You must know by now about my inner passion for eclectic tags: “Melodramatic Folk/Pop” is the brand new one I came across: “We realised quite early on that we weren’t a normal folk/pop band and that there was something completely different to our sound compared with other bands in that genre. We write folk songs and they’re written around pop sensibilities but there’s something else there that no one can ever put their finger on.” This melodramatic band is called Advice from a Caterpillar, and they are a Mancunian four-piece that blends in Urusen-like melodic riffs, honeyed folk and silvery vocals. Not afraid of being labelled as pop, they embrace the genre with pride: “The pop just comes from us loving pop music and writing pop songs. We love a killer pop chorus! I would never dismiss a good pop song because it was chart music or a manufactured artist. We’d much rather be described as a pop band above a rock band or an indie band.”
Out via Dirty Blood Records, the EP “Many Worlds” is disguised as carefree pop, even if its inner core adds a whole layering of emotional triggers and uplifting tunes (“Hatches”), stressing on polyphony and a solid backing as a key to its folk-y soul and adding a nice old-school rock touch with the guitar solo of “The Middleton Town Museum”. The EP is constructed around two vocalists with slightly different attitudes, which combine masterfully in the happy-go-lucky “Gravity”, my personal favourite. Produced by John Delf, (Plan B, The Script, Lily Allen), the EP revolves around the many-world theory: “all our decisions in life lead to alternate parallel universes where they branch out into a infinite number of outcomes. It’s something that really interests us and impacted on and influenced the songs on the record.”
Apart from being an adorable human being, Olly is also a really chatty fellow, and after making me blush with tons of compliments, he answered a couple more questions, which you can find below (I know it is not a professional thing to say, but what would you have expected from a blog with a talking apple?).
How was Advice from a Caterpillar born? What’s the story behind the group?
Well Dave and I have been friends since high school and have been in bands together for years and years, he’s the only drummer I’ve ever really trusted! He went to a music production university called Futureworks where he met and became friends with Hamlyn and Ian. Hamlyn has known Kyle since they were kids and lived on the same street as each other. Kyle wanted to record some new songs and asked if he could do at Futureworks. Hamlyn said sure but suggested he should record it with Dave. I came into it when Dave asked if I wanted to put guitar and some vocals on this guy’s songs he was producing and playing drums on, I was studying guitar at the Royal Northern College of Music at the time but I really missed being in a band. I got on really well with Hamlyn when I first met him and me and Kyle hit it off talking about songs we’d written and maybe writing some stuff together. I remember going to the Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester after recording one time and me and Dave asked Kyle if he wanted to make this little project into a band, we decided there and then that it was a great idea! After that it seemed natural to ask Ham if he wanted to play saxophone and then ask Dave and Ham’s friend Ian if he wanted to play bass for us. By coincidence Dave had already introduced him to Kyle and they had bonded over a Daft Punk remix Ian had showed him so it all seemed to fit together really nicely!
We’ve been together for almost 2 years now and we’ve become really close, best friends through our music. We have a really strong relationship that I think sets us apart from other bands. Other bands have great songs too but I don’t think they’ve got the connection and chemistry with each other that we have. It sets us apart from the rest of the pack!
Why choosing a name that comes from Alice in Wonderland? Coincidence, an episode you’d like to share with us, or an inner passion for literature and books?
It’s based around a passion for literature and books for sure! Literature is a huge influence for when Kyle (Vocals/Guitars) and I are writing, we absorb all that stuff and it comes out in our songs so it is partly that. But if you ask each member of the band where the name comes from, it’s unlikely you’ll hear the same story, Hamlyn (saxophone) for example relates it to the Caterpillar in the movie ‘Labyrinth’!
Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing your songs? Other great legends, local artists from your area (some of them may be called legends as well!), or maybe even books?
Like I said me and Kyle love literature, we both connected pretty early on over a mutual love of E.E. Cummings. People like Kerouac, Hemingway, Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman really influence us. All of us are huge movie fans too, we’re pretty geeky about that! We get in-depth and passionate about things like directors, composers and screen writers and what we like about each of them.
Really loved the artwork, was it made by an artist you came across?
Thanks! That was actually created by Hamlyn! He’s created all our artwork so far. We went through a few ideas and came up with the tree after I was looking up some information on the many-world theory and one theorist described it as a many branched tree, it fitted really well with our style and adding the planets as leaves was a really cool touch we liked!
Are there any artists, from the past or in the contemporary scene, that influenced you personally or your music?
Anything that’s folky or poppy is good with us! We’re also fans of pop/punk and ambient music. We love artists like Bon Iver, Bright Eyes, Fleetwood Mac, M83, Trophy Scars and John Mayer and we’re also into a few bands that are less well known. There’s a band called Annuals from America that are folky/poppy but have quite an eclectic, ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ style about them. Dave, Ian and I saw a guy called Night Beds in concert a few weeks back who we’re really getting into and there’s an upcoming band from Manchester called The 1975, we’ve sort of grown up on the same scene as them being from Manchester as well. They have some great songs! Their song ‘Chocolate’ is the best pop song I’ve heard in years!
Now, just a quick one about your life on the road. How has the road treated you recently, and have you got any embarrassing anecdote to share with us?
The road has treated us well! Playing live is what we do best, it’s probably our favourite thing about being in a band. We like to think we’re quite energetic and passionate live! We’ve been playing gigs around the north of England and the odd gig in London and further south. A highlight was probably supporting Delilah at the O2 Academy in Liverpool last year, that was a lot of fun and we got a brilliant response from her fans! The funniest anecdotes come from traveling to one of the London gigs. We’re not very good at navigating our way round that city so when Kyle and Hamlyn drove down together with all our gear they managed to pay the congestion charge twice! When we were staying at a friend of Ian’s after a gig there Dave and I also discovered we had exactly the same toothbrush which at the time we both thought was amazing and really funny…I guess you had to be there! We now refer to it as ‘The Toothbrush Scandal’! We also have a real talent for losing guitar stands at gigs, we’ve already lost about 5!
Last questions: what are your projects for the rest of 2013? Any dreamed collaboration you’d like to do in the future?
Well the plan is to gain exposure for Many-Worlds, play as many shows as possible and build our fanbase. Hopefully we’ll get to do a support tour with a cool band or artist! We also want to keep writing new material to go towards an EP or maybe an album that we can work on end of this year or early next. We’re all best friends so the prospect of doing all those things together makes it even more exciting! It’d be awesome to play some shows abroad too. The dream is to be in a country I’ve never been to before and playing a show with my 4 best mates to kids who are singing our songs back at us, that’d be amazing! We want to push this as far as we possibly can and see how far we can take it, keep on pushing for the next level! This band is what we’re best at!
We’d love to do some collaborations, always a pleasure to work with talented artists and bands! The 1975 would be a cool one or maybe to be part of one of Justin Vernon’s many side projects! Working with an awesome female singer would be brilliant too. I’d personally suggest Stevie Nicks if it could be anyone! I think I could say her name before my own mother’s when I was a baby!