Following on from support slots with the likes of Black Midi, Phobophobes and Madonnatron, Brighton newcomers Something Leather return with their new single ‘Velvet’, a moody and intriguing track about love and fantasy that showcases their love of eerie atmospherics and vintage instruments. Phillie, Mike and Greg introduce their band.
Hey Phillie, Mike and Greg, how’s it going? Are you having a good summer?
Greg: We’re all good, although the summer is killing us. It’s way too hot to be in a practice room these days!
Who are you all, where did you meet, and what do you do?
Phillie: Mike is on drums and backing vocals, Greg plays guitar, and I play electric organ, bass synth and am also the lead vocalist.
Greg: Phillie and I met quite a long time ago through friends and instantly bonded over an argument about which of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had the greatest impact on music. We met Mike after moving to Brighton a couple of years ago.
When did you realise you wanted to be a musician? Did you have a musical upbringing?
Mike: I had a fairly musical upbringing. We always had instruments, and I played drums a lot, but I think that there was one year watching Glastonbury on TV (I think it was 2011) when I realised it’s what I wanted to do.
Phillie: I played classical piano since I was nine but playing the piano was always very personal. I would be alone in a room with my piano and pour my emotions into whatever musical piece I was into at the time, although I was terrified of playing in front of people. It all changed when I started going out and seeing live music. I think seeing bands like the Kills perform inspired me. Their visceral and intense performance made me want to try it.
Greg: My Mum was a Queen fan, but nobody really encouraged me to play music. A rockumentary on the Ramones really made me want to play Blitzkrieg Bop, and it all started from there.
Who was your first ever favourite band or pop star?
Mike: Arctic Monkeys.
Phillie: Muse and their album ‘Absolution’ was probably the first guitar band I was obsessed with. They probably encouraged me to play keys in a guitar band environment.
Greg: I’m quite ashamed to say it was probably the Backstreet Boys…
Tell us about your new single ‘Velvet’, what’s it about?
Phillie: For us, ‘Velvet’ is a cynical song about love and fantasy; but with all our songs, we tend to be more interested in other people’s interpretations of them. We even have different perspectives about it ourselves.
Greg: With ‘Velvet’, we tried to create something quite moody and mystical.
Do you have a lot of songs ready and raring to go?
Mike: Oooh yes and we are going to release two before the end of the year! We’ll keep you posted.
What’s your songwriting process like?
Phillie: Usually someone will come up with a riff or particular part, we’ll jam all together around it, and then I listen to it on repeat until a topic comes up. The music creates an atmosphere which calls for a story or emotion.
Mike: We tend to then be pretty self-critical and take a nearly-finished song, cut parts out, rip other bits apart and end up with something completely different from what we had to start with!
What do you most enjoy writing about, generally?
Phillie: I have a fascination for artists who contemplate life through a dark, cynical filter such as Baudelaire, Alasdair Gray or Nick Cave and I’d like to think that my songwriting evokes similar imagery. Writing enables me to tackle subjects that are constantly haunting me, such as expectations and growing up in a world that seems to constantly let you down.
Mike: There is always a tint of irony which some have described as “quirky” because we tend to not take our own observations too seriously. And we have a very dark sense of humour.
Are you creative in non-musical ways too?
Phillie: I’m a big fan of literature and just enjoy writing in general.
Mike: I tend to act quite a lot. I’ve spent a lot of time with friends just pissing about, acting and making amateur short films or plays but not too seriously.
Greg: I’m the scientifically creative one, so I create pedals or other circuits and find fixes when instruments break – like fixing Phillie’s organ using apart from her grandmother’s old Phillips TV.
What would you most like to achieve during your music career?
Mike: For me playing at Glastonbury or at a festival that I’ve been too would be a real achievement, having been so inspired by the experience of seeing bands there.
Phillie: I want one of our songs to be used in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot.
Greg: One of our songs being played at somebody’s funeral.
Tell us a secret about yourself?
Phillie: I used to write a poetry blog during my teenage years, it’s still there so I can look at it from time to time and laugh (but you will never find it!)
Mike: I’m convinced one of my knees smells different to the other.
Greg: I am an unofficial yellow belt in Yoseikan Budo from when I was younger.
What else have you got coming up?
Phillie: We play Siren Calling festival in London on 17th August. We also have a video for ‘Velvet’ coming soon.
Greg: And we’ve just finished recording for our next release later this year and plan to explore the UK a bit more in Autumn!
Something Leather will play Siren Calling in London from 17th-18th August, alongside Tess Parks, She Makes War, Thyla, Valeras and more. Pick up tickets here.