of the way and all the touring finishes, we go back into the studio to record Album no.2, which is pretty much done.
Paul: Erm, my nan likes her Whiskey with a kick, so maybe we’ll kick next year… up the bum. Proper.
Nick: In time we shall learn how not to soil our pants in public. Until this time comes we shall merely engage in this activity behind closed doors and away from prying eyes.
Tony: As long as the band and everyone working on the band can make a livin then I’ll be a fuckin happy man because I love my live and I want 28 Costumes to go on for as long as it can.
Chris: Yeah we just want to keep doing this for as long as possible and make records that make us happy.
Fake Death Experience Out Monday 1st November.