The Book Club
Sheffield four piece The Book Club have become respected scholars in the study of melodious tracks, witty lyrics and catchy hooks over the last few years.
Fronted by Joe Carnall, backed with drumming/vocals from newcomer and symphonic link Alex Blake, Pat Conwill provides guitar/vocals, whilst Tom Colcough adeptly slaps his bass.
Now with a selection of affable characters in place, a good plot is needed.
Well try this on for size; two brand spanking new tracks, played live In Session at the Millennium Gallery, coming off the back of their hugely endearing latest single ‘We Built the Dancefloor’.
Throw in the promise of a second album before Chrimbo, plus some forthcoming gig dates, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a page turner. Got your reading specs ready?
Can you tell us a bit of about the two new tracks you’ve played, ‘We the People’ and ‘Silent Type’?
Joe: ‘Silent Type’ is I suppose just your stand-alone love song, with a Book Club sort of twist. We’re never gonna come out and tell someone you love them, because, well… we’re from Sheffield and we just don’t do that sort of stuff. ‘We The People’ is the first line of the American constitution. I started writing around the time of the Connecticut massacre, and I know it’s probably not cool to write about things that matter, but I feel it’s more important to write about stuff that we care about than going out and getting drunk.
When you write songs with a serious message, do you feel more of an obligation to get them right and does the emotive nature make them mean a bit more to play?
Joe: Yeah, in certain situations it does. Sometimes you’ll be in a pub in Blackburn and people will be like “What are they on about?”
Tom: It probably does mean more to us when playing these songs, but when you’re watching a gig not everyone is aware of the message of each track.
Pat We don’t really want to shove a message down people’s throats anyway.
JC: It’s important that it’s also a good song, even if people don’t know what it’s about then it’s still a good live tune. But for the 3% who are bothered what people write about, it’s nice there’s a bit of a message.
Plenty of vocal harmonies in the tracks too, something you’re looking to incorporate more of..?
Joe: Absolutely, we’re all over it. We never really did it for the first album – so it’s good to have something new to work on. I’ve been really getting into Simon & Garfunkel over the last couple of years, and I’m also a fan of the Fleet Foxes, so that’s where the inspiration behind the backing vocals came for me personally.
You’ve been known to reference historical eras and characters in your music, if you could collaborate with any historical figure(s) who would it be? They don’t have to be singing…
Joe: I like it. Erm, could they help me write lyrics? If so, *pauses* I’ll probably go for George Orwell.
Alex: Yeah, I like the idea of Orwell writing the songs.
Joe: Churchill would be a good front man. He’d kind of just stand there motionless, with his cigar, cool as owt.
Really? I’d imagine Churchill to be a bit like Buster Bloodvessel on stage. A bit livelier, like.
Pat: Yeah, I could see him being a bit like Bez.
Joe: Nah, he’d just stand there like Lou Reed and croon. He’s a crooner, Churchill.
Your band name could lead people to believe that you’re quite an intellectual bunch, and in keeping with our lovely session location today, do you chaps frequent galleries or museums often?
Pat: Erm, I went to the zoo at the weekend. Yorkshire Wildlife Park, that were nice.
Joe: I love the idea of museums, but I never go and see them, unless there’s an exhibition I really want to see.
Alex: I’m the same.
Tom: I don’t like looking at things with other people, that’s my problem. I want to go without being surrounded by people in my ear, nattering.
Joe: I think I’ve experienced a bit of a cultural improvement though. I’ve definitely gone from The Cineworld to The Showroom over the last few years
What’s influenced that then?
Tom: ‘Cos he’s a boring bastard.
Joe: There’s that, and it’s just miles better. There’s no idiots going, they don’t show Batman Forever, or whatever the latest is constantly on repeat.
Pat: And you can have a pint in there.
You’re stalwarts of the Sheffield scene; do you feel your approach has changed with experience?
Pat: I think we’re a bit older…
Joe: I KNOW we’re a bit older…
Pat: And maybe a bit wiser, and now we’ve all got jobs, which some people might think is a bit lame, but I think it removes some of the desperation in making music – because you can just enjoy it.
Whispers of a second album have been heard through the grapevine?
Joe: Yes. Definitely. We’re gonna’ try and get it done before Christmas – a nice little present from us.
The Sheffield music scene appears to be strengthening again, with a lot of love being shown to local bands. Could you envisage another ‘New Yorkshire’ wave reappearing, with local bands getting music into the charts on a consistent basis?
Joe: I think it would be hard to imagine any city doing that now. I always thought that ours was the last of the regional music waves.
Alex: People seem to be gravitating towards London, if you look at what’s in the charts, London bands seem to get more coverage.
Tom: Especially if you listen to Radio 1, every other new band they’re bigging up is usually from London.
Any thoughts why this is? Maybe a touch of journalistic snobbery from your NME’s and the likes?
Pat: Basically, a lot of them don’t want to come up the M1… and we don’t want to go down. I do think, though, that if you’ve got the right songs, you can always break through.
Your Sheffield fan base is a strong one, it must be a motivation to keep bringing out new tracks when you’re packing out venues…
Joe: Yeah, it’s really good. We once announced we were playing The Great Gatsby on the afternoon of the gig. It was absolutely rammed and ended up being a top night.
You’ve even collared footballing bad boy Joey Barton as a fan?
Pat: He’s just got good taste, I think.
Joe: It was like 2006, or summat like that. I was in Liverpool, playing with Milburn, and I went to the toilet in this bar and a phone rang whilst I was at the urinal, and it was the ‘What You Could Have Won’ tune. Joey Barton turned around saying “Oh, I’ve got that tune on my phone” and I kinda’ tapped him on the shoulder and said “that’s me, that.” That’s how it started.
Be honest, do you like on him on the pitch?
Joe: On the pitch *pauses* he can be daft. But he knows that. He makes me laugh to be honest, especially with that thing he did to Ibrahamovich; he were having a bit of a pop at him and he just did the Pinocchio mime with his nose. It’s good having characters in football.
Tom: To be fair, I’d take him over 90% of the footballers that are about, who are just boring.
In the video to your most recently released single ‘We Built The Dancefloor’, you treated us to a cracking Adam & The Ants impersonation. How did that come about?
Joe: I’m not sure, it just kind of snowballed. We didn’t want to be The Book Club in the video, a bit like Weezer in their ‘Buddy Holly’ video, we wanted to dress up as a kinda party band. So we ended up going for the 80s and, before you knew it, we were choreographing Adam Ant moves and getting make-up artists in.
Tom: It was a lot of fun.
Pat: But it suited the song. That song is essentially about that generation of people who used to wear make-up when they went to gigs and go mad… and sadly have forgotten about that a bit.
Joe: Yeah, it’s about those who you used to follow daft fashions, and go see your ABC’s and Human League’s now having a go at the youngsters for doing the same.
This could become a regular thing… which new wave 80’s band is up next?
Pat: It will have to be 90s next, I reckon.
Tom: Backstreet Boys are back.
What’s The Book Club’s plan for the next 12 months?
Tom: We did fall off the radar a bit, but luckily now, I guess we’re a bit more organised…
Pat: … Coming back into focus
Joe: It is hard when you’ve got working lives, you can’t get as much time in the studio as you may like, but we’ll be working on getting the album finished before the end of the year – and there’ll be plenty of gigs in the pipeline.