My Latest Novel’s debut album Wolves has seen them pegged as ‘the Scottish Arcade Fire’, and it’s easy to see why: it’s an awesome record that manages to be both intimate and expansive.
“It was just a natural thing to come out like this and we came together and make music that we liked,” explains Chris Deveney, guitarist/vocalist for the five-piece. ”We tried to adhere to that, and piece together doing things, and it worked well I think.”
Both Chris and brother Gary are made music their primary focus, working on the body of the songs together before My Latest Novel really began to take shape as a group. It was when guitarist/vocalist Paul McGeachy joined that things became a bit more serious and they soon realised that they could do something with the music they were coming up with. “It was all very organic and natural,” he says.
Since then, things have happened fast for the band – with Wolves quickly becoming one of the most lauded debuts of 2006. While he agrees it’s nice to be compared to bands they like, such as Arcade Fire, one of the things My Latest Novel have set out to be is a a band who have a really strong sense of their own identity, and feel individual in what they do. “It’s funny to be compared to bands who are somewhat out there in what they’re doing,” he explains, “but I think we get tarred with something then the Arcade Fire comparison is going to be one which someone has mentioned and it’s just going to stick with us.”
Given it’s complicated and intricate sound, you’d expect the construction of Wolves to have been similarly so. But, Chris explains, the process of recording was probably a lot more complicated than actually making it. “It was just two months where we were looked in the room, and we’d spend 10 hour days,” he says. “A lot of the days were spent shopping and buying food and stuff like that, and just doing things under budget. There were bits of songs that we were working on and we didn’t try and force it, but it was always about getting the best take and finding the best way to do things, and try and get it how we wanted to present it across.”
He says that the writing process itself is very much a collective thing, and as such very hard to pin down – most of the songs come about in very different ways. ”It might start with a guitar part, or an idea of a melody of some sort, and just kind of build on it and take it from there and build on the simple idea that is there and build on it to the point where it corresponds to what we’re doing,” he says.
It’s interesting – some of the songs on the album do appear to have been built from a rhythmic platform, where others have been built off the melody lines. “All of us write,” he confirms, “and I think that’s healthy because the songs have a strong sense of rhythm but others are from a more lyrical sense.”
Now the band are preparing to spend the European summer touring the album, taking in various festival stops along the way. It’s lead to several challenged in terms of reinterpreting the songs, as when they recorded them, they were looking to try and find different ways to approach the process and not thinking about playing it live. “When it came to playing them live what we were thinking about is that there’s always enough hands and enough people there to do it.”
At the moment, the band are in the process of securing release in the United States – Chris says that it’s a subject that’s very much under debate at the moment. “Our manager has been speaking to various people,” he says cautiously, “and at the moment you probably know as much about it as I do.”
It must be frustrating in some respects to know that everything is not lined up in place. ”It’s just one of those things,” he shrugs. ”It’s important to learn to walk before you can run, I guess. From the point of the record being put out, it’s come out in Europe, and Japan, and Australia, and it’s important to build a little bit of a fanbase there before going to America and other territories. I guess if you build a decent fanbase then everything else falls into place.”
Growing up, the band’s taste was very much defined by their era – they all listened to the likes of Nirvana and the Stone Roses; influences that aren’t necessarily portrayed on Wolves. “I think you branch off from that,” he explains, “from listening to things like Stone Roses to listening to things like Joy Division and stuff like that. And it’s healthy because it builds what you know about, and you listen to Nick Cave and then get inspired by that. Maybe you listen to something like the Smiths and you take it and do your own things with it, and something that is just entirely different to what you’ve been listening to.”
Already, formative ideas are flittering about in the My Latest Novel camp for their second album. ”I think for the second record we’ll treat it as something entirely different to the first,” he says, “and try and test ourselves a wee bit and challenge ourselves to do something that’s a bit different. But not in any deliberate way, but just to keep ourselves fresh and to keep ourselves on our toes and thinks like that.”
If there’s one thing that My Latest Novel’s Wolves shows it’s that this is a band who will confound expectations at every turn.
Civil Society, Etch n Sketch and FasterLouder present My Latest Novel
Melbourne- Thurs Dec 7 – Corner Hotel
Tickets are $38 and available from: www.cornerhotel.com + the Corner Box Office and www.fasterlouder.com.au
Brisbane – Fri Dec 8 – The Globe
Tickets are $38 and available from, 16th October from: www.globetheatre.com.au, Rockinghorse, Skinny’s, Sunflower, Music Mania, Moshpit Music and www.fasterlouder.com.au
Sydney – Sun Dec 10 – The Basement
Tickets are $35 and available from: www.thebasement.com.au, www.moshtix.com.au + outlets and www.fasterlouder.com.au
Watch the clip for Pretty in a Panic here