Interview: The Courteeners

Rob GarrattThe Courteeners arrived proclaiming themselves the country's best new band. Now they're back with their second album, Falcon, and a UEA gig. ROB GARRATT spoke to drummer Michael Campbell.Further listening: The CourteenersRob Garratt

The Courteeners arrived proclaiming themselves the country's best new band. Now they're back with their second album, Falcon, and a UEA gig. ROB GARRATT spoke to drummer Michael Campbell.

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When The Courteeners released their debut album St Jude in 2008, they did so amid a flurry of articles about frontman Liam Fray being gobby, outspoken and fond of spitting out insults about other bands.

In the great tradition of Manchester guitar bands he proclaimed, free of irony, that his band were 'the best new band in the country', if not the world, and that St Jude was going to blow his contemporaries out of the water.

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It was a divisive stance that on one hand captivated the hearts and minds of lads in their mid-to-late teens looking for rock'n'roll excitement, while on the other, bored older music lovers who'd seen and heard it all before.

With the release of their second album, Falcon, this week and an upcoming UEA gig, the 2010 vintage of the band is a markedly different character to the one we found back then.

t How are things going in camp Courteeners?

Things are going really well, we're getting ready for a busy year. It's great to be back in the saddle and have the new album come out. We're all rehearsed and sounding great, we're ready; our show's going to be great. We had a relatively quite year last year - we were in America supporting Morrissey, we recorded the album and there were a few festivals thrown in - we're just waiting to really kick it again with this tour; it's the best part of doing it, playing live.

t What can we expect from the UEA gig?

We're going to be playing a lot of the new album, and some St Jude [debut] stuff. Hopefully people will have the album and have a bit of a sing-along, and we'll back that up with some old favourites, and hopefully people will join us for a dance and a song.

t Tell us about Falcon.

The new album is a little bit different in terms of music, but not sentiment. We're very confident, we listen to it all the time and we know people are going to enjoy it live. I've got a gold disc in my house for the first album, which is a permanent reminder of what we did. It's a brilliant album, I love it; but it's a launch pad and we want to surpass that. We think Falcon will do that, it's got everything a great album needs to have; it's lyrically and musically great. The songs are bigger and grander, more thought out and mature.

t How was it working with Pulp, Suede and White Lies producer Ed Buller?

He was a great guy, he had different working methods to what we're used to. He put his own atmosphere on the record and it was brilliant. He challenged us to think in different directions and ways of doing things which were really beneficial to the end project. It really does sound different to what people might expect the Courteeners to come out with.

t You've been praised by both halves of the Smiths writing partnership, Morrissey and Johnny Marr, do you feel part of that heritage of Manchester bands?

We're not daft enough to think like that, there are many great bands who have sold millions of albums. We're quietly and confidently going through our career. You can't get a bigger accolade that Morrissey and Marr, we look up and aspire to them, but we just go out and do our thing, we're just four lads from Manchester.

t It's been a pretty eventful three years for those four lads…do you have any highlights?

The whole thing has been a whirlwind. One thing that sticks out is supporting Morrissey in New York in Carnegie Hall, we all knew the significance of playing there and my parents came over specially. The other is playing in Japan, to have people fanatical about your record thousands of miles round the world, wearing T-shirts and wanting photos.

t You four lads go back a long way…

We've all known each other 20 years, we all went to school together and we're all best mates - which is really good when you're in a band, you spend up so much time in the bus and car with them, if would be awful if you weren't best friends.

t And you picked up drums at the last minute to help out your mate?

I'd got my degree. Liam [Fray, lead singer] was a singer songwriter and had some acoustic tracks, I was up for the weekend and he was like 'come and have a go on the drums'. I messed around a bit and then he said 'you're playing a gig on Friday!' I went and played and was really scared, it went all right… a couple of months later the band formed and it just grew and grew until we were playing to 900 people unsigned.

t Where did the band name come from?

I must have missed that band meeting - they just told me that was the name! If you come and sing our songs then you're a Courteener. Obviously it's a different spelling to the cars.

t What do you remember of Norwich?

Last time we played it was a Sunday and it was quite quiet - and then when we played it was a party. You obviously enjoy you're music there, you seem to always come out and show force and we always go down really well. We always make sure Norwich is on the list when we tour. We'll have been going awhile when we get there so we'll be very warmed up.

t The Courteeners play the UEA on March 11.

t Falcon is out now.

Further listening: The Courteeners