Top image: Still, ‘Soft Decay’, Morning Smoke
When Brighton four piece Morning Smoke released their 2014 EP In Euphoria they laid out their mantra – hypnotic reverb drenched riffs, noir romanticism and revved-up angst.
In the year since, Morning Smoke have been honing their sound further, pushing their aesthetic and testing remote waters, resulting in their new double single Soft Decay/How Does It Feel. Totally uncompromising in its reach, Soft Decay is the perfect melange of post-punk vex and shoegaze allure; those burgeoned riffs and lush textures. Backed by the hook-ridden How Does It Feel, it all clamps a vice-like grip on the temples and will leave your eyes bloodshot.
Having toured with the likes of The Wytches, Sunflower Bean and Theo Verney, it comes as little surprise that a band so accomplished should gain the attention of such illustrious company. With their London single launch show next week Morning Smoke have given us the pleasure of premiering their new video for Soft Decay and it’s a gorgeously murky affair.
Alex James Taylor: So you’ve just released your double side single Soft Decay & How Does It Feel, how do you see the progression between In Euphoria and this new release? it definitely feels a bit darker, as a listener it feels like our senses have been heightened.
Milo McNulty: I agree, the new single has darker undertones both lyrically and musically than maybe some of the earlier songs. However the emotional content of the tunes has never been particularly uplifting [laughs]. I’d just say that our songwriting has just naturally developed from the early material.
AJT: Has anything in particular happened to you guys since In Euphoria that has influenced the way you create or your output?
MM: Nothing I can pin point specifically in terms of huge life events that have changed our outlook, but we’re all really young guys so naturally our tastes and influences are changing all the time.
AJT: As we’ve come to expect with your sound there’s an emphasis on layering, textures and those driving drumbeats. What sort of bands/sound did you look to when forming your sound?
Max Wright: When we first started we listened to bands like DIIV, Slowdive and Beach Fossils, all those bands have a big focus on textures and layering which i guess has influenced our style to an extent. However as we’ve got a little older and more mature as songwriters were trying not be influenced by any one particular sound or style. In terms of drums our drummer Isaac is just unreal [laughs].
AJT: How do you achieve that sound, which pedals do you use?
MW: We are obsessed with reverb so we use electro harmonix cathedrals, we both have rat distortions and others. We both love MXR pedals so milo used a MXR phaser 90 for soft decay, but he put its at the start of the pedal chain so it gives it a grittier sound, same as me for how does it feel. I used a MXR analog chorus but put it at the start of the chain for a dirtier sound. Since we’ve recorded these tracks weve bought a ton more pedals to mess around with to get some dirty ass tones. We are both a bit pedal mad to be honest,it becomes very addictive.
AJT: Away from music, what do you take influence from?
MM: Lyrically and conceptually I take a lot of influence from books, in particular around the time of this single I got obsessed with Jean Paul Satre’s Nausea. The visual side of the band has for sure been influenced by David Lynch.
AJT: Tell us about the single artwork.
MM: The concept of the pills related to emotions I was trying to convey at the time of writing the songs. However our wonderful friend Jay bartlett really helped us bring to life the concept as he is a Photoshop/design wizard.
AJT: The tracks were produced by Rory Attwell (of Warm Brains), how did you guys first meet?
MM: We met Rory a while back as we all really liked some of the records he had done before. We all got on really well and since recording we’ve stayed in touch, we actually played Warm Brains album launch show at the Old Blue Last recently!
AJT: Do you have knowledge of the production side of things? Your sound is very deliberate, I imagine you know exactly what you want when you head into the studio?
MW: Yeah, we have a very specific way we want things to sound, we like things to be really noisy but to be able to hear the separation, but we are going to develop this a lot more in our future releases. We also think its really important to record live as much as possible, especially with a band like us its very important to keep the energy on the recordings.
AJT: And how does the writing process work for you?
MM: The instrumentation in general is very collaborative, usually myself or max comes up with a guitar part of a progression and then we build from there. I either write the lyrics myself before or after the music is done, and generally chop and change the lyrics until we actually record them!
AJT: Who’s on the Morning Smoke playlist right now?
MM: Theres a couple new bands that are amazing, Beach tape and Mariah Carey.