The Cribs are heading to Australia for the first time in almost fives years and will be appearing the Crown & Anchor in Adelaide for an intimate club show, tickets on sale now, don’t miss this one. Known for their fiercely DIY approach to recording and touring at a time when indie music in the UK was going through a huge commercial boom, The Cribs always stood out from their contemporaries as an altogether more uncompromising prospect. The seventh album quite brilliantly titled – 24-7 Rock Star Shit is a bit of a paradox. It’s the quickest thing they’ve ever recorded, done and dusted in five days compared to a relatively leisurely seven for 2004’s self-titled debut, yet it’s also been six years in the making. The band answer some questions ahead of the tour.
How much are you looking forward to this Australian tour?
Touring Australia is always a blast for us. We never really know what to expect, with it being so far from home and everything – so we always go into it totally open minded and ready to be surprised. It’s always pretty surreal – the combination of jet lag, climate, wildlife etc is a bit of a head thrash. I feel like the first time I ever ‘lost it’ through touring was in Australia at the end of our second album campaign… had a bit of a breakdown on Ramsey Street.
Seven albums now, how will you cram everything in the set list?
It’s tough. Really tough – cos, you want people to get to hear the songs they know and wanna hear, but at the same time – if I’m a fan of a band I always want them to go deep. We have really been messing with the set list a lot this year, throwing out some of the big songs, bringing in some of the obscurities, in the UK it’s easier because we play there more often so we can really mix it up. In Australia, if you only come every five years, you want to give people as much value for money as you can.
What do you enjoy the most about touring Australia?
Being typical tourists – cuddling cute animals and getting some sun. Seriously though, that’s rad. And the people at the shows are always super fun and genuine.
Are you quite happy with how 24-7 Rock Star Shit turned out?
Yes. Totally. It’s my favourite Cribs record, our highest charting, and by far the quickest we ever wrote and recorded. There’s something about that combination of factors that shouldn’t go hand in hand – so it feels like a big victory for us. We made a decision not to send it to the radio, or the press – we were keeping everything super streamlined and direct to the fans. It’s really cool that they embraced it and it worked out the way that it did.
Were you surprised with how quick you were able to knock that one over?
Not really – the plan was to purposely just not over think things and work in the manner that we did when we first started out – just get on with it. When you first start a band, every idea seems great, there is no pressure and you feel so liberated. Seven albums in it’s hard to detach from your own expectations sometimes – not letting our prior records influence our state of mind etc…But that is why we just kind of ripped things up and sort of turned our back on things like radio/ press/ charts – just so there was pressure to maintain anything. As a result we just really enjoyed the process and everything went really quick and I think that spirit rubbed off and is maybe the reason why the record did so well as it did in the UK charts – it’s ironic how that works I guess.
Was the band pretty well rehearsed before going in to the studio?
Yeah. In a way. Some of the songs were really bolted down and tight, whereas a couple were purposely left semi-finished and loose, so that there was still a little room to breathe and let nature take it’s course when we were tracking them. “Sticks Not Twigs” wasn’t even written before we entered the studio actually. It was just a sketch on a Dictaphone.
How was it working with then infamous Steve Albini?
Awesome. Couldn’t be easier. As we were (mostly) well rehearsed we were pretty much finished with the tracking on the first couple of takes. Then we overdubbed a bit of vocals and Steve mixed it and we were done. Just no messing around at all. Steve is a cool guy – he has strong opinions of course but is mainly focussed on making sure that the band feel the record is a good representation of how they wanna sound. I like hanging out at his studio in Chicago, watching his Faces of Death video collection and having nightmares in the dorms on a night. Good times.
Did you always intend on going back to your punk roots?
I think that we never really strayed very far from where we started, ideologically. But after the success of the third record it sort of moved the goalposts a bit – eventually you just get that urge to go back to basics and ignore all the extraneous stuff like the business and industry and all that. We were warned that this could be a sketchy move, but we didn’t really explicitly think about it – we just wanted to make this record and it really felt like a good time to do it I guess.
Do you think you could have achieved the same result working with anyone else?
I can’t see why not – but I don’t think it would have been quite as good. I honestly don’t believe there is a better engineer in the world for capturing a characterful, raw and powerful live sound in the studio than Steve. We always pictured this record with his sound, so I suppose he was (very passively) involved in the conception of this record from the start!
Do you think you’ll follow a similar process for the next album?
Yeah I think so. One thing I can say with certainty is that I NEVER want to spend two months locked away in a studio stressing the details ever again. I don’t even listen to music that sounds like that. I have nothing against it per se – for some artists it is aesthetically very important – but to me all that editing and tweaking and neatening is such a false economy – it’s easier to just get a good take that you love. And the ‘imperfections’ are just the character of the take. When people have that visual element with a protools screen in front of them they can see things that need fixing rather than just listening. It’s just tiresome and a false economy in my opinion.
What does the rest of 2018 look like for The Cribs?
After Australia we are going to China, Hong Kong, and Japan. Later, we have a few UK festivals and a massive stadium gig with Foo Fighters.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch The Cribs on the following dates…