INTERVIEW

“We all like the idea of making a really snappy first album… and then fart in a bottle for an hour for the second one.”

Photography by Elinor Jones

Photography by Elinor Jones

“WE LIKE THE IDEA OF MAKING A REALLY SNAPPY FIRST ALBUM”

Where’s the fun in a fact? Broadly limited by the dullness of reality, it’s got a tough ride of it when up against make believe. Fiction trail-blazes its way about town making shit up, mooning science and generally kicking the crap out of fact’s well-pruned hedge of homogeny. Fiction, the band, though, embrace their limitations but that’s not to say that boundaries aren’t for breaking.

“If you come up against something and you’re getting resistance you have to work around it and that’s what we do,” says James Howard, sat sandwiched between his three other band mates. The multi-faceted vocalist, guitarist and drummer is talking about his group’s willingness to adapt. They have two drummers for a start, James being one, Mike Barrett the other. “We couldn’t find a drummer but having a commercial drummer doesn’t work for us as they are too inclined to use cymbals,” explains Mike. “We prefer our drums to be more succinct and precise, so James and I played as a joke in rehearsal one day, realised we could get away with it and it went from there.” Mike’s brother Nick plays the guitar but he’s quick to point out the importance of the rhythm section in Fiction – “The percussion is the heart and soul of the band,” he says “all the bands we admire are the same.” Beaten tracks or unchartered waters, that’s Fiction’s style. Lumbered with a drum machine for a while, it clearly didn’t suit. “That became limiting because you have to stay in time, with a machine, you can’t go off on one!” Always evolving, you get the impression all four of them could be addicted to The Sticks by the summer.

Their clean cuts, wry lyrics and dark pop sensibilities were quickly noticed by Offset Festival’s Kieran Delaney who picked them up for Offset Recording’s (and Fiction’s) debut release. “That’s actually meant to be a secret!” blurts out Nick, although he looks elated that the news is finally out there. It’s clearly an honour for the band but no-one can deny how well suited they are.

“I went to Offset in the first year and really thought it was perfect,” continues Nick. “We had a plan to play in the second year and we were asked to play the main stage”.

James butts in: “We shat ourselves!”

They needn’t have – a live set that teeters on the brink and a willingness to fuck with their own system continually catches the eye. “I guess that’s what people find exciting about our live set,” adds Daniel Djan, bassist and sometime vocalist “it always feels shaky. It could fall apart any minute, and we hope it’s intriguing to watch. You wait for that moment when it falls apart and it doesn’t… hopefully!”

Nick murmurs something about reflecting their personalities and a bell goes off; that’s exactly what Fiction manage to create. A vulnerable front, delicately walking the line of chaos but with big confident songs behind them, they are an enigma waiting to be revealed. “We are definitely getting more confident in ourselves although we’re certainly not conscious of it,” muses James.

A self-assured band with solid tunes all sounds a bit bland but this is Fiction, remember, not no-friends Fact. “We don’t force ourselves to have a certain image or play a certain way,” says Dan as Mike brings us back to the music. “It’s become a lot poppier and hookier,” he admits. “The songs’ times have come down from ten minutes to three,” he notes, perhaps because the band are already thinking about an album, or at least James is.

“We all like the idea of making a really snappy first album,” he enthuses “…and then fart in a bottle for an hour for the second one.” Now that’d be an Offset release we’d all like to see, split with No Bra, please. But Fiction’s debut single, ‘Curiosity’, will be rolling out early spring. Influenced by …don’t ask.

“We’ve heard the Joy Division comparison,” warns James “and frankly that’s just lazy.”

“Every band’s influenced by them,” reasons Mike. “We’re into XTC at the moment, err the band of course”.

Dan enthusiastically jumps in: “Talking Heads, obviously. Mystery Jets we like, Yeasayer, Wild Beasts.”

“Yeah, reel them off Dan!” shouts Nick from the other side of the room. But Fiction obviously listen to a lot of music.

“But none of us really listen to singles,” says Dan. “Who does anymore? Albums are so important to us as a band. We were talking the other day about how interesting it is when you discover a band; it’s quite a personal thing. James likes the Wave Pictures and it’s become sort of his band. Same with me and Little Boots,” he laughs Dan. A jovial contemplation no doubt, but Fiction hit the rhythmic, post punk nail on the head on so many levels. Fact.

By Ian Roebuck

Originally published in issue 14 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. February 2010

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