What do you think of when you think of eagles? Do you think of the bird of prey synonymous with good vision? Or perhaps you think of that LA band who croon about that lovely Californian hotel?
You probably didn’t think of the post punk Leeds band Eagulls! Although the eagle eye ones amongst you will notice the differences in spelling…
Anyway, the five piece have recently released Ullages, the much anticipated follow up to their self titled debut. I chatted with drummer Henry about all things Eagulls…
Your debut album was a lot heavier and fast paced yet Ullages adopts a more melodic tone, was this a conscious effort?
Well kind of half and half. We never had a specific agenda when we started writing, although we knew we wanted to do something different. I just think we wanted to concentrate more on melody and structure. The first album was still relevant, it was the product of how we were feeling at the time. The first was a lot harsher from start to finish, the second time round we wanted to involve more dynamics. But the change kind of happened three songs in we realised that we wanted to go a different way, so we finished the album that way.
I heard Ullages was recorded in a church, did this impact the album at all?
Well definitely sonically and acoustically. The building is absolutely amazing, the live room where it was recorded is gigantic and huge. It’s just outside from Leeds in Stanningley in Pudsey. It’s just up the road from where we leave. It’s the same Matt Peel who did the first album. But just after the first album he finished renovating the church and luckily he finished it before we started writing. We knew we wanted to start working with him again, we knew we wanted to record it in Leeds. It was really important to record the album near home.
Is there any influence of religion on Ullages?
There’s only a bit on there. But it more comes from George (vocalist) who’s dad is actually vicar. I mean he’s extremely close to his granddad but religion has never been pushed on him at all. He is always been album to make his own mind up. I suppose growing up with his granddad has allowed him to see a different side. I think that’s where the influence comes from. Just a coincidence.
Your debut album was critically well acclaimed and left you with a loyal fan base, did you feel pressure not to alienate your fans?
We spoke a bit about this when writing. It’s important not to write music for that reason. We’ve gotta believe in it ourself, that comes first. We could have done an album exactly the same as the first and there still would have been a small minority of people who wouldn’t like it. It’s exactly the same with me for some bands. After five albums there is always one that you don’t like.
Do you not trail through the youtube comments then?
Nahh, I’ve not done that for years. When we were starting to get attention I used to do that but I learnt very quickly.
Interviews consistently throw you into the the pop punk label with bands like The Cure and The Cocteau Twins. Would you say that is a fair reflection of Eagulls sound?
I think so. It probably depends on which member of the band you ask. Post punk is extremely broad and how post can post punk get? It’s like 40 years ago. It’s the hardest question in the world when I’m talking to my mums neighbours or something. They ask you what sort of music do you play so I just say guitar music. I don’t really know what it is, so post punk is pretty fair. The Cure are one of my all time favourite bands so I’m quite happy.
Is it true that there’s some hip hop influences on Ullages too?
Yeah me and George are very into hip hop. It’s very anti-authority so I think that’s where the link is to our music.
Eagulls are unquestionably quite a dark band lyrically. For instance, ‘Nerve Endings’ tackles anxiety issues directly. Do you embrace the dark lyric content of the band?
Lyric wise we never get involved, we don’t tell George what to write. He’s a character himself and is quite a pessimist. So it’s always gonna be dark as it’s the way that he views the world. I like it because where Mark comes with a melody and where we will begin a song afresh. When you first listen to this melody you could turn into a massive pop hit. It’s extremely poppy, but when we start layering it becomes darker and darker. I think songs that we’ve done before that deserve to be quite poppy because that’s how it should sounds and then along comes George who puts his lyrics over the top, so you realise maybe not. I think that’s the charm of this band so why it kinda works.
So are you saying there could be a pop album on the cards then?
Not saying it’s coming, but I think we’ve definitely got it in us though!
You’re playing loads of festivals and then on tour with Protomartyr in the Autumn, are you excited for those dates?
Yeah yeah, we’ve got a load of festivals over summer. Then we’re going on tour with Protomartyr from Detroit. We’re really good friends with them and we kinda ended up playing with them by mistake. The Pheonix and Arizona shows got merged together. We were literally listening to their album in the van on the way to the show. I went backstage at the venue, saw the printed out set times and it was Protomartyr at 8 and Eagulls at 9 and I was like, I know that band from somewhere. At first I thought it might be two different bands, with different spellings or something. From that gig we got on really well and we’ve been friends ever since. They come stay with us when they come over to the UK. I can’t wait for the shows.
Will you be squabbling over who’s last on for the joint tour with Protomartyr?
We said we’d flip a coin, or just decide on the night. To be honest I don’t think they’ll want to be last on, they’ll just rather us doing it. It will be really nice to play shows as it seems like quite a long time for us.
Your choice of venues seems to venture off the beaten track, why’s that?
We love to do that, we always want to go to places we’ve never been before. Small towns you always get a good reaction. It also forces us to put in more effort! Okay York’s not a million miles away from Leeds, but if forces people to jump on the train. I think people react better when they make a really conscious effort to be there.
Being a Leeds band is it your favourite place to play?
Yeah we’re a Leeds band and it’s always gonna be home for us. We live round the corner from the Brudenell Social Club which is the worlds greatest venue, I’ll never get tired of playing there.
After the tour with Protomartyr have you any plans for new music?
We’ve got quite a lot on, gonna be touring this album until the end of this year. We’ve already started talking about writing new music. There’s no deadlines and no pressure to get the third album out.
You can catch Eagulls across festivals this summer and on tour with Protomartyr this Autumn.