Leeds bunch English Teacher excel in the on-point sort-of-post-punk-but-not-really-and-definitely-more-enthusiastic controlled racket that has found their latest drop ‘R&B’ a place in Nice Swan Records’ singles club. Just one weapon in their vast musical armoury, it’s a fantastic start for the foursome – made up of Lily Fontaine (vocals, rhythm guitar, synth), Douglas Frost (drums, synth), Nicholas Eden (bass, synth), and Lewis Whiting (lead guitar, synth) – who can also be found at The Great Escape’s virtual bash next month. Lily introduces her band.
Hello Lily! How’s it going? What are you up to today?
Hi! It’s going unnaturally well – I am currently listening to my 2021 playlist and doing some writing in the sun with a coffee. If I squint my eyes and move my head real fast I can almost pretend I am sat on a continental balcony and not in our backyard in Headingley surrounded by broken glass and that drain smell.
How did you lot meet and decide to form the band, then? You were studying in Leeds, right?
I met our ex-guitarist in 2018 on a uni trip to Valencia (he’s currently on a grad-scheme training in property development because he likes buildings, but we’re working on his return). I put out a demo on Soundcloud, and then a local promoter asked if I wanted to play a gig, so I said yes and asked him if his band would help out. We haven’t given up since, for some reason.
Are you all involved in other projects too, or is your spot in Eades the only thing?
Our whole house is involved in the experimental punk/rap group Draags, of which our Nick and Douglas make up the rhythm section. Lewis and Douglas are also in the Leeds psych/garage band Spearmint Tongues, which is mainly formed from Lewis’ housemates; the Leeds scene is very small, and we’re all great at sharing.
How long have you wanted to be a musician for?
I was a stage brat from a young age because my family has been involved in local amateur dramatics for three generations, but I think I was 14 or 15 when I realised I didn’t like authority or being around lots of people, and decided to form an acoustic duo with my boyfriend. When that started earning me more money and satisfaction than my part-time job at the local Chinese takeaway, I decided it might be a viable career option.
You’ve not long dropped your single ‘R&B’, how did that go? Was it one you were sat on for a while?
R&B came together weirdly quickly for us; I’m pretty sure the whole thing was written, demoed and recorded with Theo in the same month. That was January, and it’s been a bit of an agonising wait for the release because it’s quite different from the singles we’ve already released; we weren’t sure how it would be received. But, some people have said some really nice things, so we’re all currently in a state of relief, with a hint of pride.
Where did that single come from? Do tracks find you, or do you have to find them?
Lyrics and themes usually find me, and then I have to go searching for the music. It’s simultaneously an ode to the worst writer’s block of my life so far, and what cured it. I wrote the bass riff on Logic’s piano scroll, and then Nick knocked it out of the park with his chorus melody. Doug had already decided on the bridge section’s drum part, and when Lewis and Nick started jamming their polyrhythms over it, it really started sounding like us.
Which is your favourite English Teacher song so far, and why?
Probably one that we haven’t released yet called ‘Wallace’. I wrap my issues with right-wing politics in a Titanic metaphor, and our best mate Luca (Draags’ frontman) has a cello solo, which is followed by what I can only describe as the sexiest guitar line I’ve ever heard (cheers Lewis, you dog).
What do you do for fun?
Douglas has started making surreal clay sculptures and beaded morse-code necklaces, which we hope to sell as merch one day. We also like to have dance parties in our house where we move the table out of the centre of the living room, turn the lights down, and dance to hyper-pop until it’s time for a Pizza La Fonte.
Do you have much coming up? How are you finding booking gigs at the mo, now they’re back on the agenda?
We’ve got quite a few dates in the diary already, most of which are yet to be announced, but all of which are very exciting.
Anything else we should know?
English Teacher’s new single ‘R&B’ is out now.