Exclusive:The Answering Machine ‘Back In The Studio & Calling the Shots’

martinFresh from completing the tribute to the Buzzocks JD Set on Channel 4 together with Tim Burgess, The Answering Machine are off to the mixing studio next week to start mixing their second album.

The album, recorded in Manchester by the band themselves and produced by vocalist Martin Colclough, suggests a mature progression from their first album.

The following are Martin’s thoughts on what the band were trying to achieve with their sophomore album:

”….we were in a ‘fight or flight’ situation”

“We ended 2009 with a wonderful feeling in our hearts. We had created the debut album we’d been dreaming of since the band formed. It packed a punch and we believed it captured the boisterous energy of the infancy period of The Answering Machine. We spent the month of November 2009 hanging out in an apartment in Brooklyn, NY, feeling somewhat anxious as to the new direction of the band. As any band will say, the pressure placed on a second album is like nothing else. There’s a sense of finding some middle ground between the start and end product. We explored a few avenues, creatively. Beginning with a raw Sonic Youth-eque track called ‘Winter Without You’. The intensity and passion was there, but we just didn’t feel it reflected where we were at.”

“At this time, there was a certain sense of anxiety within the band. Not with each other, but more a reassessment of who we are and what we want to be. Something of a mid-mid-life crisis struck me, and the result was a song called ‘3 Miles’, the first track we completed as a band for the new record. It draws on emotions like we never have before in The Answering Machine, and is a ‘heart-on-sleeve’ account of where my head was at. It was also the creative spark we needed, and it triggered an outpouring of ideas and themes that would ultimately shape this second record.I think that really is the key to our second album; we move with our feelings much more, we no longer feel the need to tick boxes, instead we choose what feels right. A lot of the songs revolve around a linear guitar riff, and a chilled and slouchy drum beat. The bass guitar loops much more, and there’s a noticable ‘dance’ element to the songs, in the vein of ‘The Whitest Boy Alive’. And I guess I attempt to sing more, instead of shout. I have less to be angry about, more to be upset about. Each song is a snapshot of a moment in time.”

“I write this on the final day of tracking. We have produced the record ourselves, something which we felt strongly about. It means alot to me that we have full control over the finished product, as I want people to hear these tracks how we want them to be heard. No egos here, we are just extremely proud of what we’ve achieved”

The band will be assisted in the mixing process by the infamous Manics/Idlewild producer, Dave Eringa who produced their first album. The album is scheduled for release worldwide later this year.

The Answering Machine

The Answering Machine

We caught up with our friend Martin and asked him for the very latest on the new Answering Machine production and the reason behind the decision to produce their second album by themselves:

L4E: It’s been a while guys, so how’s everyone doing?

Martin: We’re very good thanks. We have our nose to the grindstone at the moment, working flat out on the follow-up to our debut record. So it’s been a pretty intense creative period, but has given us chance to gel a new set of ideas together musically. We’ve all found our musical tastes straying a little from one another, and we’ve used this in a refreshing way to get a new sound for the band. We were keen not to stay too stagnant on the second record.

L4E: It seems you were very happy with the first album, even going to the extent of saying it was a debut album you dreamed about making since the band started. Why was it so important to you to produce the follow up yourselves?

It’s no secret that the music industry is crumbling, with some going as far to say that the ‘Industry’ behind mainstream music will soon be a thing of the past. To be honest, we spent a couple of months immediately after the release of the 1st record going “what the fuck, if that’s what’s happening to the mainstream, then we have no chance”. So I guess, we were in a ‘fight or flight’ situation. Either we give up on the hope of making a second record with expensive named producers and fall into a graveyard of indie, or we raise our game and learn how to make this record ourselves. I’d begun showing an interest in producing anyway, and had spent a couple of months remixing other artists and demoing The Answering Machine’s new material, and we just decided that it felt natural to see this process through, from initial demos to the final recordings. It was such an exciting time, writing new songs and learning about how we could portray them from a production angle, so much so that the original demos were pretty much the finished article anyway. We just bought a better microphone and rerecorded them.

L4E: Give us a sense of how ‘3 Miles’ shaped this new album. It sounds like a very personal song Martin….? Did the location have an influence on the sound of this album?

Yeah, it is quite personal. I guess I have some issues with homesickness and seperation, and we spent so much time last year touring ‘Another City, Another Sorry’, it took us to Japan, LA, New York, hundreds of shows around the UK. There’s a strange irony when you’re a touring artist, in that you live this crazy life meeting new people, travelling to new places, and living out so many childhood dreams, but it’s the ‘simple’ and ‘mundane’ things that really inspire you. It’s hard not to get too sucked into that lifestyle, I’d hate for our music to become too influenced by that side of our lives. The ‘touring life’ is just a wonderful by-product of the ‘creative life’, but it’s not ‘real life’. And I guess this is how ‘3 Miles’ was born, and why I have referred to it as a mid-mid-life crisis in some ways. I guess, to analyze it lyrically would not do it justice, as it comes from a fairly obvious place of longing and desperation. But it was these themes that really shaped the second album for us. I have tried to feed these emotions in much of the songwriting on the record, and melodically I feel I’m beyond that of the first album, which sits nicely with Pat’s lyrical input, which has been heartbreakingly beautiful on tracks like ‘Anything Anything’ and ‘My Little Navy’.

I don’t think location had too much of an influence on the new songs. However, we have one song on the new album called ‘Hospital Lung’ that is very much a result of a moment in time. As you guys know, we spent a month in a rented apartment in New York at the end of last year, and i wrote this song in the back yard one day. We’d already been in town for a couple of weeks, and we had all completely fallen in love with the place. But you can’t help but feel so small in such a large city. So I tried to capture it in ‘Hospital Lung’ with a large feeling of isolation and melancholy. It gives a feeling of how introverted I was at the time. I played the song to Pat on an acoustic guitar and he instantly wrote the lyric for it, which draws on a number of New York references as metaphors for his physical and mental state at the time. I think we were both on exactly the same page for that song. We demoed it there and then, with Ben programming his drums on the computer. We fell in love with the demo to that song, and it still makes us feel funny inside each time we listen to it.

L4E: Were the linear guitar riffs, slouchy drums and looped bass influenced by bands you’ve been listening to of late or do you feel you’ve maintained the influence of those bands that have always evoked emotion from each of you?

I think our debut really showcased some of the sounds of the bands we were listening to at that time. But since then we have all collectively (and independently) explored music from before and since that time. Not to say that we weren’t listening to these bands prior to writing ‘Another City, Another Sorry’, but we feel we now have more freedom to draw on them. There’s no rule book anymore, and since we have self-produced the whole album, there’s no external input on the songs whatsoever. It’s actually been a whole lot more fun to piece together than our first album.

L4E: It’s exciting to hear you’re proud of what you’ve achieved with this record when can our readers expect to see you play these new tracks? When will you begin touring?

We’re actually just putting together the final touches to the album, and then we hit the rehearsal room from next week. We have a bunch of shows out in LA at the end of July, so keep your eyes peeled out there. We should also be back in the US in September, and we hope to do a tour throughout the country! We’re playing a small run of shows in the UK later this year too, and hopefully some dates across Europe before the end of the year.

To watch an exclusive music video for Martin’s remix of Bloodshot Days by The Crookes , shot and produced by TAM band member Gemma Evans, click below !

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