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Unapologetic 90s guitar fuzz, nautically inspired lyrics – Paintings of Ships don’t care much about fitting into a commercially pleasing genre. In fact, they’d prefer not to become the next short-lived band o’ the week. The London-based trio, made up of Daniel Clancy (vocals/guitars), Catherine Wilson (bass guitar/vocals), and Matt Hill (drums) just released their self-produced EP, Shore For Sure. We caught up with Clancy to discuss their DIY approach and what, exactly, is going right (and wrong) in the music industry.
GH: You’ve been together since 2009. Have you been looking for a deal with a record label?
DC: We haven’t actively been looking for a record deal at all thus far. We’re just having fun. Playing as many gigs as we can and recording our EP have proven to be reward enough for us, really. It’s a buzz to hear songs I spent hours writing and losing sleep over blasting away in my headphones or putting smiles on people’s faces at gigs (or the opposite).
GH: Are you happy to be an independent project?
DC: I think if the right kind of deal came along with the right kind of label it would be a huge bonus – mainly as it would be great to do this full-time rather than juggling jobs, etc. By the same token, we wouldn’t get caught up in a deal that would in any way affect the freedom we have to create.
GH: You don’t hear too much of the grungy sound these days. How did you guys end up going in this direction?
DC: Some of those bands that were around in the 1990s have proven to be a major influence on our sound because the music back then still sounds fresh today and because we can learn from the way these people grew as musicians. The last ten years in music have been largely dominated by ‘hype bands’ who are thrown into the deep end – playing huge venues and festivals – without the chance to develop their sound the way Blur and Sonic Youth did. As a result, it’s all too forgettable. We’re intrigued by the way bands move from one album to the next, and the 90s is a great era for examples of this. It was also an era that saw great progress in guitar music generally. It sounded very organic and the 00s had a lack of this.
GH: How do you feel like you fit into today’s musical landscape?
DC: We hope that this new decade will start taking influence from the 1990s more and more, much like the noughties took from the 1980s. We think it’s time to throw on a baggy cardigan and just get bored again. I’m not sure where we can fit into music today but I’m not sure we are too bothered, either.
GH: What was the recording process like for Shore For Sure?
DC: We decided we should record the EP in Matt’s front room because he’s produced work there before that sounded great and it felt right to record music where we weren’t restricted by time and money constraints. We felt relaxed when playing our parts knowing we could try them again and again and not think about how much it’s costing! Plus, Matt’s a real geek when it comes to the recording process, hanging ambient mics around the place and putting a Vox amp in the kitchen and stuff like that; he is a total star. We’d certainly do it this way again. The only thing we recorded at a studio were vocals, but we sneaked in for free for a day because Matt (a man of many, many uses) worked at the place.
GH: You’re releasing Shore For Sure online and on CD. Was it a difficult decision to invest in CD pressing?
DC: We saved a lot of money on the recording process, so pressing CDs became a far more viable option. That end of things is still being tied up but thankfully the online route is extremely easy, so people can get hold of the music right now digitally. I think our next step is to record more and stick it on 7″ and provide a download code. We’re all for people owning things physically, so making these decisions is not difficult. It’s part of the art of it all. We got a recently graduated artist called Zoe Farmer to paint us a delightful little picture for the cover and she deserves as much exposure as us!
GH: How are you promoting the EP?
DC: The beauty of arriving in 2010 is that we are blessed with the like of Myspace, Facebook and Twitter. We’d like to say that we play gigs to promote our stuff (which we do) but the main way of promotion for us is on the internet at the moment. It helps us advertise our gigs, show people our photos, let them listen to and download our music and everything, really.
It’s kind of sad that we aren’t just banging on pub doors every night and playing at bus stops, but that’s just the way it is right now.
GH: What does the future hold for Paintings of Ships?
DC: In an ideal world the future would involve us working on music full-time for a living. That’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do in life. I think the next step in our master plan is to try and get on national radio. The only way we can really achieve this at the moment is through BBC 6 Music and we all know that we better get our skates on if that’s going to happen. Then we’re just going to work harder and harder until someone wakes up and gives a toss enough to buy us a massive speedboat to go and tour the world in.
GH: What do you think, readers? Interested in investing? Check out the Shore for Sure EP here and tell us what you think!