Rogues Interview at KOKO
The fast-paced world of media is intrinsically unpredictable, so it’s hardly surprising that I only discover I’m to interview Rogues just hours before I’m due to leave the office. Having enquired about recording equipment, I’m told that almost the entire supply of Spoonfed dictaphones is on loan to various contributors. ‘How do you feel about going old school?’ Joe asks me, before producing what appears to be a huge, black, plastic brick. ‘This thing’s cool. My dad used it to interview Richard Nixon.’ Wow. That is pretty impressive. But I’m nonetheless not too keen on lugging it around KOKO with me.
Fortunately, Jonathan comes to my rescue and offers me his impressively small and lightweight (ergo handbag-friendly) digital recorder (which later loses its wow factor somewhat when Jonathan informs me it was found in a skip). ‘Batteries?’ ‘Should last for at least an hour.’ Marvellous. I still decide to use the record facility on my phone as a back up though – you know, just in case.
The interview is pretty well attended. As well as vocalist/guitarists Pearse MacIntyre and Sam James, I’m joined by fellow Spooner Tom, photographer Elena Legakis and Rogues’ manager Ross Grady. With the various recording devices strategically placed around the room, we’re ready to begin.
GT: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. You’ve only been together as a band since August, but you’re doing pretty well so far. You’ve been on tour with Iglu & Hartly and you already have a single under your belt. What would you say the highlight’s been so far?
PM: We did a Steve Lamacq Radio One Live Session about a month after our first gig. We didn’t really know how to play together by that point. It was the highlight because we didn’t expect it. I think we’ve improved a lot since then. That was a pretty cool moment.
SJ: Tonight should be a highlight I think.
PM: Yeah we like The Virgins so we’re looking forward to seeing them live.
GT: How do you feel about Club NME? It tends to provoke extreme reactions at both ends of the scale.
PM: Well it depends where it is really. KOKO is quite cool. It’s kind of the epitome of NMEness.
SJ: We played at Club NME in Derby last night and it was completely different. There wasn’t any sort of NME vibe at all really.
GT: How would you describe the NME vibe?
PM: Well, you know, kind of like a young crowd.
SJ: Yeah there were these old funk fellas playing. The crowd didn’t even stick around to see us and they drunk all our beer. It was probably the worst gig we’ve ever done, but everything else we’ve done NME-wise has been good. The NME Shockwaves tour was good.
GT: What was it like going on tour with Iglu & Hartly?
SJ: They were good fun.
GT: Do you have any interesting tour stories?
PM: Yeah a couple but I don’t know if they’re broadcastable. (They mention something about ‘Tigger’ and laugh knowingly.) Jarvis is very much a pushing force and always makes sure something happens. I think we learnt a lot from their shows, especially about engaging with the audience.
SJ: Yeah he was telling me about looking at the crowd and saying that you should hold the gaze of a girl for 20 seconds, and then move on and hold the gaze of another girl for 20 seconds and then you hold the gaze of a boy for 10 seconds.
PM: Yeah, we learnt a lot from their live shows. After the first time we played with them we couldn’t go on and be boring after seeing them because they kind of left everyone worn out. We haven’t particularly learnt anything from them musically, but more in terms of energy and stuff like that.
GT: You released your debut single a couple of weeks ago. How do you think that went?
SJ: Good so far, it got in the NME’s ‘10 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week’.
RG: Yeah and it’s sold out. Pretty much.
GT: There were 300 vinyl copies right?
RG: Yeah it will be sold out next week.
PM: It’s been getting lots of good reactions. It’s kind of dependent on airplay how widely known it is, but everyone who’s heard it either likes it or doesn’t have the balls to say they don’t.
SJ: And on this tour we’ve been on just now there have been a few places where there have been kids singing along and afterwards it turns out they’ve downloaded it, which I was impressed with – that we’ve been making waves with random kids. I wasn’t expecting that at all.
GT: I hear ‘Not So Pretty’ is autobiographical. So are you quite ugly on the inside?
PM: Yeah. I don’t know about the other three, but I know that he (Sam) is minging on the inside. But it’s not really specifically about me or Sam. It just comes up on me subconsciously. I never really write about specific things, or very rarely. There is a long story behind the lyrics but it’s too ridiculous to get into. It involves a show with Hulk Hogan in it.
GT: Er, OK. We don’t really have time for that. But you are quite pretty as a band in general. Is that something you work on? Is image important to you?
PM: I suppose so. You need to have some kind of unified visual thing. I’ve started putting this band around my head in an attempt to look cool.
GT: So out of the five of you, who takes the longest to get ready?
PM: (Turns to Sam) It’s probably you actually. He’s always the last out of the Travel Lodge.
SJ: I like to think that’s because I’m checking that all the rooms are empty.
GT: A lot of critics (er, including me) have compared your sound to Foals. How do you feel about that?
PM: It’s not mathematical like Foals. We don’t use anything computerised. There’s no sequencing or anything. I do like Foals but I think the general feeling you get from our music is different.
SJ: I can understand why people compare us to Foals – there are a few songs that have that angular guitar playing but I think a lot of the other songs are quite different.
GT: So how would you describe your music?
PM: Weird pop.
GT: OK. As individuals you have quite eclectic taste in music. I heard one of you is into UK Garage, someone else likes Wu-Tang Clan and someone else likes The Clash…
PM: Yeah it was Pat who was into Garage. I don’t think he is anymore.
SJ: No it was just a flippant comment.
PM: Yeah he’s got the hump with me about saying that. But he was actually quite into it.
SJ: I like The Clash, Led Zeppelin and I’m getting into stuff like Depeche Mode as well and other bands that we’ve been told that we sound like.
PM: Yeah people have said we sound like Duran Duran so I’ve started listening to them just to see what they sound like.
TJ: You’ve never heard Duran Duran?
PM: Well only the song ‘Girls on Film’ but that was it. So I wanted to check them out because I kept hearing people say we sound like them.
GT: On that note, your sound does have an ’80s tinge and your video is really ’80s.
PM: Yeah, that means it’s cheap though. It wasn’t intentional. We did on a budget of £40 or something.
GT: Did you have much input?
PM: It was done by a friend of ours. He asked us for ideas but because of the budget we couldn’t really think of anything that would work, so we just decided to hang all this shit.
GT: Like Foals.
RG: It’s influenced by a 1988 short film by David Lynch.
SJ: Yeah David Lynch. That was the influence.
RG: It’s just coincidental that Foals happened to do it too. I read somewhere that someone said it was like Foals…
GT: Er, yeah that was me.
RG: Oh yeah. Well it’s more interesting than Foals.
GT: Right. So it’s just a coincidence that Foals happened to do it first.
Pearse mumbles something about The Smiths. I don’t quite catch what he says.
GT: Oh The Smiths. They’re Tom’s favourite band.
PM: Yeah they’re one of my favourite bands too.
TJ: Are you a Morrissey or a Marr fan?
PM: I don’t like Morrissey on his own particularly, but you can’t have one without the other when it comes to The Smiths.
SJ: I’m into both of them.
GT: What’s the most bizarre thing you’ve requested in a rider?
PM: We haven’t really requested anything. We don’t really get riders.
GT: You don’t get riders? Surely you did on the NME Shockwaves tour?
PM: No the NME tour was the worst. Useless. We don’t really ask for anything specific.
GT: OK, well if you did, what would you ask for?
SJ: A beautiful woman.
GT: You’re not the first person to have said that. Can you think of anything original?
GT: I’ve seen socks in someone’s rider before. Anything else?
PM: A monkey. Has someone said that?
EL: I’m pretty sure Bloodhound Gang requested a monkey once.
PM: Er, cash?
GT: OK we’ll go with that. So three of you are brothers. Do you have any interesting childhood stories you can share?
PM: Yeah plenty. Frog used to play the guitar when he was really small.
GT: Why’s he called Frog?
PM: Because there used to be a children’s programme we used to watch about a caterpillar called Frog and John was a baby at the time and he kind of looked like a caterpillar so we used to call him that.
TJ: What’s it like for those people in the band who aren’t part of the family?
SJ: I used to live in the family home…
PM: Yeah so he’s part of the family anyway, and Pat just lives down the road and he’s always at our house. We’re kind of always together.
SJ: Going on tour isn’t any change really because we’re used to sleeping in the same bedroom anyway.
PM: We all rehearse in the shed in my garden. So it’s fine. We’re all used to being together a lot. Three of us sleep in the same room.
SJ: It’s a big household. Pearse has an older brother and Frog has a twin sister.
PM: There are 10 of us in total, but it’s cool man. You kind of learn how to not get in each other’s way, so we’re used to the tour environment.
GT: OK. Well I think we have far too much. Thanks again for your time. I look forward to seeing the show.
I pick up the dictaphone. The battery has died. I have no idea how much it has recorded. No matter, I still have my phone. I check that too. It’s stopped recording. FAIL. I begin to panic. ‘You’re going to love me’ says Elena as she whips out her portable tape recorder. ‘I pressed record as I came in.’ Yes, I do in fact love her. ‘This always happens to people with digital recorders. Everyone makes fun of me because I have an old school tape recorder but it always comes through.’ Which just goes to show that old school wins hands down. Next time I’m going to use the Nixon recorder.
All photography courtesy of Elena Legakis