Hello there. Next week, we’re putting out a new free download. It’s called Speak, and we are very very excited for you to hear it.
Here’s a quick blast of art that we put together to help you to get excited too:
It’s out on Wednesday, 05.06.13, as you can see. Here’s the lovely artwork, by a proper artist (http://cargocollective.com/parkinparkin):
If you want to get to the front of the queue and be the first to hear this, sign up to our mailing list.
And to see a live performance of it soon, subscribe to our Youtube.
Cannot wait for next week
PS, June live dates and tickets are here
15.06 - Oxford, St John the Evangelist
19.06 - London, Hoxton Hall
23.06 - Hamburg (D), Kulturhaus III&70
24.06 - Köln (D), Studio 672
25.06 - Moutier (CH), Stand’été Festival
26.06 - Nürnberg (D), Club Stereo
We’ve just last week got back from a fun-fuelled month of touring the UK with some brilliant bands, To Kill A King and Gaz Coombes. You can now enjoy some of our tourist snaps. Re-live a month in the life of Spring Offensive in just a few minutes!
Birmingham, day one at the Institute and round the corner from here
Leeds, at the awesome Brudenell Social Club
Leeds again, and a Daniel Johnston original behind the bar
Manchester metal graff
Glasgow - end of the To Kill A King tour
Day one with Gaz Coombes, inside the stunning St Mary’s Church in Ashford
Portsmouth seaside scene
Gaz from stage-side
Couple of photos from a fantastic gig in Gloucester, taken by the wonderful Andrew Ogilvy: http://andrewogilvy.com/
Sound It Out records in Stockton-on-Tees, closed on a Sunday night, naturally.
Detour through Yorkshire
Street art outside York Minster
For the last few dates, we did invaded Gaz’s stage for the final number with a multi-drummer percussion odyssey, which was crazy amounts of fun
Liverpool outside the Kazimier - inside our collective brain, all squiggles and seagulls.
And we’re back in Liverpool later this week for the Sound City! Very excited about this one. We’re playing on Thursday, at 10:15pm at the Epstein Theatre, just before the wonderful Stealing Sheep. If you’re at the festival, come join us. It’ll be a total blast.
Check out the line-up by the way. Wow
See you there then.
Oh, also, we’ve got some news about a new track coming your way very soon. Stay tuned
Today we start our tour of the UK with the impossibly handsome Gaz Coombes, formerly of Supergrass. Massive week ahead. These are the shows:
16.04 - Ashford, St Mary’s Church
17.04 - Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
18.04 - Cardiff, The Gate
19.04 - Gloucester, Guildhall
21.04 - Stockton-on-Tees, Georgian Theatre
22.04 - York, Duchess
23.04 - Liverpool, Kazimier
Tickets are here: http://www.gazcoombes.com/live/
Speaking of handsome men, that Matt Stokoe out of our video is currently stealing hearts all over the country in the BBC’s show The Village. He’s going to tour with us in his very own travelling Not Drowning but Waving bathtub.
By now you might have already watched out video for No Assets. It’s been online for a few weeks now. You might have enjoyed it. You might have found it confusing, especially if you didn’t know what the concept behind it was. You might, of course, not have seen it yet. If so, you might want to read this first…
Back in January, we started talking about how to make a video for No Assets, without spending any money. We’ve made all kinds of videos before: a single shot video, a performance video using sign language, a narrative-driven video… What we wanted out of this one was a little different.
Matt and I wanted to make something that was part installation, part music video. We wanted to experiment, and do something that was challenging, both to pull off and to watch, but which didn’t require expensive hires, gear or cameras.
A few ideas were mooted and scrapped, until we eventually came across one that stuck. Why not film 12 things at once, all from a different point of view, and play them back simultaneously? The logic seemed flawless. And the best thing about it; it hadn’t been done before.
What, then, to film? A bunch of people making a nuisance of themselves in the centre of London? Too messy. The systematic destruction of the interior of a house? Too complicated. A dance? Now you’re getting somewhere. Building on the core concept of a dancing couple, we spent a week dreaming up loads of ideas that would work or look interesting in this format. The theory was all good. Now onto the practicalities.
One of the first problems we encountered was how to film. We approached a major extreme-sports camera manufacturer, but they couldn’t have been less interested in the project. We needed to be resourceful. We needed something that almost everybody has. Smartphones. After that, it was a simple matter of attaching the phone to the performer’s body. Except it wasn’t quite so simple.
The North End Road in West London, which runs between Hammersmith and Fulham Broadway, is a spectacular emporium of junk and bric-a-brac. Pound shops compete for the best bargains, cobblers and mobile phone specialists share shop space, and market traders compete with high street brands for the attention of the casual shopper. It is, in effect, the perfect place to shop on a budget. We spent full days chasing deals on the street’s main activity hub, as everyone was keen to secure our services for a bizarrely bulk order of predominantly unwanted goods.
After observing the professional methods for creating chest mounts, and investigating a few tutorials hidden deep and unwatched somewhere in YouTube, Matt developed an ingenious method for building the harnesses DIY. Among the frankly ridiculous shopping lists that this video compelled us to write, were the 36 luggage straps, and around 12 leather iPhone holsters with belt straps. It took days to track down holsters that worked as the holster sizes were some way short of being uniform, and we needed them to fit every IPhone model, and had to cut a hole into them to line up with each phone’s camera. The luggage straps only came in a lurid and deeply unattractive rainbow design that had apparently rendered the plain black version obsolete.
Eventually, we managed to track down all the ingredients.
As we spent full days trawling discount stores, the worst thing about the project, the thing that really kept us up at night, was that we knew all along that we weren’t going to get to see if the idea worked until it was all done, that is, until it was too late. We almost didn’t want to tell anybody we were making a video, just in case it was a total disaster. The closest we came was during the only rehearsal we had, two weeks before the shoot with a group of very talented friends, all of who are hugely adept at devising and performance. We would go through a sequence, sync up our phones, lay them down in a grid and watch them all back at once. They were almost always out of sync, often wrongly aligned and invariably demonstrating gaping holes in the project. Hardly optimum viewing conditions. Realising that we were probably in too deep, we carried on.
One thing the rehearsal process and the feedback from participants did demonstrate was that we needed to keep it simple. The more complicated the routine, the harder it was to watch, let alone execute. We knew we wanted dancing, so we decided to keep that element as the main feature. We trusted our dancers to devise and choreograph their own sections, and concerned ourselves with how to make the rest of it work. The hands were an idea that came very easily. It was a simple way of getting the lyrical content across and experimenting with the form of having 12 different performances all filming at once.
The really fun bit was the section in the dark. It took us a long time to work out what we wanted, but eventually, Matt created a sequence which made absolute perfect sense. I think what I love about it is the fact that it takes the rules of the video, which have been established over the previous few minutes, and it flips them, so that the grid becomes a vehicle for the visuals to use, rather than a way of displaying them. The form no longer experiments with perspective. It’s a really exciting moment. We talk a lot about videos needing to deliver, to have that moment when the fireworks go off. This is that moment, and it was the last thing we came up with.
Finding a venue for a shoot on a budget was always going to be a big challenge. In theory, London is full to bursting with warehouses and white-box installation spaces. In practice, these are all managed by film location companies, who are catering for the very top of the budget range. We wanted venues in London, that were visually empty so as not to distract from the already challenging to watch video, and didn’t cost the earth. After days of searching, we found three. After we went around them, it was clear to us that only one of them was appropriate.
The Doodle Bar in Battersea is set in a large industrial unit on the river, just neighbouring all of London’s major architectural firms. It is a few years old, and one of its major features is that most of the walls are blackboards, on which the patrons are encouraged to express themselves-hence the venue name. It’s an artsy space, and one that works as a natural home for creative projects like this. The Sunday of our shoot was the day after an art installation’s closing, and the artist had already allocated full week to disassemble his work which included the engine of an old Beetle. We called him up and asked how he felt about taking whole thing down in two hours.
First thing on a freezing Sunday morning, the band and artist Jabulani Maseko were hoisting something that weighed at least a ton and chucking it out onto a skip, clearing paper artworks and sweeping away shards of broken glass. A space that had been full when we arrived was, a couple of hours later exactly what we needed; a blank canvas. And then our team arrived.
We had this vague sense of unease. Had we gathered a group of people together for something that we genuinely didn’t know would work? Would we waste everyone’s time? It felt like we might. We also only had only around eight hours to teach the routine to everybody, drill it, and feel comfortable enough to film. Oh, and a single mistake on a single camera would render the entire take redundant. It was an afternoon of high stress. But we approached it methodically.
The day was essentially split in two. The first half would be learning, and the second half would be doing. We rattled through the routine at a frankly terrifying pace, pretty much without any breaks. With zero-margin for error in this ambitious schedule, it felt like walking on a tight-rope. For instance, on the opening shot, which we created by holding balloons up to our camera lens and then bursting them with safety pins on the first hit, we had to keep going back over and over again as people’s balloons burst unbidden (presumably due to the palpable tension in the air…)
Once that was out of the way, we had to stand in two lines, and film each other. This was tricky to work out, as height differences meant that there was no set distance that would function universally. Trial and agonizing error was the sole method at our disposal, and we did manage to find our distances and stick to them.
The idea was then to get the two dances filmed as interestingly as possible. The great thing about the first dance is that it works in several ways. We see something that is only visible to Josh (the first dancer), from his point of view top left. We then see the same dance from 11 other perspectives, meaning you can choose which angle you view it from.
Likewise with Sara and Tom’s contact dance. As this was almost the first idea we came up with, and that’s why their cameras are in the middle of the grid. They have to be the focal point. Watching the dance from one of their points of view is a dizzying experience. The dancers not only choreographed their whole sections themselves, they also put themselves through a physical battering every time we ran a take.
Whilst it would have been amazing to film the entire 12-camera video in one go, we ran out of time on the shoot day. So Matt and I crammed into our editor’s toilet to film the light sequences that finish the video in individual takes. A fitting end to a constantly adapting process.
Once we had the footage in hand, we realised that one challenge we hadn’t anticipated, amidst all the other elements, was just how time-consuming the edit would be. Running 12 HD videos simultaneously was asking far too much of our editor’s processor. Every time we tried to render the video and run an export, the whole project was blighted by green flashes. After two full days of putting it together, another 36-hour session was required to fix the problem in time for the deadline. When it was finished, late, late at night, our editor, the very talented and accommodating Jack Plummer, fell to his knees with relief.
All that was left was the crucial bit: how did it look. When we watched it back, the answer was mostly just inconclusive. We had no idea whether it was a total mess, or something that worked. We still don’t to be honest. Please watch it yourself and let us know what you think. It’s certainly not perfect and we can see a lot of flaws. But it’s never been done before, so hopefully it’s quite interesting. And maybe, just maybe, it’s turned out pretty well.
All photos by Gabriella Hood
Our UK tour finished yesterday, prematurely, as it turned out. Our plans to drive from Oxford to Norwich for the final show of a week-long run around the UK were thwarted by the catastrophic failure of the driver’s windscreen wiper to remain attached to the vehicle.
Given that rain, snow and god knows what else were falling in great quantities from the sky, it seemed unwise to attempt to drive blind. Norwich at the Arts Centre would have been great, especially as it was being put on by our buddies Olympians. But it wouldn’t have been good enough to risk death. No offense, Norwich.
It was annoying, because up until that point the tour had been brilliant. We were treated brilliantly pretty much wherever we went. We’re hugely grateful to all the people who put us on and put us up. You make the wheels turn.
There were so many highlights, including two great acoustic hometown shows and a big sold out London gig at the Lexington. Liverpool was a massive party, Newcastle was a super-cool gallery gig, Cardiff was intimate and warming in the miserable weather, and Bristol was full of good people and a triumph despite some odd issues at the venue. It was a swell week.
We’re off to Basel, Switzerland on Wednesday, for a one-off show at Kaserne (tickets here), before a month of touring the UK in support of To Kill A King and Gaz Coombes. With To Kill A King we’re playing every show except London, and with Gaz we’re doing the first seven. We can’t wait to tour with these guys, gentlemen all.
There’s a lot more coming your way from us over the next few months. Don’t mind the weather. The year’s got off to a great start.
See you soon
VIDEO FOR NO ASSETS NOW ONLINE!
It was filmed using 12 chest-mounted iPhone cameras, and unless we’re much mistaken, no video has ever been put together in this way before.
If you dig it, please like it here and over on Facebook, comment to tell us why, and most importantly share it wherever you can.
We want everybody to see it. We need your help on this. Enjoy.
We strapped 12 iPhones to 12 performers, choreographed a dance, and put the whole thing together on one screen. Tomorrow at noon, you’ll get to see what it looks like.
To get it first, subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/SpringTube
Or sign up to our mailing list: http://bit.ly/SpringFan
Also, see us on tour from Friday. All dates are here: http://bit.ly/SpringGigs
Photo by David Drake
Here’s a sneak peek for you. This one will be pretty interesting…
All photos by Gabriella Hood: gabriellahood.com
We have some very exciting news for you. We’ll be touring with the charming Gaz Coombes and his well-dressed outfit in April, all over the UK. Here he is, shouting:
This is obviously hugely exciting for us, and we’d love as many of our fans as possible to come and join us. If you’re near one of these places on one of these dates, get on that:
16.04 - Ashford, St Mary’s Church
17.04 - Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
18.04 - Cardiff, The Gate
19.04 - Gloucester, Guildhall
21.04 - Stockton-on-Tees, Georgian Theatre
22.04 - York, Duchess
23.04 - Liverpool, Kazimier
Tickets? They’re here.
Speaking of tickets, there aren’t many left for our big London headline at The Lexington on March 19th.
It’s less than a fortnight to go, and we are champing at the bit. Grab your tickets here now, before it’s too late!
It’s all part of a larger UK headline tour, the rest of which is made up of intimate and unusual venues. Come and find us here (click on the date for ticket links):
17.03 - Oxford, Turl Street Kitchen SOLD OUT
21.03 - Cardiff, Undertone
22.03 - Bristol, Rise Records (w/ screening of Being John Malkovich)
So that’s all very very exciting. Yes yes.
Last week we were in Switzerland by the way. Thank you so much to everyone who came to see us play in Bern, Aarau and Luzern. The Swiss are amazing, you made it an incredibly fun weekend for us, and the first cluster of shows for 2013 were a massive success.
Here are some snaps from our time out there.
This is a statue of a man in Bern, eating children. Which is undeniably unsettling. He is not representative of his town’s people. They are all lovely.
This is us in Aarau, where we played downstairs from the uniquely terrible “rapper” Asher Roth. You know, the guy who loves college. Like, really loves it. Because of all the women and the beer pong. Anyway, I’m getting off the point. We had a lovely time. As this pink photo shows.
And here we are in Luzern, for our final show of the bunch. This photo is taken by Sophie Ganzmann, and it’s pretty awesome. It’s a really wonderful venue, and we loved played there.
Enough already. Thanks for your time.
Oh, there’s new music and a video coming very very very soon. Keep watching.
Here it is. In March we’ll be doing a short tour of great, unique venues all over the country. We’re massively excited about these; they’re going to be a really special bunch of shows. Ticket links/events to follow soon.
We’re going to be announcing a Spring UK tour tomorrow. It’s a short one, but they’re all very cool, interesting venues, so it’ll be a special bunch of shows. Check back here tomorrow.
On Thursday we played with the mighty Stornoway in the Oxford Town Hall. It was an amazing night, and a great way for us to start the year. Thank you so much; to them for having us, and to you for getting down early and showing your support.
Here’s a photo of the epic stage just before doors opened:
You should watch this, by the way, from the balcony of the Town Hall. The song is called The Ones We Hurt The Most, and it is, simply, perfect.
Let’s catch up tomorrow
Guten tag one and all.
Wir haben more gigs to announce! We ist going on a tour in support of das awesome To Kill a King, in April around the UK (excluding das London show). So we will be playing at the following venues……
9th April - The Temple, HMV Institute Birmingham
11th April - Brudenell Social Clubl Club, Leeds
12th April - The Ruby Lounge, Manchester
13th April - NICE N SLEAZY, Glasgow
Have ein watch of their new video for de track ‘Cold Skin’. Das ist amazing, I am sure you will agree! They are off on ein tour in support of das mighty Bastille in March too. Two fantastiche bands.
BUT FIRST (I am dropping the German)
We are going to be supporting the equally brilliant Stornoway at The Oxford Town Hall on the 14th of February. A good one for all you Valentine’s day lovers. The gig is now SOLD OUT, but have a listen of their new single here. It’s good, but not as good as seeing them live. Like Diet Gig, or something.
Also in February, we are off to SWITZERLAND again for a handful of new shows! Visit our gig page here to see all the dates. It is part of a mad mad race that is being put on, so please come come and see us.
Here we are chilling with lions. (photo by Mikka Stampa)
Finally, we have a headline show at The Lexington, London on March 19th. It’s our biggest gig in the capital so far. Please book early and get your tickets from this wonderful site. Spread the word godddddamit! Support acts to be announced soon.
Love SO x
Hey everyone. It’s a little late, we know, but a very happy new year to you nonetheless. It’s good to be back.
Here’s a new year photo, by Alexa Gibbens:
So this is a little update about what’s going on with us during the early stages of 2013.
It’s cold outside, so we’re holed up in the studio in Wiltshire recording a bunch of new songs. We venture out from time to time to walk along the canal and across the waterlogged fields. Yesterday we came across a couple of pylons that were crackling violently in the mist. And some kids standing in silence around a couple of parked cars with their hazards flashing. Plus a woman on a barge, who thought she’d lost her cat, but in fact she hadn’t. Reminded us of this brilliant video.
Here are a couple of pics from the studio:
This one features Theo with studio wizard David Pye:
And this is Mrs Jones, Chris’ hamster. She is not directly involved in the recording:
The new songs are taken from our sessions following our two month tour of Europe and the UK last year. The truth is that we’re incredibly excited about playing them, about recording them, and about you hearing them. More news on all that very soon… For now, just trust us when we say they’re sounding pretty special.
Next week, we’ll be announcing news of our first few dates of the year, starting in February. They’re going to be some amazing shows, and we can’t wait to be on stage again. After so many gigs last year, two months is a long to be away.
There are many other exciting developments to tell you about as they happen. For now we invite you to enjoy one of the last things we filmed last year, a session for the awesome Cardinal Sessions, which took place on a street corner in Cologne, where someone had discarded the entire contents of their living room. It’s a form of recycling in action. There are acoustic versions of two songs - Worry Fill My Heart and firstly new tune Red Oak. Watch them right here. Then check out the rest of their channel, because all of it is great.
More from us very soon.
Oh So Soon
It’s getting dark. Already. And cold. Time to retreat from the world and head somewhere warm and safe.
Like so many members of our mammalian brotherhood, we’re going to hibernate over the winter, in various houses, basements and studios, as we get to grips with the early stages of a collection of songs that may or may not (but we hope will) form the basis of an eventual album. It’s vague. But it’s full of promise.
Already, there’s progress. And the excitement of our new material we have is keeping us up at night.
Plus, we’ve been honoured with the title of BBC Introducing in Oxford’s Band of the Year, previously given to some of our favourite bands. We spent an hour in the studio talking and choosing some awesome local music, as well as taking part in and excelling at an impromptu WW1 quiz. Listen to the whole thing here.
We’ve had a little string of dates in the UK after our epic two months on the continent, firstly up in Newcastle, then twice in our hometown of Oxford (one a headline show in bizarre surroundings, the other an intimate unannounced living room show), and finally over in Liverpool. They’ve all been amazing.
Here’s a couple of photos from our Oxford gig, which took place at a Secret Location that some found slightly uncomfortable, but that’s (almost) always the best way:
(Photo by Greg Lacey)
(Photo by Paul Hayday - Hayz Photos)
Now we’re down to our last two what has been a very busy year for us. Tomorrow night (Wednesday), we have our biggest London headline show to date, a sold out gig at the gorgeous St Pancras Old Church. If you’re coming down to that, we promise it’ll be something special.
But we’ve also got a last minute London show to announce today. It’s a free gig on Thursday supporting Among Brothers for their single launch at Electricity Showrooms in Hoxton. Though it’s going to be a short set, it’ll be our final performance of the year, and therefore you should come down and join the fun, especially if you didn’t manage to get a ticket to St Pancras. The Facebook event has all the necessary information.
So yeah, that’ll be it from us for 2012. There’ll be plenty of updates, but we won’t be venturing out from our various hiding places. We’ll be back early next year though, and already we can’t wait to show you what we’ll have with us then.
See you in London over the next two nights.
Oh and PS listen to this - new music from Oxford, including an amazing TEED cover. Out.
It’s already Monday, two days after we left Germany and returned home after a tour that has seen us play 32 shows in six countries over the course of more than 6000 miles, all during a seven-week period. There were times when it felt like it would never end.
But on Tuesday morning, waking up after a wonderful show in Hannover, packed wall to wall for what was probably our biggest crowd of the whole tour, we had that sense that it was winding down.
Or rather, working up to a big finish. Only three shows remained, and all of them in places we’d previously been: Cologne, Heidelberg and Mainz.
In Cologne, we started our evening by catching the last of the autumn sun for an acoustic session outside. We set up around someone’s discarded living room, complete with sofa, TV, cupboard and other artefacts of everyday life. We then made for the venue.
We were playing in a genuinely tiny bar, with around 80 people squeezed in, which was run by some very unpleasant character and staffed by a soundman who didn’t have any work ethic at all (he spent the whole gig texting, and we had to shout at him throughout the gig in order to get his attention). That being said, the gig was still a success in spite of these people.
As we soundchecked, yet again a massive queue had formed outside, just as it had in Hamburg. The general incompetence had led to a delay, so they were waiting in the cold, some of them without a chance of actually making it in when doors opened. We decided to go out and play a few songs for them as a warm up to our full-band show.
It was hot, airless, and with shoddy sound, but it was more than made up with by one of the best atmospheres of the whole tour. A cracking night.
First thing the next day, we went to the airport to pick up a passenger for our final two shows. It was a guy named Joe Charlett, erstwhile bassist of Spring Offensive, now playing for Gaz Coombes, and on a drinking holiday under the cover of “helping you guys out with merch and roadying and all that”. We drove to Heidelberg with him in tow.
We saw nothing of the beautiful university town, only skirting the high-walled US military Patton barracks as we shuttled between hotel and venue, as sickness yet again began to take its toll on the band. This far in to tour though, there was no need to hold back, and we had a great show in the charming but slightly odd themed bar, Haell, where murals of skulls and an entire inferno landscape provide the backdrop and wallpaper.
The night rolled on, with our now-useless roadie showing himself more at ease with the roll of party guru, lining up the shots and leading the charge.
The next day we all woke up deep down under the weather, with voices creaking and cracking all over the shop. But with a short drive and a last show in Mainz, where we’ve always had the best time, none of it mattered. Our first appointment was to play for the students at the Johannes Gutenberg University, named after the inventor of the world’s first printing press. We had a sizeable crowd of people, some of whom were already planning on coming to the show, and others who hadn’t heard of us before. Most of them made their way to Schon Schoen that night, for a big last show of tour.
It was around 11:30 by the time we went on stage, and everyone was more than ready for a gig by that time. Ourselves included. We played to a fantastic, responsive crowd, and found it hard to leave the stage by the time it was over, our path to the exit obscured and blocked. But we did make it off and backstage, where we had a massive party that went on, for some but not all, all the way until 8am. Joined by a few friendly faces from Oxford who happened to be in town, it was a great evening. A fitting ending to an amazing tour.
When morning eventually came round, we had kebabs for brunch before piling into the van for the long, long drive home: 6 hours to Calais, then the crossing, then 2 hours to London. Rigorous border checks almost delayed us further, as the customs officers grilled us on why exactly the van has been in Europe and in so many different countries, over such a long period.
“We’re a band.” “Any good?” “Hope so!”
A couple of days off now, then on Wednesday we’re back in the studio and off on the road again on Friday, when we play in Newcastle. Thank god. Tour is something you need to ween yourself off. You can’t just go cold turkey.
Yet again, we’ve met so many incredible people, seen countless breathtaking sights, been humbled by so much generous hospitality, been lucky enough to play to amazing crowds and fans almost everywhere we’ve been (we have the best fans in the world, we’re sure of it), and got to know each other so much better. We feel so grateful to have this job, to have had this opportunity. It’ll stay with us forever.
Now we’re looking to the future. There’s so much to look forward to.
See you then