Joe Carnall on Good Cop Bad Cop, Matt Helders and Tramlines

Former Milburn frontman Joe Carnall is back with a brand new music project, Good Cop Bad Cop, which has seen him stick old mucker Matt Helders on production duties while bringing something far more cinematic, layered and synth-led to the table.

Intrigued? You can hear the latest album live in the flesh at Leadmill Live Stage on Sunday, but in the meantime we asked the main man to give his esteemed opinion on a few things…

Tramlines moving to Hillsborough
It was a natural progression. When Tramlines first started a decade ago it was so exciting, I can remember going out to see one band and you just end up staying out because so many things were happening around the centre. But I think in that middle period, whether you like it or not, it got a little stale; they tried a few things that didn’t quite work as well. I think this move makes it exciting again. It’s not just a half-arsed festival; it’s become a real big one in the North, you can tell by the number of tickets they sell and the kind of acts they are trying to attract. I think, although everyone is a critic these days, but when it got to a certain size it reached critical mass in the city centre. So, I think Hillsborough Park or one of the big parks was the only way it could go, and personally Hillsborough is the right choice because Sheffield Wednesday are the best football team – in S6, at least.

Changing approaches to songwriting
I am no longer constrained by having a typical setup – and by ‘typical’ I mean having guitars and drums around me – where everyone needs a job to do to keep ‘em happy. Because in that traditional setup you end up just doing the same thing because one of you plays the guitar, one of you plays bass, and everyone needs a bit of a job. Now, if I wanted to, I could just go and have a play on a synth for a few minutes and I don’t feel like I owe somebody a part and that means I tend to write stuff on the keyboard rather than guitars which, naturally, I think takes the songwriting somewhere else. I’m not trying to replicate a band sound; I’m trying to do the opposite. This makes the live show interesting because I have to figure out how to bloody do it.

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Bringing Helders onboard
A lot of the songs that ended up on this record I wrote with Matt in mind. I knew he was up for doing it and I knew we’d be recording out in LA, I sent over one tune and he was asked me straightaway to come over and record them at his place, so I suppose that entered my mind when writing the other tracks – which probably adds to the kind of retro soundtrack-like feel to it. He knew I wanted to try a different way of songwriting and how important that was to me. We recorded it in his garage, which is obviously big enough, and the whole experience was very laidback and liberating.

The experience of recording in LA
I don’t know what my thoughts are on America. I’ve been a few times but I really enjoyed it this time, it was my second time in LA. But I think that’s because I was staying with a mate. We did a load of great stuff because when you’re with someone that’s living there it wasn’t like being a tourist where you’re ticking things off to do and it feels a bit sterile. But I must say by the fourth week, some things about the culture were getting on my nerves – the false sincerity with every interaction. Not that I’m anti-social or trying to lay into a whole population but it’s the culture in LA – everybody wants something from somebody. I’m not sure I could live there; I just think there are more interesting places to go where you could learn a different language or something a bit more creative. However, there were some moments over there that were so evocative – touching down at dusk and seeing all the neon lights, the pink sunsets and palm trees, I don’t think you can help getting drawn into that, and it probably did have a big influence on the ultimate sound and feel of the record.

Good Cop Bad Cop moving forward
I’ve got a handful of festivals this summer, obviously Tramlines, which I can’t wait for and then there is another tour in October which will be cool because I’d love to see how people have lived with the album. Sometimes you get favourites from people and what they’re into and they’re often what you don’t like straight away. Other than that, I want to try and get some new music out to coincide with that tour; it’ll be a hell of a task but I’m up for it.

The self-titled debut album from Good Cop Bad Cop is out now

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