, March 22nd, 2013 10:21
With a headline set at The Lexington for Wire and the Quietus' DRILL:LONDON festival tonight, and second album You Owe Me Nothing But Love recently released, we talk to the capital's fiercest trio
Formed in 2005 by drummer/vocalist Akiko Matsuura and guitarist Simon Petrovitch, Comanechi are one of the most exciting bands to have emerged from the UK underground in the last decade. Their exhilarating noise rock attack and combustible live performances in support of the likes of Gossip, Blood Red Shoes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs were as attention-grabbing as their killer clutch of limited edition 7” releases. Their 2009 album Crime Of Love was a remarkable full length debut, equal parts noise pop damage and sludge doom worship – a combination that never fails to make friends.
Having expanded their line-up to a lethal power trio with the addition of Charlie Heaton on drums, Comanechi set to work on their follow up. Released on Valentine’s Day by Tigertrap Records, You Owe Me Nothing But Love is a bold, muscular beast of an album, saturated with stadium-sized riffs and a seductive rock & roll allure that is theirs alone to conjure. Ahead of their appearance at Wire’s DRILL:LONDON festival at The Lexington tonight - get hold of tickets here - we talk to Comanechi about the new album and their recent Japanese tour in support of Bo Ningen.
How long did the songwriting process take for this new album?
Akiko Matsuura: It was a long journey, like one step forward, two steps back and three steps forward, over and over again. But in the end the writing and recording process was just about right to get the album how we wanted to sound.
Simon Petrovitch: For You Owe Me Nothing But Love songwriting and recording were part of the same process. Between June 2011 and August 2012 we recorded around 20 tracks across four two day sessions. What works best for us is to write four or five songs, demo them until we're happy, and then do the main tracking in a live room over two days. Then we lay down another four or five songs when they’re ready. We only take the best tracks to completion with overdubs and mixing. So - it was like an eight-day session spread over a year. This method works better for us than booking ourselves into a studio for a week and expecting a great album to have popped out by the end.
What were the differences (if any) between your approach to You Owe Me... and "Crime Of Love?
SP: The tracks on the first album were written for us to play live - as a two-piece. We played the hell out of them and then recorded them just as we performed them. For You Own Me... we wanted to evolve the writing and make an album that takes you on a journey. We added a Prologue and Epilogue so you enter a warm and enclosing world of Comanechi, and leave it shattered and broken.
AM: Yes, we spent more time developing and selecting the sound. Lyrically, it’s not just letting my anger out anymore. Before, my lyrics were a bit disguised because I was still shy sharing my honest feelings. Now I’m more confident and open with my lyrics.
You're now signed to the London-based independent label Tigertrap Records. How did this come about?
AM: We were looking for a label in the UK and wanted to work with someone we felt positive about. Tom [Edwards], the head of the label, really liked Comanechi and was very eager to work with us. Very quickly it all came into place, as a label they are very efficient and supportive.
It's been over a year since you became a three-piece outfit. What changes did this necessitate and how differently do you now feel as a group?
AM: Simon and I were already talking about having a drummer after the first album came out so I could get from behind the kit. We are so pleased that to have Charlie, he fits in perfectly and we feel like we've found our missing piece. The first album was recorded how it is live, but on the second album we put in over-dubbed guitars, so I’m now able to play the missing guitar parts that are needed live.
How has the internal dynamic of Comanechi changed over the past decade? What fires you all up as a band?
SP: We still love making music and expressing ourselves through Comanechi! Picasso said all children are artists but stop creating when they grow up. I’ve just not stopped buying records, playing guitar and soldering together distortion pedals since I was a kid.
What have you most enjoyed about your recent tour of Japan? Do you have any plans to visit other countries on tour this year?
SP: I found a domestic violence arcade game called Cho Chabudai Gaeshi ('Super Table-Flip') in Tokyo! You lay waste to furniture in either a domestic, office or cocktail party environment. With the flat of your hand you flip a hinged plastic coffee table at a screen displaying your loved ones or co workers who are initially ignoring you. The more force you use the higher the score and more devastating the mayhem that ensues. I scored the fifth highest ever on that machine first go. I highly recommend it.
Charlie Heaton: It’s been my first time in Japan and the whole trip has been a totally alien experience for me. And what an experience it has been. One of the highlights has to be finding a new skill of mine. In Shinjuku we were staying at Mon-Chan from Bo Ningen's friend’s apartment. She happened to own a bar not far from there. It was there I learnt about the Japanese toy kendama. Turns out I’m really good at it. I’m hoping to try out for the kendama champion event next year. Also Yuki [Tsujii] from Bo Ningen and I went to a public bath in Nagoya just before the show. I couldn’t believe it when I saw an elderly Japanese man stick his testicles into an electric pool. His face didn’t even flinch. That has to be one of the strangest sights on the tour. Besides this the tour in general was really fun. All of Bo Ningen were so nice. Japanese fans are really crazy and kind. I’d love to return with Comanechi again, hopefully this year.
I think that 'Major Move' and 'Dream Of Dream' make Comanechi one of the best singles bands of the 21st century - what do you feel are the key ingredients of a great single?
AM: I guess the key ingredients for us are start with massive riffs, splash in a good vocal melody and season with attitude. I have the attitude that if it doesn’t exist in the temporal world… it doesn’t really exist at all. And writing the perfect single is my all-time ambition. It’s the ultimate expression of pop sensibility.
Is there a chance that you might release a compilation of all your singles releases in the future?
AM: You never know what’s in store for Comanechi, so we’ll just have to leave you wondering…
Akiko, how do you feel to have left the drums behind (for live shows at least) to become a full-time front woman?
AM: I still love drumming, but I was frustrated by being stuck behind the kit in Comanechi, I wanted to communicate with the audience better by me physically getting out and going mental. Also, I wanted to concentrate on my singing.
Charlie, what has the last year been like as the newest member of Comanechi?
AM: I’ve swapped hanging around with teenage douchebags for hanging out with other douchebags. In all seriousness, it’s been incredible. From leaving college - not that I attended that often - to touring with the likes of Gossip and Bo Ningen, and within a month of joining the band playing in front of over 3,000 people, it’s been pretty mental. I didn't expect it. Also I found out I live on the same street as Akiko which is pretty handy. I know that if I wanna go party it’s always five minutes away from my door.
Simon, what gives you the most satisfaction as a guitar player?
SP: Two or three shows into a tour my fingers suddenly become automatic. It’s like my guitar plays itself - so I can start adding bits. And I can look up and see the chaos going on around me.
Lastly, what can Comanechi fans expect from you in 2013?
AM: The world will be a better place now Comanechi are back!