In interview and review for our Future series, Moreish Idols take us through their debut EP ‘Float’.
For creatives, it’s an old adage that the environment you inhabit affects your work.
To take two examples, David Bowie and Arctic Monkeys both produced albums which were products of their place, while The Clash’s broad spectrum of sounds was testament to the multi-cultural influences found in the capital.
Originally hailing from the sleepy coastal town of Falmouth in Cornwall, five-piece Moreish Idols’ maiden EP Float is the product of their relocation to London.
A laconic sax and guitar line eases the listener into first track Hangar before the guitar goes frantic alongside a cowbell heralding a burst of rhythm.
Excellent drum fills and a rapid-fire vocal delivery from singer Jude Lilley cement the chaotic vibe but, unlike say Black Country, New Road, there is a cohesion and structure to the song.
Tom’s vocals become more intimate on the lower-key but equally dense on When The River Runs Dry, with a simple but effective chiming guitar straddling the chorus.
W.A.M. is insistently jangly with the sax adding colour to an otherwise solid song, while Speedboat demonstrates Moreish Idols’ key strength; the capacity to sound raggedly loose but controlled at the same time.
The EP opens and closes with a modular synthesizer buzz at the same pitch, giving the collection the feel of an insight into the quintet’s world.
In an exclusive interview with Live4ever, Lilley and bassist Casper run through that idea and much, much more.
“When we went to the studio we were so excited because Dan’s (Carey) got a wall of modular synthesizers and all these compressors, it’s like a toy shop,” explains Casper.
“He got out a synth which has only two working models in the world and he likes to put it on everything he released. It’s got this amazing feature where you burn this big knob and there’s eight different voices that all tune into each other at different points.”
“We heard and we were like, ‘This has to be some kind of transition’. We got the idea that we could make this never ending piece. We’d listened to the EP so many times and we thought it sounded really good.”
“It has a certain story to it which you hear the more you listen. Dan then tuned it so it was the right key at the end of Speedboat and at the beginning of Hangar. We wanted it to be a little Easter Egg for those who are obsessed!”
For those paying attention, it will come as little surprise that Dan Carey’s name has cropped up in conversation. Arguably the busiest man in music, Carey’s ubiquity continues through his patronage and support of Moreish Idols.
Jude explains how their relationship came about: “We did lots of home demos but we couldn’t replicate the songs we were recording at home, live. They just didn’t translate very well.”
At the same time as this, Speedy Wunderground was blowing up and Dan Carey was pioneering exactly that, bands playing and getting that to tape and getting the recording.”
We decided to do a live session at our friend Dave’s studio on Old Kent Road to get the four songs on Float. We just spent months and months practicing those so we could get them good live, with the intention to record a live session and send it around to anybody who’s interested.”
“We sent it to so many people, and of all people Dan Carey was the one who replies. It couldn’t have gone any better to be honest!”
“I think he just happened to be on his phone when the email came through. He’s even said, ‘I’m gutted that there are so many bands that get in touch and I don’t see their emails’, because his inbox is so full. He just happened to look at his phone, saw our email and played the session straight away.”
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, Jude explains the history of the group to date. “We all went to uni in Falmout, but we all studied completely different things.”
“I wanted to start a band for ages when I went down there, then I met Tom playing drums at a house party and just said, ‘I want to start a band’, and we did!”
“We started this three-piece with another guy and it formed over the years in Falmouth. Casper joined, then Sol joined, Tom left because he graduated, Dylan joined and then we all moved to London, reconnected with Tom, and that’s the five-piece.”
“It was really laid-back music down there because we were living a laid-back life. It really reflected living in Cornwall and by the sea.”
“As we moved to London, cowbells got involved, it was quite coincidental as the post-punk thing was kicking off and we wanted to be more entertaining.”
“We started to get a little bit more upbeat, which was quite difficult. We were trying to find out feet and it was mainly over lockdown when we really started to home in and switch up the sound.”
“At one point we were all getting a little bit disinterested,” Jude continues. “The formula was writing ideas from a song that I had, and I hadn’t even perfected my songwriting by that point.”
We decided to all take advantage of each other and the five of us just start writing together. That’s what Float is, it’s the five of us together writing songs as a unit because we’ve got such different tastes.
“It was also learning how to do that, as it’s quite a challenge when there’s five ideas coming together. Some people might agree, some people might disagree…what’s really nice is that we’ve now got something that only the five of us could make, as far as we’re concerned.”
Before Float, Moreish Idols had only one notable song to their name and, listening now, it stands apart from the rest of their oeuvre.
Mobile Phone is less frantic (obviously) but slower and more blissful than the tracks on the EP. It’s a good marker of their development, as Jude explains:
“Mobile Phone was a really goofy song that I wrote, but the five of us wrote that outro and that’s what made the song.”
“I think that ignited that idea of us coming together and creating something different. What’s fun about that song is that it ends in a dancey outro that hints at what we were going to do.”
The duo are keen to stress that their work is a collaborative effort, but the germs of ideas have to start somewhere. Casper explains the songwriting process while also outlining the influences on their work:
“Jude and Tom are the main songwriters, they’re the ones thinking these things through from start to finish and giving the songs soul. Writing the lyrics, etc. Tom’s an amazing songwriter; he’s really influenced by Radiohead.”
“He loves Broken Social Scene as well,” adds Jude, “but he and Sol come from this LCD Soundsystem/Hot Chip world. Dylan just comes from jazz and doesn’t know anything else!”
“I think it’s good to keep it that! I’m quite a shoegazer, I’ve always been into that music and I also like the 90’s baggy stuff. And Casper’s just a dancer.”
Yet, despite the myriad influences, at their heart Moreish Idols are, or intend to be, purveyors of pop music, as Jude explains:
“All the songs are at the 3.30-4 minute mark. They are pop songs. It’s a bit of a risk because we teeter on the edge. We don’t wanna get too cheesy and too corny at all, but we also still love pop songs or songs with a hook or chorus.”
“We try and push that as much as we can without getting too boring. But it’s also so we can knuckle down and get a song finished! The structure is the bit that takes so long to get down and we really have to home in on that part, and that naturally forms the songs and giving them a start, middle and end.”
“We need there to be a rigid structure so we can put all of our influences into a song,” Casper elaborates. “We had to fall back on making something simpler so we could get everything in in a way that made sense, otherwise it could have been so sprawling and just gone on forever.”
“We needed something to nail it all down to. None of us are trained, we’re all self-taught, so for me, the pop song focus is more comfortable because I’m not that confident as a musician, as opposed to someone like Black Country, New Road or black midi. They’re Bristol-bred so they really know their stuff, like proper musicians. It’s maybe a bit of fallback for me personally.”
As has been discussed, Moreish Idols’ relocation to London saw the band diversifying their sound, which naturally led to a busier, brisker vibe.
“It’s really feel-good and it’s also quite chaotic, and it can be quite sad,’ says Jude of the EP. “It does certainly reflect the feelings sonically of living in the capital.”
“I think that’s inevitable, maybe even sub-consciously we’re creating something that reflects our environment, but lyrically not so much. Wait A Minute is purely fiction, and Speedboat is about longing to have a job somewhere else in the world. A fictional ideal life.”
Float has been out for a few weeks now, and naturally our conversation turns to the future, which looks to be busy.
“We are recording a second EP in a month’s time,” Jude informs us. “We were going to do an album but we decided it was too early, just because no-one’s heard of us.”
“We want to build it naturally and keep going at a steady trajectory. Based on the way things are going now, if we were to record an album next year it would take a really long time to come out and we want to be at the festivals next year.”
“The guys approached us and asked if we wanted to do an EP in September. Luckily, we’ve been writing about eight songs. Four of them fit perfectly together and so do the other four. We expect it to be out early next year.”
And there’s the small matter of a tour, which will find Moreish Idols playing outside the capital for the first time, as Casper explains:
We’re going on a tour of the north as we haven’t played outside of London much. It’s going to be good to road-test the songs and play to a different audience. The London scene is amazing but we want to see how fresh crowds react to the show.
Moreish Idols cut their teeth at Brixton’s infamous Windmill venue, although they are quick to denounce being part of its ‘scene’.
“I think we were late to the party, we watched it from the sidelines,” Jude explains. “Within our friendship group we have got some wicked talent, bands doing different things but doing really well.”
“I recently thought we wouldn’t need to be part of a scene and do our own thing, although it would be amazing to play with Black Country, New Road or black midi or Squid.”
“We play at the Windmill quite a lot but I don’t think we’re that associated with it. People ask us what music we play and I have to stop saying post-punk. We’re just a rock band! I do love the post-punk scene and these bands but…”
“There just needs to be some new terms for it,” adds Casper. “We can’t say we’re post-punk because we’re not, but we’ve always struggled to say what we are because there are so many influences. We get worried that it comes across as pretentious or that we don’t know what we’re doing.”
“We make guitar music!”