Mad Staring Eyes Interview
In the latest Max Bumps band interview, Willie spoke to Oli from Mad Staring Eyes and failed to tap him for £50.
Willie:Who are the Mad Staring Eyes behind those bandages?
Oli: Mad Staring Eyes are Al Jay (vocals/guitar), Dan Lee (bass guitar/vocals), Jake Hirsch (keyboards/vocals), Oli Darley (drums). We are at the centre of a London-based collective of artists and musicians associated with Retina Records such as The Bill Murrays, The Undecided Party, Hug, Vintagehead and Meatman.
The bandages are to do with the name of the band and the name of our album ('Bored Of Looking Cool'), not because we're horrifically scarred or anything...
Willie: How did the band form? Met rolling on the floor of a psychiatric ward?
Oli: We’ve all known each other since we were kids; we formed a band when we were 15. The first gig we played was soon after, at the Walthamstow Royal Standard which is quite a rough pub in East London (and a bit like a psychiatric ward come to think of it). There was a stripper on just before us and as I recall, the 'crowd' turned just after our hard rock version of 'All Along The Watchtower.' Can't blame them really.
Willie: All Along The Watchtower by Mad Staring Eyes, now there’s one for the 61 home page. How did the name Mad Staring Eyes come about?
Oli: It was one of those 4 in the morning decisions when we were all looking a bit tired and wired. We used to be called Izzy Strange and the Mad Staring Eyes which is a name we all still love but we dropped the first bit after a while as people kept saying 'Whatty who and the What??' Now the worst we get is Mad Starring Eyes.
Willie: It’s a very individual vibe you’ve got going. How do you describe your sound and who are your influences?
Oli: We have a lot of different influences because we are all into very different music, from punk to jazz to classic rock to hip-hop. Over the last few years our sound has actually become more together and focused. We will always have a leftfield edge to our music but we were definitely crazier before. Sometimes that can get in the way of great songs though so the trick is finding the right balance which on this album we think we have.
Willie: Can you tell us a bit about your song writing process?
Oli:There’s no one way. Ideas come up sometimes in jams, those eyes-closed, lights out wig-out type moments, then we build on those ideas over the next few weeks. Alternatively someone (we all write) might bring a near complete song to the jam and we might finish it that night. Dan produces most of our music so he might build a new song on his computer out of some weird loop he dug out somewhere.
Willie: On to the 61. As a listener discovering great music like yours is the first draw, but the community aspect with artist and listeners interacting seems to set t61 apart. My question is could you lend me 50 quid? And what are your thoughts from a band perspective?
Oli: We honestly love t61 and have really appreciated all the support we've received there. Its obviously useful seeing what songs listeners like the most and reading their comments. We've got ourselves some new fans which is all you can ask for! Oh, and sorry I'm skint.
Willie: Have the bumps and the feedback effected what you perform live or even the makeup of forthcoming releases?
Oli: It didn’t effect the album directly because the track listing was already decided. Also, it's never good to have your head too easily turned in a band, as that usually leads to confusion and self-doubt!
The feedback has been used though... it's interesting what songs people have connected with and it has affected what songs we play people when they want to find out a bit about the band.
Oli: Our album 'Bored Of Looking Cool' will be coming out in June.
Willie: Looking forward to that. Any other exciting news you’d like to share? International gig, anything like that perchance?
Oli: Yes, sir, we do. The album will be released to coincide with our trip across the Atlantic to Toronto to the North By Northeast festival. We are speaking to several labels in the US and Canada and are on the verge of signing a publishing deal in the UK.
Willie: That’s great news. North by Northeast should be great, I hope it goes well for you. Perhaps you could give us a report when you get back.
Oli: We can't wait for NxNE, sure we'll do a report when we get back
Willie: Do you have any favourites among the other bands on the site?
Oli: I found out about Band Of Horses and Vampire Weekend on t61 before anywhere else and they are both great.
Willie: Finally. One desert island disc, what would it be? Any artist, any era or genre.
Oli: We'd all have very different answers to this one. No way I can do one but if it was three I'd go for Television - Marquee Moon
The Clash - London Calling, The Shins - Wincing The Night Away, oh, and check out 'mush' by Leatherface. They were a 90's punk band from Sunderland and are up there with all the greats).
Willie: Thanks for your time and good luck with the album and NxNE, though I’m sure luck doesn’t have anything to do with any success that comes your way. Hope to see you on the 61 soon.
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