We’re always on the lookout for a good Indian restaurant for pesky out-of-town visitors who seem to think curry’s all that’s worth exploring in the foodie fleshpots of London. So we were cooking with gas when we scored an interview with the Bombay Bicycle Club — their motto: “a stop for “a curry a cut above the rest and ‘adventurous’ alternatives”. As you may know, being open-minded is a pre-requisite for those interested in ‘adventurous alternatives’, so when ushered into a room to meet three boys who looked too young to be allowed near sharp knives let alone hot curry powder , we restrained ourselves from comment and got on with it.
What’s your favourite food?
Suren: Pizza, chicken & pesto flavour.
Jamie: But it has to be my Dad’s paella, it can’t be any other paella.
It’s so true that the herbs and spices make all the difference. Which herbs and spices do you use?
Jack: I thought that was a metaphor? Um, cinnamon.
Jack: Mint … is mint a herb? (Londonist fact fans and wannabe restaurant usurpers: mint is indeed an aromatic, perennial herb)
Suren: Erm, basil.
What’s the most popular item on your restaurant menu?
Oh, it turns out they’re a band, not a restaurant. Phew! And hey, we like bands as much as we like food here at Londonist. So let’s talk about your band that masquerades as a restaurant, then.By this time it was clear we weren’t going to get hot food tips from these boys; besides, Jack’s hair didn’t look like it was used to being restrained by anything, let alone a hair net for hygiene purposes. So we switched to tough mode, because that’s the kind of hard-nosed reporting you get from Londonist hacks.
Who's in the band?
Jack Steadman – vocals, guitar and bass
Jamie MacColl – guitars, bass and vocals
Suren De Saram - drums
Ed Nash – bass and keyboards (away, possibly with food poisoning caused by a fellow band member’s cooking, though this is pure speculation)
Describe your sound for us:
Jamie: Guitar-driven, it’s quite melodic in parts…
Jack: mix of catchy songs with more personal songs, that aren’t that happy … an emphasis on melodies.
Your voice, Jack, how would you describe your voice? It’s hard describing it.
Jack: …tremulous vibrato, sounds a bit like Devendra Banhart.
How did you all get together?
Jamie: I showed them around the school, that’s how we first met. We were all in the same form.
So you didn’t bond over fractions?
Jack: I don’t think we bonded over anything for a while. Still haven’t bonded.
(all laugh, which is reassuring)
Well that’s an essential requirement from a band isn’t it, punching each other out after gigs? I read you were passed over in your school talent contest by a juggler. Do you harbour resentment towards jugglers or any other circus types?
Jamie: Yeah we hate ‘em.
Jack: We don’t know who he is.
Jamie: He was a lot better than us at the time, to be honest, we did a funk cover. This was a while ago, so it’s OK.
Any other jugglers or circus types you don’t like?
Jamie: I don’t really like the circus, full-stop, after that.
Jack: Especially after seeing Dumbo.
OK, Dumbo the movie, this isn’t the name of the juggler? So when I went to one of your gigs a few weeks ago it was bonkers, everyone was knocking over your equipment. Do you think there’s something about you that encourages this unruly behaviour? Perhaps your aftershave or something?
Jamie: I think it’s just because we’re young, and everyone else there is young, and they get excited over that.
Jack: And it makes up for the music.
Aw, such modesty.
Jamie: And it’s just pretty energetic, live.
Suren: And there’s no booze, ‘cos it’s all ages.
Jamie: Well at that gig.
You recorded your EP in October last year with Jim Abiss at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire, how was it?
Jack: He shouted at us, we weren’t in time enough, ‘cos we hadn’t realised it would be so hard.
Jamie: But he was very nice to us as well.
Did you get back to the studios in February?
Jack: We kept putting it off because we’re at school and stuff. No we’re going back in summer, we’ll record another EP.
Your EP is entitled, The Boy I Used to Be. So what does that mean, are you now men?
Jack: We were going to change it, but then we were too lazy, it’s a lyric in “Cancel on Me”.
Jack: It’s quite suitable for the songs. Because if older people hear it…
Jamie: “I was a teenager once”.
Jack: (laughs) “I was a teenager once”.
On your MySpace you promised to tell us more about ‘the home of sausages’ – we’re very excited about this, please tell us more.
Jamie: Oh, Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire’s the ‘home of sausages’.
Jamie: Erm, I think that was because my Dad was going to tell us about the home of sausages.
Suren: That was a long time ago.
Jamie: I can’t remember.
What’s your favourite song on the EP? Do you have one?
Suren: Mine’s probably “Cancel on Me”.
Jack: “Cancel on Me”.
Jamie: Mine’s “Sixteen”, but I like them all.
How do you want to affect people with your music?
Jack: Make them start a band. Which has already happened, J/amie’s brother’s started a band.
Jamie: We’re their main influence.
Jack: Something that’s more a catchy song. Something people will listen to for a certain reason or for a certain mood.
Who are your influences?
Suren: Matt Tong from Bloc Party. Sorry, I say that in every interview.
Jack: Joni Mitchel, early Joni Mitchell, specifically.
Jamie: Nick Drake
So which London bands do you like?
Suren: Have you heard of Mr Hudson and the Library?
Yeah, I didn’t get to their recent library gig though
Suren: I like them? I know their lead singer, so…
Jamie: …I don’t know, Cajun Dance Party.
Who would you like to tour with?
Suren: Can they be dead?
Jack: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
I’m envious of Ed’s Korg keyboard, what sort of musical instrument do you long to have?
Jack: The original synth, that was this big and had so many wires?
Jamie: A Moog
Jack: The first ever Moog.
Jamie: I don’t know. I’d like a really nice Gibson 325, but I doubt I’ll ever get it.
Suren: A Rhodes piano or something
Why should Londonist readers come to see you? Apart from the sugar rush from the lemonade.
Jamie: We’re just fun to see live. If not just…
Jack: …to see how pissed off we get.
Jack mumbled something about ‘babies’, we’re not quite sure what he was on about there.
When can we hear you next?
14th March at the Mean Fiddler
31st March at Chalk @ Scala
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
Jamie: Jack sat in sick on the tube.
Jack: Two weeks ago.
They may not have much on offer in the food compartment, but they offer up some of the freshest produce available in London live. Bombay Bicycle Club’s first EP, The Boy I Used to Be is out now.