Max Cooke- vocals, guitar
Christopher Porter – vocals, bass
JP Duncan – the synthesizers
Leo von Bülow-Quirk – drums
Today’s interview takes place minus lead singer Max Cooke, who has been suffering from illness including the loss of voice. So the rest of the band settle down in the red cushioned chair prepared to face the glasswerk questions. This is their first date back on the tour since Max’s illness and bassist Chris Porter is taking over lead vocal duties for the night. He appears a little nervous but sounded good in the sound check, so it looks like they’re going to have a pretty good gig. The fans are already anxiously queuing up outside.
Throughout the interview Leo will continuously tap out various rhythms on his legs with his drum sticks, Chris will play with his bottle of water unscrewing and re-screwing the lid, while JP answers each question vigorously and enthusiastically with much hand gesturing.
In getting the obvious question out of the way first, we ask where did you get your name from?
“It’s quite a strange story” JP observe, as he launches into his description of how the band name came into being. JP: “A couple of years ago myself and Max were at an nme award show and we randomly met a girl called Holly Willoughby, who’s a TV presenter. She was being hassled by this guy, and she came over and said to Max: ‘Can you pretend to know me so this guy doesn’t hassle me?’ He said: “Ok, what should I call my band?” and she said: “I always thought Goodbooks was a good name.” So we kinda thought from that, that’s really quite a good name.” At this point Leo chips in “It shows we have no imagination, we have to ask other people.”
So illness aside, how has the tour been going so far?
JP launches in enthusiastically: “Really good yeah. It’s been going really, really well. How many dates did we do before?”
Leo “four.” They erupt in a brief period of laughter, before JP continues: “Bristol was great; Bristol was the best so far. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to play Hull, Glasgow or Aberdeen which we’re very sorry about. But yeah we kinda rejoined it today really it’s a bit weird, Chris has been standing in as the vocalist for today, maybe tomorrow but Max reckons he’ll be back tomorrow. The Maccabees have been really, really lovely. So it’s been really good, so far.”
You have several EP’s out, are you working on an album yet?
JP: “Yeah it’s, well we keep saying its finished but it keeps not being finished. But no we’re very, very close to having it finished now.”
Chris: “We’re just waiting on one last track, which seems to be plaguing us”
JP, finishing Chris’ sentence, “refusing to get in shape. But once we’re there with that then it’ll all be sorted. Yeah we’re really, really pleased with it so far it sounds great we’re really, really happy with it.”
Leo: “we’ve been doing it in fits and bursts over the past eight weeks.”
JP: “But we’ve recorded it with the same producer in the same studio so it all ties in, despite the fact we did it at different times.”
Who did you work with?
JP: “A guy called Dan Greck, who produced Fields, he mixed and did production on the new Scissor Sisters album Yeah it’s great, it’s really good.”
Your signed to Columbia, what made you chose a major label?
JP: “We just wanted to sell out!” This is followed by much laughter by the three band members, as the other two join in, as JP continues: “we just wanted the money.”
Leo: “As much money and we don’t care about the music.”
Chris: “That was it really, we just thought hey let them look after it all.”
JP suddenly turning serious: “No it was literally like the people [at Colombia].”
Chris chips in with: “They just felt like the right choice.”
JP continues: “They just seemed to get us the most out of all we met they sort of understood where we were coming from.”
Chris: “And the team of people they’ve got is really, really strong.”
JP: “I dunno really, I was always in two minds about signing to a major and we had offers from both but you’ve just got to trust it on your instincts, and just, the people you’re working with, if you like them then it makes your life a lot easier.”
Who would you say your influences are?
JP: “We’ve got quite different tastes.”
Chris, chiming in, in agreement: “Different tastes yeah.”
JP continues: “I’ve always been into a lot of electronica bands that crossed over into indie bands, especially recently, but I think that as far as a melting pot were we all meet talking heads we can all appreciate,”
Leo: “The Cure”
JP: “The Cure, Hot Chip as well. Just slightly quirky pop-song writing with electronics. We all meet in the middle somewhere…Occasionally”
Chris: “Occasionally yeah.”
Leo: “Well you know that makes for fiery conversation.” They all nod and smile in agreement.
So are there any bands that you particularly strongly dislike?
JP: “Oh there’s hundreds.” They are all in agreement on this, as Chris adds: “There are lots; we could be here all day. We would have to be very brave to name them and we’re not very brave people.”
JP: “The last few weeks, last few months we’ve just been a bit tired of so many average bands. We’ve been luckily we’ve played with a lot of great bands as well, like The Maccabees, something different and exciting.”
Leo: “and Fields.”
JP: “Fields, Hot Club de Paris as well and just bands that take the regular, what is quite boring formula, guitars and drums and maybe the odd keyboard and turn it on its head and do something interesting.”
Leo: “There’s a great large amount of bands that aren’t doing anything different, and fair play to them they’ll obviously sell a lot of records, but I wouldn’t buy the record.”
JP: “Bands who copy exactly what they are influenced by as apposed to taking the best bits of it. The bands that sound like they only have 10 records in their record collection. But there are a lot of great bands out there.
What’s your favourite colour?
For some reason this question always gets taken extremely seriously often leading to bickering between band members, and Goodbooks do not disappoint!
JP: “Favourite colour? Erm I’m quite liking this black colour that I’m wearing today. I wear a lot of black just cos everyone looks great in black.
Leo: “That’s not true; I don’t look great in it.”
JP: “Do you not? I’ve never seen you in black.”
Leo: “I’m better in dark blue.”
Chris: “I don’t like navy blue”
Leo, interrupting: “no no no no no…”
JP: “A touch of navy blue’s OK but I just find it a lands end colour”
Chris: “it reminds me of school; we had a navy blue jumper at school and it was always a lot cooler when you got to wear a black jumper.”
JP: “That just sounds like you’ve got a really bad chip on your shoulder.”
Chris, heatedly: “I don’t like navy blue. Apart from that t-shirt, that’s alright” he adds gesturing to Leo’s navy blue t-shirt.
Leo: “White and navy blue is effective.”
JP: “White and blue stripes, make you look like a sailor!?”
Leo: “You can get your colours done cant you? You can go to people who will hold different coloured scarves against your face to tell you what suites you.”
JP: “Can’t you do that yourself?”
Leo: “Well, yes you could.”
Who are your icons?
JP: “Our icons? For me quite early on it’s The Cure. John Peel will always be someone that I respected. There’s so many…”
Leo: “we met some of or idols, obviously The Beatles are fantastic, we met Paul McCartney in the studio. So that was amazing to actually see, he was next door bobbing his head like a Beatle. I love Tom Waits he’s great he’s not drawn in by anything else.”
JP: “I think that’s what establishes an icon in a lot of ways in the fact that, like Bowie as well Bowie will just do what he wants to do. Biork is another one; she’ll just do what she wants to do. The same with Tom Waitts he just doesn’t really care. What about you Chris? Jason Donovan!” They all erupt into laughter.
Chris: “When I was four, yeah. I quite liked Feeder when I was about eight. His hair especially I’d quite like to have his hair. Not really but I do quite like them.”
The interview ends as the baying crowds start to gather for tonight’s gig and the Goodbooks boys go off to meet the fans before getting ready to play. Their debut album is due out sometime this year, and you can still catch them on these remaining dates.
Feb 21 2007 Soul Tree (supporting the Maccabees) SOLD OUT Cambridge
Feb 22 2007 Arts Centre (supporting the Maccabees) SOLD OUT Norwich
Feb 23 2007 Zodiac (supporting the Maccabees) SOLD OUT Oxford
Feb 24 2007 Junktion 7 (supporting the Maccabees) SOLD OUT Nottingham
Feb 26 2007 Night & Day (supporting the Maccabees) SOLD OUT Manchester
Feb 27 2007 Koko (supporting the Maccabees) SOLD OUT London
Mar 7 2007 Plug (VICE Live Tour) Sheffield
Mar 8 2007 Faversham (VICE Live Tour) Leeds
Mar 9 2007 93 Feet East (VICE Live Tour) London
Mar 14 2007 Custard Factory (VICE Live Tour) Birmingham
Mar 15 2007 Sankeys (VICE Live Tour) Manchester
Mar 16 2007 The Arches (VICE Live Tour) Glasgow