ANY Manchester band excites me but there is something…
about AFFAIRS that stands out. I speak with vocalist James Robinson who talks about future gigs – the band plays on Friday 27th October at Café INDIEpendent; on Saturday 4th November at Night & Day Café, Manchester. The band have released the video for the new track, Gracious World, and reveal what they have planned for the year ahead. I ask Robinson about the AFFAIRS' start and what the music scene is like in Manchester.
He provides me an opportunity to get to know a rare force who have already gained support from a range of great radio stations – D.J.s like Chris Hawkins are among fans of the group.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Busy as usual working on new material – which, we hope, you can hear very soon. We’re also rehearsing for our next Manchester headline show on Saturday 4th November at Night & Day Café (Manchester) which, of course, we can’t wait for.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
We’re AFFAIRS; a Manchester-based five-piece made up of Liam (Guitar/Vocals), Dan (Guitar/Synth); Jack (Bass), Michael (Drums) and James (vocals).
Our sound has probably best been described as Doom-Pop.
What is the derivation of the name, ‘AFFAIRS’? Are there any scandalous and sneaky affairs you guys have had – or is it something less naughty?
Too many to mention, to be honest – we’re all complete scoundrels, though that’s purely coincidental. I think Liam came up with the name originally – we liked the connotations of the word but also how it doesn’t really give much away about what we sound like.
Gracious World is your new one. What is the story behind the song?
It’s basically all about rejecting the idea of being tied down to a mundane, nine-five existence – sticking two fingers up at that philosophy and going out and seeing all the world has to offer. There’s a lot of sh*t going on - but the world still has a lot of beautiful things in it if you go out and look for them.
The video, of the band playing the song, looks like it was a good shoot. Where did that take place and what was it like filming the video?
We filmed the video in Brunswick Mill in Manchester; a couple of floors above where we used to rehearse. We had fun filming it, though it got very warm up there. It was actually filmed by a very talented friend of ours, Matt Cochrane of Little Motel – check out his stuff!
It seems, in everything you do, you challenge the mundane. Would that be fair to say?
It’s certainly a compliment.
I think we just enjoy doing our thing and expressing ourselves in our own way. If that’s challenging the mundane, I’m happy with that.
Can you remember how the band got together? Did you know, when you starting jamming, you would have all this success?
The band started at Hull University and we bonded over our tastes in music and the desire to create it ourselves. I don’t know if we knew how things would turn out when we started - but we’ve always believed in what we’re doing.
Your songs resonate with taste-makers. What does it feel like getting big love from D.J.s like Chris Hawkins and John Kennedy?
It’s definitely great to have their support – always nice when people dig what you do, especially when they then play it on national radio!
Looking down the list of stations that have played your music; your catchment area is massive. Why do you think your music translates so readily and widely?
We have an excellent P.R. team.
Seriously, though; l I don’t think our music has a particular regional sound to it which could explain a wider appeal. We also get about a fair bit and have played shows all over the place - so I guess people have got to know us.
How is Manchester’s music scene shaping-up at present? Is it quite a fruitful and exciting time being a Manchester band?
I’d say it’s always a fruitful and exciting time to be in a Manchester band as I don’t think the city has ever stopped producing quality music. There are definitely some big movements going on at the moment though.
I would recommend keeping an eye on Scruff of the Neck Records - who are working with some of the best.
What is it about the city that attracts so many people in?
The people here are some of the best in the world, and the city is just a constant hive of art and activity – there’s literally always something going on.
Is there going to be an E.P. or album down the line? Do you feel, as a band, you have enough material for a really solid L.P.?
We’ve got a few ideas in the pipeline and I definitely think the material’s there - but you’ll have to wait and see for that one.
Can you talk about the live dates you have approaching? What can one expect when coming to an AFFAIRS show?
We’re headlining Night & Day in Manchester on Saturday 4th November with three other great bands – Indigo Velvet, WEEKEND WARS and TUSCAN SUN – and it promises to be a big one. With any AFFAIRS show, we can promise energy, emotion and an immersive experience.
IN THIS PHOTO: Larkins
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
...the three I mentioned previously who we’re playing with in November....
If you each had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
It’s fair to say that Foals’ Total Life Forever is an album that was hugely influential on Dan and Liam (as songwriters and musicians).
Two Dancers by Wild Beasts will always be special to me – it’s a great album but was also the first time I listened to their music. Hayden Thorpe’s beautifully unique vocal was like nothing else I’d heard and, as a singer (though my voice is nothing alike), it gave me encouragement that a unique vocal style fronting a band could be a success.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
It’s a bit of a cliché but be true to yourselves; believe in what you’re doing and, most of all, enjoy it – because if you don’t, you can’t expect anyone else to.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Cheers! All of these can be found on our Autumn Spotify playlist:
tonite – LCD Soundsystem
Wait for Me – Swim Mountain
Lupo – Cairobi
Lure – Holy Oysters
Day I Day – The National