The Lovely Egg: Hopes for 2012
By Tom Gore
Towards the end of last year, Tuesday 6th December to be precise, I saw The Lovely Eggs perform in Manchester on the last gig of one of several UK tours that the hard-working band had done in 2011. Made up of former Angelica lead singer Holly Ross and her husband Dave Blackwell, 2011 saw the Lancaster based duo release their second album, Cob Dominos, and their reputation increase further; their music has now amassed over 100,000 combined views on YouTube with the pair becoming one of the most talked about bands in the north-west in the process. With their set consisting of just a guitar and drum kit for the majority of the hour and a half they were on stage, coupled with Holly’s strong Lancastrian vocals, the band rocked the sold-out Northern Quarter venue Night and Day and often stopped to talk to the audience in between songs with various anecdotes and ramblings, an enraptured crowd listening to every word and laughing at every story they had to tell. With their music encompassing many different genres, but with most of their songs based around a punk sound, The Lovely Eggs really are one of the most original sounding bands in years and need to be checked out – they’re great live and their rather bizarre low budget music videos are always extremely funny and imaginative.
Pulp spoke to the band after their gig in the depths of their Night and Day dressing room, where they discussed everything from their love of Manchester, Holly’s time in Angelica, the music industry and their hopes for 2012…
Tonight marked the last gig of your UK tour, how do you feel it has gone?
Holly: The tour has gone amazing we think!
Dave: Yeah, absolutely brilliant, it’s been sold out most nights.
Holly: It’s been nice to go to different places, there have been a few places we haven’t been to before and we’ve gone up and down the country like a yo-yo so it’s been two weeks of just brilliance before we stop for Christmas. We’re gonna write a new album next year and have January and February off with no gigs so it’s been nice to do a big blast out of rock ‘n’ roll over a short period.
Do you have any particular favourite gigs that you’ve played on this tour?
Holly: I really liked tonight, it’s always nice to the tour in the north of England where you feel at home. I’m not prejudiced against the south or anything… [Dave laughs] I’m not though, I’m not! But it is nice to end it where you feel at home. But we’ve had some good gigs down south, you know, like we did… Brighton was good, that was sold out and Birmingham was really great. It’s just really great when people know your songs and sing them back to you. We had a party in London last night for our single launch and that was brilliant, you know, since we’ve never had a party in London before, so that was good.
What do you think of Manchester as a city in itself? Do you come here often?
Holly: Well I was born in Salford so it’s my spiritual home. I suppose it’s the biggest city nearest to Lancaster that I’ve got, so my opinions of Manchester are pretty, pretty high really, I like it a lot and I think it shits all over a lot of cities… Just generally, I think it’s got really good music, dead good bands like Hotpants Romance, Float Riverer, Nod, loads of really good bands. As Simon Cowell would say, Manchester nails it on the underground scene. Cherryade Records [the band’s Manchester based record label] are a really good underground D.I.Y. label, they have that ethos of letting bands just doing what they want to do.
Dave: Yeah because they just release stuff and it’s not for any monetary value or getting anywhere, it’s just for the music, which essentially is what it’s about really, for us anyway.
Holly: So we love Manchester, music-wise, everything!
Holly, how do you look back on your time with Angelica now?
Holly: The way I look at it… It was brilliant; I had a fucking amazing time, who wouldn’t? Being 17, being in this band, getting to drink all this free drink, doing all these amazing records and getting to travel about… I did love it, but I’ve learnt from it, like with Lovely Eggs I learned that the main priority with a band should be to have fun, and fuck everything, and just do it for your music, yourself, and to have a fucking crack on tour. In Angelica we were very young, we were releasing records in London, getting in the NME and we had a fucking poster in Melody Maker, which is ridiculous! [Laughs] I realise that now and I kind of don’t want them things now, they’re not important to me, whereas maybe they were a bit more important when I was younger. When we formed The Lovely Eggs it was a completely different agenda, we’re not bothered about anything apart from playing music, having a party, meeting really cool people and having fun, so it’s shifted. So I look back on my time in Angelica with fond memories, but it’s a good learning curve being in a band and seeing how things can be and how not to do things.
You took a hiatus from music once the band finished, was there any particular reason for that?
Holly: Oh no, we were skint like, we were signing on most of the time and when we got kicked off the dole we working in places like dead-end bars and stuff. I think when we split up we just wanted some money, we’d never had a real job, we started the band when were 15 or 14, so when we finished that band I was like ‘I want to earn some fucking cash!’ So I did two years of that, and then started to slowly realise ‘cash is alright but, you know…’ [Tails off] And also I think I feel I’ve been tainted by the music industry, like all Angelica’s coverage in NME and Melody Maker and getting on radio and urggh… It really put me off being in a band, cos I didn’t like the people we were surrounded by and I didn’t like the vibe or the insincerity of the music business. I kind of thought that was connected to the music so if you were in a band it just went hand in hand.
Dave: But we’ve found that’s not necessarily the case.
Holly: If you want to form a band, you can do it on whatever level you bloody well like, and if you wanna do it where every night you have a good time at a party and you meet some genuine people who love your stuff and you develop relationships… Cos that’s one thing about our band, we’ve made so many bloody friends!
Dave: The thing is, it’s your band so you can kind of do what you like and maybe Holly didn’t realise, you wouldn’t, cos you get swept along with something that you don’t necessarily want to be involved with, so we kinda just thought we’re not gonna be involved with that and we’re just gonna go our own way.
Holly: And we’ve made so many friends, so like Nick from Float Riverer, we’re his friends, and Hotpants Romance we’re their friends just by purely being in bands and playing gigs together… Whereas in Angelica’s day it was bizarre, it’s a different level really, but you’d turn up to a sound check and there’d be this kind of competition between bands and there shouldn’t be competition between anyone. It’s just saying whatever approach to live you wanna have, you can do it and whatever approach to being in a band you can have it, and we just took a completely different approach and were like ‘fuck all that shit, we can do what we like.’
The music you guys make as The Lovely Eggs is influenced by and made up of many different genres of music, so it’s hard to describe. How would you describe you music?
Holly: Well, that’s difficult!
Dave: Yeah, it’s cos we don’t really have a genre that we think we’re part of, we just kind of do what we do. When we formed the band it was never the case of ‘oh, we like that sort of music, we’re gonna try and fit in with that.’ We never thought we’d form a band together really, we’d been going out for a few years and eventually we were like ‘let’s try and play music together.’
Holly: It’s just an experiment, whatever comes out, if we wanna write any genre of music we’ll just do it. One thing about our band is that we say, ‘no rules’, we break almost all of the rules! Some bands are like ‘we won’t do this and we won’t do that’, but we’ll do everything! We’ve played in scrapyards in LA, we’ve played people’s birthday parties before, and people were like ‘oh you’ll never do that!’ Oh no, we will.
Dave: And we release singles that can’t be played on the radio, like Fuck It, and people will say ‘why are you releasing that?’
Holly: And if feels so free to be in a band where there are no rules and you’re not playing a game, music industry wise, you’re just doing what you want and that translates to our songs. So if we want to do a song that’s 15 or 20 seconds long we will do it, or say if we wanted to do a blues song or a jazz song tomorrow, we would do it.
Dave: Yeah, if we played it and we liked it then we would do it, we won’t think ‘oh, that doesn’t fit in with what we do.’
What inspires your lyrics?
Holly: Life, I think. I think life’s quite… funny. Life is quite dark, but it has its funny moments, and living in Lancaster it certainly does. Lots of people move to London when they form bands or for a career if they want to be a really good, whatever it is, they’ll move to London. We’ve said we won’t do that, and living in Lancaster which has lots of little communities really influences our stuff.
Dave: Yeah, situations we’re in or something we see or something we’re inspired by, lots of different things.
Holly: Essentially the ridiculousness of everyday life, because it’s pretty ridiculous, we think.
As well as the Manchester bands you’ve mentioned previously, who are your other favourite bands at the moment?
Holly: We really like a band from America called Agent Ribbons, they’re really cool.
Dave: We’ve been introduced to a lot of Welsh bands like H Hawkline and Cate Le Bon.
Holly: And Y Niwl, they’re like a Welsh surf band, so a lot of Welsh stuff at the moment we think is great.
Talking of Welsh people, how did you get Gruff Rhys (lead singer of Super Furry Animals) to produce your latest single, Allergies?
Holly: We wrote an e-mail to his record company saying ‘do you think Gruff Rhys would be interested in producing our single?’ We’d heard on the grapevine that he was into our band; someone had told us that they’d seen Gruff Rhys live and that he walked on to Have You Ever Heard a Digital Accordion? [a Lovely Eggs song], so we knew he was into us and we wanted someone who was really into psychedelic shit to produce our single. The track’s inspired by a 60s band called The West Cost Pop Art Experimental Band, and we really wanted this full on psychedelic sound, which I think it does have, and so we e-mailed his record label and he got back to us straight away and said ‘yeah, I’d love to do it’.
Dave: He came up to Lancaster to our studios and it was really weird, but at the same time quite amazing.
The Lovely Eggs are known for their outlandish videos; do have any particular favourites that you’ve done?
Holly: Well my favourite at the moment is our new one [Allergies], obviously, because it only got released recently.
Dave: One of our fans who has now become a friend, Casey Raymond, said he’d make it for us and it’s an absolutely amazing video.
Holly: He’s got a very warped mind! [Laughs] But we quite like warped minds… I do like all of the videos because they’ve all got happy memories, Digital Accordion was brilliant, we roped my mum in and all her friends and our friends.
Dave: That was a funny one, I mean they’ve all been really fun to make.
Holly: Every video we’ve made has been a joy, so we can’t really pick a favourite but the one we’re into at the moment is Allergies since it’s the new one.
Did it take much persuading for John Shuttleworth (the character played by comedian Graham Fellows) to put a sausage roll on his thumb in the Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It) video?
Holly: Oh well that’s funny because he came to Morecambe and he was staying there. We knew him a bit already because we’d gone to see his show and we were at a party in Lancaster, one that he was at, and we were speaking to him about this Mike Leigh film called Nuts in May, I don’t know whether you know it? [Pulp says they do not.] It’s really good, you would love it, I know you would. Anyway, he knew all the lines out of it, I did, Dave did, we bonded with him over that and we corresponded with him over a number of years off and on.
Dave: So he was doing a show at the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster and we wrote to him saying ‘we’ve got this video we’re doing this weekend’ and he said ‘I’d love to be in it’, but we were a bit freaked out because we had to say ‘we want to put a sausage role on your thumb…’ [Laughs]
Holly: So I texted him and said, ‘Hiya, how do you feel about putting a sausage roll on your thumb?’ So I waited and waited and waited and then got a text back saying ‘No problem!’ In fact he ate a whole packet of family sausage rolls on set and was a bit ill afterwards!
Last question: What have you got planned for 2012?
Dave: A bit of writing. We’ve written some songs and we want to record them and then write some more.
Holly: We want to do a new album really. We’d like to get a new album out by the summer, so after we’ve played our last gigs for the year in Germany we’re gonna go back to Lancaster and early next year we’re gonna write our new album, fingers crossed, touch wood, and then we’ll be doing more gigs I think.