Interview: The Lovely Eggs
I've enjoyed playing these songs live very much. I think, sometimes, it would get on my tits a little bit when people would think of our stuff as a joke, some of our earlier songs. It's that thing like, you know when something is so fucking tragic you have to laugh in its face because it's so bloody awful?
The Lovely Eggs have had a busy 2018. After a decade or so kicking around the UK underground being generally regarded as charmingly eccentric, lo-fi DIY punks-next-door, their fifth album This Is Eggland saw them stand up, clear their throats and demand to be taken a little more seriously. People sat up and listened. Packed with great tunes and a toughening up of their core sound, it is not just their best record to date but has seen them win over ever more fans to their wonky world.
I spoke with Dave and Holly just before their recent Birmingham gig; sat together on a beaten up old sofa they are relaxed and friendly. I admit it hadn’t occurred to me what a perfect match support band ILL’s own surreal scrappy punk was, and there’s much agreement about their brilliance. They encourage me not to miss the other support Rob Auton. It’s just before Hallowe’en and, mindful of their new pumpkin orange t-shirts and their previous ‘Haunt Me Out’ single, I’m mildly disappointed to hear that dressing up and carving pumpkins isn’t much of a big deal in Eggland – they do it for their little lad but that’s about it. Still, if you’ve spent any time watching their videos, you’ll be pleased to hear they really are as likeable as they seem.
Alongside the amazing year they’ve been having as a band, the current front-page news in Eggland is the threat to the future of their musical home, the Lancaster Music Co-op.
(((O))) – Let’s start with a serious one then, do you want to talk about the Co-op? You’ve made all your records there is that right?
Dave – Yeah, yeah we’ve done ’em all there.
Holly – Every single rehearsal we’ve had has been there and we’ve done all five of our albums there. It’s this place that’s been there for 33 years; when I was first in a band when I was 15, my old band, all-girl band Angelica we recorded all our stuff there, well not all our stuff but a lot of it and practised there
D – It’s been struggling on for years like but always . . . it never had real security because it never had a proper lease. So it’s been providing these services for years and years and years and then. . .
H – What happened really, it’s in this building in the centre of town, which is an amazing building, an old factory, like abandoned factory. It’s brilliant for bands, all these rehearsal rooms have been built inside this factory. Then this big developer came over and said “I want to buy all that land and make a big Debenhams”. At that time the music co-op was trying to get the council to give it a long term lease, it’s council owned, and they said if we get a long term lease we can apply for lottery funding, y’know, to do it up and make it a, well not state of the art but like a really good studio. Then as soon as this developer came on the scene they said “No sorry, you can’t have your long term lease”. Then four years later they said, “Actually we’re gonna put a demolition order on the building”. So, twelve years have gone by with the demolition order and now the big development company have, thank God, backed out and said “We’re not going to do it any more, actually”. The council’s now in charge of that land and the first thing they’ve done is issue them with an eviction order to get out.
D – Well no, the first thing they did was said right you’ve got to fix up the building, now we’re not gonna knock it down.
H – It’s like, wait a minute, it’s had a demolition order on it for 12 years! We haven’t done anything to your building for 12 years ‘cos we thought it was going to be demolished and now you’re telling us to pay for fixing it? And the council was like . . .
D – “We’ll evict you then”.
H – So the council’s gonna fucking regret ever tangling with us, because we’ve got a lot of people backing the campaign, and they’ve got such bad publicity in the last week I think they’re already regretting it.
(((O))) – So you’re just hoping they’ll back off?
D – Well, that’s the plan, and then try to get a way forwards basically. So, get a long term lease and get the building sorted out. Lancaster’s primarily a university town and then it’s got a really big music scene, in fact there’s a big music festival that started there about four or five years ago [it’ll actually be 10 next year]. It’s bringing in thousands of people every year, this festival, so Lancaster seems like a big music city and then they’re closing down the one thing that’s kind of the hub and the heart of that. So we’re just spreading the word, this tour is about spreading the word really.
H – We’re really glad it’s timed in well ‘cos it means we can go round and tell a couple of hundred people every night.
(((O))) – This sort of thing is happening a lot to local independent venues as well
D – Yeah, it’s really important to keep these smaller places open.
(((O))) – For The Lovely Eggs as a band though, this has been an amazing year, off the back of the last record, hasn’t it? You’ve got a gig coming up at The Scala which is your biggest ever; how does it feel after you’ve been going so long to suddenly step up a level like that?
H – Unexpected.
D – I mean we were kinda happy where it was anyway you know, we’re kinda happy where we are at any moment in time but yeah, we’re amazed at how it’s gone down really.
H – Yeah, really amazed because we’ve been selling out gigs all this year, it’s been bloody crazy bonkers!
(((O))) – Isn’t this the third tour of the year? It seems to have been non-stop relentless for you.
H – It is the third tour, we’re so grateful for it though because we’ve worked on this band, not worked like it’s a job but worked like it’s just a love of ours, and so it’s so nice to get people into the music really, we’re very grateful for it.
(((O))) – Do you think it has an effect on your small scale DIY way of doing things yet, or is it just slightly more comfortable?
H – In the past we’ve had to live very frugal, like mega frugal, eating beans on toast almost every night, you know, that sort of life just because we couldn’t afford not to and we didn’t want to get full time jobs because that means you haven’t got the time to put into the band that you want to do. But it’s nice now we can have what we want for our tea (laughs). That to us feels like a luxury, you can go ’round the supermarket and pick something that looks good rather than what’s cheap and that’s been pretty much our life up to now; like, what’s cheap? what can we get by on.
(((O))) – This Is Eggland has gone over really well, does it feel like it’s the result of years and years of work or just that the last album is the best you’ve done?
D –- More people have got into it I suppose, yeah; obviously for us it’s nice to have all them years and four albums before that one.
H – I think we needed all those years to have a fan base to receive the album, to be ready for it, because if you didn’t have some amount of people who were into you already it would be very hard. We’re not like a record label where there’s loads of hype behind us, where we’ve paid for shit loads of advertising . . .
(((O))) – It’s your own label isn’t it, has it always been?
D – Yeah, they’ve all been on our label, we have released singles on other labels and . . . actually no, the first two albums were on Cherryade but that was a bedroom DIY label and we were a big part of that. They were putting stuff out for us but we got so involved in it that we took over that part of the label and that formed into our label really. We’ve obviously re-released those two albums on our own label since that.
H – Like an established record label puts a lot of hype behind things so they can launch a band from nothing. You know, pay for loads of adverts and they’ve got journalist friends who’ll do ’em a favour and put a review in or whatever. We’ve got none of that industry bullshit so we need a fan base to start with to even get the record to be talked about a little bit, do you know what I mean? If we’d released Eggland 12 years ago – same sound, same record – it would not have done what it’s done now because we hadn’t got our fans behind us. I think that’s a massive part of what we do, I feel like a real team with the people who get behind us ‘cos, I know it sounds a bit of a cliché, but we wouldn’t be much without them lot coming to support us all the time. They’re quite loyal a lot of them.
(((O))) – It’s a louder, angrier record than your previous ones. I was wondering how you came to that and how you carry that to your audience. There’s been a light-hearted side to much of what you’ve done in the past but on Eggland there’s less laughs and some real anger.
D – It’s just a progression, just the way that happened. It wasn’t necessarily thought about too much, it was just where we were at.
H – It definitely is never thought about. If we go into the practice room and we’ve got drum kit and guitar we’ll just set off playing music, and if it happens to be more laid back and slow or more psychedelic or more punk it’s just whatever we want to do at the time
D – We wrote those songs fairly quickly and then it was well, “that’s going to be the album then”, but there’s no other reason than that really; who knows what’s going to be next sort of thing.
(((O))) – Have you even thought about where you go next?
H – No
D – No we haven’t at all, we’ll hopefully start writing next year.
H – I’ve enjoyed playing these songs live very much. I think, sometimes, it would get on my tits a little bit when people would think of our stuff as a joke, some of our earlier songs. It’s that thing like, you know when something is so fucking tragic you have to laugh in its face because it’s so bloody awful? Especially that first album we wrote. We had three of our friends died when we were making that album and it’s the darkest fucking album, to us it’s so dark, and to everyone else it’s like “oh it’s so fun” and it’s like, can’t you tell? It’s like clowns being the most depressed people in the world. It’s sometimes quite frustrating when people don’t get that level of subtlety maybe about some songs. Like, it’s not just a joke song, I’m heartbroken can’t you tell? Or whatever.
(((O))) – I think that’s kind of what I was asking earlier, how it can be difficult to shift between different moods and have people follow you, but it worked well on the last album.
H – Yeah, I think we spelt it out on the last one, there was no funniness really, I don’t know.
(((O))) – Wiggy Giggy’s quite funny. I mean, how do you come up with a thing like that?
H – Oh God! Well no, that’s a noise though, right. We said we’re going to do this thing and in the middle we’ll have this sound that goes like “wiggygiggygiggy. . . ” and we said oh, Dave Fridmann will sort it out, he’ll have some sort of machine in the studio that’ll make that sound. You know the beginning of Butthole Surfers, their cover of Donovan’s ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’? When he’s singing it’s got a certain effect on it, that’s what we wanted for the song.
D – It’s all chopped up, that was just a sound, and we were thinking of that.
H – So we recorded it for Dave Fridmann and we were like “Oh yeah, but on these bits that say wiggy-giggy we want you to put this noise in” and he was like “No, it sounds fucking great. Keep it” and we were like “Oh for fuck’s sake!”
D – Yeah, and then that just becomes part of the song and then we called it that so . . .
H – But it doesn’t mean anything, the rest of the lyrics mean a lot but yeah, it’s crazy. Then you get people going “Oh, you’re such a fun band” and you’re like fuck off! That is not my fucking fault.
D – Obviously, if you took that to a label and went oh, it’s going “wiggy giggy giggy” they’d say “No it’s fucking not, it’s going something serious” whereas we’re just like that’s how we’re going to put it out.
H – I think Dave Fridmann, well I can’t speak for him but I’ll try, he was quite refreshed I think to know that what we mixed in the studio would be it. There’s a lot of bands he works with when it has to go to the record label and it’s got to be remixed, that bits got to come out or whatever. He knew that when we left America and we all agreed we like it, that that was it. That was probably something that he doesn’t get a lot from other bigger bands. Not from the bands, I think when the bands leave the studio they’re happy with it but maybe the record company executive hears it and goes that’s not radio friendly enough or. . .
D – . . .get rid of fucking “wiggy giggy”!
(((O))) I’m aware that for DIY bands t-shirt sales can be an important way of keeping the cash flowing and I know you’ve done the scarves and things. I wondered if there was like a fantasy novelty item you’d like to do, if you didn’t have to worry about having boxes of left it in your hall?
H – Oh, that’s a good question, and that’s a bit of it that we like really. We’ve done all sorts in the past, we’ve done tattoos and all sorts just for why not?
D – I bet nearly everything’s been done now. If it’s something different that’s cool because it interests us rather than go down the route other bands do, although obviously t-shirts are good ‘cos people wear them. I don’t know for something odd
H – Maybe canned something to eat, with a nice label
(((O))) – not chocolate eggs?
D – No, we try and keep away from the eggs, I don’t know, we just had it for the name. . .
H – and we’re stuck with it now. The possibilities are endless. . .
D – The scarves were pretty good. We’ve done some different ones but people really like the ‘Fuck It!’ ones.
H – Maybe a ‘Don’t Look At Me I Don’t Like It’ balaclava or something. . .
D – With no holes in it.
The Lovely Eggs play their last gigs of the year at Newcastle, The Cluny (Nov 9) and Manchester, Gorilla (Nov 10)
On 14 November Lancaster City Council will meet to decide whether to overturn the eviction notice served on Lancaster Music Co-op. The meeting will take place at Morecambe Town Hall at 6pm.
The Lovely Eggs encourage anyone who can to show up for the meeting – “We need as MANY people in the area to show up to this meeting and show your support for Lancaster Music Co-op! This is a public meeting so we really hope to ram the place with supporters of the Co-op to show the strength of feeling. In the meantime, please lobby/email Lancaster City Councillors and ask them to support Lancaster Music Co-op and vote in favour of withdrawing the eviction notice!”