‘Riot’ By The Whip.
Manchester has long been a fertile breeding ground for electronic music, be it the nihilistic, heart wrenching poetry of Joy Division, set against the backdrop of a bleak, grey post-industrial Manchester through to the pill popping hedonistic indie dance crossover championed by the likes of New Order and ACR .
Such a legacy could prove to be something of a burden to lesser bands than The Whip, who also hail from greater Manchester, a fact some critics have used in an attempt to pigeon hole and define them. However The Whip could care less about narrow-minded assumptions and ill fitting labels and instead approach their music with the kind of infectious alacrity that is difficult to resist. In truth they produce a fusion of intoxicating indie, dance and electronica that owes as much to Daft Punk and Cabaret Voltaire as it does to New Order or the Hacienda sound.
Their debut album, 2008’s ‘X Marks Destination,’ received high praise from many quarters and the band hit the festival circuit gathering rave reviews from punters and critics alike. Three years on and the Whip return with a new album entitled ‘Wired Together’ which picks up where their debut album left off. They continue to mix pounding rhythms, surging dance floor beats and sleazy electro keyboards but on this occasion their music has noticeably less of the driving indie guitar riffs as the band and producer Jagz Kooner (Primal Scream, Massive Attack, Ladytron, Kasabian) pursue an electronic centric agenda. This time around The Whip’s songs embrace a more celebratory tone whilst still remaining true to their original ethos. And of course there is still a sinister underbelly prevalent in many of their tunes, the dystopian floor filler and strangely prescient ‘Riot’ is a full of edgy futuristic paranoia and pent up energy, ‘Keep Or Delete’ resolutely stomps about the dance floor like an army of marauding and ever so slightly horny Cyberman. ‘Metal Law’ captures the essence of Cabaret Voltaire circa their ‘Groovy Laid Back And Nasty’ phase to a tee, whilst blissed out album closer ‘Slow Down’ encapsulates the post rave euphoria come down perfectly. ‘Wired Together’ is indeed a bold step forward, both lyrically and sonically producing a more polished expansive sound but one that still retains the spirit of the band’s debut. Danceable, credible and hugely enjoyable they once again manage to whip up a storm.
And we sat down for tea and biscuits with The Whip’s front man Bruce Carter to talk about the album and ascertain exactly what the band had been up to these past three years ;)
VP: Hello, it’s been a few years since your much praised debut, and you’re about to release the follow up, ‘Wired Together’ . You’ve obviously been busy gigging and going down a storm on the festival circuit and travelling the world but did you plan to have such a gap between releases.
BRUCE: It used to be a pet hate of mine to see bands take ages between albums. I could just picture them sat about watching Jeremy Kyle and DVD’s all day when they could be releasing new music but now I can sympathize! We’ve been non stop since the first album came out at different times over the world which we toured relentlessly. We would get back from 5 weeks in America and then go around Europe for month before a Japanese trip. It’s all amazing fun and we recorded most of the demo’s for the new album on the road. On the bus, in dressing rooms or hotel rooms on days off. We had to draw the line and stop touring to get on with the new record, we tried out lots of different producers which took time and we worked on the demo’s back in Manchester in between.
We met Jagz Kooner who went on to produce the album at the start of last year and after working with him for a couple of days we knew he was the right guy for the job. He came up to manchester for a couple of months with us in a rehearsal room working on the demo’s, once we had the live bass, drums and guitar stuff worked out we moved down to London for most of last year. We recorded the live instruments with Mark Ralph at Club Ralph and then went to Jagz’s show box sizd studio and worked on synths and vocal for ages!!! It’s taken a while as we wanted to see what would happen if we really pushed ourselves to make it as good as possible.
I guess that’s the shortest way of summing up what we’ve been up to! I’m just so happy to have it finished and can’t wait to get it out and get on with the next one. We’ve got so many songs sat about that are ready to go.
VP: What would you say is the biggest difference between ‘X Marks Destination’ and ‘Wired Together’? Did you feel more pressure writing and recording this album?
BRUCE: I think because we took out time ironing out everything we didn’t feel the pressure while making the record. I was pushed to get the vocals as good as possible on this record, I remember to get the right vibe on a song called ‘Riot’ I was literally beaten up while I was singing the vocal takes. You can hear me taking a few blows for the team if you listen carefully. The main difference between the albums was that the 1st album changed very little from the demo’s as we were in the studio with Jim Abyss for about a month as opposed to a year with this one.
VP: You’ve put half the album on line giving people the chance to listen before it arrives in September, was part of the thinking behind this giving people the chance to hear them before you tour?
BRUCE: We’re just so eager to let people hear the new music that this seemed like the best way of doing it. It’s been nice to see a people singing along to the new bits at shows we’ve played recently. We’ve played quite a few of the songs live for a while and the response has been wicked with people jumping around and going crazy at the right bits.
VP: You’ve also been involved in remixing other people’s songs, which have been the ones you’ve enjoyed? And how does it work, do they approach you or vice versa ?
BRUCE: We love remixing peoples songs, mostly you get approached or sometimes you do a mutual remix swap with someone. I like the Black Ghosts remix that we did and we played it live for a couple of years, the crowd reaction was always wicked.
VP: I’ve also been checking out some of your mix tapes available on your site some tunes on there that might surprise people The Pointer Sisters to Earth Wind and Fire to Fleetwood Mac. Do you think music fans generally these days are less genre-centric? That there’s less indie (or indeed pop) snobbery prevalent?
BRUCE: That’s totally the case, it’s so much healthier to listen to a variety of music rather than just one strict genre and there is so much good music out there. We listen to lots of different stuff, it’s good to be open minded about everything in life. I love indie as much as the next person but there is so many different tasty nibbles at the musical buffet.
VP: What was the idea behind the art work for ‘Wired Together’ and who’s responsible for it?
BRUCE: I’d had a picture from the 70’s Italian horror film ‘Suspiria’ on my phone for ages. It’s a beautiful still of the ornamental peacock from near the end of the film, I guess the image spoke to me while we we’re working on the album demo’s. We put the image in the hands of a Manchester based artist, Enge and after some serious talking he developed it in to the beast we have on the sleeve. It’s amazing to look at really close up on the poster, the detail is bonkers, it goes on and on.
VP: As previously mentioned you’ve played around the world, what have been your most bizarre tour experiences?
BRUCE: It’s amazing to be able to visit some of the places we get to. Our first trip to Japan was pretty amazing as it was the first time that we had travelled so far to play music. At the time we didn’t have an album out and everyone knew who we we’re which is a bonkers feeling.
We do get up to some crazy partying stuff on tour and you meet people that you share really amazing nights with only to know that you’ll probably never get to see them again. We had an amazing night camping in Joshua Tree park on our last USA tour, I’ve never seen so many stars.
VP: If you had an unlimited budget what would you add to your live shows?
BRUCE: That is my favourite question in the world, we’d love to add visuals and all sorts of lasers at some stage. I love the feeling of playing music engulfed in smoke with strobes around my feet; it’s a wild feeling to see how far you can take yourself before you have an epileptic fit. In all seriousness if the lighting guy asks us what vibe to go for the one word we give is “epileptic”.
VP: Desert Island disc time, if you could take only one piece of music to your desert island, what would that be ?
BRUCE: I guess something with melody and vocals but nice electronic vibes too, KRAFTWERK MAN MACHINE covers a lot of bases for me!
VP: Five words to sum up ‘Wired Together’
BRUCE : Heavy, Hypnotic, floaty magic disco.