Eagulls playing at Scala, London. Photography Sean Carpenter
With their eponymous 2014 album Eagulls burst into aural consciousness, injecting a much needed dose of biting energy into the UK music scene.
There’s force here, yes, but it’s far from crude, it’s carefully built upon a foundation of subtle dynamics – guitars thrash, frenetically colliding with frontman George Mitchell’s barked vocals. It’s early Killing Joke, it’s Warsaw-era Joy Division, it’s post-punk meets grunge – grunk? Whatever it is, it’s enthralling menace.
Fidgety and restless, the album jerks feverishly. Bitter angst leaks from every pore fuelled by a fermenting contempt that builds gradually, before breaking abruptly and slicing to the original beat. High-velocity impact is born out of the emotion within their sound, a true expression of their frustration, smothered in gritty distortion, their talent lies in their ability to take all their introverted anxieties and turn them outwards into a furiously encapsulating energy.
Alex James Taylor: Let’s begin by talking about your new video for Hollow Visions, it’s a pretty challenging watch. Where did the idea stem from?
George Mitchell: The song Hollow Visions is emphasising a generation of no hope and this is where the idea stems from. It states how we all have these strong visions of dreams of a hopeful future in our lives which just end up becoming dissected and diluted down to become less and less than expected turning the dream into the everyday nightmare. The operation on the eye is a visual metaphor of our visions becoming cut up beyond our control creating a nightmare state.
AT: Your last video for Nerve Endings featured a rotting pig brain, are you trying to out gore yourselves each time?
GM: Both Hollow Visions and Nerve Endings include dark images of body parts which some people find offensive and hard to watch, but there is always meaning behind the madness. We wanted harsh imagery to compliment the harsh sound. Our songs hold meanings, just as both videos do too. We don’t just sit around thinking of splatter horror movie ideas like some sixth form metal band trying to scare their parents.
AT: Your debut album came out in March this year, and received rave reviews. Were you surprised by the reaction at all?
GM: We had to sit on the finished album for quite some time before it was released which meant we had a long time to make up a lot of our own bad feelings about its reception. So when it came out we were very surprised and happy with the albums overall reception.
AT: I used to live in Leeds and I always used to see people walking around in Eagulls T-shirts, do you still feel the love when you’re back there?
GM: There is still a really good following in Leeds. Those t-shirts are like rats, you’re never no more than a metre away from one no matter where you are!
Eagulls’ George Mitchell. Photography Sean Carpenter
AT: You’re heading out on tour in October, how’s the preparation going for that?
GM: Everything is going fine in preparation for the October tour so far. At the moment we are currently writing new songs for our next album, so hopefully we might find time to squeeze a new song or two into the set, but it’s early days as of yet. The tour includes a few places we have never played before in the UK which we always find interesting.
AT: And in the summer you did a pretty extensive US tour, how was that?
GM: We’ve played in the US a fair few times before our first US tour like SXSW festival in Texas which we did two years running and then we also played CMJ festival in NYC. The extensive US tour which ended at the end of June pretty much drove us to insanity, but that was because we had been touring nonstop for months since the end of February with our only days off shows stuck in the wonderful world of transportation.
AT: How does it compare to playing in the UK?
GM: There isn’t much difference in playing a show in the US to playing a show in the UK to be quite honest, but that might be because we try to treat every show the same, no matter where we are or how big or small the show seems.
AT: You seem to be making quite a name for yourself in the US, were you surprised at how well received you’ve been over there?
GM: We think it’s great that we have been well received over there and we were really surprised with our reception. It’s pretty insane being in the middle of nowhere in somewhere like Salt Lake City with fans telling you they have travelled hours to come see the show, then buying you shots of liquor.
AT: Your live shows are known for being raucous, and you manage to translate that high energy perfectly within the album, did this prove difficult at all?
GM: It was a struggle at first to convert our live sound to the studio and keep the energy at the same time, but we kept at it and found a way in the end. I personally think working full time during that period to scrape up the funds to pay for the recording ourselves generally helped us keep that visceral and frantic energy flowing through the whole album.
AT: What’s the best live performance you’ve ever seen?
GM: I think I’m still yet to see it. I can’t wait for the day though.
AT: You recently covered The Stone Roses I Wanna be Adored, are there any other songs you guys particularly enjoy covering? Any band favourites?
GM: I think out of all the covers we have done over the years my favourite one to do was The Stone Roses. We covered The Meakons song Where Were You and as a band we all really like that song. Then when we was in Chicago the singer’s son came along to our gig and came to talk to us. It’s nice to know two separate generations on the same level of thought.
AT: How about if you could get someone to cover one of yours, which song and who would you want to cover it?
GM: I don’t really know who I’d want to be covering our own songs as I find it really strange. Maybe someone really straight laced to give them a dark edge. Cliff Richard singing Possessed could be quite appropriate.
Eagulls self-titled debut album is out now on Partisan Records. Find Eagulls at their website and follow the band on Facebook, Soundcloud and Twitter.