Ten years ago, kids raised on Oasis formed bands to bring about a blokey indie rock renaissance that lives on today in Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian. The Long Blondes were having none of it.
New Years Eve 2004, this is when the band all lived together and we were trying to have a party but I was getting really stressed because our first gig of the year was headlining an XFM all-dayer at Camden Barfly and I think that was on the 3rd and I was sat in my room all night working out what set we’d play and stuff. The gig we did was with Mystery Jets and it was on the edge of us being relatively big and I can remember going on stage and for the first ever time we looked at the crowd and the first four rows were young girls dressed in beret’s and neck scarves and we all looked at each other like, ‘fucking hell’. It was a good start to what turned out to be a pretty momentous year in my life, really.
A giveaway of a golden time is that you never expect it to end. Everything was getting better. We hadn’t signed a record deal at that stage yet and all of us were working. We’d get a bus down to London on a Tuesday night to play a Queens of Noise night in Camden or something – they were brilliant nights; it was such a good scene of indie bands. There was still an outsider quality to indie music back then. People were disparate but part of the same scene. There was a slight tip over in 2005 when you started to get landfill indie. Bands would come along that didn’t appear to be in it for the right reasons. 2005 was a peak year for those kind of [pre existing] indie bands.
Arctic Monkeys got to number 1 and I remember seeing them for the first time and just thinking: ‘No chance, look at them. No way.’ They asked us to support them at a homecoming show. It was full of proper, proper lads – I’d never seen anything like it at an indie gig and we went on and immediately chants of “poofs, poofs, poofs” started, followed by “Monkeys, Monkeys.” We did three songs and walked off. People were throwing bottles and stuff. I remember saying to Alex afterwards: “Do you know what mate, well done, you’ve done it, because once you get to that level where the knuckleheads get involved, that’s where the money is.” That was a turning point, though, I remember thinking this isn’t what we signed up for – we came from an old school indie background and up until then it seemed like the whole scene was like that until we came across this very laddy environment.
During that year every label in the country would be coming up to Sheffield and we’d be sat in this exact seat [Rutland Arms pub] where they would be buying us drinks. Most of the time we’d be sat thinking who’s going to turn up this time, and some clown would walk in the door and we’d be like, ‘we’re not signing to these.’ I’ve got a distinct memory of a guy turning up in a bit of a mod suit, a really new one that he thought might appeal to us and we just thought, is he going to court? He looks like a fucking idiot.
For us Rough Trade was a label we’d all grown up with and at the end of the day, Geoff Travis is the guy that signed the Smiths. He knows what he’s doing. Jeanette [Lee] was fucking brilliant too; the whole team were. What swung it was that we had to go down to London to meet them as opposed to them coming up here and we’d been so used to getting to a pub and a label buying us drinks and food, and we got to a pub to meet them and they never even offered to buy us a drink. We liked that.
Before we got signed, I used to run our gig flyers off in the office where I worked. Admittedly, I probably owe Sheffield University quite a bit of money – they used to say: ‘Dorian, how come we’ve ordered so much pink paper this month?’ and I’d always accidentally leave a demo CD case in the photocopier or leave loads of pink paper in the printer and lecture notes would end up printed on them.
‘New Yorkshire’ was coined in that year [by NME] and I remember doing a photoshoot for that but it was all lads; Sheffield bands like Millburn, Harrisons, Bromheads Jacket. We turned up and they were all lads in Fred Perry’s and I specifically remember Screech [Long Blondes’ drummer] and I going to the toilet to put on more make-up so we could distance ourselves from this as much as possible – which wasn’t difficult. One of the guys from Milburn came up to me and started prodding me in the chest saying, ‘you’re not even fucking from Sheffield, are you? What the fuck are you doing here?’ That localness was not what we were interested in.
We did the NME new music tour with Forward Russia, who were fucking great. The other two bands on the bill: Boy Kill Boy, dreadful. Lovely guys – one of them lent me his shoes one night on stage, bless him – but dreadful; very boring. The other band on the tour I fucking hated and they were all a bunch of pricks: The Automatic. When you would hear them soundcheck every day for three weeks you’d want to rip someone’s head-off. One gig at a university we had a large shared dressing room and they were acting like kids and doing our heads in and throwing loads of shit around like tomato sauce and we were telling them not to do it because obviously someone has to clean that up. Then the best thing ever happened – the janitor for the building came along afterwards and said ‘who’s done this?’ We grassed them in and he forced them to clean it all up.
I was listening to some music from that period on the way here to jog my memory and was listening to a track by the Cribs and the refrain of it is “take drugs, don’t eat, have contempt for those you meet”, and if you wanted to sum up 2005 in a sound-bite that’s it to me.