by Marty Taylor
Image by Richard Shakespeare myspace.com/shakeypix
UB40, Napalm Death, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Ocean Colour Scene, Duran Duran, Demis Roussos *blink* to name but a few….
Over the years Birmingham has produced some of Birmingham’s most favorite bands! With some degree of talent and very inventive marketing, Birmingham has played it’s part in the musical world. Now another Brummie gem is about to take the country by storm. They have already wowed audiences at the Moseley Folk Festival (booked after being spotted playing in a mate’s kitchen), Bestival and British Sea Power’s ‘Sing From Ye Hillsides’ festival and are soon to be doing the same at Glastonbury 2011.
Formed in 2009 in the green(ish) Northfield hills, there has not been this much excitement over a Brummie band since Musical Youth! People of B31, I give you Matt, John Fell, John Joe, Sammy and Liam … Goodnight Lenin! (Watch the video – Don’t let their clothes put you off, they really ARE fantastic!)
I watched the video expecting to think that they we ok, but may my nipples be covered in hair if I don’t speak the truth, I honestly love Crook In The Creek! :-)
They have been kind enough to allow us an interview by email (thanks to Matt for answering!), and I think after reading it you will be left with the same conclusion as us regarding Goodnight Lenin: brilliantly inventive and addictive music, humorous and down to earth fellas, deservedly destined for bigger things.
I have just watched your video that was shot in the Lickeys, great song, great video. But what I, and probably many others were left wondering, is
that umbrella from a very large cocktail? Or are you a tiny band?
Haha, the umbrella is actually an optical illusion. We couldn’t afford a real umbrella so had Ridley Scott in to work his magic on a fried egg with a toothpick stuck in. Contrary to popular belief the video was actually filmed in Earlswood on the recommendation of the kind people at Moseley Folk. Very nice place indeed.
As I just mentioned your video for “Crook In The Creek” was filmed at the Lickeys, do you often sneak about the Lickeys playing Guess Who?
Sneaking around woods and playing Guess Who is our second favourite pastime after kick the can.
Where exactly are you all from? Did it have any influence on you with your music?
We’re all Brummy lads born and bred and herald from a delightful township called Northfield. It has played a huge part in our music. No two ways about it.
How did you all meet?
Sammy and Matt met in the pen up in Winston Green. Sammy was doing some hard time. It inspired them to release the award winning hip hop album “Electric Jigaloos”. Meanwhile, Liam, John Joe, and John Fell met at a trial held in the high court. They were witnesses in a high profile case that we’re currently unable to disclose the details of.
*Editor’s note: We think there may be a bit of tall tale telling going on here! ;)*
What school or schools did you attend? Did you enjoy it? Were you good pupils or were you naughty monkeys? Did school/teachers have any influence on you with your music? Did you get much help or encouragement from school/ teachers / local people?
The majority of the band attended Tommies [St Thomas Aquinas] while Sam went to Shenley (prior to his stint in the pen). Apart from Fell stabbing a fellow pupil in the head with a pencil we were all fairly well behaved apart from the odd scrapes. I wouldn’t say teachers or music lessons had a particularly big influence with our music if the truth be told. It’s more the music you listen to with your mates and that older siblings pass down to you (OCS, Oasis, The Smiths, Slayer, Blur and “Made of Stone” by the Roses seems to be a popular elder brother to younger brother hand me down).
Local people (when reading aloud say this like Edward from the League of Gentleman) have been extremely supportive and we’re massively indebted to their enthusiasm and dedication to the band. A number of our old school teachers regularly attend gigs actually which has been great.
How important are your roots? Do you still live local?
Roots are very important to the band. We’re extremely proud of who we are and where we’re from. Without roots you’re a little groundless in a way – nomadic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but for the band our roots brought us together and have held us together so they’re everything.
Liam, John Joe, and Fell live in Bartley Green and Sammy and Matt have recently moved to Digbeth not far from where the band rehearses.
Where did the name Goodnight Lenin come from?
It was a combination of the German film Goodbye Lenin! and the Beeb’s Goodnight Sweetheart. That simple and that odd.
A question I’m sure many girls and many boys want to know, are you fellas single?!
Three fifths of the band are single. Which three will remain a mystery. Perhaps a game of Guess Who can resolve it.
In one word, how would you describe your music?
I have read that you are inspired by Dylan and Demis Roussos?! A possible cover?! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIk9w8qOIek&feature=fvst
The link isn’t working but yes!
Apart from playing at Glastonbury this year and doing a Demis cover for me, what would you like to see next for Goodnight Lenin?
A tour would be next on the agenda to raise our profile nationally and playing with some well established bands who we admire. We’re all itching to get on the road now. Oh, and to play on Jools Holland – always wanted to do it.
Ever hand fed a Raccoon? I have!
Sam once punched a spider in the face and I believe John Joe once got sick on a Great White Sharks face in South Africa– no lie. Beat that.
If you could give any advise to youngsters who play in a band, what would it be?
I think half the battle is being on the same page as each other so listening to the same kind of bands and musicians. You can start learning the ropes then individually and collectively as you forge your own sound. And of course, remember always to have fun with your mates. Playing music is only part of being in a band. Some of the best times in the band are when we’re travelling to a gig or are doing other things outside of rehearsal and playing live.
If you don’t mind, we’d like to show you an influence you yourselves are having on today’s youth, what do you think of these?
Firstly Albie aged 11, his sister Kizzie 10 just starting to learn to play:-)
(audioboo of Albie & Kizzie’s song omitted due to potential ribbing at school thus leading to great suffering for their parents – us!)
And last their little brother Enso, he is 4:-)
Firstly, how worried are you? Secondly possible future support band for you?!
Firstly, fantastic names – Albie, Kizzie, and Enso! If ever 3 kids were destined for stardom! In all seriousness though, that is tremendous. Shades of Pink Floyd with experimental riffs and flowing melodies. We need to stay on sharp and keep on our toes. Support band? We’ll tune up for them before they headline Glasto.
UPDATE June 26th, 2011: New EP Wenceslas Square now available on iTunes