* Photo - Simon Parfrement
Nottingham outfit Rattle have been making huge strides with their duelling drums and vocal performance up and down the country lately. After seeing them a few times this year I had to know more about them, so here we are, a few questions shared with Rattle, if you've not had a chance yet check them out FACEBOOK & BANDCAMP or try and catch them at a show - totally worthy of your time!
Hi – after some digging I couldn’t find much in the way of interviews on Rattle so thought I’d kick this off with some ‘get to know you’ questions, how do you know each other? I want to know about the start of Rattle!
KB: This is the first interview!
Theresa and I both live in Nottingham; we’d both lived in Nottingham for quite a few years playing in other bands before we became friends. First of all we got together to trade music skills – the plan was that I would teach Theresa to play the guitar, and she would teach me to play drums. But instead Rattle happened.
TEZ: There was a period where I’d often go out and recognize people that were going to the same gigs, with the same coats on, week after week for about a year. It took a while before we started chatting and became friends, and fairly soon after we started making music.
Did you have a goal in mind when you started Rattle? Is there something you want to achieve from this project?
KB: Rattle happened very organically, almost by mistake. I had a sneaking hope that maybe Theresa and I might make some good, worth pursuing music with me playing guitar and her playing drums, but all of sudden we were playing something that become the song ‘Boom’. It was very clear right from the start that we didn’t need anything else but the drums and voices. In terms of what we want to achieve or a goal - we both wanted to make an album, which is something we have very almost done, and I think we just wanted to play as many gigs as possible, and get out and about.
TEZ: When we started playing we were just working out how different rhythms worked together; they didn’t feel like songs until Katy added some vocals and we started structuring them. A lot of people asked if we were going to add any additional instruments, but it never felt like there was any space or need for anything else and it felt really freeing to focus on what people might overlook as ‘the backing track’, and to be really attentive and creative with that. I think Rattle’s also partly a response to hearing bands cluttering their sound with too many changes or instruments, I find that sometimes turns me off a bit and paring things down can be much more exciting.
Bit of a straight forward question, but to get some background on Rattle I was wondering what kind of drummers you are drawn to?
KB: I am always drawn to anything that seems to me to be different and unusual. I’m really lucky to have met and have played with most of my favourite drummers, Charles Hayward of This Heat, Katherina Bornefeld of the Ex, Sayaka Himeno of Nisennemondai, Jim White of Dirty Three, Yoshimi P-We of Boredoms.
I also love Chris Corsano, Ringo….
TEZ: All of the above – I guess we’re both drawn to un-flashy, percussive drummers who can give a different feel to the song, I’d add to that list Mick Fleetwood.
On your Facebook page it says Theresa is ‘highs’ and Katharine is ‘lows’, I don’t play the drums could you outline what you both take charge of when you’re writing/performing?
KB: Theresa is highs, ie: high hat, cymbals, cowbell, snare, but also the low low floor tom. I am lows, which is the bass drum, toms, and snare.
I suppose it is a bit like a band with two guitarists sharing one set of guitar strings between two guitars.
Can you talk about the song ‘Starting’? It’s really stuck in my head!
KB: Starting started with a Theresa rim beat, and I came in with the bass drum and the toms. I think on that one I was trying to be purposefully awkward in the best sounding of ways, to go against Theresa’s beat as much as I could in the catchiest way possible. Awkward and catchy are definitely two things I think I try to get involved in as many songs as possible.
Tez: It’s got a stop and start to it that is a bit cheeky, I really like stop/start or false endings, you enjoy the song so much you’re a bit sad when it ends, then it comes back again and you’re extra excited! It’s a good positive mantra of a vocal line.
How long does it take to complete a song, and how do you get started?
KB: We start with an idea, something that is made up on the spot or something that might have popped into my head in down times at a Kogumaza (the other band I play drums in) practice or through Theresa’s practicing. I write the vocal melodies and words, sometimes whilst playing in our practice room and more often later when I am driving in my car listening to practice recordings. It depends how complete and how good the starting point is I suppose. Some songs have become quite full in the first few minutes or even seconds of playing them, and we’ve been able to play them live after a few rehearsals and keep them growing slowly like mould. But some have needed some real elbow work to bend into shape.
TEZ: It’s really easy to get together and make a beat/riff that works well, but it takes a while to get it structured so it resembles a song. There are also loads of things that might be changed or added when we’re recording so it doesn’t feel fully complete until we’ve finished that stage. We’ve had stuff knocking around for a couple of years now that are finally coming into their finished form.
To my ears at least Rattle reminds me a bit of Talk Normal – do you know that band? What do you make of that comparison?
KB: I’ve seen Talk Normal once before, I do remember really enjoying them, particularly the performance aspect, definitely something quite natural and raw about them which I think is something I hope we do have in Rattle, even without the distortion and the dirty sounds you can get out of a guitar.
TEZ: I hadn’t heard about them at all until you mentioned them but now I’ve heard them I like them, so thanks.
How do you feel about being compared to other bands in general – is it weird? Do think it helps or hinders trying to get people to form an idea of what your sound is like?
KB: I think we are very lucky in Rattle and it happens very little. We often get told “I’ve never seen anything like that before” or “I haven’t seen anything like that for twenty years” which to me is very exciting and flattering. Do we want to see things we’ve seen before? It’s much more exciting to see something you can’t place. It’s Starting! Rattle would probably be quite difficult for the lazy journalist. We’ve been compared to The Raincoats a few times, The Slits, The Melvins and The Sugarcubes. Lots of ‘The’ bands!
TEZ: It’s been great generally as people don’t really know what to compare us to; we sometimes get some slightly off the wall comparisons which is flattering and a good way to find new stuff (as in your last question).
How long have you been playing live? It felt like you’d been doing it for some time during the shows I’ve been to this year
KB: We’ve been playing live since 2012. We like to play live with Mark Spivey, also from Kogumaza, who adds effects from the desk.
TEZ: We started playing live quite soon after we started and we’ve been lucky enough to get offered some really great, interesting gigs when we only had a few ideas put together. I think we’ve really developed what we do as a direct result from playing live and we would have gone in a totally different, probably much duller, direction if we hadn’t been able to get out of the house. When you rehearse you know you can always stop and start again if you make a mistake, you can think too much, but there’s loads of good pressure and good mistakes that come out of playing live that keep things fresh.
As a relatively new band I was wondering, do you find performing live is something to develop as you play more, or does the chemistry between you two feel spot on and it just works?
KB: We’re definitely getting more comfortable playing live the more that we play. We don’t put on much of a show, but I think people find it interesting to watch the interplay between the two drums. I’d like to develop the ‘live show’ aspect of Rattle, we are both visual artists too and love making films and I think there is a lot we could do with that, and lights, and reflections, but at the moment the most important and fun thing for me certainly is playing the drums and singing, so any Rattle time we have is focused on that!
TEZ: We just work on the songs and getting them right, it’s good to give the impression when we play that we’ve totally improvised everything in the moment, but in reality we’re usually counting numbers and hoping we get the changes in time. As we’ve played more and more though we definitely feel more comfortable with just responding to what each other are doing, a lot of the time it feels like we’re carrying a tea-set on a tight-rope, but that’s when we can play the best gigs.
What’s been the most memorable show you’ve played?
KB: We were incredibly happy to invite Charles Hayward (This Heat) up to Nottingham to play at our EP launch at a Nottingham gallery space last year. His set was amazing and he’s a really incredible and inspiring person. We also worked with Jim Boxall, a visual artist who created some film projections for our set which worked really well.
TEZ: We played with The Ex a couple of times last year and that was awesome as they were so great, just so energetic and inspiring.
Who have been your favourite bands to play with?
KB: Charles Hayward, The Ex, Obits, Sauna Youth, Xylouris White, Richard Dawson
TEZ: … Konono no. 1, Sleaford Mods, The Wharves
If you could choose a line up to be on, any band, any era, which 3 bands would you like to share a bill with?
KB: Oh my. I like to dance after we’ve played. So:
Joy Division, B52s (circa 1979), Moondog
TEZ: Talking Heads, David Bowie, New Order
Are there any bands you’d like to play with that are around now?
KB: We have been very lucky, a lot of my dreams have already come true in this respect.
TEZ: ESG, Earth, Cate Le Bon, there’s lots
What’s the most memorable show you’ve been to?
KB: Neurosis at Dudley JBs in 1999. They were a physical force!
Tez: Thee oh sees at the Leeds Brudenell 2013
TEZ: Nottingham has a huge collection of talented people who are doing really interesting things, completely unrelated to each other artistically but socially connected and really supportive. It’s really uncomplicated and inexpensive to put a gig on at the Chameleon, JT Soar, or Stuck On A Name, and have amazing sound quality and people who really, really look after you and love independent music.
All of this isn’t necessarily represented by the way the music scene is sometimes marketed, which is often represented by someone trying to make out there’s a certain ‘sound’ or to push for a no. 1 single, that sometimes feels at odds with people making a really independent and diverse scene that’s frequently amazing.
What was the first album that really made an impact on you?
KB: Nirvana, Nevermind. That bit on Drain You with the build-up. Suddenly just listening to music was never going to be enough!
TEZ: This question has set off a BLUR (arf) of 90’s album listening and it’s hard to pin-point just one, but in terms of thinking about playing music I remember listening the Stone Roses 1st album and thinking I’d like to play the drums, Reni had such intricacies and riffs, what an ace drummer!
What’s coming up for Rattle so readers know what to try and catch – shows, recorders etc!
TEZ: We’re playing Cops and Robbers summer bash in Leeds Wharf Chambers on 24th July, and at the tramlines fringe festival at the Picture House Social Sheffield on 25th July, in Manchester on 1st August and the double dot bash festival on 12th September http://www.doubledotbash.net/. We’re finishing off recording and mixing our first album and we’re hoping to put together some kind of tour in the autumn.