We spoke to Aussie rockers Ashley and Teneil of Dark Bells on tour with Temples. Lets hear what they had to say…
Where did Dark Bells start off?
T: It was just me and Ash back in Sydney in like a little rehearsal room, we were friends for a while before we started the band then we just sort of came about and we just got talking and decided we wanted to start making music together.
Whats the music scene in Australia like?
T: Its good, not quite as diverse as it is here but I think that’s just because the amount of people
What are your direct influences?
A: It usually comes down to what we are listening to at the time, but also its usually the same kind of thing for an extended amount of time. I know like years back we were listening to a lot of different stuff, we kind of still have the same elements in what we were doing then, we were often labelled with shoegaze years ago but we never really listened to shoegaze bands, we thought it was the opposite to our sound as shoegaze was about big distorted guitars and overly British sounds, whereas we barely ever used a distortion pedal or a gain pedal or a fuzz pedal, only on one song I think
T: yeah its really broad really, we have similar tastes in someways but it doesn’t come into play the music we make, its like a combination of everything, like we listen to a lot of older stuff with warmer sounds.
We heard a bass heavy Pink Floyd in your music?
A: That would be in there, I cant say I listen to a lot of pink Floyd but I have
We do say you look a lot like Syd Barrett?
A: ahh yeah I’ve had that a lot, I welcome that though at anytime, hes never been an idol of mine but you know I’ve always loved him, that’s common though I guess purely by coincidence, it’s a good thing he was never a big idol of mine or it would be like I was trying to look like him. To answer your question in short its early seventies sounds primarily and a bit of late sixties comes in to it to differ from the rest, a lot of the textures and rhythms are 70s, as a broad range, as opposed to a certain band or this genre that genre
Is there an album you are working on at the minute?
T: we started recording late last year
A: four songs
T: we’re about halfway through, we’re about to go back into the studio once we’ve finished the tour, we’ve got a week off then we’re back in there, we’re writing and recording currently
A: it was going be two singles or an EP, either or, then the idea of an album came up, we wouldn’t wanna personally do it all at once so we will do it in just only two halves at the very most, we’ve got 2 to 3 new songs now which we could just go and record but we’d rather do the 2nd half all together rather than do it in 3 waves
What environment works best when recording your music?
T: we’re very fortunate that we’ve got a studio that we work from that’s part of our management that we’re with, so we get to rehearse and record there, there’s an in house engineer that just comes and records it then we get it mixed externally
What was it like signing to the independent London based Record In Peace label?
T: We’ve recently released 2 singles, well, we’re about to release one previously released one and we’re about to release another, it was great, we know Pete from RIP quite well and hes really passionate about the music so we trust him, and I think we couldn’t have anyone that was as in to it as he is
If you had to pick, Bowie or Bolan?
A: Let me answer that, Bowie by far I can’t stand Bolan. I get into, not arguments but discussions about it many times with friends
What is it like on tour with Temples?
A: Its great we’re good pals as well so its been funny, they’re an excellent band, we’re lucky to be with them now, its been good to be a part of it and know them well before they were a big band
Whats an essential thing you like to have on tour?
A: I’d say probably my bass guitar
T: yeah I was gonna say my guitar, that’s a given, but I’d say red wine, its essential
A: before food
How has your music evolved since you started playing?
A: I find it really really funny actually and I’ve thought this over many times, the first song we wrote fits much much more perfectly with what we’re doing now and I’d say in between when we first wrote that song 3 or 4 years ago up until we kind of what we’ve been doing in the last year and a half, the first song works better you know apart from the middle up until the last year, year and a half ago
T: you’re getting controversial now, controversial ground
A: we did what we did then kind of diverted for a year or two then back to where we are now, it has evolved a lot
David Cameron has the dark bells of failure ringing over his head at the moment, what keeps you awake at night?
A: well my tinnitus in my fucking right ear, yeah otherwise if I get working on something then I’ll usually be up most of the night
T: yeah I would say definitely new ideas for songs, I have a visual connection to our music, so generally anything imagery attached to what we’re doing, if that’s gonna keep me awake it will, and Ash’s tinnitus keeps me awake, from another borough
A: its that bad
T: its that loud it rings into other peoples ears
A: I’ve kept them all up all tour with my fucking ear
If there was anyone dead or alive you could collaborate with who would it be?
A: I’ve seen that question asked many a time and always had like 3 answers in my head, I always thought it would be Roland S. Howard but I thought it sounded a bit lame, hes a guitarist as a bass player it would be perfect
T: for me I’d say Temples at the moment from spending time with them, they’re always in our ears and I just think his songwriting is flawless
A: yeah I agree with that
T: there’s definitely a lot to be learned from him, you get so much from what hes doing when you hear it every night, yeah they’re incredible
Do you get nervous before you go on stage?
T: not so much you get really excited, it doesn’t really kick in until you get halfway through the first song
What do you do to get yourself pumped up before you go on?
T: we wrestle
A: always have a drink before
T: yeah have a drink you know just hang out, this is nice because we play bigger venues so we kind of just hang out, we just sit around and have a drink
A: I’ve been a musician for 9 or 10 years now as a career and I’ve never had it, its not a good or bad thing either way, yet I’m scared of heights
T: I had one time when I’ve been really nervous that was a couple of weeks ago and was for no reason
What are your plans for after the tour?
T: we’re back in the studio more or less
A: yeah then we’re back here 2 weeks again
T: yeah we’re back in Manchester on the 21st
You can purchase tickets to see Dark Bells live with The Underground Youth and the Watchmakers at Kraak, Manchester on Friday, 21 Mar 2014 here