Q&A with Sub Cultures
South Wales-based indie outfit Sub Cultures have just released their debut self-titled four-track EP via Prank Monkey Records. We were lucky enough to have a Q&A with Kane and Charlie from the band talking about their new material and the music industry as a whole as we enter the post-Pandemic world. You can listen to Sub Culture on Spotify or anywhere else you listen to your music.
1/ Your debut EP is out this week. How was it working with Jack Boston knowing he’s produced for legendary artists like The Cure?
KANE: Working with Jack for me was a very pleasant experience. He’s a genuinely really nice guy and we clicked with him creatively too. He came along to one of our rehearsals when we had finally confirmed the idea we had of going to Rockfield so he could get an idea of our sound we had. Nothing but good words to say about Jack – he’s just great at what he does, and I think he really captured the vibe we were going for with this record.
CHARLIE: Recording with Jack Boston at Rockfield was a very surreal yet surprisingly comfortable experience. Jack was right on-board to experiment with us and worked with us all on finding the right tones for each song. From helping us set up pedalboards in new ways, changing amps, and even working hard with Eric to make sure we had the right drum sound for each song on the EP, Jack has a really good ear for the smallest of musical details. The fact he has worked with The Cure, one of our biggest musical influences, just makes him that much cooler.
2/ What’s your writing and recording process been like during the Covid-19 pandemic in comparison to normal?
KANE: The writing process for us has been pretty strange given the whole Covid situation. Rather than having much more time in our rehearsal space to properly figure things out between us, we were pretty limited to as when and where we could rehearse due to government restrictions. We just had to make the most of what we could get, when we could get it. Recording on the other hand was a really pleasant experience for us being a new band. We had recorded our first two singles in a home studio environment, so being able to go to one of the most historic studios known was a massive thing for us.
CHARLIE: Recording this EP was probably the only time we’ve been able to record in a fairly normal situation as it was between the first and second lockdowns. We’ve recorded songs before just by sending files to each other, but I feel it’s harder to capture the energy we want to bring to our tracks. There are new songs that have been written and are just waiting to be brought to life when we can eventually play them together again. Usually someone, mainly Kane or Lewis, will come up with a base idea for a song and just record themselves and send it through to the rest of the band where we can come up with more ideas to add to it. However, the majority of our songs always change a little bit after we can play them live and experiment with them.
3/ Have you utilised your time during the pandemic to rehearse or has it been more difficult having four of you in the band?
KANE: When we started the band in September/October 2019, we were able to rehearse so frequently without a worry. In hindsight, I’m really glad we made the most of rehearsing and gigging when we could because it has been difficult to rehearse and be creative during Covid, not just for us but for most of the music industry. Things have been different since; we were able to perform two gigs during the pandemic – one in Bristol and another in Birmingham – but all socially distanced. It has been pretty difficult having four of us in the band because there’s been times where people from different households were unable to meet up.
CHARLIE: Trying to rehearse during a pandemic has been the bane of my existence. As we’re all quite scattered about at the moment, in different parts of (technically) different countries it would be very difficult to get us all together. However, with shows being scheduled again, it is looking promising that we could be playing together soon.
4/ Are there any special meanings behind the EP tracks or anything you can say to give people an idea of the path you wanted to take with your music?
KANE: I think to me the EP’s meaning in general shows the progression and development of the band – the EP artwork gives some little hints at this. The music itself has quite a few different meanings within the lyrics and the instrumentation – some more obvious than others – but it was really written for the listener to interpret themselves. Lewis and myself have always tried to write music that provokes question and I think part of the fun of it is leaving some element of mystery.
CHARLIE: Each track is a reflection of how we were feeling at the time and, with a lot of it written during the first lockdown, I believe that it’s a contributing factor as to why the EP has a little bit of a heavier atmosphere than our previous single releases. The meanings of these tracks range from love, loss, friendship and everything in between. With any song we write we try not to repeat ourselves and do the same thing twice. The new songs we are working towards are again going to be slightly different, both from what we’ve previous released as well as to each other; borrowing traits from all kinds of sub genres, but still sounding like Sub Cultures tracks.
5/ How do you feel about the music industry as a whole currently and do you think it’ll bounce back well in a post-pandemic world?
KANE: Personally, I’ve had mixed feelings about the music industry as a whole this year. It’s clearly really been tough for everyone involved but I think the only thing to do given the circumstances is be optimistic and hope for the best. I do believe there will come a day where we will be able to properly enjoy live music again and, when it comes, I know we definitely won’t be taking it for granted!
CHARLIE: The music industry has always been a very difficult industry to crack – and that’s before you throw a global pandemic into the mix. With it being criminally underfunded and, of course, at one stage during the pandemic being told to find new jobs it does bring light to how difficult it can be to be an independent musician or artist. Without the ability to play lots of shows or travel it does limit your ability as a musician to promote your work and/or make money from your music and unfortunately unless you’re someone like Drake, streams aren’t necessarily going to cover the costs of recording or promoting your music that well. We are obviously very grateful though to anyone who’s ever streamed any of our tracks – we appreciate every single play, don’t get me wrong. I think because everyone has been subjected to be without live music for around a year now, people are itching to be able to go to a show or a festival. With festival tickets selling out straightaway after being announced I feel like that’s a good example of people excited to see shows again and hopefully the music industry will come booming back stronger than before with a new found respect and admiration for what we’ve all had to go without for so long.