Fri 17th March 2006
The Mirimar Disaster are one of Sheffield's biggest bands at the moment, here at ninehertz, we've always loved their blend of genres and intense live shows, and we know them as people quite well, but we rarely get a chance to talk seriously about their music to them on such a detailed level.
I ventured down to Stag Works down the famous John Street in Sheffield to where the lads were recording their new, yet -to-be-released album with top producer Alan Smyth (of recent Arctic Monkeys fame). Its cold, but the studio is warm, a cup of hot tea (milk, no sugar) and I'm ready to ask the most pertinent (yeah right) questions I could think of.
ninehertz - Obvious question to begin with, how's the album recording coming along?
Slomo - (joking) We're enjoying it quite a lot! It's hard work at times and tiring, but it's worth it! *thumbs up* We're recording the same place as the Arctic Monkeys, so we're going to number one! Alan is a top man.
Nah its great.
Frank - Seriously though, once we've sat down and had a listen back to it, the hard work's over. The first day took a while for it to get flowing but the second day we started bubbling really.
Stocky - Well the thing is we've obviously been and recorded five songs here before so some of its like treading old ground. We've got time to get inspired.
Slomo - Having the time frame of eight days has taken a lot of stress off us, regarding the early recording, we've got time to do it better by having the space, and we've got brews.
Stocky - Yeah, special cups! And obviously Dr Smyth is a really relaxed guy as well, really laid back.
ninehertz - How many songs then?
Stocky - Nine in total, with instrumental/noisy bits in between like.
Slomo - More like intermissions really, we're pushing an hour with the album.
ninehertz - The songs do go on live, the length is interesting sometimes.
Stocky - Some of them are a bit of a journey yeah. If you put these back to back without track breaks, you probably wouldn't know which was which, it could end up being 20 tracks that end up as one long one.
Slomo - Yeah we don't write 'songs' as such, not verse/chorus/verse/chorus, something you can sing along to, its more about pieces of music rather than something popular you can get straight away, we're trying to build stuff.
Frank - We've done stuff that takes all our influences, the style the album is, you can get parts of the songs that wouldn't normally fit, the front end isn't the same as the back end, you know? I spend a lot of time trying to get these things like that right so we can get it right together, we're all playing in same ball park. We all push ourselves to write better songs, so when it all comes together live, that's why we put on a bit more of a show. Its incredible being able to listen back to it.
Slomo - I think the people who have heard tracks off the EP we did last April, the two main things you're going to hear is the difference in the instrumentation, we play the songs much better than we used to.
Stocky - Just from listening the first day it wasn't far off the demo, so we've tried several times since and we're trying to get it to sound like we do live, I'd recommend any band to come in here and record.
Slomo - The second thing that's different from the EP is that we've got new songs, so you're going to be able to hear the definite progression we've made from them to now. There's a lot more logic, more structure, not in the normal sense, but more flowing.
Frank - Its taken us 9 months to write three more songs, cos we're quite lazy. At the end of the day, we're stoners and that takes a lot out of us.
Stocky - That makes us more perfectionist if anything though...
ninehertz - The idea of progression is interesting, in the album, because the tracks are so old (well a year), would you have rather written 9 new songs, or do you prefer the mix?
Slomo - No, I think we've done well with what we've got, when the album comes up you'll hear the difference in them, not structurally, the delivery and sound will be better. Nothing is going to be dry and out of place.
As a vocalist myself, I find it interesting to try and understand other people's lyrics, where mine are more stream of consciousness and quite difficult for anyone but me to understand, I'm interested in Stocky's method of writing and then explaining his own...
ninehertz - Stocky, What form do your lyrics tend to take? On 'Scenario' they seem quite personal, but on stuff like 'Ten Fifty' they are quite abstract and narrative-like, are they about anything in particular?
Stocky - Yeah Scenario is really personal, but the person its written about it doesn't really apply to any more, but there's always someone who is going to piss you off. There's always going to be a little bit of anger in me at any one time, 'Scenario' is always going to have that.
The others all are a little abstract, could be about a plane flying overhead, they're all conceptual, like an cold war song written from the perspective of the pilot and the technology involved, I prefer writing in an abstract way. I mean sometimes my lyrics change quite a bit, 'Scenario' was pretty straight forward, its always been quite obvious, about someone who pissed me off, but I'm not pissed off any more. I like having the lyrics sheet when I get albums, this is the first time my lyrics will be there to read. I'm not putting tons of words in there, but an idea of them would be nice.
Talk then turns to Sheffield's latest indie export, the Arctic Monkeys. I ask the band what they think of them as a band...
Slomo - Well we were going to do a tribute, 'I bet you look good in a moshpit'.
Frank - Good bunch of lyrics, people should be more direct like that in what they write, especially in pop music, its what they are doing. The idea of real life in the north.
ninehertz - What do you think of that idea of the media portraying the north as a kind of wasteland then, like its had its day?
Slomo - I love it, cos if it carries on then house prices will go down, people will think Sheffield's a dilapidated mining town! I mean it works both ways, I expect everyone in London to be going round wearing Mother-Of-Pearl, singing 'Knees up Mother Brown'. I think the Monkeys are awesome, and with us, we wouldn't have some of our tunes if it wasn't for the north.
Slomo as a drummer has an interesting past, although he has played in several heavier bands, he actually has a history in brass, woodwind and is a trained marching band drummer as well, I thought it'd be interesting to ask him what this means he can bring to the table...
ninehertz - Slomo, how does your history in marching bands and the fast stuff you did in Nailstorm help you now?
Slomo - Semi-applicable really! What I got out of the marching band, was the sense of timing but in a really repetitive, inner-metronome way, from playing really fast and complicated rhythms. These were silly rhythmns, stuff you'd never hear in actual music now. Also a guy called Gary Powell who was really good, it made Nailstorm really good, they were influenced by Dillenger Escape Plan etc playing incredibly heavy fast music. But there came a point when I was on stage when all I was doing was think, it got more and more complex.
ninehertz - So what does Mirimar allow you to do?
Slomo - It allows me to take my time and let me do what I want to do, if I want to play weird rhythmns I can. (deadpans) I like this band, it is fun, I get to bash things loud. But seriously this is the best band in terms of finding out stuff about myself, like what drummer I want to be and what the band want me to be. Now, rather than 'what more can we put in' its more like 'what shall I take out, what would compliment the music'. It's more expressive, you feel it a lot more, rather than just pounding it out.
Stocky - Nobody tells each other what to do either, we never said 'we are The Mirimar Disaster, we play metal' it could be like DEP, it could be like Explosions in The Sky, it's just Mirimar.
As they are about to embark on a spate of quite high-profile gigs, I wanted to know, in the two years, were any gigs best forgotten for the Mirimar Disaster?
ninehertz - Bit different, but what was the worst gig you've ever played?
Slomo - Mexborough Civic Hall, 300 people there, all standing at the bar, about three people there for the bar, 14 year old kids getting served, and one girl asked if Malibu was alcoholic, then asked for a few. Bass drum flew away, bye bye.
With their imminent nationwide tour with 65 Days Of Static, I decide to ask them about what some would say is their biggest break yet in terms of support and opportunity, echoing this sentiment, Slomo and Stocky seem keen to get out there-
ninehertz - What do you hope to achieve with the 65 Days Of Static tour? How do you think you'll go down?
Frank - Well so far we've had some great shows with them, when we were down in Cambridge, we could either divebomb it, or do really well, there was a guy in a Cephalic Carnage shirt on, a guy with an Isis shirt, so we just went and played and we went down really well, played to over 100 people, so it was great!
Stocky - If you like dance music, you'll like 65, if you like Isis, you might, so we kinda fit in, even if we play to 500 people and if half of them remember your face, you've done well, so we see it as really good. We're on at 4 or 5 Carling Academies to play as well as the rest of the dates, so it's a great opportunity.
ninehertz - Will you be ok to play every night?
Slomo - We'd better be, we haven't got an option, its our job, we can't take risks and fuck things up. We're basically going out to make an impression, its such a good opportunity.
Theres going to be a lot of chances to party, but we'll have to be careful.
Stocky - The thing is we get a lot of people coming up who say they don't like metal, and we say 'oh sorry about that' and they reply saying its amazing, so we're not going to play badly any night.
ninehertz - Are you looking forward to playing the Leadmill?
Slomo - I am actually, quite a name's attached to that, quite famous to the city.
ninehertz - Have you played there before?
Slomo - Stocky has, when he was in Excelsum Superbum, throwing his stoner rock guitar around!
ninehertz - It's quite an honour really isn't it? It's like a Sheffield Landmark... not landmark...
Slomo - Stalwart.
ninehertz - Yeah! Stalwart!
Slomo then lists a load of places they are playing, showing the vast amount of shows they will be playing on tour (by now they have come back, and by all accounts had a blast, despite Stocky's voice giving up towards the end they seem to have made a load of fans and have really enjoyed themselves).
Finally turning back to the album, I decided to ask what song titles, if any they had for the new material...
Slomo - Well, some of the titles are 'Let Them Stay Behind' and 'Perseus', but we wanted to call the intermissions something like 'Aqueous' or 'Consciousness' or something like that, its going to be about flow and movement. There isn't an album title as yet, but we've got a lot of time to decide that...