EMMA LEE

The Zutons are currently showcasing tracks from their second album, Tired of Hanging Around, on a tour which calls at Cambridge on May 19. Emma Lee spoke to the band’s bassist Russell Pritchard.

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EMMA LEE

You can't be Pete Doherty, says the Zutons' bassist Russell Pritchard. The cheery Scouser is talking about the band's upcoming tour, which stops off in Cambridge on May 19.

It seems that the Liverpool five-piece, who are doing promotional rounds for their second album Tired of Hanging Around, live by the motto everything in moderation.

Unlike the aforementioned tabloid regular.

You have to have some time off getting drunk, Russell says, sagely.

The Zutons formed in mid 2002 when singer David McCabe was joined by Boyan Chowdhury on guitar, Sean Payne on drums and Russell on bass.

A few months later Abi Harding was recruited to play saxophone.

Their debut release - Devil's Deal - appeared in September of the same year and was followed in May 2003 by Creepin' An' A Crawlin'.

They then spent the latter half of 2003 recording their debut album, Who Killed The Zutons?, with Ian Broudie, of Lightning Seeds and Three Lions fame, producing.

Released the following year, the album's 'rock 'n' soul' edge set them apart from the rest of the crowd and for a debut it was an ambitious and confident record.

Music fans agreed with the critics and it spawned five hit singles - Pressure Point, You Will You Won't, Remember Me, Don't Ever Think and Confusion.

The record was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, and sold 600,000 copies.

It was good, it still sells a couple of thousand a week. We didn't expect it [the success], it was nice, Russell says simply.

I just loved bands really, he says, explaining his musical roots. I love guitars and instruments. I was into Bob Dylan, Talking Heads, AC/DC. I've been in bands since I was about 15. If I wasn't in a band I would probably be writing about bands, he says.

The band has also become a favourite on the live circuit.

Specialising in meaty riffs, swampy rhythms, lyrical wit and jump-around anthems, their energetic live shows are more like a party than a gig.

They've played festivals and clubs the world over, including an American tour with the Killers.

The band's also played stadium dates supporting U2, Oasis and REM and were the first band to play the refurbished Museum of Modern Art in New York in front of 6,000 scenesters.

We're really looking forward to the tour. Doing promo here there and everywhere isn't good for your head.

Iceland is amazing, Russell adds. You drive on the motorway here and there's grass on the side of the road - there there's just lava from years ago. It's just like what you'd imagine the moon to be like.

Australia was really good too, he adds.

And somehow they've managed to fit in writing and recording the new album.

Last summer we were going to possibly release a little ep, but it didn't work out because of the timetable. We were going to record it in America, then decided to do it in England, Russell explains.

Stephen Street [Blur, the Smiths and Kaiser Chiefs producer] came up to the rehearsal room and listened to us playing. He wanted to make a really lively-sounding album without us telling him that was what we wanted. We wanted it to kind of have a live feel to it, he says.

On the first album we were really finding our feet. We've really got it together - we bounce off each other. When we did the first record there wasn't that much bouncing!

Dave writes the words, but a lot of the time we'll be jamming and work on stuff like that. Everyone contributes something.

We write better at home, we don't do much writing on the road, Russell adds, although the new tracks Valerie and Oh Stacey (Look What You've Done!) are said to be inspired by two girls lyricist Dave met in America.

We still live in Liverpool. We get the best of both worlds. I don't feel any pressure to move to London - you get on the train and it's dead quick, he says.

The first single off the new record, Why Won't You Give Me Your Love (a song that in an interview Dave has described as dead positive and nice), is a storming return to form and showcases their new beefed-up sound.

And to accompany the single the band travelled to Cuba to make a video, which sees Abi and Dave leading rival gangs.

But any similarity to West Side Story is, according to Russell purely co-incidental.

It was really good. It's the most fun we've had doing a video. Cuba was amazing. It's a different world, an amazing experience, he says.

The song is two people talking and we wanted to get two gangs to tell the story. West Side Story wasn't really an influence, we didn't want to make a pastiche - I don't think any of us has seen it!

t The Zutons play Cambridge Corn Exchange on Friday, May 19. The gig is sold out. The new album, Tired of Hanging Around, is out now.

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