“You’re gonna have so much stuff to dig through…”
It’s a balmy evening in July and I find myself sat in a field, deep in conversation with Kagoule. The Nottingham trio are still brimming with excitement, having played a blinder at 2000trees Festival earlier in the day. There’s not been a seconds rest since the interview began, with bassist Lucy Hatter setting out my upcoming transcribing task at hand, as the three long-time friends discuss the day’s events.
“It’s been very lovely. There were people there before we even started, which was weird. Sound check bought a lot of people in.” Says guitarist Cai Burns.
“I was kind of worried ‘cus we were playing the first song of our set in sound check and were like – oh my god, what if they think it’s the first song of our set and yet we’re not moving, looking like really sad.” Adds Lucy with a laugh. “Obviously you pull like a really different expression in sound check as when you’re playing. You stand in sound check looking kind of sombre, but when you’re playing you’ve got loads of energy. I was really worried people would come in thinking we were really sombre performers.”
One of the early additions to this year’s line-up, Kagoule’s name appearing on the bill (alongside the likes of Refused, Twin Atlantic, Tigercub and The Smith Street Band) was a clear sign that the organisers behind 2000trees, now looking at its tenth year, were not fucking about.
“People were singing along, I really didn’t expect that.” Comments a slightly perplexed Cai. “We’ve never been here – we’ve never played Cheltenham before. I don’t think we’ve even done a gig near here…”
“We’ve not exactly played locally.” Agrees Lucy. “The amount of people that turned up was just insane. I was expecting less than half of the people that turned up. When I went on stage and there was already that many people, I was like – fucking hell, shit…oh my god… But no, it was great. People singing along; people were responding to the chit-chat that we were doing, which is unusual. Normally you’ll make small talk on stage and they’ll be like that one guy in the crowd giggling. But there was like three of them this time, which was crazy *laughs*”
“Loads of potential new actresses for our new music video…” Grins Cai.
Ah yes. Sitting with them now, it makes their earlier on-stage call out for the services of an elderly woman in the Nottingham area understandable… The slightly odd-ball request for an OAP from Nottingham was all in aid of a new music video they had lined up for new single ‘Magnified’. It’s call out was parallel with a live outing for the congregation at 2000trees, though it’s been in the set for a while, as Cai explains.
“When you write a song, it’s never really done until you’ve gigged it. When we first started playing it, it was kind of different to what it is now. But you kind of need to do that with new songs, you’ve gotta play them for a bit until you’ve actually completely finished them. We’ve recorded it, we’ve got it mixed and everything. We’re gonna release it pretty soon. It’s the only song we’ve got properly recorded for our new releases, but we’re gonna go to the studio soon and do a bunch more.”
The topic of new material brings about an inner-band discussion. An album’s worth of songs is in the bag, though Lucy and Cai can’t decide whether they’re getting closer to the finished article. “I don’t think it’s the album yet. I feel like we’re halfway towards the album.” Considers drummer Lawrence English. “There’s a lot of songs we have that are good enough to be on the album, but none of them feel like – well not none of them – but a lot of them feel like they won’t work together. Some of them feel like they won’t work with other songs. It’ll take a bit of time till we have the right bunch.”
At the time of writing, Kagoule are making a crack at album number two at Suburban Home Studio, the DIY operation in Leeds run by the prolific MJ of Hookworms. At 2000trees however, the ideas were still formulating and not yet formed. Typical album two fair, as Lucy points out. ”We’re doing that album two thing aren’t we? Everybody does it. They’ve gotta figure out what their sound actually is, you know.”
“So we’ve got a bunch of songs – we could totally do an album if we wanted.” Sums up Cai. “We’re gonna do a few singles and stuff and then go into the studio and see what happens. The next thing is going to be a second album, rather than an EP or anything. I’d really like to just dive straight into it.”
“There is a lot of writing going on.” Adds Lucy. “Pretty much every band practice we have – we have a couple of them every week – and every week it’s pretty much learning a new song… Or I’m learning a new song, ‘cus they already know it and I’m really slow… But there’s a lot of new material coming out quite quickly – surprisingly so.”
On top of a summer chock-full of festival appearances, Kagoule are enjoying their most productive period to date, with the trio pushing forward and working toward the follow up to last year’s ground-breaking debut ‘Urth’. On the topic of scheduling and release dates, the idea of their sophomore album being released in two years draws a groan from Cai. “…Hopefully not two.”
“Just assuming – you know how it’s been in the past.” Clarifies Lawrence. “I don’t think we’re gonna make the same mistakes we made before. Well, not the same mistakes, but last time it felt like it took far too long. If we have the music and we know the person to do it, I think we wanna just get it done.”
“Hopefully, if everything goes to plan in the next year, there’ll be a second album.” Adds Lucy. “Whether it’s been released or not, it will be there…”
Likely knowing the interview gold he’s set to unleash, Cai broaches the subject of what they’re going to call album number two. In unison, Lucy and Lawrence shout “SISSY GOES MISSING” before falling about laughing. Sissy Goes Missing, the name of the ‘play/album’ the trio have allegedly been working on sits alongside an intriguing list of possible contenders, with ‘Fuck Off’, ‘Oh Shit!’ and the sensual ‘Bath Time with Kagoule’ being personal favourites.
“That’s not true. The part about writing the play is true, but we’re not gonna call it Sissy Goes Missing.” Lucy assures me.
“We might do.” Adds Lawrence with a laugh. “That’s not an announcement… You heard it here first!”
“We’ll have to call it Sissy Goes Missing now…” Groans Lucy.
“So clearly we have a haul of titles to choose from…” Laughs Lawrence.
“Whatever it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be sexy.” Stone-faces Cai.
“That’s the thing. The new songs are very broad, but they all have the same kind of sexiness about them.” Agrees Lawrence with a big grin plastered on his mush.
Debut album Urth was an utter triumph, a tour de force and other such journalist clichés. An incredible debut, its nostalgia-tinged base gave way to interesting idea after interesting idea, brimming with certified bangers. Now a year on, its release was a memorable date regardless, made even more memorable given its proximity to Lucy’s Birthday. “We signed the contract with Earache on my nineteenth Birthday. What a fucking story to tell my kids one day, right? Pretty cool little tale to tell…”
Though the songs themselves are only celebrating their first Birthday on record, the collection have been sitting with the trio for a number of years.
“Bored of it.” Deadpans Lucy when the topic is raised.
“Yeah, totally bored of it.” Agrees Cai. “I don’t know how to put it. It feels like it was a long time ago for us. When I think it was last August, it surprises me that it was actually that recently.”
“To be fair, some of the songs were written five-six years ago. Maybe ‘Concrete’ was written six years ago. So you know, we’ve been playing those songs for like way too long. Way too fucking long.” Adds Lucy. “It’s been kind of strange only having some people having heard them like a year ago or even more recently. People are like ‘I love that song’ and you’re like – I’ve been playing that for six years! It’s permanently etched into the back of my fucking ears, it’s like an earworm.”
“That’s why I’m excited to do the second album, ‘cus it’s going to be a much faster turnover from writing the songs to actually releasing it.” Beams Cai.
“You might not begin to hate it before it gets released…” Laughs Lucy.
The trio see Urth as the growing pains period of the band, their developing teenage years in which the task at hand was to see how everything works and fits together. For their follow up, Kagoule are looking to capture the current state of the band: Older, wiser – and if the proposed album title is anything to go by – sexier.
“I think it’s the first record we’ve written almost as a band together.” Comments Lucy. “You guys write your stuff, but we’ve sort of been developing it as three people as opposed to you writing on your own. It feels more like a collective of people than just getting given music.”
“A lot more of it is done in the rehearsal space.” Agrees Lawrence.
“The first record was like, me at home. Now it’s more like a collective thing and I think it’s a lot better because of that.” Adds Cai. “You heard a few of the songs today. We played three or four songs that are probably gonna be on that record. I suddenly enjoy playing them a lot more. Hope you liked them.”
There is a certain level of satisfaction to be gained from seeing a band go from playing small venues, where you’re one of a small few in attendance, to rapidly gaining momentum and playing bigger shows to much larger audiences. It’s hard not to come across as a bit of a prat, giving it the whole ‘I was into them before they were cool’ patter, but you also have the proud parent feeling inside seeing everyone catch up to them, the band growing up right before your eyes.
I first caught Kagoule a couple of years back, supporting The Xcerts on a small run of UK shows. They were first on at a gig in Manchester, and outside of a few people in the know and The Xcerts themselves, there wasn’t much of a crowd. Fast forward a few years on and Kagoule were packing out the very same venue, putting on one of the best sets of a weekend’s activities at the annual extravaganza that is Carefully Planned Festival. Their incredible showing all those years prior was just as good, if not better, than their Carefully Planned appearance. Ever since that initial performance, it’s been a delight to see the rise of Kagoule. Pondering the past couple of years together, Lucy comments:
“We haven’t killed each other yet, so that’s a good start.”