Sunday 5 July 2015

Interview: 'Flying To The Moon with Harriet Bevan & Jim Swainston of Black Moth'

Black Moth are perhaps not your archetypal support act for a spacey progressive rock act like Amplifier - their sound is more tribal where Amplifier’s is musically expansive . But variety is the spice of life as they say and the Leeds doom rockers – although their charming frontwoman, Harriet Bevan has relocated to the capital – are eternally inflicted with a state of wanderlust; they know the lengths they need to go to in order to get their music out there in front of anyone with an ear for distorted guitars and sharp song writing. And with last year’s excellent ‘Condemned To Hope’ to promote, this tour provides another excellent opportunity to do exactly that. Alongside Manchester Rock’s Mick Birchall, the Sludgelord find a quiet (ish) spot just off Manchester’s bustling Oxford road to talk balloon fetishes, flying to the moon, weed and L7 with the band.  

Mick: So let’s start with the music video for ‘Looner’.  Well let’s say this, I thought I knew what hallucinogenic drugs were until I saw this video.

Jim [Swainston, guitars]: Well you were taking the wrong drugs then.

Harriet: Nah you just don’t need them. Just watch the video

Mick: So does the song and the video come from the same idea or are they even related? Was it just something you wanted to do?

Harriet: It’s a funny thing, because we weren’t really sure on how well it was going to do. Yet, the cool thing is we’ve had a very good response from the “looner” community. A looner is a balloon fetishist. Yeah, they’re a large community and full of awesome people. We’ve only got in touch with them since doing the video, but they’re really happy with it and it’s just really cool. So the song is called ‘Looner’ after those guys.  Yet, the lyrics in the song use the fetish as sort of a metaphor for the masochism of a normal love relationship. So, it’s deep, there’s more to it than boobs and balloons.

Jim: I mean if we can help people get off at the same time, then all is good.
Harriet: Yep, we’ve accidentally made a bit of porn

SL: So, how was the video filmed, was there a lot of green screen involved?

Harriet: Yeah, the video was directed by Ben Foley, who also made the ‘Solid Gold’ video for Turbowolf.  What he did for us, we kinda dubbed “kitchen king drama”.  I think there’s a very weird but pleasant feel to it..  You know, it’s this normal party but there’s this bizarre sexual element to it at the same time.

Jim: Sure.  I was just thinking about coming back from the green screen section, and I was too late.  I didn’t actually get to fly to the moon.

Mick: So that just wasn’t in the budget?

Harriet: Yeah, the label is so tight… They didn’t actually pay to fly Jim to the moon, if you can believe it.  It should have happened. 

SL: I just want to ask about the girl on all fours as the table. Was she actually on all fours as the table for the whole video?

Jim: Yeah, I think it was for about 3 hours.

Harriet: Not quite that but I’m pretty sure she was OK and she had a great time. She deserves a trip to the moon, she was a real trooper. She did what she needed to do perfectly and she got the concept of the video. It worked out pretty well visually as well.

Mick: So you’re almost emulating Turbowolf as far as your stylistic choices?  You know, because their last video for ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ was pretty weird too.

Harriet: We’re all a bunch of weirdos really, We’ve toured with Turbowolf, when we supported them on their first headline run, so we always have fun.  We also had dinner with them, when we went to see them a couple of nights ago in Bristol. Just from that I think we do share a similar deranged aesthetic.

SL: Didn’t you release the video on 4/20?  

Harriet: No, we released the single on 4/20, which is kinda perfect really.  Then we released the video on Iggy Pop’s birthday, that couldn’t have been better.  Everyone is nice and high for the new video.

Jim: It’s just a good job we put “Not Safe for Work” on it. Although some people didn’t read that.  We’ve had some good stories from that actually.  Like people getting fired and people just minimising the screen as far as it would go.

Harriet: The funny thing about it, is that it’s really not that obscene at all. I mean we put “Not Safe for Work” on it. Yet, it’s only porn for people who get off on balloons.  It’s actually very tame if you’re not into that sort of thing.  The awesome thing is the L7 have shared it with all their fans as well, so it’s reaching a whole new set of fans, that we’ll be playing for in June.

Mick: I was going to ask that, how is that feeling, knowing you’ll be supporting them?  As Jim and Dom told me that this was your dream band to tour with.

Harriet:  It’s amazing, just unbelievable. Well I’ve been in touch with them for a few years now because I always wax lyrical about them in interviews. When they knew I was a big fan they got in touch with me, because they like Black Moth as well.  So there’s been a few messages going back and forth with Donita Sparks and I was just happy with, you know being mates. Yet, the fact they asked us to support them on their UK date has just blown my mind. I’m just really excited that they’re reforming, their just such a brilliant band.

SL: So what happened last night in Wolverhampton? Wasn’t it a similar reason you missed Hammerfest last year too?

Harriet: No, the reason we missed Hammerfest, was because we were heading there in two different ways.  The boys were going in the van but I heading there from London.  Then my train got delayed and redirected halfway around the country. It was just a complete disaster. That was just a bit of a horrible day. However, the reason we couldn’t make it to Wolverhampton was plainly because the van just stopped working. At the time we didn’t think it was much.  We just thought “there’s a funny smell”, there wasn’t a big explosion or anything.  Yet, we were sat there for five hours and the band ended up having an interview with XFM on the side of the road.

Jim: We were slowly deciding on where we’d go to the toilet and were we’d all sleep. Just, “this is where we will survive”.

Harriet: Yeh, it all got a bit “Lord of the Flies”

SL: We put a message up on the Facebook, saying we’re doing an interview, any questions.  And people have just come back with bollocks.  So we’ll ask you the worst question we got.  How old can moths get and will they ever be accepted by butterflies?

Harriet: By how old, do they mean Black Moth fans, because they get very old.  In fact by being a Black Moth fan you’re guaranteed to eternal life.  That’s been the secret all along.

SL: One I’ve been ending on and the responses are always good. So, If all all the records in the world are being destroyed which one would you save?

Harriet & Jim together: Iggy and the Stooges - Raw Power.

Mick: So my final question is a bit more serious: What, professionally, is the hardest thing you have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Harriet: For me, it would have been losing my voice.  That was hard because there’s always that pressure to perform and when you’re going on tour. It’s really gruelling on your health. If your voice is screwed it’s going to be difficult.  Playing gigs when you’re not at your best. Some nights I’m raring to go but others the last place I want to be is on stage. Somehow you get up there and you just do it and feed off of everyone’s energy.

Words & Interview: Mick Birchall & SL Weller