I had the opportunity for a chat with guitarist Pat Fogarty and drummer Ben Perry from The Answering Machine in their dressing room prior to their show at King Tuts in Glasgow.
GJ: Where did the name for the band had come from?
PF: We actually came up with a shortlist of names. My brother and I used to be in a band together and that was my favourite of the names we didn’t use. So I suggested it to Martin and he loved it. Also my mum used to say that I always used to play with phones as a kid!
GJ: I’ve seen your sound described as everything from indie to art-rock. How would you describe your music?
BP: It’s difficult to categorise your own band. We definitely try to write pop songs. We like to experiment a bit but we still have a solid core and a good melody to our work.
PF: We are indie but we have a lot of good lyrical content that goes a lot deeper than a shallow pop song. We try to make our music interesting
GJ: Your debut album “Another City, Another Sorry” was very well received and got some great press.
PF: We were pleased with the reception. It was more garagey, indie rock based than our more recent work, although we’ve always had a strong sense of melody. We’ve tried to open things up a bit more now.
GJ: Your new album “Lifeline” will be out early in 2011. What can we expect?
PF: The first album was a collection of songs that built up over a period of about three to four years. For the new one the guy who runs our label gave us an old Moog synthesiser and we started messing with that. Although it’s not at the forefront of the new sound it’s an element we’ve incorporated. We’ve gone for a dancier sort of groove.
BP: Our new stuff sounds a lot more like us, I know that sounds a bit strange – who else could we sound like? But what it means is that our various influences and the different types of music we listen to comes together. We’re very proud of the album and the way it all fits together.
GJ: The first single from the new album is Animals?
MF: it’s a free download. That’s a good example of how our music has changed. A lot of people say it’s quite a chilled out and relaxed track. For me it just means we’re not going hell for leather all the time. It’s a more matured and considered track.
GJ: How do you guys go about writing songs?
MF: For the first album a lot of the time myself and Martin had written a lot of songs. For the new album we’ve all started writing together. Ben writes songs and contributes ideas too, which is perhaps something that a drummer doesn’t traditionally do. We all have our say.
BP: It’s quite democratic really. Usually one of us will bring an idea to practice and we’ll all work on it until it works and it fits our collective tastes. A lot of the songs on the new album have been influenced by location because we’ve been moving around a lot. The first album was really Manchester centric.
GJ: You spent a lot of time in Los Angeles. What does LA have that Manchester doesn’t?
MF: Let’s see: sun, sea, everything really! We originally went over because we got an offer of a gig that paid for our flights, and we made the most of it. We played a few more gigs while we were over which was great. This last time, there’s a really cool guy called Perry and a guy called David who run a venue called the Glass House in Pomona just outside Los Angeles. They just got in contact and asked us over to play some shows.
BP: We’ve been really well received in America. There’s a sound here that we can be fitted into here, but over there we come over perhaps a bit fresher. And radio stations have been really receptive to us too.
GJ: And how’s the UK tour going so far?
MF: Really well. The highlight was London last night. It’s really weird playing some new songs and trying some things out for the first time. We’re being a bit more adventurous with instrumentation too.
BP: There’s a song where I play keyboards. The first night was strange. I’m not usually bothered about being on stage at all but as soon as I got in front of the keyboards I was shaking.
MF: We’ve hit match fitness now. Last night was good and we’re really in our stride now. This was originally going to be just a couple of dates but the management slipped a few more in, which is nice really. And we love coming to King Tuts. They always really look after you here.