Errors Interview

Four piece post electro outfit Errors, with their shimmering combination of electronica and guitar based beats, are fast outgrowing their cult band reputation.

Having toured the lesser side of the atlantic this summer with fellow Glaswegians Mogwai, Soundbite Culture caught up with guitarist Greg Paterson and drummer James Hamilton to talk about touring life, new songs and what they’d make if you were coming round for dinner.

Soundbite Culture: Why don’t we start at the beginning – how did you come up with “Errors” as the name of your band?

Greg Paterson: I think it was genuinely an accident. We set up our show in a Glasgow art school, supporting James’ old band actually, and we had some names we were throwing around that were pretty terrible. Simon Ward [fellow band member] had printed a poster off and it came out with “errors” on the page, so we just decided Errors will do then. Since then, it’s kind of stuck.

SC: You’ve recently finished touring america and Canada with post rock pioneers Mogwai. How does playing in the UK compare with other parts of the world you’ve toured?

GP: It seems like the crowds over there are a lot keener on turning up for the support bands. Some times when you do tours, there’s not a lot of people in the early hours of the gig.

James Hamilton: Yeah, despite being on first we were playing to pretty much full audiences every show.

GP: Quite responsive as well.

JH: Yeah, with their nationally institutionalised “niceness” everyone seemed very open to hearing new bands.

SC: Have you been testing out any new material?

JH: We’ve still mostly been playing stuff off of the last album [Come Down With Me]; Magna Encarta’s the only newer one really. But the new album’s hit a bit of a snag as the roof of our Glasgow studio collapsed during the week. That was a bit annoying, but we’ve done a lot of the basic tracks.

SC: Is that going to hold the release back?

GP: No, it’s still on track to come out early next year.

JH: We’ll just have to mix it in Simon’s house rather than the studio. It was pretty funny when we found out though. Would have been nice if it hadn’t happened in the middle of recording an album though.

SC: Is every studio different to record in then?

JH: Yeah, it’ll make a difference to the drums because we’ve got to record them in a different studio now. A better one, so that’s not so bad. Gives us something interesting to talk about when promoting it though. “So how did the recording go…”

GP: I’m thinking it could inspire a post rock album title “And Then The Roof Caved In”.

SC: Your sound seems very deliberate and constructed, layering different instruments and effects one over the other. How does this affect Errors recording process?

JH: It’s kind of like one person will spend ages doing something and walk away from the computer. Then someone else will come in and look at it, do something then walk away. Then the next person comes along… Very occasionally we’re in the same room when we’re actually putting a song together.

Generally it’s a really anti social method of recording and writing we have, sort of like we are as a band though aren’t we?

GP & JH [sing]: “Anti social band, not hanging out with any other bands.”

SC: That’s your anti social song?

JH: Yeah, we learned that from Mogwai. It’s kind of a convoluted way of recording things that we have. You get bands where three or four people just jam in a room, whereas we’ve got a production line method to making music.

SC: So everyone’s master of their own sound, whatever they do on the song they’ll own that layer?

JH: Kind of, but then sometimes it’ll get completely re-recorded. It’s odd, but it seems to work.

SC: Does it cause any kind of arguments or friction?

JH: Constantly, we’re always at each other’s throats, all the time.

SC: So who gets the final say?

JH: Usually, Simon’s brother. He does our live sound but also does a lot of our mastering. So what happened with the last album is we got to the point where we’d just constructed this big mess, and no one really knew what we were listening to anymore. So Simon brother’s Steve came in and was just like “that works, that works, that doesn’t, get rid of that, put that there…”

SC: Someone from outside can almost find it easier.

JH: Yeah. When you have this very insular process recording of a song, you can lose what you’re listening to altogether. Than all you hear is noise for like five minutes, and you’re like, “Wow, we sound like Mars Volta now. Cool.”

But I think it’s important to have some external influence who can just say, “that’s ridiculous, that’s just not gonna work, etc”. For as much as a fan as I am of the creative control we have over our music, we don’t have to deal with other people telling us what to do that much, occasionally this can help. The label [Rock Action Records] are quite good at just letting us do whatever we want.

SC: And Mogwai own Rock Action Records?

JH: Yeah. I don’t think we’ve ever handed them anything where they’ve said no.

GP: There was one thing. Anything with a detune synth sound makes them go “What’s this? You can’t put that on a record.”

JH: There was a song on our last album called “Antipode”, where the main synth line had a weird sort of detune noise that made it go in and out of tune that was a massive bone of contention.

GP: So our next record’s gonna have loads of those out of tune effects on it, just to see their reaction.

JH: Yeah, we’ve got a little note “What caused problems last time?” so we can do more of that this time around.

GP: They haven’t heard it yet.

JH: No, I’m kind of worried about that now. “Hang on, you sound like ABC now. When did that happen?”

GP: I think our new material sounds a bit more consistent, like each song seems to, well, not blend [into each other] but that kind of idea.

JH: Like its coming together as a single entity, rather than just a bunch of songs twatted onto a record.

SC: I’m just a journalist, so that technical term’s gone over my head.

GP: In terms of the length, this new record seems to be much longer than previous albums too.

SC: Deliberately?

GP: No, it just seems as though a lot of our new songs are fuller.

JH: Basically, we’ve become more pretentious. We’re very gradually disappearing up our own arse.

SC: Success will do that to you.

JH: Yeah, by the time the album comes out we’ll be demanding the label sort out orchestra’s for us to do tracks with. Totally bankrupt the label, Happy Monday’s style.

SC: How do your songs translate from the recording studio to a live environment?

GP: It’s weird because I’ve noticed a lot of the songs we’ve recorded in the studio evolve and develop the more we play them live. You kind of go “I can add this in here and this sounds quite nice” when you didn’t really think of that in the studio. I guess a lot of bands do that.

JH: I think it was Thurston Moore who said each album is just a sketch of what a band is like at the moment in time.

SC: Sort of like a musical photograph?

JH: Yeah, that’s kind of a good way to look at it. Six months later, the songs will have evolved into something else.

SC: So what or who inspired you guys to become musicians?

JH: For me it was seeing Nirvana playing live on tv, I had no aspirations of being a musician what so ever before that. It was that MTV awards where the bassist, Krist Novoselic, throws his guitar in the air and tries to catch it but it smacks him in the mouth.

SC: And you were “I want to be like that guy”?

JH: I was more focused on Dave Grohl. I just really wanted to play drums after that because it looked like the best fun ever. I was quite glad because I discovered I was good at, and I’m not really good at much. I’d have been shit at everything if I hadn’t started playing drums.

GP: I feel like I was never inspired like that, can’t even begin to remember what it was that got me into this in the first place.

JH: Make something cool up, that’s what I just did.

SC: Well, who inspires you guys now then?

JH: The Boredoms are just so out of their minds brilliant, easily the best live band I’ve ever seen. It’s just coincidence they’ve got three drummers. But their weird take on krautrock, building layers and layers of sound on top of each other with really intricate rhythms. Yeah, they’re probably my most inspirational band right now.

SC: Apart from garnering critical acclaim, your second album “Come Down With Me” seems to be a rather obvious nod to the mocking Channel 4 reality tv show. If Errors were to appear on “Come Dine With Me”, what would you cook and more importantly who would win?

JH: Simon’s fond of taking pictures of food that he makes, so maybe he’d do well. He makes very traditional stuff like shepherd’s pie.

GP: Yeah, he’d take the cash.

JH: No he wouldn’t, my Italian sausage and cannellini bean casserole would burn his arse.

GP: I’d quite happily just eat everyone else’s dinner and enjoy it.

JH: I’d be the really embarrassing contestant, the one who gets drunk and fights with everyone.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2011