[sic] Magazine

Interview: I See Angels

Manchester three-piece and former [sic] First Glances stars I See Angels are back with a new album, Your Memories Are You , and, having been privy to more than a few spins of it ahead of its release, naturally we leapt at the occasion to sit down with front-man Paul Baird and find out how it was put together and what fans can expect. Your Memories Are You was released earlier this week as a name-your-own-price download at bandcamp (see below for link), where newcomers can also go grab the band’s debut self-titled LP for the same corking deal.

RG: The debut I See Angels LP was officially released via your own label Mimic This. Has Will Your Memories Are You followed suit or is it simply “self-released”? Is the difference purely semantic when the album is available for a name-your-own-price download at bandcamp anyway?

PB: Exactly. Until there are physical copies of the album or it’s available on iTunes worldwide, I guess it’s not really that big of a deal who releases it.

RG: Speaking of which, will any physical copies of the LP be made available or is that dependent on its success – you know, demand and that?

PB: We plan to press a limited run of vinyl over the next few months for sale at gigs and our online store, places like that. We’re gonna fund it mainly through money received from downloads at iseeangels.bandcamp.com. The new album’s up for name your price (no minimum) so we don’t expect everyone will pay for it but we’ve been gob smacked by the generosity from fans who have.

RG: On to the new record itself. Why have I See Angels decided to do all the recording, mixing and mastering away from the studio? Have you grown weary of meticulous production or do you trust your live sound engineer so implicitly? Either way, would you agree that it’s fair to say the quality has far from dropped?

PB: Yeah I love the way it’s turned out. Our sound engineer’s drive to record our music sparked the idea of making the album this way. When you record in an environment purposely created for the job it can sometimes be stifling, especially if you like to improvise ideas on the spot like I do. Computers have made it easier to do things differently. If you’re industrious you don’t really need a traditional studio space to record in anymore. Anything goes. There are no limits to what you can do. It just takes imagination and graft.

RG: The pretty electronic patterning of “The Glitter Of The Lights” track taken from the new LP is a bit of a departure from the signature I See Angels sound. Was this a conscious decision or natural evolution? The way a small dose of raw noise is used low in the mix to balance the track out is pretty cool either way.

PB: It was pretty much a natural progression but I definitely wanted to shake things up a bit, not just mimic the sound of our debut album – react against it. I tried mixing up my methods, writing on different instruments, or beginning an idea for a song like “The Glitter Of The Lights” by programming beats, rather than with a chord pattern or a melody. It did the trick.

RG: Kudos too on the killer guitar action that opens “Autograph”. That tempo drop before the vocal kicks in and the raucous smash-and-grab indie-rock of the follow up “Some Big Drama” are well tight. And how huge is the anthemic “Atoms (Breakdown)”?! Where’ve you been digging to unearth these tunes?

PB: Dangerous places. You wouldn’t want to go there unless you really had to!

RG: Let’s talk next about your delicate and distinctive vocal, which I’d describe – if I may – as often quite fluttery. Do you have any conscious styling when it comes to singing or does it simply just come out that way?

PB: It just comes out that way. Apart from singing in the band I don’t sing at all, not even in the shower. I whisper happy birthday at parties. I’m shy about my voice. As much as I love hearing other people sing I never wanted to be a singer. I wanted to be a drummer or a guitarist. The thought of singing in front of an audience repulsed me. I guess I arrived at singing out of necessity because I had songs in my head that I needed to get out.

RG: Your lyrics are often noted as rather poetic. How much are you influenced by external stimuli when it comes to lyrics? Are you a cultural sponge or do the words burn their way out of you because they have to?

PB: I tend to write about things I or the people around me experience, mining from real life situations and conversations – things I know. For example, “Some Big Drama” is a true account about my girlfriend and I being held at an airport in Europe under suspicion of smuggling ammunition. Sometimes I make lyrics up on the spot in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way just before I record them. Songs like “The Glitter Of The Lights” and “Accelerated Love” from the new album are examples of that approach. I like to see what comes out that way. I’m influenced by a lot of fiction writers, guys like Raymond Carver . I love his short stories and his gritty writing style. My favourite lyricist is probably Leonard Cohen .

RG: Why have the band chosen to include a “hidden” final track? There are several minutes of dead air after “Oblivion” finishes before a heavily distorted, kinda haunting track makes an appearance? It seems a pretty popular manoeuvre at the moment; Twin Shadow, Alt-J and Beach House all recently did the same, for example. I must admit, it sort of annoys me …

PB: I like it when I fall asleep listening to music on headphones and a hidden track makes me jump awake. “Stuck On Red” was hidden on the album for that purpose. I was hoping we might frighten or annoy a few people with it. Job done.

RG: Anyway, and finally, what can we expect next from the I See Angels camp? A traditional tour to promote the album perhaps? Maybe some decent support slots at least? Or is it straight back down to more song-writing?

PB: Well, we’re already halfway through recording what will be our third album. It’s due for release in 2014. As far as touring goes we’re gonna see what happens and take any good opportunities that come our way. In the meantime we’re supporting Caveman on Thursday 7th November at Gullivers , Dean Wareham ( Galaxie 500 ) at The Ruby Lounge on Wednesday 4th December and Loom on 19th December at The Castle Hotel .

[sic] would like to thank Paul Baird for his time and wish I See Angels well with the new LP and their upcoming gigs. Paul also maintains his own blog The Glitter Of The Lights where he talks about choice tunes from yesteryear which you should check out as well as his contributing work at new music blog This Is Tru Luv . Make sure to also follow I See Angels on Twitter @iseeangelsinfo



iseeangels @ bandcamp


[sic] First Glances – I See Angels