We’ve a sneaking suspicion that the once venerated NME may well be looking for a new musical horse to back very soon. Sadly they are about to discover that the band they’ve spent the last six months portraying as ” the most exciting band on earth right now” are about to release what can only be described as a musical turkey of epic proportions. And yes, we almost fell for it too!
The ghostly echo of Joe Lean and The Jing Jong (“one of the most striking pop stars this country has produced in years“ – yeh right! ) can still be heard wailing and rattling their tuneless chains about the corridors of IPC Towers, but maybe 2013 will finally be the year the NME accepts that actually, pushing at a door clearly marked “pull” is a fairly fruitless exercise. Rather than nailing their colours to the mast of every jobbing mutton fingered lad rock band that lumbers into view proclaiming them to be the ‘saviours of guitar music’ how about adopting a ‘slow burn’ approach? Why not allow bands/artists to develop without a huge and unfair weight of expectation being placed upon them? And how the fuck about featuring some of the amazing new emergent female artists on their covers? (And lordy they certainly do have a piss poor record of accomplishment when it comes to featuring female cover stars (see here).
Take Natalie Findlay for example, who performs as “Findlay,” and who’s been whipping up something of a musical storm in her home own of Manchester by doing things the old-fashioned way, by getting out there and performing, by building up a fan base through word of mouth, and by simply being fucking AMAZING at what she does. No NME hype, no stupid proclamations, no arch six-form manifestos, just great tunes and thrilling live shows. Together with her band they produce a visceral, howling, feral grungy, sexy, blues soaked musical whirlwind combined with brilliant melodies and the kind of sassy belligerent swagger that makes Courtney Love and Karen O sound about as edgy as the cast of Glee singing ‘Do Re F*cking Mi” at Justin Bieber’s birthday party. This is how it’s done lads!
Last year she made the leap from intimate residencies at The Castle in Manchester to bigger shows supporting the likes of The Courteeneers, Jake Bugg and sharing the stage with Bloc Party, Maximo Park, Everything Everything, Delphic, and Spector. She’s already made minor tabloid ripples after saving Jake Bugg from a smack in the face when things kicked off at an after show drinking session. Eyewitness say she leapt, slow motion Matrix-style with the agility and speed of Neo crossed with Kill Bill’s Beatrix Kiddo to defend Mr Bugg and in doing so took a punch for him. We know who we’d rather see on the cover of the NME.
We spoke to Natalie about her forthcoming EP, tabloid tales, and gate crashing Harry Styles birthday party.
VP: Hello, so what should we call you? Natalie? Findlay?, Nat? Ms Findlay ? Finders? Natty? When did you first get the music bug and start singing and song writing?
FINDLAY: Call me whatever you like! Had a few random people shout ‘Findlay’ at me on the street; it’s like being back at school ha-ha! I started song writing when I was 14 when I started learning to play guitar, just stupid songs, it took me a while to find a sound I was happy with. My band are all talented musicians so it’s really a joy being in the studio and playing live with them.
VP: You seem to have been making waves the old-fashioned way, getting out there gigging and building up a fan base, none of this Simon Cowell quick fix fame bollocks! Do you think it’s very important to cut your teeth live so to speak, before you’ve released a lot of material? Do the work, put in the hours etc
FINDLAY: I think you’ve got to put the hours in but it’s definitely worth it when things start happening, like the response from ‘Your Sister’ was really rewarding. Writing the music, recording it, releasing it, holding the vinyl in my hand was a great feeling it definitely made me want to release more records and I realised I’m really doing what I want to do .
VP: So far there are only two songs online, what’s the plan for 2013 more singles? An album? Gigs, festivals? World domination?
FINDLAY: No current plans for world domination but we’ll see where the year takes me. I’ve got an EP coming out in March called “Off and On” which is the name of the single on it, I’m really excited to get it out I love the tracks on it, we finished recoding the tracks this week actually. This year for me is all about releasing more records, touring and hopefully some festivals. I’m meeting loads of interesting people and getting to travel and have fun… I hope it lasts!
VP: Of course as well as playing intimate venues you’ve also played the bigger venues with Bloc Party, the Courteeners, and Jake Bugg. Do you rather adapt your set/ performance based on the venue or do you just do what you do? Is it a scary playing the bigger gigs – Any pre gig rituals.
FINDLAY: The show at the MEN with the Courteeners was crazy. The capacity is something like 15000 we were on early as well so we just got hammered so I was probably too confident ha-ha. I flew to New York the next day with the worst fucking hangover. I find smaller venues way more scary to be honest when you can look into the eyes of the people on the front row, you can tell if they’re into it or not… as far as pre gig rituals I just kind of pace around drinking beer and singing then go on. I’m always nervous, I was shitting myself before I went onstage at the headline show we did in Soup Kitchen at Manchester because I was thinking, and “shit people have paid money to see a show, I can’t fuck up.” Luckily, that was a great show.
VP: And what’s this about you saving Jake Bugg from an Irish girls big arse at an after show party?
FINDLAY: I can’t believe that story was in the Sun ha-ha, some girl punched me for telling her to fuck off. It wasn’t a big deal though. There was an article I saw like “naked girl attacks Jake Bugg… punches his support in the face” so funny- sounds so much more dramatic than it was. It was a very drunk night… I guess the lesson is don’t drink in travel lodges in Newcastle at 4 in the morning.
VP: ‘Your Sister’s a fabulous song with bags of attitude and a grungy blues riffin guitar. It’s also accompanied by a bit of a steamy video, with a kind of Betty Page vibe What’s the song about and what on earth’s going on in the video ?
FINDLAY: I saw an old movie and kinda wrote the song about the situation in the movie… it was about a man cheating on his missus. He tells her he is going to see his sister but really, it’s his mistress… the wife eventually finds out and leaves him after she sees them kissing…When it came to making a video for ‘Your Sister’ I was really into watching those old black and white stag movies – kind of like 30’s/40’s pornos but they are still really innocent. I love the class of the girls in that era and the stockings and suspenders are so cool. I wanted to create something kind of trashy and visually be as sleazy as the song is… it was really funny to shoot that video there was a lot of blushing and awkward moments. And the brain was kept in a kebab box for most of the day, which people kept opening by mistake.
VP: When I started going to gigs, just before the war, female singers used to get some pretty shit sexist remarks thrown at them. Without sounding complacent things seemed to have improved, I mean most audiences now seem a lot more enlightened , but do you have some ready made put downs ready for any potential knob head hecklers
FINDLAY: There’s always one… there’s the obligatory ‘get your tits out’ every couple of shows, It was bad on the Jake Bugg tour coz there was loads of fat, drunk Oasis fans who get easily upset by a woman making a noise so I usually say ‘you first!’ But that’s not fair to everyone though, people are mostly respectful and listen to the music, I’m really annoying in a crowd when I go to a gig I will shush people, but I’m there to watch a band not have a chat – it does my head in when people do that.
VP: How was your 2012? What were your personal highlights?
FINDLAY: The Jake tour was a highlight for me definitely. The crowds were great and my band the crew all-together in a van getting wrecked every night was mint. I went to New York to do a thing with MySpace that was crazy I’ve not travelled that much I’d never been there before none of it felt real like I said I flew there straight after the Courteeners show… doing like 10 hour days with jet lag was exhausting, a crazy blur but I loved it. I love working when I’m not doing something I get twitchy,
VP: Aside from the Irish girls arse, what’s has been your most bizarre experience as a musician so far?
FINDLAY: Crashing Harry Styles birthday party after seeing Jake play at Burberry was pretty bizarre I’m gutted I remember none of it though I was wasted -made a tit out of myself probably but a good story to have!
VP: When did you make the move down to London? Was it a decision based on music, as in- that’s where it’s at and that’s where you have to go? Perhaps more importantly do they serve mushy peas, pie, and chips?
FINDLAY: You can get pie, peas, chips but no gravy in London- its disgusting! 😉 It’s all about chicken in Dalston where I live I think there’s about ten fried chicken shops on my road! I moved to London for a change. Manchester will always be my home and I go back a lot I have all my family and tons of friends there but I like living in a city as big as London and it’s still new to me so I’m discovering new places all the time. It’s an incredible city to get to know. I love it more every day.
VP: Finally, how would you describe your music to somebody who’s not heard you yet?
FINDLAY: Howlin’ pop.
Live Pictures By Shay Rowan
and our intro to ‘Your Sister’ on Amazing Radio