INTERVIEW

“”The last time I was here, it was my dignity that I lost” chuckles Max Cooke, endearingly well-spoken frontman of Kent four-piece GoodBooks. Between them, he and keyboard player JP Duncan have misplaced a hoodie, a passport and a laptop, and they haven’t even played yet. “Touring is definitely fun,” they agree, “we like playing […]

“”The last time I was here, it was my dignity that I lost” chuckles Max Cooke, endearingly well-spoken frontman of Kent four-piece GoodBooks. Between them, he and keyboard player JP Duncan have misplaced a hoodie, a passport and a laptop, and they haven’t even played yet. “Touring is definitely fun,” they agree, “we like playing live. But being in the studio, pressing buttons and experimenting with sounds is where it really happens for us.” Along with bassist Chris Porter and drummer Leo von B√ºlow-Quirk, the band have been hard at work perfecting their debut offering, ‘Control’. Having spent the minutes prior to the interview voting on their favourite album cover, it’s clear that it’s no half-hearted effort. “Of course there’s pressure,” explains Max. “There’d be something wrong if there wasn’t. Ultimately, though, this is the only first album we’ve got, so we want to make it as good as possible.”

Since the Mystery Jet-cameoing ‘Walk With Me’ was released as a one-off on Transgressive Records last April, the boys have tunnelled their way into the hearts of shape-pullers and romantics alike, polishing up a killer set whilst touring with the likes of The Maccabees, Fields and Hot Club de Paris. “If someone wants to put us on the cover of a magazine and say we’ve created some non-existent scene, there’s not much we can do about it,” says Max, pondering the disadvantages of overnight success. “But I think taking it slowly is the best way to go about things. It gets to a point where whatever you’ve made can sustain itself, and be around for longer. Like that Babybird song.” JP adds, “I don’t think anyone will remember The Twang in 20 years.” The weekly music rag hype-machine in question notably described the band as having “a singer that looks like Harry Potter”, a subject that’s clearly a sore point, if only because of how often it’s mentioned. With his floppy fringe and thick-rimmed glasses, you could be forgiven for mistaking him for the bespectacled one, if you squinted a bit. “Don’t even read it out,” sighs Max, only half-joking. No plans for nu-wizard world domination then? JP laughs. “Yeah, that’ll be our MySpace headline tomorrow.”

Aside from their own songs, GoodBooks are into remixing in a big way. “Deconstructing and taking things apart is definitely something we’re into,” says JP. “I mean, we’ve done a few – bands that we like and are friends of ours, mostly: The Maccabees, Hot Club de Paris, Ladyfuzz, The Sunshine Underground. We’ve got a couple lined up with Kate Nash and I Was A Cub Scout as well.”

When it comes to returning the favour, though, the pair have mixed feelings. “We’re quite picky about who we commission for remixes,” JP explains. “I mean, there’s been a few good ones, like Kissy Sell-Out and The Teenagers‚” but some of them are just fucking awful.” Laughing, Max adds, “We’ve had a couple where we were like, ‘What is this? A GCSE Music project? Horrible.'” They give each other a knowing look before JP adds, “This guy must’ve spent about an hour on it. We knew he was good – he did something for Bloc Party that we really liked – so we sent it back, and it was great.” Max reflects, “Just shows what happens when you go, ‘No, this is shit, we’re not having it.’ We’re using the re-done version!”

Both agree that the best thing about remixing is pulling everything apart. “For me,” says Max “it’s about looking at all the different bits and sounds of a song. A lot of bands – even the ones we’re friends with – are quite ‘closed’ about how they write.” And what about Crystal Castles’ almost-as-good-as-the-original reworking of ‘Leni’? “We haven’t even met them,” shrugs JP. “I like what they’ve done with it, though – the reaction to it has been mental! We were at the same party once, I think.”

“Have they even got faces?” Max deadpans. “I thought they were like, dementors.” Way to play down the Potter comparisons. “I know,” he laughs “I just can’t wait for the next book though.”

The combination of rosy-cheeked charm alongside dark, offbeat pop sensibilities looks set to be the musical equivalent of a cold beer on a scorching day at this summer’s festivals. Any in particular they’re looking forward to? “Electric Gardens and Field Day,” they nod in unison. “Some of the best line-ups of the year, I reckon,” enthuses JP. “Late Of The Pier, Foals, Justice‚” great bands.” He smiles. “Festivals are fun. We played Wireless in London last year. There must’ve been about 800 people – no, more – packed into this tent.”
“It was scary, but in a good way,” says Max, adding that he preferred the Leeds leg over Reading at last year’s Carling Weekend Festival “just because I was sober”.

Joking aside, the band are keen to stress just how involved they are with what they do. “I was so proud of the ‘Passchendaele’ video, especially,” explains Max “cause it’s like, a story within itself. We’re definitely involved with the concepts.”

“It’s good,” says JP, “we’re definitely all influenced by different things. Like, some of us listen to older stuff like XTC and Talking Heads‚””

“But when we were in the studio, we played the Guillemots album a lot,” adds Max, “and I remember the second Hot Chip record had just come out. Our band, though,” he smiles, “we all agree on.”

« Previous Interview
Next Interview »