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  • 2:07:20 pm
  • Saturday
  • 25 May 2024

Straight Outta Liverpool Come The Stands

Howie Payne of the eclectic group The Stands took a minute to talk to Tweed, answering questions about the origins of the band and their new album, All Years Leaving.

Here you have just recently released—in the USA anyway—your debut album. For the American readers, please start us off by telling us the origin of The Stands.

It was a couple of years ago when the band I was in split. I was doing some acoustic gigs to make ends meet, you know, bus fare and all-the-larger-you-can-drink kinda things. I just got the urge to get a group together. All my friends were in groups so I just put it about that I was looking for people. Some guy in a folk club put me onto the drummer. I knew Luke the guitar player, anyway, for a while. We went along as a three piece, did some recordings and some shows. Friends would help out on bass then Dean, the bass player, just came over to us after a show where Russ from the Zutons was on bass for us. He asked if we needed someone and so on... A week later, we started a tour that didn’t really stop for a year or so...

Now, at this point in your career, you guys have already toured with big names like Jet, The Vines and Oasis. How did that all come about? How did you find those guys?

Well, like I say, we were putting in a lot of shows and you know, word gets around, people just started offering us gigs, we had no record deal or things like that, we did most of that first year in a car, big shows to, 12,000 in Birmingham with Oasis, fans all over the car park and us with seats down laying on amplifiers and stuff, you know, like our cars aren’t as big as yours. All the bands we been out with have been cool. We became good friends with lots of them. We got a lot in common I guess.

Beyond merely just touring, you also did a song with Jet. I read that—most of the band, anyway—is on the B-side of “Cold Hard Bitch”—a song entitled “Move On.” What was that collaboration like?

Pretty drunken by all accounts. I wasn’t there.

Noel Gallagher has more than taken an interest in you guys. He has brought you into his Wheeler End studio for some recording sessions. How much of the recording for new album, All Years Leaving, did you do there? How did the Oasis guys help with the recording? Did they play an active role or did they take a backseat approach, offering advice here and there?

Noel hung out a bit, you know. I kinda know what I want to do with when I go into the studio. Everybody knew I had a plan of sorts. They showed a lot of faith in us—that was the first thing. You know, if there’s a bunch of musicians in a recording studio drinking wine and stuff all night, everyone’s gonna say what they think it should sound like. That’s the fun of it. Noel called me the day before we went in and say’s you know, Howie, this is your record. I just wanna sit in the corner and shout, sounds top.

Now, from what I gather, All Years Leaving was a long time in the making, taking a while to craft. Was this a result of you trying to create a more studio album, a sonic idea rather than a more live-oriented, raw recording?

Complete days on recording and mixing and all was no more than 20 or so days. It was spread out over a few months ‘cause, you know, we started before we were with a record company. We were taking the days we could get. It’s pretty much as live as you can get—a lot of the vocals and harmony’s are live to, sometimes were only using about 6 or 7 mics total. We went into a couple of tunes and added this and that but not that much. That was the idea—to record a band exactly how it sounds at this moment in this room.

Being described as a singer/song-writer, Howie, I take it you write the songs. How exactly do you go about doing that? What is the genesis of a song? Take us through a song-writing session if you will.

I don’t really have a formula or anything like that for writing. I just get things that pop in my head so I write them down or record onto a tape or something.

If you could, tell us a bit about the Liverpool’s “Scouse” movement. What is the scene looking like these days?

I don’t really know how to explain this to you—all the bands who were pretty tight around that time weren’t the Liverpool scene. We were all the ones who didn’t care to be part of anything like that. That’s what we had in common—most of us had been in bands together or were good friends before we were in bands. We hung out and played in strange places were they’d let us play Leadbelly songs and stuff. We were having a lot of fun—fun attracts people, I guess, so pretty soon, the strange places were the hip places and, whatya know, we’re a scene.

Now, Howie, you spent a significant portion of your formative years here in the USA. Do you see a strong American influence on your music? Would you say, overall, your songs have an American or more British sensibility?

I started to play guitar in New York and the radio played a huge part in my musical education. In England, it’s pretty much chart music all the way on the radio although it’s got better over the past few years. Over in New York is where I first heard blues, folk, gospel. The place I spent most time was in Queens—a lot of Cuban music up there. All that stuff goes in. It’s gonna come out but still I am from Liverpool and being so gives me certain qualities that go with that so that’s gonna change the way I relate to what I hear and see

Settling in with The Echo Label was only after a “bidding war.” Tell us about how you ended up at Echo. What was it you liked about Echo that had you choose them?

By this time, the Coral and the Zutons were at Delta Sonic. The Bandits were spoken for, I think—Well anyhow, around then we were the ones everyone focused on. I’d built up an idea of who was for real and who wasn’t. Echo heard us through a demo, I think. They came to see us in Nottingham in a little club. I had the flu. We said hello then they split. They were onto us the next morning—you know, no games, straight to the point. I really liked that. There’s a lot of dancing and posturing when your talking with record company’s, they all be watching what each others doing then react to that. Echo didn’t seem to give a shit about that. They knew what they wanted to do. I asked for what I wanted—artistic freedom and enough money to tour mainly—and they came through with it

Now, All Years Leaving was released, if my facts are correct, last February in the UK. What held it up here in the USA? Also, for the American version, I’m to understand there a few remixes. What is different in the American version of All Years Leaving?

Dunno why it took so long. Maybe it came by boat or something. We were fitting in recording where we could. Time got the better of us and the album went to press before we’d re-cut the song “All Years Leaving” and there were a few mixes that were better too. We were gonna change it after the first ones went out but demand was pretty big so the chance didn’t come until recently. I like both versions for different reasons but the improved one is better, I think.

With that unique experience of living between 2 places such as America and the UK, I think it might offer a unique perspective on the world and our country (America). How do you feel about the outcome of Election 2004?

I worry for the future of the Democratic free world when free world Democratic governments [our own included] seem to have such contempt for the will of the people. It seems they try to persuade rather than listen, to speak rather than talk.

Finally, what is next for The Stands? What can we expect for 2005?

We’re coming to America to do some shows which will be great. My brother is in the Zutons and they’ve been in the states a lot recently. You know, we’ve been hearing the stories and things so we are excited about that. Also, you know, a lot of our favorite music comes from America so we’ll get to go to some of those places. That’s kinda like you visiting the cavern to us. We’re putting out our second record in England and maybe it’ll come out in the states this year to. We’ll make sure this one comes by plane.

Be sure to check out The Stands as they hit the road with Brendan Benson this April:

April 7thCleveland OHGrog Shop
April 8thChicago ILAbbey Pub
April 9thAnn Arbor MIBlind Pig
April 11thToronto ONLee’s Palace
April 13thBoston MAMiddle East
April 14thPhiladelphia PATheatre of Living Arts
April 15thNew York NYBowery Ballroom

William T. Wallace
Tuesday, 08 March 2005

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