After reviewing God Damn’s forthcoming album Everything Ever and being completely blown away, I had the privilege of talking to God Damn’s Thomas Edward (guitar and vocals) about the forthcoming album. Okay, so I didn’t envisage my first interview for Moshville being in the comfort of my own kitchen, but here we are: Saturday night, cup of tea, rock n’ roll! After comparing colour schemes and various kitchen artifacts, Thom then instigates a game of clocking each other looking at themselves in the small monitor screen. I’m now completely relaxed and at ease and the conversation about the new album begins to flow.
The new album comes across as completely different to Vultures, although still very God Damn. It has a far wider audience appeal, is this something you specifically set out to do?
No, no, I think because the record happened so quickly; the songs were written quickly, it was recorded really quickly, and it all happened within such a short period of time compared to Vultures which was like this big brooding thing. We’d just done a load of festivals, a load of touring and having done all those things, it kinda informed the next step record that we naturally made. We made something more direct. I think poppy is one word but I think direct and concise and fun is another. When we did Vultures, it was quite a weird, dark time for the band in a lot of ways and because we’d written something that was dark and brooding and layered, quite proggy and a very left of centre record. I think we just wanted do something that was a bit more fun in places really. I see this as almost the partiest record we’re going to make, it’s got a lot more liveliness to it compared to Vultures. Vultures is great in its own right and it served a purpose, we vented our spleens on it; it’s quite dark so naturally we felt for our next record after that, we wanted to do something very different. The more we progress as a band, the more we start to lose shackles. We shed things that we thought were constraints to our music, and one of them I guess was putting a disco beat in one of our songs. I mean it’s a very heavy disco beat, it’s some fucked up disco you’re going to. But yeah, we brought a disco beat back, I don’t know how people are gonna take that.
There’s still some dark undertones to the album though I think, through some of the lyrics.
Yeah, yeah definitely. I listen to a lot of Tom Waits lyrically. I like to think there’s humour in there, Tom Waits manages to get the darkness and the humour in there. He says he writes Halloween songs and murder ballads and I think when we were making Vultures, I was into Tom Waits, whereas Tom Waits now is just part of who I am. I’ve fully consumed him, I’m reading his book and lyrically, that’s a big one for me. I can remember Jarvis Cocker saying that nobody really likes a happy song. Some of my favourite songs are sad songs, that’s where the grebo in me comes out. When you write lyrics it’s a really funny thing, sometimes when you write you have an idea, an intention and sometimes when you finish a song, you put things in place to make it work for you. It’s only afterwards or maybe years afterwards you kinda figure out what you were on about. So I’m still discovering what I was on about in some of these songs that I’d written years ago. I’ve spoken to a lot of song writers and artists about this, it’s something which I think is one of the more powerful things about art, its a way of me discovering things about myself that I didn’t know. That also opens it up to other people to do the same. And sometimes you have an idea about what you mean but until it’s finished you don’t really know what you mean and then sometimes you discover that a lot later on anyway (laughs). That sounds like waffle. But yeah, I’ve had that conversation a lot recently.
The album has a real live feel to it I feel, was it recorded so?
It wasn’t recorded live, we tracked it, you know how it works. But it’s a lot more stripped down than Vultures (laughs). See whenever I talk about this album I reference it to Vultures which is fine because it’s our band’s narrative you know. The thing with this album is, we did it in a very short time, we stripped everything back. The drums are more raw. It’s a lot less produced in some ways but more produced in others. Considering it’s quite a poppy record, it’s more raw than Vultures and anything we’ve ever done I think. It’s quite a toney, muddy sounding record but I don’t see that as a bad thing. My favourite records are the most raggedy sounding, I like that character with a recording. I mean, I love my pristine, polished stuff definitely, but some of the stuff I really love is quite raw and under-produced and I’m kinda realising that more. We’ve always treated a record production wise, as to what it needs. So if it needs keys on it, we’ll put keys on it. If it needs a bass, we’ll put a bass on it. This record is the first time we’ve used a bass guitar, before we’ve used guitars that were tuned like basses.
What can we expect from the new video, “Sing This”?
Yeah, we’ve got a guy Tom Rowland who has done all of our artwork production on this album. One thing me and Ash (Weaver, drums) fall out over is artwork, one of us will love it and the other will hate it you know, and we’ll really fall out over it, in the most brotherly of ways! So we decided with this record that somebody is gonna do everything; so he’s done the album artwork and the videos. Apart from “Dead to Me” where we’d done that before we started making the album. Tom Rowland is a great guy, he’s the most intense artist ever. I like the fact that he’s that passionate and that he’s gonna take ownership and do something different that he sees fits best. With the artwork, we’ve tried to avoid any cliches, we’ve always tried to avoid cliches with this band. I mean we’re two dudes with long hair so that’s enough cliches as it is already. It would have been really easy for us to go for some like stoner metal artwork, or rock and roll artwork, because it’s a rock record. But I like to think there’s not a rock record that sounds like this so it’s important to do something different with the artwork and music video wise. It’s all very surly, expect a thoroughly arty video, but it works, it really works.
I tell Thom it’s the song I’m still singing “sha-la-la” to long after the album’s finished.
(laughs) I refuse to sing that when we’re rehearsing, but everyone says “That’s the best bit in the song” and I’m like “No it’s not, it’s deliberately shit”. My favourite line is “It pains to be alive” but yeah, I’ve grown to like the sha-la-la-lah bit! But if you see me at gig not singing it, you’ll know the snob in me has got the better and I’m having a protest.
You’re doing a special album launch performance on release date.
Yeah we’ve gotta do something haven’t we? We’ve gotta be a part of the occasion. You can’t always help how things work out, we have the tours coming up but we need to do something when the album comes out. But yeah, Boston Music Rooms is gonna be great. London’s always been really nice to us. It’s one of those weird things where it’s such a varied turn out. There is a scene in London that comes to watch us, but there’s so many people that just pop up outta nowhere. You just don’t know who’s gonna come to a show in London sometimes. You definitely don’t know how it’s going to go, I mean, we’ll try and make it as mental as possible and go off but, you don’t know which nutters are gonna turn up really.
Were there any tracks that didn’t make the album?
We basically film at band practice on one of those hand held recorders, we had hours and hours of footage of stuff that we thought would make it onto the next record that we did, but all it did was provide inspiration for the songs that then went onto Everything Ever. There was a lot of ideas that didn’t make it onto the record, like, hundreds. and then there was a handful that we demoed but didn’t make it. You have to siphon what’s shit or not appropriately, you know (laughs) and then you get a producer in and everything changes. Ross Orton comes in and goes “Er yeah, that bit’s shit, I wouldn’t do that” (laughs). It’s the first time we’ve used a producer actually, properly. Sam, who did the last record was initially an engineer and by the end of the record he was producing it. Whereas for the first time we’ve gone “Right, we’re employing a producer.” This guy (Ross) keeps coming to our shows and keeps saying “I’m a producer, we will make a great record together” and yeah, he kicked the shit out of us (laughs)…that’s a good thing! I’m all for bands producing their own records and I’d like to produce my own record again in the future. But, I also like records that have been produced by other people you know, it’s a big part of rock and roll. Ross is the craziest guy, he’s like the most badass dude you’ve ever met in your life. Our last record we did in a massive, corporate studio. We did this record with Ross, he’s got this cupboard in Sheffield that is just perfect. Just a really nice place, he’s got lots of nice gear in there, he’s got his way of doing things and that’s cool. It allowed us to do a record in such short amount of time. Sometimes when you produce your own stuff, it’s hard to let it go, whereas Ross is like “It’s time to let it go”.
And you have tours coming up soon?
Yeah, so Red Fang. I saw them last time they played Birmingham and they’re great. I love their music videos, their music, they seem like fun guys. They’re like that real kind of metal riffs and beer kinda band but actually when it comes down to it, they’ve got some real pop sensibilities which takes them away from that whole scene and sets them apart. So to say we’ve toured with both Torche and Red Fang and to be part of that tour and be on that poster, I think that’s pretty fucking cool and I’m pretty happy with that. It’s a nice way to start our next campaign, it’s something I particularly enjoy going out with and playing with other bands. Then we go straight out to Paris with Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes and that’s all like little punk venues, and he’s doing really well in Europe so you know it’s just gonna be a sweaty aggressive mess. I’m excited for that, he’s a good friend. He’s gone from being this pop rock idol to a friend. When I was a kid, eighteen, he was in the biggest punk band in the world. He’s been in two amazing bands after that, but he’s doing the best stuff he’s ever done with The Rattlesnakes. To have him take us under his wing and be so behind the band is mind-blowingly cool and we just get on really, really well. I’m looking forward to touring together he’s a really intense, loving guy and then he’ll go onstage and destroy everything and that’s kind of the thing to be you know.
The interview ends with Thom admitting defeat in the checking yourself out on the monitor game, “After laying down the gauntlet I’ve been a complete narcissist” (laughs).
Everything Ever is out September 23rd with a launch gig at Boston Music Room, London that day.