INTERVIEW

Leeds band Fun Adults discuss building their own recording studio, like, with bricks.

funadults

An hour or so before they’re due on stage, Fun Adults are humming with nervous tension, quietly chatting amongst themselves, all preoccupied with the night ahead. Most of them have been friends since high school – singer Declan Pleydell-Pearce, guitarist Huw Thomas and drummer Dan Jacobs all grew up in the West Country. Bass player Kyle Molleson first met Huw at University, in the group’s adopted city of Leeds. Tonight they are opening for Dutch Uncles at the local Brudenell Social Club, before setting off on tour with fellow Tough Love Records alumni Cymbals.

After releasing just one demo – ‘Til Sleep’: a curious, twisting descent into melodic and jarring beats – the band were picked up by the London label and are currently writing what will become their debut album, which for Fun Adults’ highly methodical style means “endless redrafts” and countless hours spent in the studio. Luckily they have their own recording HQ, in a recently converted 200-year-old barn based just outside Edinburgh. “It’s actually my Dad’s place and he’s always had a studio there,” explains Kyle, “so I’ve been doing recordings on various projects out there. Basically it was always near the house, he’s got two barns out the front, big old stone cattle barns, and so I’ve been threatening for a long time to turn one into a studio, but never got round to it. So we went up last summer and converted it, did lots of joinery and stone masonry. We’ve also had a few friends in bands going up there and helping out building the studio in return for a bit of recording time.”

“It’s pretty high up,” says Declan, “lots of midges in the summertime, snow in the winter, but it’s beautiful and a really great place to work, very inspirational. It sounds terribly cliché, but there’s no phone signal, lots of animals everywhere and it’s just a really nice place to be cut off, because you’re not distracted by things.”

Taking some time out from the pressures of the studio, the band recently created a mix tape for the Loud And Quiet website. Featuring an eclectic mix of artists including Fleetwood Mac, Aphex Twin, Frank Ocean and African soul singer Nahawa Doumbia, the recurring themes of intricately layered percussion and innovative production hold the collection of songs together, much like Fun Adults’ own material. Echoes of Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’ shiver through the lightly textured beats of recent single ‘Sap Solid’, blending with airy voices and pinched acoustic guitar for a light-headed glow. The track sold out as soon as it was released in October 2012, and is now doing the Internet rounds, largely collecting uniform praise and one handwritten note from junior blogger Duncan, aged 7 ½, who thought it was “bloody awful”. Language, Duncan!

‘Sap Solid’’s video, meanwhile, showcases drummer Dan’s talents for animated visuals, with paint brush effects that create fiery sunsets and trees dancing gently in the breeze – a mix of abstract impressionism and childhood drawings painted with dexterous ease that Duncan should in fact bloody well like. Huw assists but insists: “Dan’s the animation man. He showed me the ropes, but he was the brains behind all these, he’s very talented. Artwork is really important for us, we wanted to really mirror the sound with the imagery.” Dan smiles shyly. “Me and Huw, we work on stuff together,” he says. “We have similar ideas of how we feel about tracks. I think we’ll move more towards figurative stuff a little bit more now, because that where things are going with us as a band too, stepping out a bit and showing our faces.” He laughs. “Hey, maybe in the next one, it’ll just be just a close up of Kyle’s face for a few minutes.”

Fun Adults’ penchant for home recording combines with it a level of honesty that comes from being friends since boyhood. Although each are barely in their early twenties, their relentless search for perfection has created an understated master class in ‘Sap Solid’’s accompanying ‘Acacia’, with swirling Grizzly Bear tinged harmonies interwoven with fractured percussion. Facing their next challenge of recreating these sounds in a live setting, they are undaunted. “We are becoming players as well as writers and sometimes that’s a bit different,” says Kyle, “tearing up the computer and turning it into real stuff.”

“We do place an importance on production and we definitely spend time around computers,” says Huw, “so there’s going to be some electronic stuff, but we know where to leave it as well. There’s a couple of songs that we’ve just finished writing where it’s quite bare. And if live instruments are doing their jobs properly, in lots of places they can sound fantastic on their own.”

As well as developing their sound within a burgeoning Leeds scene, the four friends are currently working on recording projects with fellow local band Adult Jazz before concentrating on their own grown-up duties.

With the attention they’re currently generating it’s easy to forget just how ‘new band’ Fun Adults are, but living together means “the creative tap is never turned off”, leading to a constant stream of shared ideas and an accomplished musicianship that’s so evident in any number of their songs and YouTube video thus far. “You’ll always hear something new through the floorboards and you’ll run upstairs and say, ‘What are you working on?’” smiles Huw. “We’re all quite musically in sync with each other. We’re very tuned in to what each other are thinking, but that comes with knowing each other so well.”

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