Brighton ignited

Strange Cages’ messed up psych garage fuzz will leave you thirsty for more
By Alex James Taylor | Music | 24 November 2014

Strange Cages possess a primality which suggests a pungent diet of psych garage fuzz: from The Stooges to The Seeds, these guys metabolise their influences with bold panache, creating a fevered serge of sweaty hedonist rock.

Sounding like it was recorded on the desert terrain at Joshua Tree’s Rancho de la Luna rather than the reality of the sandy shores of Brighton, latest track (aptly titled) Desert is a gritty, feral thrill blaring like a hot rod with a breeze block wedged firmly on to the accelerator. A snaking guitar line squalls the roughhouse undercurrent of the track whilst Charlie McConnochie’s sleazy, reverb vocal tones chime in with alpha-male croons, ‘Walk with me in the desert at night / You make me feel like the air’s on fire’.

Skim the track production credits and clock the name Theo Verney – Brighton’s resident guitar howling grungester. Lending a helping hand to his local neighbours, Verney manages to shepherd the trio’s brilliantly unhinged live performance into the studio without losing any of that surging tousled menace.

Support slots with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and The Pink Teens (formally Temple Songs) show the calibre we’re dealing with and Strange Cages couldn’t look more comfortable.

Alex James Taylor: So, what first brought you three together?
Charlie McConnochie: Me and Elliott have known each other since school. We’ve always had serious drummer abandonment issues, but now we’ve found Ellis and everything’s peachy. He better not leave us though or I’ll break his gangly legs.

AT: And how long has Strange Cages been going for now?
CM: On and off for about a year and a half now but I think this is finally the proper line-up and we’ve finally got a good set of songs together. We are now the Strange Cages I had in my head at the start.

AT: Were you in bands beforehand?
CM: I used to be in a 10 piece psych band called Black Object Everything Club. I played organ. Ellis used to be in The Fall but he got kicked out because he stood on Mark E Smith’s cheese ploughman’s at a band practice. He never even played a gig, they just jammed the intro to Totally Wired.

AT: Did you always have this desired sound in mind or has it evolved over time?
CM: I always wanted the music to be quite evil and primal and I think that’s coming across. Everything we do tends to come out pretty raw – which is a good thing. We’re always listening to new stuff and I think our sound is always influenced with whatever our latest obsession is. 

AT: How do your songs usually come together?
CM: I write guitar riffs and lyrics probably every day, but if I try to force a song out of straight away I find that it doesn’t work too well. I’ll usually leave stuff floating around for ages and then one day it just feels right.

AT: And is the songwriting a collective effort?
CM: I’ll usually come up with the base of a song, but Elliott and Ellis have a really strong input on writing their parts and coming up with ideas for the structure of the song etc. Elliott actually wrote a lyric for our song Desert but he doesn’t remember writing it because he drank too much rum.

AT: Your live shows are known for being brilliantly unhinged…
CM: We like to make it a party. We want you to leave us feeling filthy and a bit twisted in the head like you might want to go out and burn something.

AT: What’s the best gig you’ve been too?
CM: Spit Shake Sisters on Halloween the other week in Brighton.

AT: Do you all share a love of specific bands and musicians?
CM: It’s safe to say we’re all obsessed with Ty Segall. And Goldfrapp, we all love Goldfrapp.

AT: If you could support any musician, alive or dead, who would it be?
CM: I want to go back in time and support The Rolling Stones on their Some Girls tour. I think we’d have a really good time if we could do that.

AT: Your single Desert was produced by Theo Verney, how did you guys first meet and who’s idea was the collaboration?
CM: Our friend Eddie got us in touch with Theo as we really needed a decent recording and I don’t think I’ve ever been happy with anything we recorded in the past. I really liked his stuff and knew he produced it itself and that he’d be able to help us get the sound we wanted! He’s a cool guy and contributed backing vocals and tambourine too. We’re going to get him to play a house party with us soon.

AT: Have you guys got any production knowledge yourselves?
CM: We’re not the best at it, but we’ve been collaborating with a strange being called The Wax Machine. He’s been producing our demos ‘til the early hours of the morning in a grim studio with no windows and we’re going to record something big with him. He’s a bit of an enigma. Some describe him as an electric nightmare and sometimes people in the street shout “shoegaze menace!” at him, but we reckon he’s got it going on.

AT: How’s the music scene looking in Brighton at the moment? It always seems pretty lively.
CM: The music scene in Brighton is great, all my favourite bands are from here! There’s a monthly night called Late Night Lingerie run by our friend Eddie the Goatboy. All the best bands play there ‘til 3am in the morning. It gets pretty wild, everyone loses their minds a bit. Brighton is the best place to be.

AT: Any bands we should check out?
CM: Tusks, Pink Lizards and Spit Shake Sisters have all got it going on.

AT: Do you feel like you’re part of a local scene?
CM: Yeah, in the sense that there are so many bands here making great music and putting on great parties and we all dig each other’s music and invite each other to play all the time. Everyone is involved in everything. We love it.

AT: I could only really find one or two of your songs floating around on the internet, when can we expect to hear some more?
CM: We have a new one we wrote and recorded in the same weekend coming out on a compilation for Brighton promoters Acid Box which should be out by the end of the year. We’re going to make some videos to put out next year.

Strange Cages play with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard 25th November at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton,9-12 Middle St, Hove, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1AL. Tickets here. Follow the band on SoundCloud, Facebook and Twitter.


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