INTERVIEW

The hardcore band from Leeds with a singer who can’t remember their shows.

Eagulls-1

We’re not off to the best of starts. After weeks of emailing, two of Eagulls have failed to show up. Called into work at the last minute, it’s the curse of the unsigned band. By way of an apology the remaining members tell me about a recent interview where things got a little out of hand. Drummer Henry Ruddel says, “We were only trying to have a laugh. It was after the gig, we’d had a few beers… she wasn’t having any of it.”

Henry first formed the band two years ago with Mark Goldsworthy. They recruited Liam Matthews on guitar, but only managed to complete the line-up a year later when Tom Kelly arrived on bass, followed by singer George Mitchell.

Henry says: “We were sitting there after a practice dead disheartened. Like, ‘Why aren’t we gigging now?’ We wanted to be doing stuff, so we thought, fuck it, phone George!

George laughs. “We went out and got pissed up and they said, ‘Are you going to be the singer or what?’,” he says. “They hadn’t even heard me sing anything!”

“We had faith in him ’cause we knew his character and had seen drawings that he’d done,” explains Mark. “All of that was what we wanted to project with our lyrics. We didn’t want them to be too deep or too serious. Not loads of metaphors, just something real.”

Their name is inspired by Shaggy, (growly voiced ‘dutty winer’ Shaggy, of ‘Mr Boombastic’ fame) and combined with Seagulls for a British twist.

Henry explains: “We were at Primavera festival, and they always play cheesy European stuff between bands. A very long time ago Goldy (Mark) went on holiday with his family, to a caravan park…”

“They had this rubbish entertainer,” continues Mark, “and he sang ‘Angel’, but we thought it sounded like ‘Girl, you’re my Eagle’. I just imagined this singer with an Eagle on his arm and couldn’t stop laughing. So when that came on I started singing and we sort of became obsessed with Eagles for the rest of the holiday.”

So far they’ve featured on Huw Stephens’ BBC Introducing show and have recorded a session last month at the Maida Vale Studios. And the buzz surrounding their first single, ‘Council Flat Blues’ (released on Not Even Records), has given them speedy notoriety. Descending from post-rock fuzz into a heady, sprawling punk breakdown, it’s a master-class in agitated song-writing that could become as classic as Rancid’s ‘Olympia WA’.

Mark says: “A lot of our friends still play in underground, hardcore bands and they’re all really happy for us, not that we’re going mainstream, but the fact that things are happening for us.”

Their songs carry a raw, yet strangely anthemic quality too. Live, singer George seems completely unaware of everything around him, pacing the stage like a caged dog. Combining the charisma of Billy Bragg and the snarl of Johnny Rotten – minus the political agenda – he is reluctant to engage with, or even acknowledge the crowd.

George surveys me carefully, then cracks a grin. “Nah, that’s just how it will be. As soon as we get on stage it doesn’t matter how many beers have gone on, it’s nothing to do with that. You’re just on stage and everyone’s fucking doing it. It all changes and I go into a different zone. I can tell you now that I can’t remember any gig I’ve ever played.

“People try to take pictures of us and I always think it’s funny as fuck,” he continues. “When there’s loads of people with a camera in your face, I turn around. Take a picture of that! Why do you have to face the crowd to be the front man?”

Despite being labelled as Hardcore, thanks to Mark and Liam’s previous bands (Liam played guitar in Fast Point and Mark in Hordes), they owe their origins and much of their influences to UK punk. George says: “I got into music through skate videos when I was little. I told everyone I was into punk music, so my uncle made me a mint CD. I’ve still got it to this day. I wrote True Punk on it. It’s got all the best UK stuff, like PiL and all that. We weren’t there, but we’re fucking influenced by it.”

They previously self released a cassette EP too, cheekily titled ‘Songs of Prey’, and have plans to record a split single with local band Bhurgheist. Guitarist Liam is also working on a new band called Teen Rebel Dope Fiends, which Mark describes as “a bit in your face, rough around the edges.” This month they are about to embark on a UK tour with Serious Sam Barrett, and they retain their modern day approach to ‘punk ethics’ by keeping their presence on networking sites to a minimum, in parts baffled and annoyed by kids ‘tweeting’ during gigs.

George says: “I think it’s stupid that people sit there texting instead of watching a gig that could be the best gig they’ve ever seen in their lives. If you’re not there, you’re not there.”

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