Interview: The Kabeedies

The Kabeedies return to play a special home town gig next week to mark the launch of their much anticipated second album. WAYNE SAVAGE reports on a band tipped for big things in 2012.

'Get your party outfits on and be prepared to dance,' says Roary Hill about the Kabeedies home coming gig to mark the launch their much anticipated second album.

One of Norwich's most hotly tipped bands, big things are expected from the four-piece in 2012 and the new album, Soap, their first release on respected independent label Fierce Panda, is another fizz-banging collage of yelps and twangs and jumpy art-rocking fun.

But Roary also describes it as the relative calm after the bubblegum storm of 2009's debut album Rumpus, as the band expand their sound.

Based in Norwich with childhood roots in Norfolk and Suffolk, the indie rockers consist of Evan Jones on guitar and vocals, Roary on bass guitar and vocals, singer Katie Allard and Francis 'Fab' Bell on drums.

Katie was born in Norwich, Evan in Ipswich and Fab in Gorleston with Roary the odd one out being born in Watford.

'At a young age I moved to Mellis and had my first taste of the countryside. I live in Norwich now and love it but growing up in Suffolk was great. Although we're based in Norwich now, none of us support Norwich City,' he's quick to add.

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Their influences range from Blondie and Bombay Bicycle Club to Black Flag and Chuck Berry. And that's just those starting with B.

Despite everybody having quite conflicting opinions on music and differing influences; it all comes together surprisingly well, he adds. 'I'm into hardcore and punk, Evan's loves are dance music and rock'n'roll, Fab likes indie bangers and Katie's a glam rock girl. Without consciously trying, they seem to work.'

The band's debut single, Lovers Ought To, in 2008 was backed by the tune Come On, which was subsequently picked up by Microsoft for its Xbox Kinect TV campaign.

Roary says it gave the band a platform and massive audience base they could never imagine, but it was terrifying seeing it on TV for the first time.

'It was amazing, absolutely surreal. It's one of those moments you don't expect to ever happen, one of those 'oh it only ever happens to other people' situations.'

Rumpus was voted number nine in Artrocker's top albums of the year and kick-started a touring schedule which saw near riots at Latitude and Hamburg's Dockville festivals and hectic live shows with Everything Everything, Darwin Deez, Hurts and CSS.

'Latitude was nerve-wracking but incredible, undoubtedly the best show I've ever played. The experience for us on that stage will be fairly difficult to match again.'

With the first album getting so much praise Roary says the pressure, in some ways, is definitely on for the second — more from themselves than anyone else.

'There wasn't a label pressuring us so it was up to us to really deliver. We knew the flaws we felt in the first album and worked hard to make sure this album was 100% the record we wanted. I'm fairly certain I speak for everyone when I say we've done that.'

The band is quoted as saying 'We're not writing songs as 15-year-olds anymore'.

How does Soap compare to Rumpus are there still those fun moments found on previous tracks? 'The first album was literally that, 15 and 16-year-olds writing scrappy pop songs. Don't get me wrong, I loved writing and performing the songs off of that album, it will never go away; but I think all four of us were ready to move on,' says Roary.

'Our tastes in music have changed, the way we play has changed and overall we've grown up I guess. The new album is still fun, that's a massive part of the Kabeedies. We would stop this band right now if it wasn't fun.

'It's just a more carefully considered album, we spent six-seven weeks last year locked up in the studio with violinists, pianists, saxophonists, all sorts. It's the album we've wanted for a long time.'

What about this idea of Soap being based around the idea of being a catharsis for the band, effectively washing-off what they'd done with Rumpus and starting again; letting them express themselves properly and in a slightly more sophisticated way.

'There was a lot of hang ups for us with the first album and earlier material,' admits Roary.

'We've been playing those songs for almost five years and associate them with a different place from where we are now. Making a brand new record in a completely different way was a brilliant feeling as musicians.'

As well as a launch party for the album, the Waterfront date, which will see the Kabeedies supported by Norwich maths/pop four-piece Olympians, indie rockers Ask Lydia and the post-dystopian electro dramatics of Eyes, also marks the 18th anniversary of Fierce Panda.

Though based in London, the independent label always enjoyed strong links to this region. Over the years they have released tunes by the local likes of KaitO, Magoo, Pistolas and ex-Farmer's Boys types The Great Outdoors. Indeed, they now have a satellite office in Suffolk.

Soap is the Kabeedies first release on the label though seven inch spotters may care to remember that their Treasure Hunting single was released on Panda spin-off label Cool For Cats in 2008.

The new album is a definitely step forward for the band. There are still moments of twitchy pop/punk fun to be had but elsewhere there is also relative calm.

There are touches of Paul Simon's more sombre moods, a flourish of grown up brass here, a touch of morose strings there and some songs with titles like Bones and Drowning Doll. Oh, and then it gets really introspective and weird in Underfloor Lover.

Make sure you don't miss it. It should be some party.

n The Kabeedies play the Waterfront on February 24.

n Soap is out now.

n Further listening: