Kickstarter: The internet’s wonderful new fad. It’s a way of funding creative projects using the online community as potential backers. According to their website, since their launch back in 2009, 78,000 creative projects have been funded by over 7 million pledges, making up $2 Billion. Obviously, it’s got its share of chancers (like this hungry guy), and then there’s some total oddball ideas (world’s largest jockstrap, anyone?), but for the most part it’s a great tool in covering the costs for creative projects.
It’s no surprise that it’s been picked up by people in the music world too, with bands using it to cover all manner of costs. Closer to home (and to Birthday Cake For Breakfast’s heart), bands like Polymath and Cleft have dipped their collective math/prog toes in the Kickstarter pool, with tremendous results. Cleft were able to use the funds to produce copious amounts of delicious orange vinyl for their record ‘BOSH!’ whilst Polymath were able to work with ASIWYFA engineer Lee McMahon in producing their new EP ‘Reptiles’, also on lovely vinyl.
Most recently, noisy math three piece Alright The Captain got involved with the Kickstarter hype to help fund production costs for their second album. Recorded with Rich Collins of You Slut! fame at Snug Recording Studios in Derby, second album ‘Contact Fix’ was recorded before the Kickstarter began, but the lads were in a similar boat to Cleft and Polymath – they wanted it out on lovely vinyl. In an interview with One Beat, guitarist Marty outlined their decision to go it alone and self-produce the album, “It just seemed like the logical thing for us to do for this release. We’re a very DIY band, so getting involved hands on with our fans is very important to us”
Being in touch directly with fans and working with them is one of the great things about Kickstarter, especially when it comes to funding an album or anything physical – wonderful incentives for pledges! With their Kickstarter, Alright The Captain produced a laundry list of goodies that prospective pledges would receive for donating money. Pledging £15 got you a vinyl copy of the album and a hand screen printed piece of artwork, whilst for the big spenders out there, other rewards included the band playing a show at your house, Marty cooking you a homemade pizza, and even the chance to caress ‘Barbara’ – their glass headed mascot!
Thankfully, 133 backers around the world managed to push Alright The Captain over their £2000 goal and the album was officially released last week (on beautiful sky blue coloured vinyl!) The track ‘French For Gnome’ is a personal favourite from the album, due to its David Liebe Hart sound bites. Hearing the familiar voice going on about “Corinians” and “Salame” was certainly an unexpected surprise!
In news away from the album, ATC have also been announced to play at this year’s ArcTanGent Festival. Now in its third year, the grassroots festival specialising in math and post-rock will also see performances from the likes of Birthday Cake For Breakfast favourites Cleft, Vasa, Alpha Male Tea Party, Trojan Horse and Body Hound as well as headline slots from the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and 65daysofstatic. But I wager ATC will be the only ones taking along a glowing glass headed mascot…
With the record a week old, and following a wave of great reviews, I spoke with bassist, artist and the man behind the buttons Todd, to get his take on the new album, getting to play this year’s ArcTanGent and the logistics of a gig in someone’s front room – in Moscow.
BCFB: ‘Contact Fix’ is the name of your latest record, which came out last week – How does it feel to finally get it out there for people to hear?
Todd: It feels pretty damn good!
The record’s been clocking up some pretty good reviews. How has that been for you?
It’s a relief people are rating it! We’re really proud of this album, but that obviously doesn’t mean anyone else will like it. Things can get a bit experimental sometimes.
Following in the footsteps of bands like Cleft and Polymath, you set up a Kickstarter to help with the physical production costs. You succeeded in your goal and then some. Pretty chuffed with that? How did it feel to have all these people backing the band, and to be able to produce it on lovely, lovely vinyl?
Super chuffed. It was a gamble going down the Kickstarter route; if it hadn’t worked out we would have been screwed. Thankfully all went very well. It was all worth it, the finished product is indeed lovely. Even if I do say so myself.
We really can’t thank the people who pledged enough, but we’re trying!
Carrying on from that, are you gutted that no one pledged for Marty to cook them pizza? Also, have you played the houses of those two pledges yet?
Ha, they missed out on the pizza! I don’t think people realized just how good the pizzas Martin makes are; otherwise we would have sold a lot more. Though you would have to spend an evening with him so that might have put some people off, haha. As for the house shows we’ve not done them yet. It’s not straight forward – one is in Moscow! We’re working on that. The other is for a mate in Derby but he’s keeping that one in the bank. They’ll definitely happen though; we love a good house party! We played my Girlfriends front room on New Year’s Eve. The neighbour’s sobs were audible over the music.
The record was recorded with Rich Collins of You Slut! fame. Can you tell us a bit about the whole recording process?
It was pretty quick to be honest. We tracked the album live and Jamie completed all his drum takes on the first day. Then we recorded the guitars, bass and synths over a few more days. There was a bit of work to get all the different sounds right, all the synths and pedals etc. but we’ve played the songs so many times before we went into the studio, so we knew them inside out. It definitely helps!
My personal favourite part of the record is the David Liebe Hart samples – which isn’t a slight on the rest of the record, but you know…DLH! Have you got a favourite track from Contact Fix?
Ha, as if a sample is your favourite part of the record. I think my favourite is ‘French for Gnome’ too though; it’s loads of fun to play live.
The record was preceded by the first single ‘Ben & Barbara’ released last November, accompanied by an oddball video – I assume that just happened at a normal gig, no big deal? How was the video to put together?
It pretty much was a normal gig! We told people that we would be filming during our set so they were all prepared to co-operate while we shot Ben’s scenes, but pretty much business as usual apart from that. We have our mates Phil Formby and Dan Atkinson to thank for making the video, they did a really great job of putting it together and working with us on the story – not to mention Ben Kutzner’s amazing job as the lead role. The boy’s a legend for doing it!
Finally, you’ve been announced as playing this year’s ArcTanGent Festival. The past two years have been incredibly fun – How psyched were you to be asked to play?
We’re delighted to be playing; it’s the perfect festival for a weird band like ours. We played the first year but we only had two days’ notice as we were asked to fill in for a band who had pulled out. I was working away in London working on a job painting an old warehouse when I got the call; we’d been sleeping in there with no running water for a week to get the work done! I had to get a train over to Bristol to meet Jamie then 15mins after the set go back to the station to London for another 14 hour shift the next day. It sucked. So it’ll be nice to play this time when we’re a little more prepared!