Be Glamorous: Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs Interviewed

We talk to the band's frontman in advance of their opening night set at Wire and the Quietus' DRILL:LONDON event tomorrow

Continuing Heavenly Recordings’ knack for signing good guitar bands, Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs are leading the label’s 2013 vanguard. Unlike the psychedelic tendencies of labelmates Toy and Temples, the band are exponents of a fierce, sharp and, crucially, glam sound, equal parts CBGB proto-punk and literate Vic Godard-esque guitar-pop. Frontman Charlie Boyer, formerly of the now-disbanded London trio Electricity In Our Homes, assembled the group last year, only for them to be signed by Heavenly after their first gig. They’ve recently announced their Edwyn Collins-produced debut album, Clarietta, set for release on May 20, which features their new single ‘Things We Be’ – watch it below.

They’re embarking on a month-long UK tour in May, taking in sets at The Great Escape and Field Day, but first they’ll be opening the four-day DRILL:LONDON festival, which Wire have co-curated with the Quietus, with a gig at The Lexington, supported by Malka Spigel and It Hugs Back – click here to buy tickets. Ahead of that, we asked Mr Boyer himself for an introduction to the band.

How did the band come together? How did you set about recruiting people to make, as you say, “primitive, sexy, glamorous rock’n’roll music”?

Charlie Boyer: The idea has always been to keep it primitive and sexy. The only condition to any of the band members was that we had to rehearse a few times a week, I don’t like part-time musicians. The "primitive, sexy, glam…" bit is just a way of approaching the basic songs. It’s something we can bear in mind at any time and we shouldn’t put a foot wrong. It’s a guide to being in the band.

Do you think glam is something that’s been lacking in guitar music? If so, why?

CB: Yes. Well even the genre ‘guitar music’ sounds very bland to me. I wouldn’t accuse any band I like of making it. Especially a glamorous one.

Were there any band names that fell by the wayside before you settled on Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs? Did you put your foot down because of the whole rhyming business?

CB: Yes, there was a whole list of names – we decided on the rhyming one because it was the only one that worked.

What is it about bands and artists like Television, The Modern Lovers and Richard Hell that are so compelling for CB&TV?

CB: I have always been drawn to those bands among others, and when putting the band together I did make an effort to have a similar line up instrumentally… Though I’m easily as excited by a quiet Syd Barrett song, his albums also have the same instruments. I think the idea is less to be compelled by three particular groups and more to be excited by this kind of magical band format. The Velvets were the same. Those bands could go absolutely anywhere with a simple song. That’s what I want The Voyeurs to do.

Can you give us three non-musical influences on the record?

CB: I suppose lyrically… love, confusion and animals.

With Wire being the curators of DRILL, what’s your favourite album by the band?

CB: I would say Chairs Missing, though I think other Voyeurs would say the first one [Pink Flag].

What do you like so much about Heavenly? They’re having a good run with guitar bands at the moment.

CB: I think they are great. I talk to Jeff Barrett most days. We all want the same thing, the bands and the label, so it’s simple really.

What was it like being in the studio with former Heavenly man Edwyn Collins? Did he have any tricks to get the best out of the band?

CB: Essentially we would show Edwyn and his co-producer Seb [Lewsley] the song, and he or I would point out bits we where unhappy about and then we would record it. He really had a lot to say on the tempo the songs where played at, which I think helped a lot. And then after the recording he got to work on his stacks of compressors. The drum sound they can get is beautiful.

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