London’s Childhood seemed to be a band that came out of nowhere in 2011 with the release of the sumptuous single ‘Blue Velvet,’ with its potent guitar riffs and lazy-like folk harmonies. Three years, a headline tour and a full length LP later, Childhood buzz along their self-made pedestal as one of Britain’s most exciting indie bands.
Supporting Johnny Marr during his UK and European tour, the indie-pop quartet found themselves in Leeds, ready to play at the cities 02 academy. Before the gig, I sat down and chatted to bassist Dan Salamons and drummer Jonny Williams.
The indie world are in the love with you at the moment, and the reviews were more than favourable for your debut album, Lacuna. What has it been like releasing your first album?
Dan: It’s been great, really. It’s always nice when people say nice things about it. And we still like it after many listens.
Jonny: I think also we’re doing, like. When we’re going and playing it live we’re getting good reviews and stuff when people listen to, and people know the words now when they wouldn’t have done before, and they know the album tracks. People know them as well as the singles, so I mean that’s cool.
The band have developed this really quite prominent guitar sound, and you’ve balanced it nicely with the pop elements in your music. Is that what you really tried to go for when you were writing and recording the album?
Dan: Yeah, I think so. Obviously we’re the rhythm section so Ben [Romans-Hopcraft, Vocals and guitar] and Leo [Dobsen, guitar] know a little more about the guitars… But I think on the record the idea was to kind of have these heavy, distorted tones but also have this sweetness to it as well, so we were trying to get that ecliptic of guitars and pop sound generally. So it was a concerted effort to make more than one type of sound.
Johnny: Before we recorded the album, people thought we were all more dreamy that we actually were. So when we were playing live, our sound seemed to be more full, hazy, dreamy, kind of low-fi. So live, things were much more in your face and loud. If you turn the album up [both laugh] it’s more of a reflection on what we do live. You feel it anyway, in the studio. That’s what it feels like at the route. We don’t try to do much afterwards.
Do you enjoy playing the album live?
Jonny: Yeah. There’s only one that we don’t really play live. They’re all kind of like, fun.
Dan: The energy in the studio, it’s a bit different because you’re more focused on really doing the take. But it’s the same kind principle of when you’re playing live, but more so because we get to move around me.
Jonny: Expect for me!
You’ve had quite a busy summer with touring and festival dates, and now you’re touring with Johnny Marr. How has that been up to now?
Jonny: Yeah. I wouldn’t say it’s been easy, but it’s been like quite comfortable, he’s looked after us really well, and he’s been, like, really nice. All the the crew fans have been really cool, too. Like, obviously there generations away from us. They could easily have been like “Oh, you’re just kids” when we’re playing and things, but they’ve been really respectful of us as a band. It’s been, what, nearly two weeks now? And then we go to Europe with him as well. We’re not just seen as a little support band. He likes the music too. And we talk to him afterwards, and just generally hang out. It’s not like we can talk to him, like “oh my God, he’s stuck behind this door”
Of course, Johnny has quite a large catalogue of tunes. How much of an influence has his music had on yours?
D: I think it’s hard for anybody in their early twenties to not have been influenced by The Smiths in some way.
J: Especially when you’re playing guitar music. It’s always going to influence your music. Especially when you’re playing kind of melodic, picky guitar parts.
D: I don’t think it was something that we, like, decided we were going to do. We didn’t get our guitars and try and sound like The Smiths. But it’s just one of those things, like, just one of those bands. It was always going to be one of those things that were gonna be in our subconscious when you play guitar and you like indie music.
Do you take pride in that? Do you take pride in being a guitar based indie band?
Jonny: We still use synths and things live, but I don’t think we over use it. It kind of gives it a big cuddle. We don’t have many big synth parts. I think it’s still quite four-piece heavy with the keys, still. It’s quite a melodic part of what we do. But yeah, we still play the, like, basic four-piece set up
Dan: Just like a normal band.
Jonny: Yeah, we haven’t gone to the stratosphere yet.
Dan: Yeah, no string yet [laughs].
You worked with producer Dan Carey on the album. How much did he help to shape the album? Did you share the same vision?
D: Yeah, definitely. He kind of helped to guide it in time when it needed guiding. But he let us do what we’d usually do, anyway, when it was time for us to do our own thing. But sonically, he kind of introduced us to a whole load of new sounds; a range of sounds that we didn’t have before. And he;s a really cool guy. It was a small studio, we were all playing and he was just sort of stood in the middle, like, going “fuck yeah, that was sick”.
Jonny: I remember the times when, like, people sort of get frustrated with a certain part or whatever, he knows when to sort of just stop or to move on to something else and then come back to it later. It was quite relaxed but also quite tense at the same time. He’s quite strange, I’ve never really met anyone with that kind of personality that he’s s laid back but then he’ll be like “do this, do this, do this!”
Dan: He’s always thinking, isn’t he?
Jonny: Yeah, he really thinks about what he’s going to say, he never just says something off the top of his head. It’s always really thought out, which is important, really. And with the sounds he was just doing some crazy things, I don’t even know how…
Dan: Some of the stuff was just crazy, yeah
Jonny: There wasn’t really much post-production on it and stuff. Like, a lot of the effects were kind of like embellishments over the top of what was done right then and there, rather than going back over it and adding digital things to it. He’s quite into pedals and amps and all those things. It was pretty cool to see.
What’s been the best things and the maddest thing to happen to your whilst on tour?
Jonny: Some of the best things have actually been the gigs. Like when we played in Manchester with Johnny. Our gig was really good for us, but watching Johnny in his hometown… That was so cool. People obviously just fucking adore him, and it was just really cool to see. People really love him.
Dan: What’s a good mad story? Japan! Leo and the penis in Japan! Or can we not say that?
Jonny: Oh, well Doug from Peace threw up all over Leo’s penis.
Dan: Yeah, in Tokyo. Well, it was an accident.
Jonny: Or did Leo throw up over Doug’s penis? Was it the other way around?
Dan: Maybe it was that. It was one of them.
Jonny: One was taking a wee and the other was being sick in the same toilet.
Dan: So, urm. It was an accident. And no one pressed charges or anything.
Thanks for your time, chaps. Finally, what have you got planned of the future?
Dan: Definitely, yeah. I think when you’ve only done one record you should probably make another one.
Jonny: Another album, yeah. Not much planned in December, really. And then write the next one. And that will probably be it. We’ll be touring again in January.
*This interview was originally conducted and written up for No-Title Magazine. In April 2015, No-Title Magazine folded and ceased to exist due to a lack of funds*