Lucky for us, Savages are finally coming to our shores. All year this year we've heard about this post-punk quartet from the UK and their subversive style. From etching a 'manifesto' on the cover of their album Silence Yourself, to not allowing cameraphones into concert venues, and producing actual good guitar-based music and thought-provoking lyrics, we get a little curiouser and curiouser each time. Here's our chat with drummer Fay Milton ahead of Laneway Singapore 2014.
What are you up to now?
I'm just at home in London, we all sort of have two hours of interview on the phone. It's quite surreal, it's quite surreal!
Have any of you been to Singapore before?
I have actually! I was stuck in Singapore during the ash cloud incident from the volcano a few years ago. I was on my way back from Borneo, trekking in the jungle and I stopped over in Singapore. It is a beautifully clean place...
It’s been only two years since the band was formed. How are you guys coping with the sudden success towards your debut record?
Perfect! Great, much better than slogging off for years on end. We were really happy with our record turned out and we have been really lucky to have been able to play it all around the world. I wouldn't have it any other way.
You guys have been fiercely independent in maintaining your sound and identity as a band. Do you still believe in the relevance of record labels in the industry today?
Record labels are means to an end really. It's not impossible to be completely DIY but if you're concentrating on making your music necessarily more big scale then it is the means to an end. It won't ever be irrelevant or anything, it's a lot of hard work. It's also a way of grouping musicians together so say if you're part of Pop Noire (record label co-founded by Jenny Beth, vocalist of Savages) or are into the nice ideology behind it, you're branching out and connecting to like-minded musicians, and also artists and designers, whether it is to work together and all. To some extend Matador does this as well. It's a bit like a collective in a way. When you treat it like that, then we need some more 'labels'.
When you guys formed, did you have a clear idea of what sort of music you wanted to do?
When I met Gemma and Jehnny for the first time, they just told me they wanted to play music that was 'loud and fast' so we took off from there. It's certainly been great being here and we work so well together. Gemma and Jehnny have more communication verbally back and forth but we're given some time to think about how we can contribute and all so it's all great.
Most reviews on Savages almost always bring up the whole 'wearing black' thing - what is this all about?
Image should not be the first thing, it's always the music that will come first. People always mention or bring up whether it is deliberate that we always wear black and all but really, I think it's actually to detract from people merely looking at us from the clothes we wear. So besides the music, we'd like to keep it simple and not elaborate. Looks and image - that's not what the message is.
Sufjan Stevens recently came out to criticize the typography of your album’s artwork. Despite his tongue-in-cheek accusations, how important does design play in your band’s overall image?
The album art is really important; I don't think it's necessarily important for what it is, if that makes sense! You know there are so many wonderful album covers that are so different from each other, as long as it is something you're happy with. It has to work for the album in a way so I guess with ours, we really want a picture of ourselves on the front. We're not hiding away or sort of shoegazing, or being abstract. We're pretty much into being right there in the room, being in present, being in the moment.
CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry wrote a powerful piece against the flurry of misogynistic messages she has been receiving. What would you guys do if any of you were to receive similar harassment online?
There's a bit of misogyny everywhere, I don't experience it thankfully and I'm not complaining. I think we've been lucky to have been working with a bunch of pretty nice people so no misogyny there - well, not to us… they'd be too scared! I'm sure there are a lot of people who have experienced it more but we haven't really. People are scared of us more! So that's the kind of the opposite of misogyny I guess!
Name one record which you would've loved to witness the creation of it in the studio and why.
Wow… that's an interesting one, let me think. I can handle this! I find it impossible to say just one but I think it should be pretty enjoyable to be in the studio with Black Sabbath when they were recording anything! It would probably be fun!
What can we expect from your set?
We've got two months off now so we'll have a month off and one month to start writing again. So will definitely have some new material. We are already playing two or three new tracks that are new in our set, they've been part of our setlist already in fact!