“This feels like a really pivotal album for us” – hmv.com talks to The Cribs
Wakefield trio The Cribs are a principled band. Co-fronted by twin brothers Gary and Ryan Jarman, along with their younger brother Ross on drums, they’ve never been a band to try and court trends, polish up their tracks or chase stardom. All of this is why their latest record For All My Sisters is such an interesting left-turn…
Recorded with Ric Ocasek (frontman in seminal pop rockers The Cars), this album is the band’s first for major label Sony and it’s a searing blast of righteous alt-rock, but with a glistening pop tinge to every moment.
We sat down with Gary Jarman to talk about life on a major label, the band’s plans for their second decade and how they manage to cope with living 2,500 miles apart from each other…
For All My Sisters is out on Monday (March 23rd), how long have you had the record finished for?
“We finished it in November, so it got tinkered with over Christmas and then we handed it in around January. It’s still pretty fresh for me though, all the songs were written in and festival season in 2013 and then into 2014 so we’ve not been sat on them for ages.”
How long did the album take to make?
“It was quick. Really quick. We did three weeks, doing six days a week, we’d recorded the demos ourselves, either in our basements or a garage and then we went in and got the album done as quickly as we could.”
You worked with Rick Ocasek, who is a producer who doesn’t work with many bands, you must have been psyched to get him?
“Definitely. He’s not a producer by trade, it’s not his main job, he’s a songwriter and musician, so he doesn’t do much production, it’s quite hard to nail him down and we’ve wanted to work with him for a long time. All of our ideas of what it would be like working with him came true, he didn’t want to change the songs too much, we had a similar sensibility, he’s had some big pop hits, but he comes from this weird, leftfield tradition. He was just a great guy.”
You’ve never worked with the same producer twice, why is that?
“I see it as an opportunity wasted otherwise. We produce a lot of stuff ourselves, we produce all our B-Sides, Ryan has produced for This Many Boyfriends and Comic Gain, I’ve worked with Stephen Malkmus and a few other bands, so we know how to record and we could do it ourselves. But I like the opportunity to bring someone else in.”
“When you’re brothers, you spend so much time together and you’ve got such similar reference points. That’s great for writing, but it also means that when you bring in someone else to work with you it’s a lot more interesting. We’ve always worked with different people on each album, I don’t want to work with the same people every time. I hate the idea of going in with a safe pair of hands, I want to take a chance with every album we do.”
You released a ‘Greatest Hits’ album in between this record and In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, does it feel like you’ve cleared the decks now and are starting again?
“There are a few things that make it feel like that actually. It’s the start of our second decade as a band, we’ve got a new label, so in a lot of ways it feels like the start of something new. It’s obviously a continuation of what we were doing before, but this feels like a really pivotal album for us.”
This is your first album not on Wichita, how did that come about?
“Last year was really weird, I knew we were going to leave Wichita, but I wasn’t sure what we’d do next. They’ve been great, they’ve been with us from the start and from an idealism point of view, I liked the idea of staying on the same label for our whole career.”
How have you adjusted to life at Sony?
“Now it’s great, the team at Sony are really enthusiastic and full of energy. When you’ve been in a band for more than ten years, it feels really exciting to have new people working on our record, so it’s been a lot of fun so far. People think it’s weird that we’ve signed to a major label, but we’re at a point where we’ve been a band for long enough that we know what we are and any label that signs us knows what we are. It doesn’t feel risky. This is a roll of the dice.”
Were there other offers? Or did you ever consider putting the record out yourselves?
“Sony offered straight away, literally as soon as we said we were available. We had some other offers, similar to the Sony offer, but because they were first to express interest meant a lot. We’re quite a loyal band. We’ve signed to this Canadian indie label called Arts & Crafts in the US, it’s weird, we used to be on Warners in the US and Wichita in the UK, so this is the first time we’ve had an indie label in America and a major label in the UK. It’s a weird 180, it’s exciting.”
What kind of record is this lyrically?
“Lyrically, it’s quite similar to what we’ve done before. From our third record onwards, we seem to be inspired by the same themes, relationships, sentimentality, frustration, they’re the cornerstones of what we write about. We’re getting more confident at expressing ourselves now, I don’t worry about lyrics anymore, I used to work really hard on them and be far more guarded, but not anymore.”
What about musically?
“Musically it’s a more pop record. On Brazen Bull we tried a lot of different things, so on this album we’ve returned to our ethic of streamlining everything, cutting as much as we could, making it lean and punchy.”
Where does the album title come from?
“It’s a lyric from ‘Pink Snow’, the last track from the album. I like having titles that everyone asks about. It’s open-ended, it all ties into nicely into us being siblings.”
Do you find album titles difficult to come up with?
“Depends. They can be quite difficult, you know it’ll be part of your life forever, records are the main thing I’ve done with my life, so I need to make a fuss of the title. This one took a while, whereas The New Fellas and Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever were with us throughout the making of the record. We actually let Johnny Marr name Ignore The Ignorant (Marr, best known for his role in The Smiths, joined The Cribs from 2008 – 2011) he just really liked that title, we wanted to let him have a stamp on a Cribs record.”
How much live stuff do you have lined up?
“We’re just booking in our festivals now. We’ve got a few and we’re kicking off with Coachella. We’re getting everything lined up now. We’ve also got this really cool residency in New York coming up.”
Are you all based in America now?
“I’m in Portland, Ryan’s in New York and Ross still lives in England, there’s about 2,500 miles between each of us. Crazy right?”
Do you think they’re will be more of a focus on America with you both living there?
“We like touring out there. We’ve got a new label there and I’d like to justify that deal. But the UK is still the focus, that’s where we do the best.”
The Cribs’ new album For All My Sisters is released on Monday (March 23rd). You can pre-order the album in hmv stores across the UK now.
The Cribs will sign copies of the album at hmv Manchester and hmv Glasgow next week. Click here for full details.