Gaining insight into one of the minds of one of, and arguably, the most original band of the new generation is an experience to write home about. George Barnett of These New Puritans talks to us about the new album, modelling, and his high appreciation of Leeds.
“I’m so connected to this record” – George Barnett
First and foremost, as a collective unit we believe it is vital that we let you know, that if you haven’t yet heard their new album ‘Field of Reeds’, you must stop reading (until you get it at least…) and listen! Because it could well be the most soothing, powerful album we’ve heard in years, and that’s top notch! Words cannot describe it. Perhaps a long and exhaustive gasp of amazement could? Hmmm.
Now that we’ve got that out of our system, what does George have to say about it on the whole? “This record is about real things: Love, despair, hope. I’m so connected to this record.” With an interesting analogy about old albums being not so different to old photographs, Barnett explains: “You look so different in them. Imagine a record when you’re nineteen, which is what ‘Beat Pyramid’ is of us, and it’s kind of weird. The songs are still great, we still play some of them live, but it’s different.” It’s no question that the amount of work that went into the album is endless, and the list of individuals alone who made it possible is enormous!
Noting this, we are intrigued as to what his own perceptions are of the Puritans’ creative process: “My focus is playing easy Puritans style drumming. I’m not interested in playing anything else. But it’s that thing, isn’t it? There’s people who can play absolutely anything but don’t know what to play.” So follow your own intrigue? Encouraging. “It’s always been quite a natural thing. At the beginning of the record Jack didn’t even wanna sing, but then he had a reason to sing and wanted to sing and started knocking it out.”
Letting your subconscious take the wheel? Not a bad shout. Was the addition of Elisa Rodrigues’ talents done in the same vein? “Elisa is committed without any questions. She just lets things happen organically. With this record, the majority of it is simple love songs, even though they’re slightly complicated musically, and for that Jack wanted there to be a female perspective. The expression in her voice is just ridiculously good.”
Never was a truer story told! Rodrigues brings a new entity to the album, a perspective that’s worth a thousand words – but she strikes just as powerfully with only a few.
So, while it would be difficult to talk about all the hyper talented people who contributed to this spectacular album, but seeing as we’re on the topic, let’s ask about one of the more major roles: the production. Producer Graham Sutton seems to have lent a hand in tapering out TNP’s emotions: “Our records are more about the mental state that we’re in, and Graham just brings things out of you. He’s a good hype man, really positive. He really wants to get things out of you, really wants to try. He’s also a fantastically precise engineer, he knows where to put a microphone. Working with him again was the natural thing to do. When you understand each other it makes it so much simpler.” The ideas alone are difficult to get your head round! George speculates this, “I wish it was easier to define the sound.”
So where does one garner such powerful musical influence? “Music was a massive part of our lives when we were growing up, and then we started playing music way back when we were about sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. Then we started playing shows and then it spiralled from there.”
TNP are touring all over the world now, living the dream at an incredibly young age. Next year they tour England, Russia, Paris, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, and Asia. Wow, that’s travelling! But who would have thought it? Barnett has a soft spot for Leeds. “They’re on it in Leeds. Every time we’ve played it’s been a good crowd, people know what they’re on about.” And when you’re staying in a city, you’ve gotta pick up a few cool things: “It’s got good record shops. When you stop there for a day it’s more enjoyable than most.”
Lastly, what does George get up to when he isn’t with TNP? “I don’t make any music outside These New Puritans, but I do the odd bit of modelling. Fragrances is where it’s at.” Let’s be honest, how can we look down on someone in his situation? “If someone offers a grand for a day’s work people generally say yes, and I’m one of those people.” It’s refreshing to hear, not just that, but the fact that the cash all gets put towards TNP. “If I could just do music it would be great. I work for the same reason as many: so I can pursue my creative stuff.”
In the future, we’re gonna be seeing more of this groundbreaking band: “We’re basically putting everything into playing live now. It’s quite a cool set up, so we’re doing that pretty much all over the place.” To see such organic creativity come into fruition in this day and age is both fascinating and inspiring. Hats off to ya, George!