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By: Dan Salter
Photos By: Ed Sprake
Dialects played ArcTangent for the first time this year. We caught up with Conor and Steven from the band for a quick chat just after they came off stage and still high on adrenaline.
(((o))): So, you’ve just come offstage – how was that?
Dialects: Amazing. Absolutely Amazing, quite crazy. We’ve wanted to do this obviously since we started, like three, three and a bit years ago. It’s always been a target for us to get to play Arctangent, and I guess for all of us to play a festival as awesome as this. It’s the biggest crowd we’ve played to to date, easily.
(((o))): I was going to ask about that, it was pretty full towards the end. I think it was two thirds full when you started, and by the end (with the help of a bit of rain!) it was full.
Dialects: We brought that weather with us when we came (laughs)!
(((o))): It’s interesting that you say it was something you set out as a target for the band, because a lot of the bands we’ve talked to over the last few years formed before Arctangent happened so it’s interesting to talk to people now, a generation of bands that have started while the festival has been happening.
Dialects: Well, we knew about the first year. And then we came in the second year, I remember – I think it was after And So I Watch You From Afar finished on the Thursday, and I remember turning round to Steve and saying “We need to do this. If there’s anything this band needs to do, it’s this – we need to play here.” We really wanted to play the Yohkai stage, so yeah to be actually doing it two years on…
(((o))): How does that feel? A big tick on the personal life goals?
Dialects: Pretty much, it’s just sinking in. As much as Dialects is still a young band, most of us have been playing in bands for quite a long time – and in Conor’s case a VERY long time. Our bass player and drummer have been in bands for over twenty years. I’ve been in progressive genres for quite a while now with projects, but there’s always been bands slightly less fuelled by other festivals. Until Arctangent came along there wasn’t a festival of this size to cater to the umbrella term of progressive music. There wasn’t one, certainly not in the UK. And it’s become a benchmark for a lot of bands, certainly for us.
(((o))): It’s interesting having talked to some of the bands over the years here, and they’ve all gone “We’ve come here, and everyone was so fucking good it makes us go away and want to be better!”
Dialects: The standard is ridiculous, the musicianship and the bands. There’s no one that’s disappointed. Nobody. It’s just been killer.
(((o))): You see people just running from tent to tent because they don’t want to miss anything due to the fact the quality is so good.
Dialects: It’s like “I’ll catch two songs of these, and then I’ll go and see the end of those..” I was gonna do that with Animals and Cleft, but y’know what I was like “I’m just gonna go and see Cleft…” it’s the last time, Animals will tour again. And I wanted to see Cleft, they were amazing, it was unreal.
Dialects: Absolutely. Bands like them and Alpha Male Tea Party and Axes, it’s become a home and it’s treated like that. Those are the bands that are expected to play it, particularly when Cleft and Alpha Male Tea Party played at the same time, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen. That whole set was just ridiculous, and they only practised once! Sickeningly talented dickheads, who are lovely lovely human beings. Except Ben who’s an absolute arsehole, you’re a horrible horrible man Ben! His Scottish accent is really terrible as well, but he’s a really good bass player, so we’ll let him off.
(((o))): So now you’ve ticked this off, what’s next for Dialects? What’s your aim, because your album came out end of last year?
Dialects: Our EP came out May of last year, believe it or not! We released a single in October. Our album was recorded in March this year and that’s ten songs, only one of which has been released before, which was the single (‘It’s Not A Ghost, It’s Gravity’). We’re sitting on an album that’s mixed and mastered, speaking to labels about getting it out – which is really important to us, and we really want to get back to Canada which is always a running theme.
(((o))): What happened in Canada that was so good?
Dialects: We were over for a festival called Canadian Music Week, which is their version of SXSW and when we were asked by the lead organiser we thought it was a joke. We thought it was spam mail, so we asked them “Did you mean to email US?”. They sent us a link to the single, which they’d heard on an internet radio station that were doing a focus on UK artists. And because we were asked so far in advance, we could get cheap flights and plan it all out. The people are as friendly and as amiable as you hear about them, the food was great and the weather was awesome – we played three showcase gigs and were there for six days, and apparently we played some of the more prestigious underground venues that up and coming bands play. One in particular was called the Bovine Sex Club which was the CBGBs of Toronto, a weird but great venue with vines hanging down and broken bicycles lying around.
(((o))): So you’ve recorded an album and now you’re sitting on it? I don’t think a lot of people realise that aspect of being in a band – the perception is bash out some songs and put it out there.
Dialects: Some bands do that, and there’s nothing wrong with that – that’s totally cool. We’re fortunate enough to have part of the creative arts council (Creative Scotland) that bands can apply to. Be that recording in the studio or visas and flights for SXSW and so on. We submitted an application last year in which we detailed the project, where we were going to record it and who with, how long it would take etc. All in very meticulous detail, and we were very fortunate to be awarded a substantial amount of money which enabled us to do a full recording to no cost of our own which was amazing for such a small band as us – a band from a leftfield genre. We recorded it in Chem 19, which is the same studio that Mogwai and Twilight Sad have recorded in over the years. When you walk in, on the right hand side they’ve got framed records, like Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.
I remember my old chemistry teacher who I never really got along with at school, and I was just getting into Mogwai, he told me that he’d been in a few albums with them and I was like “shut up!”. Years later, I looked it up and it turns out he was in a band called El Hombre Trajeado – they were Scotland’s first proper math rock band, a pure cult figure.
(((o))): And he was your chemistry teacher?
Dialects: Yeah. So we’re walking through and they were recording at the same time as us and I thought “that kinda looks like him”, and so I approached him and said “Mr Mandleson?” and I’m apologising to him “so sorry for all the shit I gave you!”, I was an arsehole to that guy. And I’m like “you’re such a good drummer by the way”!
Going back to the album, we didn’t want to just put it out, and like we said it’s totally cool if bands want to do that. We wanted to plan it all out and do the best possible release we can. We need to go through all of the artwork, we’re pretty meticulous with all that – we want to make sure it’s perfect. And then it ties in with the theme that we’ve been running with.
Dialects: We had a few setbacks with the EP LTKLTL which we sat on for about eighteen months, but that wasn’t our choice without elaborating too much. We thought it was gonna be out a lot sooner, and then circumstances out of our control stopped that. And as much as Dialects is kind of a new band, (we’ve been doing this for around three years), most of us have been in bands for a very very long time, so we’ve learned from past mistakes with the benefit of hindsight, retrospect and age.
Like when I was twenty, and my first band were signed to a label. Same with our drummer who was in a really big indie band that was signed in the early 2000’s and they toured with Simple Minds and our bass player has been in bands in heavier genres too. And it’s not to sound morbid or defeatist, but a lot of first albums by bands could be their last and you find a wave of bands calling it a day. Bands like You Slut! And Adebisi Shank for example who dropped off after a really short period of time.
(((o))): And We’ve just lost Alright The Captain.
Dialects: Exactly, and Cleft….
(((o))): Who the fucks gonna play Arctangent next year?
Dialects: We’ll play, we’re available!
But my point about the album is that your first album could be your last, why not do it on as larger scale as possible I guess? The best way we possibly can, we’re really fucking proud of it – it’s not Radio 1 friendly and it won’t be in the top twenty but that’s fine. You can still push things and give them a larger platform, and with the amount of time and money we’ve put into it we want to make sure it goes out on the best platform we can possibly get it on to the maximum amount of people we can.
(((o))): Thanks for your time guys. Enjoy the rest of the festival.