In another year of wonderful albums, Standard Fare's 'Out of Sight, Out of Town' nipped in at the end and stole the show. More confident than the raw naivety of the band's debut 'The Noyelle Beat', 'Out of Sight Out of Town' is my album of the year, and it should be yours.
I emailed Dan and Emma some questions, and by golly they answered them.
Tell me about how long the new album took to record? Was it longer than 'The Noyelle Beat'?
Emma: We recorded the new album in ten days in the studio but we did that over about 8 months. Some songs like 'Suitcase' and 'Call Me Up' we'd written while touring the first album and others such as 'Older Women' and 'Bad Temper' we wrote the week before the last couple of days in the studio.
Dan: We’d gigged a couple of the songs before we did the recording but most of them were still taking shape so it was pretty helpful having a bit more time. We recorded about 16 songs and picked out the 12 we liked the most, that did involve some bargaining of songs though; I see your ‘Older Women’ and raise you a ‘Suitcase’!
Did you find it easier to write the second set of songs than the first?
Emma: I don't really find writing songs hard or easy. I had a bit of fun writing ‘Crystal Palatial’ as it's more of a story song and I got to make stuff up a tiny bit. I wrote the lyrics to ‘Half Sister’ on a train, then when we were in the studio I started playing some chords and sang a melody for it while Dan was recording some of his guitar bits in the other room.
Dan: Yeah, it felt like a different way of writing, it felt a bit more creative having the main body of the songs ready but then figuring different things out whilst we were recording them. Like with ‘Half Sister’ I recorded the guitars when Emma and Andy went for lunch, and I played completely different parts to what I’d planned; I was quite relieved they liked them considering we’d aimed for it to be a disco song.
What - to you - is the main difference between the two albums?
Emma: This one's a bit more varied, a bit more loud, a bit more quiet, a bit more fast, a bit more slow. It was nice to put some violin and trumpet on there. The subjects are a bit more varied as well I have less of a bone to grind with this one. There were other things I wanted to sing about.
What's 'Crystal Palatial' all about? I love that song, but is it a true story?
Emma: Ha! It's a true story in the sense that it's based on getting together with someone and the events happened I just used some artistic license and set it 150 years ago at the world’s first Crystal Palace built for the Great Exhibition. I have been informed it's all horrifically inaccurate; it was a shilling day not a penny day and apparently it would have been difficult to buy a latte in Victorian London too. We played ‘Crystal Palatial’ in Leicester recently and the girl on the merch desk had clearly been trying to work out what I was singing for the chorus she'd written down something to do with fellatio!
Is 'Darth Vader' the next single? Why? What's it all about?
Emma: We chose it as the lead single but only in the sense it was the first track you could download and I wanted it to have a chance at being played on the radio. We thought it was a bit of a different sound for us and I'd had some fun making a video for it. It's a plea but also a bit of a dressing down for someone to stop feeling needy when there's really no need. Funnily enough it's been the one song that people think was written about themselves. Maybe most people aren't as needy as they think they are?!!
When you played our all-dayer in October you couldn't play some of the songs from the album. Is this always going to be the case?
Emma: That all dayer was ace by the way. A fantastic event.
Dan: Yeah that was an incredible gig, everyone was so overwhelmingly up for it! We just figured that some songs need a few listens before you can get into them, so rather than quieten things down we tried to make it flow better by playing just a couple of new ones mixed with some of the ones we thought people might know.
Emma: We're hoping to play a bunch off the new album at all future gigs, although we might not be able to always have the violin and trumpet bits live! And we will take requests, especially from you Sam!
Everyone says to me you should be huge. Would you all do the band full time if you could? Is that a really stupid question?
Emma: Right well that's nice of them! Difficult question. I know I would, but I can’t speak for Dan and Andy, and thankfully we've not had to cross that bridge and I doubt we will have to.
Dan: Haha, yeah and I can give them the hundred reasons why we’re not! I’d play all day if I could, but I don’t think we’re under any illusions.
What about the next set of songs? Got some ideas already?
Emma: I think Dan and I will always write songs. I've been thinking more about family since I wrote Half Sister and Suitcase and have a couple of other songs in that vein which I’m working on at the moment.
Dan: We had a day recording at Greenmount Studios in Leeds about a month ago, and we wrote a new song for that which came out quite nice, it sounded a bit grunge, so we are still writing things.
If your band ended tomorrow, what would be your most treasured memory of being in Standard Fare?
Emma: Oh wow so many! I think the times we've really managed to enjoy the moment together, like playing Latitude Festival or Athens Popfest or Indietracks or any of the real buzzing full gigs that were unexpected. Nottingham Pop Fest was a recent highlight. The feeling when we had a new song in the practice room and played it ten times in a row because it felt so good which has happened a load. Turning up at Maida Vale studios was exciting. Dan and I meeting in London to be interviewed by Steve Lamacq and then a few months later ending up in a taxi with him randomly. I really should write them all down or I'll forget half the things we did.
Dan: Ooh yeeh, there’s too many! One that comes to mind for me was when we played at a pop festival in France about three years ago and it was huge deal to us as it was our first trip away, we got to play on this massive stage. We were really buzzing after the gig and I remember us all drinking way too much and dancing like crazy!