The teetering Tynemouth three piece, The Motorettes build from the punchy vocal combination of Robin Howe and Jack Laidlaw, who also provide the rumbling bass lines and rising harmony laden guitars, respectively. The sound is kicked into the end zone by the vibrant percussion of Jed Laidlaw. This all mixes together tantalisingly in the forthcoming single ‘You Gotta Look The Parts’ (05/06/2006, on Kitchenware Records). This has a tearing The Cribs instrumental intro before the stammering vocals kick in, giving the number a nifty provocative vibe and an 80’s new wave touch for completeness.
The raw and thrusting trio have just finished unleashing their sound on unsuspecting audiences, as guests on Kubichek’s jaunt around cosy venues across the country. Such was the success of this foray that the two bands are teaming up to release a split single, to be released on the 5th July 2006. The Motorettes will be providing the snazzy retro sliding ‘Relax It’s The 80’s’, as well as a version of Kubichek’s ‘We Are Solution’. Fasten your seatbelts, as Jack Laidlaw spins us around their intriguing territory.
1. Describe the Tynemouth music scene that you grew as an outfit from. Is there a distinctive vibe there and do you feel that you fit in with it? How important is it, nowadays for a band to have a vibrant local scene around them, or do you think it is better to travel and spread your sound as early as possible?
The Tynemouth music scene pretty much consists of people playing guitars on the beach in the summer next to a fire and some other drunks, in the winter we do it in Scott Mitchell’s front room. There's nowhere to do gigs, although we did do one once at the Tynemouth Parish Hall, it was a birthday party for a friend of ours, Robin was very nearly arrested for trying to break up a fight.
Tynemouth definitely has its own vibe, you'd have to come here really, I couldn’t describe it, it’s sort of like a cross between Royston Vassey and Disney Land. I'm sure its nice for bands to have a scene around them, but we've never really felt part of one, don't get me wrong, we have friends in bands, but we've always been a band from Tynemouth, and there aren't any other bands here, well, there used to be 'Neil….Your Bedrooms On Fire' but sadly they are no more, they were way before their time as well, they'd be massive by now if they hadn’t all gone to Uni to study spiders. It's definitely wise to travel, but not until you're sure that you're ready.
2. Your standout offering so far is ‘Super Heartbeats’, pumping out crashing guitars that holds up the stammering vocals to give the offering beat and a provocative pinch. What was the motivation behind this number and would you say that it’s representative of your overall sound?
Yeah I guess it pretty much represents what we do, its very loud and fast and full of melody, which is what we're all about, but it also has the sweetness of the ba ba ba vocal part, which took a while to master because I always get the off beats! As far as motivation goes I reckon I would say that it’s about motivation itself, about people motivating each other to better themselves, that’s what I take from it anyway, Robin wrote the lyrics.
3. Would you describe yourselves as a power trio? Are you surprised that there seems to be a bit of stigma attached to that term, after all it didn’t do The Jam any harm, did it?
Well, there are three of us, and i consider us to be quite powerful, so yeah i would describe us as that. But it doesn’t really mean anything does it? People often say to us that we make too much noise for a three-piece and that they don’t understand how. Its pretty simple really, you just have to turn everything up to 11, and not just amps, you have to turn the way you play up to 11 as well to really get into peoples faces. I don’t just mean jumping around like a loon, although we have been known to do that, but you have to walk on there knowing that you're gonna blow these people away every single night, or you may as well go home. I bet The Jam knew that as well, that’s probably why they were successful. Or, wait, it could've been the suits and the hair!?
4. What was the last gig you attended as a spectator and does it feel strange watching other artists? Are you constantly making mental notes on their performance?
The last gig I paid to go and see was Bruce Springsteen with the Pete Seeger Sessions Band at Manchester M.E.N. It doesn't feel strange to me to watch other people play, because I’m a huge fan of music, all kinds, that’s what I do, i'm just lucky enough to be able to have my passion as my work. Normally I would say that I'm not making mental notes on anyone’s performance, but with Bruce it's different, I've been watching that guy since I could walk and he's definitely been an influence on me. I know for definite because we played in Ipswich recently, and we walked off and someone said to me 'do you like Bruce Springsteen?' to which I replied, yes, and they said 'yeah I could tell by looking at you on stage', which I thought was quite a nice thing to say. But, having said all that, we had just done a cover of I'm On Fire! So maybe they were just having a laugh with me!
5. Describe the song writing process for The Motorettes. Is it a democratic one or does one person bring some riffs to the table and someone else pens the lyrics? Or does it spring from a jamming session?
The closest we ever get to jamming is when someone makes a mistake while we're playing a song, we've just never been a jamming kind of band, its not in our nature to fanny about for ages without any direction because there's always football to be watched or the pub to get to.
Saying that, when we're putting the songs together we work on a rule that the first thing you play is the best, and try to stick to it as best you can.
That rule has only been broken a handful of times in 5 years. Robin writes the important parts of the songs, so he'll come in with a chord sequence and we'll play with it for a bit, then he'll go away and start to get some melodies and lyrics together, once he's done that we decide between the three of us how the structure is gonna be, if there's any silly stops and starts we'll get them right. Then we just play the separate parts over and over until we have them nailed on, we'll usually have played a song for at least a month before it finds its way onto a set list.
Although the foundation of the songs gets written in the rehearsal room, we always flesh them out in the studio, so we'll just write it as we make it, but Robin will have the Vocal Melody and basic chords done first, then all three of us throw the kitchen sink at it, Jed is lethal with a glockenspiel.
6. If you could choose any artist or band to cover one of your songs, who would it be and what song would it be?
I'd like to hear Slayer have a bash at 'Go! Go! Gadget Girl'.
7. How do you resolve any creative differences that might arise?
Simple, there are three of us so it's easy to be a democracy, everyone gets a say. There are rarely any creative differences though, we argue more about who carries the gear and who owes who a fiver.
8. You have just completed a UK tour including some dates with the highly rated Kubichek. Do you agree that you are more powerful live and do you feel that your sound takes on an extra edge in a live setting? What was your highlight of the recent tour?
Hmmm, that's a hard one because I think we sound mighty powerful on record, if you have it loud enough, which you should, I just don't understand people who listen to music quietly, unless you have to. But i guess that people might say we are more powerful live, I can only speak from seeing other bands and artists that I like, because, truth be known, I haven't got a fucking clue what we're like live, I've never seen us play! So yeah, I know for sure that when i saw Nine Inch Nails live, that was one of the most powerful things I've ever seen, and they're ridiculously powerful on record. But maybe Nine Inch Nails are a one off, because that's life changing stuff.
So who knows, like i say, you'd have to ask a fan, if they're happy, I’m happy. The highlight of the tour was the Newcastle gig, we've never had a reception like that before anywhere as far as i can remember, and of course we finished it off with our own Geordie live aid, all three bands on stage, and that was fun.
9. Finally, who is your all-time favourite Tynemouth resident (famous or not) and why?
Easy, Super Gran, because she could do handstands on a skateboard. I can't even do that, my mate can though, that's him dressed as Super Gran in the video. And that's a fact.
Check out The Motorettes live;
London KOKO, 14th July 2006.