Leeds-based five-piece The Officers are the new black. This commercially accessible electro-rock powerhouse has caught the attention of just about everyone on the Alternative scene in recent months. Following a recent support date with Placebo, we thought we should grab a few words with the band about their influences, their hopes and their home.
“We are looking forward to making a world-conquering album”
S] What event in the band’s life led up to the creation of ‘Afraid Of Your Love’?
Matt S] ‘Afraid Of Your Love’ has been around for a number of years in various forms and it has been a cause of constant frustration for me but we are finally really happy with this version. It is about the person who I think is in everyone’s life where you have an amazing physical relationship with but every other part of the relationship is very toxic and damaging.
S] What kind of themes and ideas are you dealing with on your new album – do you draw from personal experiences or the world around you?
Matt S] There are many themes on our album, I think it’s important to write about personal experiences and the world around us as eventually these things will affect us directly or indirectly. There is betrayal, love, religion, sex, jealousy, death, wanting and loathing in there. I love the idea that each emotion has a direct opposite and we as people need both sides of an emotion to feel alive.
S] You guys are from Leeds, and we speak to a lot of people that slag off the scene all the time – does the Northern music scene inspire you at all?
Matt L] I wouldn’t say any scene inspires us as a band especially, we do what feels natural but we are proud to be from Leeds and love to represent the place when we are away from home.
Kieran] What has happened in Leeds over the last five years has been amazing. We have big-selling artists, great diversity, new venues and more, so we are happy that this is our musical home. There has been a lot of justified attention on the area.
S] What first inspired you to blend electronic music and rock to form your sound?
Matt S] It’s hard to pin down when it first clicked there have been old friends and managers, bandmates alongside a number of albums that inspired the sound including Sabresonic, The Man-Machine, Mechanical Animals, Screamadelica, Pyschocandy and Pretty Hate Machine to name a few. I’ve always been into albums that push boundaries whether it’s in terms of instrumentation, production, lyrics, and techniques, so I wanted to try blend it all to try and achieve a vaguely original glacial sound.
S] Okay guys, you are hosting a special Officers release dinner party, each of you can invite on person dead or alive – who do you invite and why?
Jim] Nostradamus to get the lowdown on what’s really meant to happen in 2012.
Matt L] Heston Blumenthal I think Nostradamus would enjoy egg and bacon ice-cream!!
Matt S] Judas Iscariot would be pretty good fun I think!
Kieran] Paul Daniels (with Wizbit), the evening would obviously need some light-hearted (but sinister) entertainment.
Stuart] Henry the Eighth, he’s very enigmatic but awful at the same time!
S] You already have the raw live performance thing down, but how will you expand the visual side of the Officers this year through video and on stage in the future – will it end up being epic like that of NIN?
Stuart] It has always been the plan to use live visuals as soon as possible, however at the moment our production budget doesn’t quite cover it.
Jim] Being the kind of people we are anyway, we are always looking forward and try to use different technology wherever possible , the ideas we have for video and stage seem to be limitless, but as Stuart said our budget doesn’t quite cover it at the moment. Giving the audience more and pushing the envelope of a live show is something we have always tried to do.
Matt L] At present we have a singer-controlled strobe and some huge red vertical lights that we try to use as much as possible, it makes a massive difference to our shows.
Matt S] We will be filming a video for ‘Afraid of Your Love’ which is very exciting and I think will really bring the band into a different league when we exist as a visual as well as audio spectacle.
S] Despite your epic growth in popularity you still enjoy playing some of our favourite venues including The Subculture (Leeds) and The Junction in York – how much do you enjoy these smaller “homecoming shows”?
Stuart] We really love these shows.
Matt L] The smallest shows are often the best, when you can see the beads of sweat on the front row as they go nuts!
Matt S] These venues are amazing and we are proud to have played them, we are very loyal people and we feel a mutual respect with these ‘homecoming’ venues. Every show is important to us and we try to play out of our skins for
every person who comes to see us no matter where it is.
Jim] These places have supported us since day one and continue to support what we do! Great shows and they are top-quality venues!!
S] If you could replace the soundtrack to a film with your sounds, what film would that be and why?
Jim] It would probably be something by Tim Burton or Hitchcock. We have a lot of slower orchestrated songs that we don’t get the opportunity to play live. A lot of them have a dark but magical feeling and capture some great vocal performances from Matt that you wouldn’t expect if you’ve seen us live. As with both directors they seem to be able to take you somewhere you didn’t imagine you would be escaping to after pressing play.
Stu] My choice would be ‘Running Man’ as it was a victim of retro soundtrack syndrome. I could imagine our track ‘Mosquito’ thundering out as Arnold is nailing Dynamo.
Matt S] I am going to go with ‘Event Horizon’, I think it gets overlooked a lot but how dark is Sam Neill with that quote? I mean it would be a good song name ‘We Don’t Need Eyes Where We’re Going.’
S] What are you most looking forward to achieving over the rest of this year?
Kieran] Well, making a world-conquering album after two years of gigging. It feels great to be finally making the debut. It has been a struggle to get this far, so having a final product to go around the world with for two years is very cool.
Stuart] When the album’s complete to finally play the set as we originally saw it, expanding the live show and meeting hundreds more amazing people along the way!
Jim] Recording and finishing the album we set out to make.
Matt S] Communicating our music with the rest of the world and taking it to the next level in all aspects of the band.
Matt L] Just making the album, it’s been a long time coming and then touring the hell out of it.
S] In the event of a zombie outbreak, what weapon would each of you use to defend yourselves?
Kieran] I would have a cricket bat.
Jim] For me, it would be an invisibility cloak!!
Matt L] Of course, my choice is cymbals and drumsticks!
Stuart] It’s got to be the baseball bat with a nine inch nail through it!!!
Matt S] My dog Aisha.
S] In your career this far, can you tell us about what sticks out as your defining moment together – like the moment where you all felt like ‘We are The Officers and we are here to get on stage and kick your arse’?
Matt S] Any show when we’re classed as the underdog always puts an extra drop of venom in my spit! I have upmost respect for every band we have played with but sometimes it’s very competitive.
Kieran] Rock Am Ring in Germany was a really great moment to remember for us I felt honoured to play but knew we had a lot to prove in such a big arena.
Stuart] It was a show in Camden Barfly, we had a lot to prove to some important people and we came on and absolutely fucking nailed it. There was some insane crowd rioting too so we knew we’d connected!
Jamie] The last show we did in Switzerland recently was amazing we were communicating so well on stage and we were the loudest band to have played there, I think it was 156 decibels which was unbelievable. It was like sitting in a jet
engine. We are very respectful of other bands but some of the bigger shows we have done we have tried to make it as difficult as possible for the band to follow us by really attacking.
For more information visit the band’s Myspace and website.
Watch this live video montage below:
*Thanks to Amy Vickery for setting this up.