Eamon From Brakes On Aesop’s Fables And The Lessons They Taught Him

Brakes singer Eamon Hamilton explains why Aesop's Fables offer a lesson for life, even if following them might give you a sore rear...

Aesop’s Fables are still relevant in the modern world

They’re quite dark, all about people betraying you. They’re lessons to watch out for vanity, betrayal, they’re the fundamentals of human behaviour. Brakes are quite a moral band, immoral in a lot of ways, but we’ve got good solid morals about behaviour, and how to treat each other.

Aesop’s Fables are a secular gospel

Aesop’s Fables are a blueprint of how to live, it’s better than the Bible with all its rules. In terms of learning a lesson I think you have to break the rules to truly learn that lesson. Aesop thought that he’d write about these things so he didn’t have to break the rules himself. There’s a danger in being a moralist, because you can easily sound like an arsehole. I have talked about Brakes quite loudly to strangers, going ‘yeah we’re fucking amazing’, and thought ‘oh no, I’m being the guy I wrote ‘Heard About Your Band’ about’. It does have a double edge.

My daughter will be encouraged to read Aesop’s Fables rather than use the internet

These days we’re flooded with so much that everything is hit at once. I find it odd when I see three-year-olds on the computer. Being exposed to this shit as an expectant parent is like, ‘fuck’. Below Bebo there’s Penguin Club, which is Facebook for five-year-olds. You become a little penguin and chat to your little penguin friends. It’s fucked up! Go outside! Learn to ride a bike! It’s tough, you don’t want your kid to be retarded in terms of computer skills – you know, she could be a web programmer and make us rich when we’re retired – I don’t want to inhibit her, but once you’re on the internet it’s all there. I think it’s important that she knows that books are more important than the internet. Books are to be loved, you have a relationship with a book.

Aesop’s fables scared me as a child, and that’s as it should be

I read something earlier about how parents weren’t reading their kids frightening stories, like Little Red Riding Hood. I think it’s wrong to not scare children. Kids believe in ghosts and things like that because they love scaring themselves. What’s that song, ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’? Where it goes ‘here comes the chopper to chop off your head’ – that’s dark! But you see kids singing it, and they love it. I get a bit annoyed when I read about these things are being curtailed.

The Bundle Of Sticks

The moral of that, union gives strength. I was reading these things and trying to find of comparable things in the life of Brakes. When I read that one I thought of when we were in Truck Studios. We were about to break up, basically, it was a year and a half ago. We were fed up, we’d been on the road for four years pretty much solid. We needed some new tunes and decided to rent the Truck Studio, where the festival is. It’s in a barn, and it was freezing, we were all staying in the same room, we didn’t have any entertainment, no telly, we couldn’t listen to music because listening to music when you’re making music is off-putting. We got through it by Mark’s bassline for ‘Don’t Take Me To Space’, we were suddenly united agin, just by a bassline and that energy from having a tune again. We were stronger after that session, and the songs just came.

The Man, The Boy And The Donkey

…Which is where you please all and you please none. On a major label we’d have to rewrite ‘All Night Disco Party’. We still like it, we play it at every gig, but we didn’t want to do it again. I remember Toploader, I know one of them, he’s a really nice chap, a manager down in Brighton. They released ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ six times. They even did a Christmas version, and we weren’t up for that. We were approached by a label called Bodog, which was an internet gambling company that decided to set up a record label. They released the Wu Tang Clang, so it was going to be us and the Clan! It was all a bit weird. The head honcho of Bodog was a bit of a freak, a cult personality kind of chap, and you can see YouTube of him on his boat, hanging out with girls in bikinis. ‘Woah mate, this is your home video, this isn’t a rap video’.

The Dog And The Wolf

I was thinking of the dog and the wolf, where the dog’s chained up and really fat, and the wolf is starving. The dog’s like ‘you can get all you eat here, you just have to wear a chain’, but the wolf says, ‘no, fuck that’. The moral is it’s better to starve free than be a fat slave. In some music contracts there’s an element of having to do what you’re told, so we’ve always steered clear of big fat dogs. We went with Fat Cat because they’re from Brighton and really passionate about weird music. We were quite flattered to be asked, really, because we’re quite a poppy band.

The Fox And The Mask

The outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth reminds me of Marilyn Manson, who we played with in Turkey. We were backstage at a festival, and it was us and The Horrors and The Long Blondes and him. As we were there, there was this building work going on because he’d built himself a backstage within a backstage. It had the Playboy logo outside, and I realised that this is what stars do. They create loads of trouble, because he’s a star. Then you see him and he’s really short, the same size as me, about 5’6”, and he didn’t look too well. And his show was shit. I tried to watch it objectively, but it really was rubbish. It’s obviously consumed him, and it’s sad that he has to act like that all the time.

The Frogs And The Well

The moral is look before you leap. I went sledging this winter with my brother, and hit a tree stump, flew off the sledge and landed on another tree stump. It was such a good hill. We were on tour for that whole snowfall and I missed it all. I grew up in Stroud, in the West Country, and my brother’s ringing up and going ‘I’m fucking sledging’. Every day for seven days I was so pissed off, and on the eighth I bought a ticket home and went to this hill, and on the third run hit a tree stump and bust my arse properly bad. It was millimetres away from my anus.

Don’t always obey Aesop

Sometimes you have to have to just leap before you look, don’t you? When British Sea Power asked me to play keyboards with them I had some work experience at the Guardian, and they said do you want to stay on. And I said well this band British Sea Power have offered me two weeks touring playing keyboards. And the editor said do it, just do it. You’ll only get one opportunity to be in a band.

Brakes new album Touchdown is out now on Fat Cat

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