“I tell you what else is good about this festival – people can clap in time.”
Catching a death of cold and being hit by sideways rain isn’t generally how I like to conduct interviews. In the case of Classically Handsome Brutes at this year’s ArcTanGent Festival however, I was left with little else choice. Like ships that pass in the night, there was never a convenient time for us to catch up. Admittedly, this was down to either a) them playing b) someone else playing c) being pissed (all parties, respectively). This meant that on the final night of the festival, prior to the silent disco and just as everyone was trudging through the mudbath back to their tents, we had to huddle under a tent to carry it out. All things considered though, I think it helped.
“I think it was the best show we’ve ever done, for sure.” Comments drummer Will Cook on their early afternoon set. Their appearance earlier that day marked their ArcTanGent debut, the trio putting in a weekend-making performance on the PX3 Stage. Whilst one could understand any other band quite happily blowing themselves over a cracking set at an established festival, Classically Handsome Brutes were more concerned with those in and around the tent. Guitarist and vocalist Harry Reynolds glad of the crowd “having a good time in such piss-poor conditions”, with bass player Jack Scarlott agreeing.
“I’m just glad people enjoyed it. That’s all I really cared about to start off with and I think more people enjoyed it than I thought were actually gonna turn up in the first place.”
The trio were surprised with turnout, owing to the fact that their set fell perfectly parallel with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania natives mewithoutYou. Having raced over to the PX3 just to see CHB, I didn’t get to catch any of mewithoutYou, but I’m guessing they weren’t beckoned into the crowd like the rowdy congregation that arrived for CHB. Looking back on the inner-band crowd surfing, Harry laughs.
“I was like – nah, I haven’t got a long enough lead, I don’t wanna get in anyone’s shit – and they were like ‘Get in here, now!’ That was a pretty fun experience. Got my cock grabbed by a big gruff man…”
This begins a semi-serious conversation about Harry getting his knob fondled by a hefty bloke, where it’s determined that said bloke put any worries to bed, claiming it was a big one.
“Thank fuck,” Laughs Harry. “He stared me dead in the eye and just fucking went *grunts*”
This wasn’t the only erotica on show, mind. Toward the end of their set, similar to their recent video for ‘Baron Von Sharon’, the lads went fully taps aff to reveal ‘CHB’ written across their chests.
“We would’ve done it anyway.” Shrugs Harry when I ask if the crowd interaction had spurred them on. “We do it in rehearsals, so why wouldn’t we do it then?” He smirks.
“I think we would’ve done it anyway.” Agrees Jack. “It’s one of those things – people will remember it.”
There was talk amongst the three of what else they could come up with for their festival appearance, with Will even pitching the trio carrying around giant boards adorning song lyrics, similar to ring girls at the boxing. This was nixed however, given the stage was being shared across the weekend with interplanetary kooks Space Blood, well known for their board carrying antics. Regardless of the journey, the intention was always going to be the same, as Harry points out.
“We wanted to do something a bit daft, a bit silly – cheer everyone up in the miserable weather.“
As well as cock grabbing antics and a banger of a performance in front of a baying audience, just being at the festival itself was a highlight amongst the trio. Jack raved about toe and American Football, whilst Harry was more taken by the oddity that is a Raketkanon show. The disastrous weather that plagued most of ArcTanGent was a blessing and a curse in some respects, with a plus point being that every tent was rammed across the weekend. Though this likely would have been the case regardless of weather, given the type of attendance the festival pulls in each year.
“It’s almost like getting the entire country’s target audience for this kind of music into one little thing and going – here’s a fuck load of bands.” Says Jack. “It just helps out everyone.”
“The fact that so many of them knew the songs and were singing along. It was just fucking weird.” Comments Will. “It’s made us all super stoked and really excited.”
Super stoked and really excited would be a grand way to describe how a Classically Handsome Brutes fan must have felt this past year. Whilst they’ve been knocking about for a good while as a three-piece, it wasn’t until late last year when they really began to push forward and – dare I say it – find their sound.
“We’ve played together for years, just mainly jamming, then we thought we wanna do a proper, decent EP.” Comments Harry. “It got put out on our label, Till Deaf Do Us Party, who sorted us out so much. We sort of treat that EP as the start. Since then, because we already had a nice fan base in Leeds – ‘cus everyone in Leeds is just fucking mad for this scene at the minute – It’s going really well.”
Kicking about as a “groove-rock band” in the initial stages, the trio were “just jamming riffs” before the release of ‘Prolegomena’. Hooking up with Till Deaf Do Us Party allowed them to showcase exactly who they were, in all their twiddly, spazzed-out shouty glory.
“It’s always been Classically Handsome Brutes.” Says Jack. “But I feel like since the EP came out, we’re like a band now – we’re not just a couple of mates jamming.”
Till Deaf Do Us Party have been instrumental not only in the bands proper first release, but also in getting them on bigger shows and in view of bigger audiences – ArcTanGent being one of the biggest yet! It’s this support that’s aided them in picking up an ever growing fanbase and helped secure them other lucrative shows such as Southsea Fest and Carefully Planned Festival in Manchester. Festivals themselves are notable by the band for bringing in fans who might not have otherwise seen them, with Jack pointing out ArcTanGent as “the exact kind of festival where people, regardless of whether they’ve heard of you or whether they think they’re actually gonna like you, just turn up and listen.”
“I think as well, the online support…” Adds Harry. “The amount of great Facebook forums and groups, anywhere online like independent publications and shit – there’s such a good scene for it.”
“We’ve been super fortunate for people to get behind it.” Agrees Will.
The aforementioned Baron Von Sharon, their latest, gut-wrenching single, is not only an indication of the progression made by Classically Handsome Brutes, but a nod to their past. When the subject of the single is broached, the trio are hesitant to go fully into details of its subject matter.
“It’s a touchy subject.” Laughs Jack.
“Not naming names…” Adds Will, going on to explain their involvement with a management company many moons ago that was less than pleasant. Before the EP had even been released, said management company – not really aware of what was going on it would seem – requested it be re-recorded.
“They wanted to change it all.” Reflects Jack. “They wanted to take all the weird time signature bits out of it. They were like – we need to make you radio friendly.”
“You know that Rage Against The Machine – that kind of rockiness? They were just horrible.” Says Will.
Though painful at the time, the trio recall with much laughter highlights from they-who-shall-not-be-named, including making sure Jack and Harry (“…the most important ones”) man the merch desk instead of Will (who would be packing down) and requesting the band go up to every single crowd member after a show to request their phone number – you know, for post-show texting….
“If someone did that, I wouldn’t go.” Laughs Jack.
It all culminated in a standoff between Will and the woman making all these requests, with Will having an argument with her whilst “the most important ones” sat awkwardly in the studio. Speaking with Will, it seems slightly out of character – which he is entirely in agreement with, as he laughs.
“I’m usually quite reserved, but she was horrible.”
“We still had like two day to go! He couldn’t wait till we were out the door…” Adds Harry with a laugh.
“So the whole thing was basically us venting our angst of about a year and a half ago. Just being like – fuck you! It was a funny weekend though. Good Chinese there.” Smiles Jack, the others in agreement on the take-away choices available following the trauma.
In the video for the single (which we had the honour of premiering prior to the festival), the trio have left all the fun to Jack Gordon, shouter in Leeds noise band Irk. Though clearly a master of his craft when it comes to thrashing about in one’s underwear, Classically Handsome Brutes weren’t necessarily aware of this prior to filming.
“He turned up and we thought it was gonna be really awkward.” Comments Jack. “He turned up and we were like – we’re gonna have to direct him… Turned up, literally walked in the room, stripped off and just went – I’m thinking this for a starting position?”
“He was like – I’ve been practising in my mirror in my pants, listening to the song for a couple of hours.” Laughs Will, continuing. “I’ve got some moves sorted. He did like ten takes in a row and every one was different and he didn’t stop once.”
As evidenced by the minor costume changes and different cuts throughout, Jack – ever the professional – laid out reams of footage for the band to use, each being cited by the band as pure gold. Even without the appearance of a semi-nude Jack Gordon, the single is an absolute stonker and perfectly captures the feel of the band – A bit like the video, really.
“It’s weird and a bit silly, kinda like our sound… Birthday Cake For Breakfast exclusive!” Laughs Harry.
Months on from the interview, footage has surfaced of the trio back in the studio, hammering out new material. Gnarly as all fuck, the 50 seconds of footage is a good indicator that the next release will be a real dick straightener (Hey lads – You can even use that as the title!) But back in that field, huddled together as the weather remained apocalyptic outside, new material was still in the very earliest of stages.
“We’re thinking a longer EP this time, ‘cus the last one was only about 10 minutes long.” Says Jack. “It was a very short – this is us. I think this next one’s gonna be longer, more complex. A couple of little changes and a bit proggier maybe…”
“A bit sillier and a bit weirder…” Adds Will with a smile. “I think we’ve just been so focused on making sure ArcTanGent was sick, that we wanted to really focus on that. Now we’ve got time to chill out and write a sick record.”