May 2017. Everybody’s favourite indie-pop punksters Get Inuit have been doing what every fledgeling act does – gigging hard, building up a loyal fanbase show-by-show, revealing an unerring ability to craft a perfect banger with every new release.
But then, following a tweet from Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq pointing out that their chosen moniker was problematic, the band realised they couldn’t continue as they were, and Get Inuit were no more.
Now, less than two years later, Jamie Glass, Ollie Nunn and brothers Rob and James Simpson can finally celebrate as the re-named Indoor Pets reveal their triumphant debut album to the world. It looked for a while that they might not get here.
“There was a point with the name change when the band was at its lowest,” frontman Jamie explains, “and we realised we had just undone a lot of work from the previous years.”
It came within a whisker of being curtains for the group.
“We thought, ‘Let’s just put an album out by ourselves, retire and then we could always say we did what we set out to do’.”
The name issue had rumbled on for six months before they announced their change of moniker in late 2017. It’s nothing new for bands to change their name of course, but doing it this late in the day was a particular blow for them. Overnight, it was almost like starting over. But in many ways, it proved to be the making of them – patience is a virtue, after all.
“We can’t take credit for that, we haven’t been patient at all!” laughs Jamie, with bassist Ollie adding: “We’ve been the same as everyone else, asking when we can get our album out!”
So why the long wait?
“We started the process two or three years ago,” Jamie explains, “but it was very staggered. We had PRS funding, then we were signed and dropped by a label, then the whole name change thing. We’d just add to it every weekend, every spare day we had.”
It was only when Wichita Recordings came on board that things changed, the London indie label promising the time and space for Indoor Pets to do things how they wanted.
“We were quite worried that it was going to be a voice that we’d, unfortunately, have to listen to.”
The truth couldn’t be further from that.
“We showed them our demos, told them that we wanted to keep working in the same studio with James [the band’s guitarist is also the co-producer], and then asked them what they wanted us to do.” The label’s response was simple – “Do what you wanna do, and come to us when you need money.”
That faith is about to be vindicated with ‘Be Content’. It is a record that is gloriously proud of its outsider status – shouting from the rooftops that it is okay to be different. When Jamie sings “I love being strange, it’s an easy fit for me” on ‘Being Strange’, it’s a clarion call to the introverts, the people standing on the edge of the party, the different.
“It’s definitely what I want the message to be; it’s appreciating that nothing’s perfect.”
Amidst all the joking around that help make Indoor Pets one of the most fun acts on the scene, there’s a serious side to them to them too.
“It’s very much an inner battle of understanding that I don’t fit in. I don’t think I’m smart, I’m terrible in relationships, and I wish I could get closer to people. But actually, to do those things, I have to be happy with who I am.”
Ollie chips in to agree: “If we go out at a festival or something and someone says ‘Everyone’s going to the bar for drinks!’, we say we’ll be there, but then it’s just us standing in the corner for a bit.”
Even in the recording studio, Indoor Pets kept themselves largely to themselves, with James co-producing – Jamie laughingly describes it as “hell, a nightmare” while Ollie describes it as like a tennis game, with James’ little brother Rob regularly joining in arguments, switching sides like an extra player.
“It drives us on though,” he says, while Jamie admits, “I think it’s worth that conversation being had, we might not have had it with a producer that you were afraid to say ‘fuck off’ to.”
Surprisingly for a band with so many bangers in their back pocket, one glance at the track listing shows some bold omissions. ‘So Soon’ is missing, as is ‘All My Friends’, victims to a ruthless streak and a need to keep pushing forwards.
“Essentially, you have to deliver an album’s worth of songs before someone says that they want to hear your album,” picks up Jamie. “So by the time we came to record it, it was obvious to us which songs we wrote because we wanted them to be part of a bigger package, and which were written just as singles. So we left them out as it would have been lazy to include them, even if it was maybe more… clever, to leave them in.”
Nearly everything was re-recorded, even older tracks like ‘Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated’ getting a spring clean and sounding a million miles away from the earlier EP version.
“It brought fresh life into it; it’s weird for us to see how we’ve progressed as a band. I mean, I can say words now, and most of the time you know what I’m saying!”
“Which I couldn’t do three years ago,” Ollie dissolves into giggles. “I’ve been a fan of Jamie for a long time. He just had no enunciation though. Nothing at all.”
“I’ve got vowels now. People were saying about the new ‘Pro-Procrastinator’ mix, ‘Oh, I like that lyric!’ I haven’t changed them, they’ve been the same for five years!”
Ultimately, everything still feels that it could have come from the same writing session, a fact that Jamie attributes to “not having matured as a person at all over the years, at all. Which is good, obviously.”
Having previously told Dork that there is no point in writing a song that isn’t a banger, there is one notable exception on ‘Be Content’ with mid-album breather ‘The Mapping Of Dandruff’. It’s a song that Jamie admits was a little bit “twee” until James pumped it full of overlapping reverbs and delays in a My Bloody Valentine-style.
“That’s when I realised, oh, we might actually be a ‘hip’ band!”
That slower song is the exception on an album where nearly every track could easily be a single from the riff rampage of opener ‘Hi’ onwards. How did their new label react?
“They had one bit of feedback, unfortunately,” admits Jamie. “They wanted the silence between two tracks to be two seconds longer. Of course, we told them to go to hell. How dare they?”
With the album wrapped, Indoor Pets took to the road with Bad Sounds late last year when disaster struck. In a tale that is getting more and more common, they had their van broken into following one of their shows and had around £15,000 worth of equipment stolen.
Heartbreakingly, every instrument (bar one guitar) that ‘Be Content’ had been recorded on was gone. Being a fiercely independent DIY band, they found it hard to ask for help.
“It felt very difficult to be in that situation, where we couldn’t move forward without a little bit of help,” confesses Jamie. “So we thought, let’s be British about this and go back to being tea-mad.”
In a world of streams, downloads, radio a-lists and playlists but very little in the way of physical sales, it can be hard to define what an artist means to people, but the famous ‘I HELPED INDOOR PETS BUY THEIR GEAR BACK’ tea towel sale showed just how beloved the group had become.
An initial target of selling fifty soon went out of the window, and in the end, they estimate that they sold nearly a thousand – all lovingly packaged in their living room.
“Just being surrounded by all these boxes, it was nice to have a physical way of seeing how much people cared,” smiles Jamie.
The scene, often decried by some as not being supportive, rallied aaround too. Bad Sounds themselves lent the guys instruments to finish the tour on (“So many people said we sounded better than before,” laughs Ollie), as well as donating money. Many others followed suit; Fender helped out, even the BBC got involved. Both Jamie and Ollie are still noticeably stunned at the response.
“It’s so weird when we always spend a lot of time saying ‘Oh, why can’t we be better, why can’t we be bigger, why can’t we be the biggest band in the world’,” says Jamie. “Actually what we’ve got is pretty amazing because it saved our asses.”
‘Be Content’ comes at an interesting time, when genres have never been so blurred – Bad Sounds being a perfect example of a group with their fingers in many pies musically. Indoor Pets too could easily sit on many different festival line-ups.
“I think that’s a good thing,” agrees Jamie. “It shows an evolution of these types of bands. It’s hard to pigeonhole us because you can say that we are a pop-punk band but if we go on a tour with You Me At Six, do we fit in? Oh, we’re an indie band now? Put us with Pale Waves? Oh, we don’t go with them either?”
He pauses, and pulls his Edward Scissorhands-style hair out even further in an uncanny Heather impression.
“Actually, we’d look very good together with our hair.”
On a serious note, he adds: “Potentially that means that one day there will be more bands like us, that just puts their hands together instead of being in a very small sub-genre.”
One act, in particular, have given them hope that they can achieve anything.
“I feel like everyone’s saying it, but it’s coming from a place of truth. I think IDLES have, in the last six months, shown that great music regardless of image, is always going to come out on top. Seeing them go for a BRIT Award is bonkers, but at the same time they have absolutely broken through. They’ve completely obliterated everything in their path!”
Celebrating good music rather than good image is key for Jamie.
“I have to say that because we’re really fucking weird to look at. If we were good to look at, then maybe I’d have a different view. But we’re not!”
Now, with the album in the bag, what next?
“We’re gonna release every song, we’re gonna Ed Sheeran it and block out the top ten!” they laugh.
A headline tour and festivals are on the horizon too, with Jamie excitedly shouting: “We’re doing 2000trees. Did you see they put us on the poster in big-boy font?”
Album number two is already being thought about, although it seems that it will start from a clean slate this time.
“That really appeals to me, like literally wiping the hard drive and doing an album in two weeks. The first one took five years; we want to prove we’re not Guns n’ Roses!”
At long last, it looks like these Indoor Pets are ready to move out and start conquering the world.
Taken from the March issue of Dork. Indoor Pets’ album ‘Be Content’ is out 8th March.
Words: Jamie MacMillan