For the past year or so, I have had the pleasure of getting to know experimental Manchester band, The Narrows. Their sound so mysterious and dark that it crawls into your head and buries itself deep within. I have never heard anything like them. The Narrows have played festivals such as T in The Park, FOM Fest and Eurocultured. They’ve headlined the O2 Academy2 in London and The Ruby Lounge in Manchester. They have supported some impressive acts like PVT, S.C.U.M and Gallops. Zane Lowe and Tom Robinson have even showed their support towards the band. I’ve never looked at all of these things put together before but now that I have, I am amazed what they have so far accomplished. With their debut album set for release in June, I figured I would ask them about the process, about their style and about the invasion.
Lovecat: Your debut album comes out in June. What have you been doing to prepare for it?
Narrows: We only finished the album a couple of weeks ago, so we’ve been running around sorting out the physical releases for it. Cognitive Dissonance Recordsare releasing it on vinyl, we’re releasing it ourselves on a deluxe CD and it will also be available to download from our Bandcamp page. We’re hoping that those who buy physical copies of the album will feel it was worth it- there’s different posters for the vinyl and CD as well as other bonus stuff. We’ve also been arranging the Manchester album launch on June 8th at Soup Kitchen, with the London launch the day after and trying to figure out how to play the new songs live. So in short, we’re sorting out the boring but necessary stuff.
Your music is dark, very experimental. Are there any particular subjects that you like or prefer to write about?
Phil is responsible for the lyrics and he doesn’t like to write about “generalities” as he puts it. When you read the lyrics there’s very little open to interpretation but there can be double meaning to what he writes. The album is called “The Eve of Invasion” for a reason- it’s themes are paranoia, war, death and the role of government and media in our lives. Musically, we believe there’s joy and beauty in melancholia and we try to exploit that as often as we can.
Do you think that since your music is experimental that it gives you more room for creativity?
Yes it does. I’m not sure how experimental we are but we do try to be as thoughtful, creative and unpredictable as possible. Our first release “Through Constant Decay” was intentionally very electronic and robotic- albeit with rock guitars too. The album still has some of that but we’ve added more organic sounds too- there’s pianos, strings, live drums and percussion, acoustic guitar and banjo (yes, banjo!) which we had avoided before. There’s a lot more focus on the vocals and songwriting this time round and we spent a very long time picking the right arrangements and sounds to compliment the songs. Hence, if we felt a song would be better suited to acoustic guitar as opposed to electronics, that’s what we did.
You recently set loose a Narrows invasion on Manchester and London. Can you tell us about that?
It was just in Manchester really, though some friends travelled up from London to help out. A while ago, our art designer Tompop (www.tompop.co.uk) had an idea that we should do some sort of dark, weird flash mob. So we asked people to meet us in Manchester on April 1st, dressed in black where we would provide masks. We then marched through the busiest part of the city centre, in silence with a banner. We also got some very lovely people to help us out by filming it- the footage will form part of the video for our most recent single ‘There Are Ghosts In These Machines’. We got some very strange looks and some lovely verbal abuse too. At least nobody threw anything at us.
What do you hope to accomplish with your release? Do you have any tricks up your sleeves?
We wrote, recorded and mixed the album ourselves so it’s been a real labour of love and has taken us a long time to finish. So if people like what we’ve done, that’s vindication to us. We feel as though the album is a big step forward from what we’ve done previously and we hope others feel the same. Anything else is really just a bonus. I don’t want to give too much away in terms of tricks and other bits- there could be another pamphlet on the way, with another little treasure hunt….. Amongst other things.