INTERVIEW

“Our band is about trying to act our age. There’s a lot of bands who seem to be quite concerned with being young.”

Photography by Owen Richards

Photography by Owen Richards

ACTING THEIR AGE

The working parts of various defunct and dormant bands make up the Frankenstein’s monster that is Trogons – a darkly psychedelic quartet that pet their inner nerd and write theatrical sci-fi garage.

“I want the songs to come across like a comic book with a serious message,” says singing bassist Gemma Fleet, also of punk band KASMs. “‘Contina’ [the band’s debut single, released on April 25th] is a comic book story about a woman that breaks through the ice and she has a massive stave, and she comes up and has a look around and she sees that the world is really shit – she’s come to save it but she decides that she should destroy it herself so she slams her stave into the centre of the earth and the whole planet implodes, and she laughs her head off and flies off into the universe.”

“We’re quite geeky, y’know?” says guitarist Andrew Doig – a member of Spin Spin The Dogs and once of The Human Race. “We like Star Trek.”

“Oh yeah,” says Gemma. “I’ve got a couple of songs about Star Trek episodes. And I want to write a song about Battlestar Galactica.”

“No,” says Andrew, “that’s too far.”

In the dimly lit cellar of an east London pub, where stories of planet-impoding space birds should be shared, the other members of Trogons (drummer Dean Hinks – also from Spin Spin The Dog – and newest member Philip Johnson, of Kindness) laugh at the deadpan toing and throwing. Until recently they had a member of twee poppers Betty And The Werewolves in their midst also – Helen Short may or may not rejoin the group, although Gemma hopes she does. “I’ve always been in bands where it’s either balanced or there’s been more women than men,” she says, “but this is the band I’ve always wanted to be in. Since I was, like, fifteen I’ve wanted to do a band like The Doors…”

“But we don’t sound like The Doors,” says Andrew.

Gemma: “Well, no, but it’s an interpretation because we’ve got an organ.”

“I want it to be a psych band,” says Andrew, “but I’m not sure if anyone else thinks it sounds like that.”

We do. Although when you think psych, you think America, and, ultimately, you think of that sunny corner of the States around northern California. Trogons certainly don’t sound like that. Their songs – in case you hadn’t noticed – aren’t dreamy and zen. They don’t go on forever either. They’re pretty concise in their gloomy weirdness, propelled by the continual wooz of a keyboard. Due to Gemma’s sharp vocals, you can see why they’ve been tagged ‘gothic’ too, although the repeated comparison to Siouxsie and The Banshees definitely has more to do with the singer’s hair colour than the band’s music.

“I suppose all comparisons are lazy,” says Philip. “People have to write something and they only have so many words, so they’re never going to get it completely right.”

Andrew: “In terms of comparisons to other bands, if we’re talking about the immediate kinda things that people talk about, I’d say that we don’t want to be associated with… how do I put this?” Andrew looks at a puzzled looking Gemma. “Well, I don’t want to name bands because I don’t dislike the bands, I just dislike the movement… the Bermuda shorts stuff,” he says, “the dude stuff! Some of it I think is quite good, some of it I think is terrible, but I don’t want to have anything to do with that. It seems to be that people start these shoegazey bands now and they’ve instantly got three seven inches coming out and they’re everywhere. It’s a formula. If anyone does that now it’s going to be quite successful. I’d rather everyone hated us and we didn’t do anything than take that route.”

Between them, Trogons know – or have been in – what seems like every band in east London. ‘Contina’ is coming out on new label X-Ray, co-founded by another member of KASMs, Scott Walker; it and its b-sides were recorded by Rory Brattwell, and the band also have a cassette tape EP out on Suplex Cassettes, the label of Matt Flag from Fair Ohs. If they ever did fancy pulling on some Bermuda shorts they could make extra light work of hype-heavy dude punk.

“But, if anything, our band is about trying to act our age,” says Andrew, “because we’re all nearly thirty, y’know? So my personal goal is to try to appear my age, because I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of bands who seem to be quite concerned with being young. I’d rather be quite old. But I do mean that though,” he says to his band, “I’m not just saying it for the interview. I might not have ever said that before, but I just want us to act our age, y’know?”

By Stuart Stubbs

Originally published in issue 26 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2011

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