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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

The I Like Trains interview: singer Dave Martin answers my Q&A

I Like Trains have been one of my favourite bands for a long long time. After a significant break they're back with a brand new album and tour... as they embark on their UK leg I found out how it's been going so far, and how climate change inspired the lyrics for He Who Saw The Deep.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Illustration of Amelia the lady of the night by Abby Wright coming *******

Vrooosh and we’re in. After a National Express journey from Bristol at 4.10pm we arrived immersed in the mighty traffic of London. From tweet updates, check information pills I was aware that the Amelia’s Magazine London team had spent the morning working hard whilst we’d been at work.

 Gareth A Hopkins Mattt Bramford

The lovely Matt Bramford, pharmacy Amelia’s Fashion Editor working hard with a smile. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Getting off the beloved bus, we tubed to Bethnal Green Road, missing our bikes with all our hearts after we discovered we had got off at the wrong tube stop and had to walk the length of the road. When we got to 110 -ish I put on my heels and immediately inflicted a new set speed of slow on us. Then after apparently vacantly walking past the venue, we about turned and eventually arrived at 123 Bethnal Green Road at 8pm. And there we are- in.

Illustration on its way of 6 Day Riot ******

It’s buzzing and I can see the feathered headdress and hear the sound of glorious music coming from the stage. 6 Day Riot are on stage and everyone is loving it. “Drink!” Vodka O flowing, blue bottled Adnams beers in hand – mutter to Charlie, he can’t hear me, the walls are bright and the buzz is loud. But we are smirking at each other, as the swirl of this internal world is clearly alleviating our hours of bus lethargy. There are beautiful outfits from where I want to know, and make up perfection. I’m loving the wedges, flowing skirts, vintage fabrics and beautiful piled up and flowing hair. Breathing art of their own kind, everyone I want to know and only until midnight to do it. Um, let’s CHAT. Ze atmosphere is perfect for le chat… Bonjoir…

helboyf3

Charlie and I by Abby Wright – This illustration was a present for our families (I know) – but now you can see Charlie us both. In art form!

I meet Jess Furseth because we are looking at each other like we know each other, but don’t. It’s like online friend dating. How could this all go minus the screen? It’s fine of course. We natter about the world then pop downstairs with my curly haired man. There we meet Hannah Bullivant and her husband. Chat, chat, banter, banter – her husband is from Jersey too. Cue lots of Jersey yabbering then Jess, Hannah and I discuss the power of the WORD etc. There are tea cups about the place from earlier’s tea, cake and illustration session, and a comfy Chesterfield sofa for a second of sitting. This is when I briefly meet Amelia’s Dad. It’s all in the eyes! Lovely man.

Picture of moi by Akeela

Boosh and we’re chatting outside. Banter, banter. Then downstairs and the Lily Vanilli cake is being cut. I have a bite of Charlie’s and the white chocolate and sweet cake melts like pink heaven in my mouth. He swipes it away from my chops. Chat, chat. “Hello Amelia!” She’s wearing an amazing cape and gorgeous shoes. So nice to see her. “Fabulous PARTYY!”

ACOFI cake illustration by Danielle Shepherd

CAKE! by Danielle Shepherd. Made by Lily Vanilli.

Chat to a couple of bloggers and see some of the splendid illustrators I speak to everyday. Everywhere I turn is enthusiasm and love for ART! Whilst Charlie is talking about his hair (apparently) to a table of chaps, I corner an illustrator with a goodie bag. I didn’t get one, but those who did had a Tatty Devine necklace, Dr Hauschka products, Pukka tea, a Moleskin notebook and other goodies in their possession. Jealous.

Gareth A Hopkins Sallly Mumby Croft copy

Ex-Fashion Editor of Amelia’s, Sally Mumby- Croft snapping away. Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Squeal at Matt Bramford before spending the rest of the evening throwing shapes with Chazaroo, Hannah, her husband and the lovely Jess. C.L.A.S.S.I.C. tunes are spun out from The Pipettes and the Mystery Jets DJ. We take breaks outside and before long it all becomes a spinny blur of joy.

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

The Pipettes by Avril Kelly

MattBramford_ACOFI_280111_430
Stylish people dancing, picture by Matt Bramford

dancing

Hannah Bullivant in the thrust of a move.

It would have been super to have chatted to EVERYONE, but to be honest I adored spending the evening with three fantastic new (now real-life – that’s right writers and Jersey 2) friends. That’s what it was about for me, relaxed fun and an appreciation for the creative and beautiful. I’m proud to be a part of Amelia’s Magazine and all who sail in her.

I Like Trains by Gemma Smith
I Like Trains by Gemma Smith.

You are currently on a very extensive tour: what prompted the decision to do such a big tour?
The best way to promote an album is to get out there and play it to as many people as possible. We’ve done more extensive tours than this in the past, cheapest so we know we have it in us. It can be hard work, pharm but also a lot of fun. I guess we must be a pretty good live band as we’ve always had the ability to win over an audience. We’ve been playing together for 6 years, adiposity and it feels like we continue to improve as a band.

I Like Trains by Calico Charlotte Melton
I Like Trains by Calico Charlotte Melton.

You pride yourself on being “fiercely independent” – which was one of the things that first attracted you to me. Why do you think it is so important to take control of your own destiny?
I think it comes naturally to us now. You can sit and wait to be discovered, or you can get out and make the first steps on your own. Pretty soon the second and third steps will become obvious too. Coming from Leeds has helped in this respect, with bands before us making a success on their own terms. It showed us the way.

Why has it taken so long to get your second album finished? What have you been up to?
The main reason for this record taking so long to be released is that our label Beggars Banquet ceased to exist. We spent some time talking to other labels, but decided that we would be best served to release it ourselves. All of this took a lot of time. We also spent a while developing a new sound for the record.

I Like Trains by Karolina Burdon
I Like Trains by Karolina Burdon.

You made the album through an innovative pledge system. Can you tell us a bit more about this process?
Pledge Music is a website which facilitates fan funding of an album. We set ourselves a monetary target for what we needed in order to set up our own record label and release the album. We came up with a number of incentives for people to Pledge on, signed copies of the album, hand illustrated lyrics books, access all areas passes to gigs etc. The key thing about the Pledge system over some other fan funding initiatives is that no money exchanges hands until the target is reached and the album is guaranteed to be released. We were also keen to offer people value for money. The response we got when we went live completely blew us away. We weren’t entirely sure if anyone cared about us anymore, but we reached our target in about 24 hours and over 800 people went on to put their hard earned money into an album they hadn’t heard.  

I Like Trains by Rukmunal Hakim
I Like Trains by Rukmunal Hakim.

Has it been hard to do everything yourself? what are the hardest things about this approach and what are the most rewarding?
It has been hard work. It’s been a steep learning curve to release our record on our own label, and that has been the most difficult thing. Not knowing exactly what steps to take to get it into shops. I also feel as if there is some sort of stigma in releasing a record on your own label. Some people seem to perceive releasing a record via the more traditional record company route as a mark of quality control, and that fan funding bypasses that. For me it is a much more democratic model. If there is an appetite for a record then it will get produced whether or not one or two money men at a record label think they can make some money out of it. It is extremely rewarding to see the album in record shops all across Europe, and to know that it is down to our hard work and the faith of our fans.

I Like Trains by Jess Holt
I Like Trains by Jess Holt.

What is current single A Father’s Son about?
It is about population pressure. I don’t want to say too much as I’m keen for people to draw their own conclusions, but the record as a whole is looking at the future for the human race. I did a fair bit of research into the science of climate change, and took my inspiration from that.

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Where was the video shot? It looks cold. And who is the kid?!
It was shot on the North Yorkshire coast around Saltburn. To be honest we didn’t have a great deal to do with the video. It was done by a company called Progress Films. We’d been admiring their work for a little while so trusted them to do a good job. They sent a few treatments over to us, we made some tweaks and then left them to it. We were pleased with the result.

Illustration by Sarah Matthews
Illustration by Sarah Matthews.

You released a solo album last year (which I haven’t heard) – how did this go down? and how does promoting a solo album fit in with promoting a group album too – is he supporting the band on tour?!
I’ve been asked about this a few times. This was an April Fool’s joke by our fan site: www.thisgreenandpleasantland.com. I think it says that it includes a Britney Spears cover. I have as yet, not done a Britney Spears cover! *the cheek!*

How did you choose support for your tour, and in particular Napoleon IIIrd of whom I am a big fan too?
Well it is as simple as us being big fans of his too. We were very pleased that he could do it. He actually went to the same school as Guy and I did in Evesham, Worcestershire. We didn’t really know him back then as we were in different years, but we recognised him when we got to Leeds. It’s a small world.  

I Like Trains by Bryony Crane
I Like Trains by Bryony Crane.

You lost a band member in Ashley Dean, do you think you might work with him on any new videos? Are the rest of you involved in other creative projects too? and if so what?
I would never say never. We’re still in touch with Ashley and its great to see him doing so well with his videos. Guy has taken on the graphic design for I LIKE TRAINS now.  

You seem to have become slightly less introspective in new album He Who Saw The Deep, and are looking to the future rather than the past. What prompted this change of perspective? 
It was just a desire to keep challenging ourselves, to keep things fresh and exciting. We didn’t want to make the same album twice. For the first 4 or so years as a band we worked hard to create an identity. With HWSTD we took all of that and turned it on its head. We’re happy that it still sounds like an I LIKE TRAINS record, and it has given confidence to continue developing and evolving.

YouTube Preview Image

You released a free download just before xmas – a cover of Wham’s Last Christmas. Why did you decide to cover this song? And did you have trouble keeping a straight face whilst you were recording it? I imagine it might have been a bit hard to do in a po-faced manner!!
It was fun. Again something we almost certainly wouldn’t have done 3 years ago. We were asked to contribute something to the Leeds Music Scene advent calendar. It was a few days before December so we knocked the cover out very quickly. We chose it because underneath all the sleigh bells and fake tan there was a certain darkness. We had a great reaction from it.

Where are you now? and how is the European leg faring… any highlights so far?
We are somewhere between Milano and Ravenna dodging some flamboyant Italian traffic! The tour has been fantastic, exceeding our expectations. There seems to be a certain momentum for the record in Europe, and an appetite for I LIKE TRAINS that we haven’t really had on previous trips. The highlight for me was the Botanique in Brussels. A sold out show at one of our favourite venues in the world. Everything seemed to come together for that gig.

Why should people come and see you on tour when you reach the UK?
That’s not really for me to say, but we can promise to give it our all and thousands of people across mainland Europe would probably back me up on this one.

The new album He Who Saw The Deep was one of my favourite albums of 2010. I Like Trains begin the UK leg of their tour today: and continue right on through to the 10th of March. Our full tour listing can be found here.

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