Northern Transmissions got to chat with Marcus Pepperell of UK band THUMPERS via the wonderful world wide web. THUMPERS’ debut album for Sub Pop Galore will be out on February 11th.
NT: You guys have been friends since childhood, tell us about some of the music you bonded over.
MP: Smashing Pumpkins; Blur; Nirvana; Weezer; they were so huge to us. we covered them in various ill-advised bands growing up and wrecked family car journeys with repeated plays. oh – and Radiohead. I remember John arrived late to this house party when we were 14 or 15 – late but he got a BIG welcome because he’d just been to see Radiohead play in Birmingham. I hated him.
NT: Thumpers is not the first band you guys have been in together. What prompted you to start another group?
MP: unfinished business.
<cracks knuckles, chews gum>
No, it was a desire to play with drum loops and to make heavy-rooted, but still direct, music that was the inspiration. when I started sending John songs written from our hometown and that had this real emphasis on rhythm and layering instruments up it was just an exciting thing to consider again – playing these heady, celebratory songs live. and with all the catharsis that our growing up together gives them.
NT: The band’s sound so far has been really uplifting, has the mood stayed the same?
MP: I think when we first approached doing music together again we made a conscious decision to ensure that we enjoyed every moment that deserved it. (it’s a sad phenomenon when bands become over-focused on the next and new instead of reflecting on what amazing thing is happening to them at that moment). and 2013 gave us so much to appreciate – signing to sub pop, playing headline shows to incredible support, festival appearances, touring with bands we love. there’s a sense of melancholy to almost all of the songs we have too but we’re, um, deferring that in real-life. for the moment. the album definitely touches more on that side though. it’s really that underlying feeling that the more euphoric side of our sound grows from.
NT: Marcus, your sisters have sung on a few tracks in the past, are they on the new album? Did your folks encourage music when you were kids?
MP: Yeah, both John and I had a lot of support from our parents in doing music when we were younger. especially when it came to songwriting and valuing playing as part of a group. I think their belief in communal music as a force for good has been a big inspiration to us. and my sisters always had a huge interest in music. one or both of my sisters feature on every song on the album in fact. it’s funny, when we first asked them if they would sing on sound of screams it was a pretty low-key request but the lushness that it gave the song became an important part of our sound. and our ethos too – in that we’re now more keen to collaborate with other artists in general.
NT: Do you still get friends to interact with your live show?
MP: We couldn’t even try to bring the same atmosphere that the recordings have to our shows without getting help from other people. they’re really important to that, bringing trumpets, pianos, basses and their voices to everything we do live.
NT: You guys usually work by yourselves. This time you brought in David Kosten (Bat For Lashes) to work with you on your debut for Sub Pop Galore. Did you feel the need for someone to maybe help fiddle with the knobs a little differently?
MP: It was really important to us that the album was full of as much of the truth of our childhoods as we could fit on it and our own limitations were kind of included in that. for this reason we wanted to take the recordings as far as possible on our own. we always knew, though, that at some point an outside influence & perspective would take the songs beyond that – and David was top of our list of people we wanted to ask to do that. he was really attuned to what we wanted to say and the way he brought out the detail in the sounds we were playing with just made the overall atmosphere so much more real.
NT: The Kooks were flatmates of yours. Did you guys collaborate on the music? Are you still friendly after living together? 🙂
MP: Haha by the power of the internet that story has transmogrified ALOT. it was actually Klaxons we lived with when we first moved to London and it was as out there and crazy and fruitful and fucked up …we’ll let your imagination run wild. we all grew up together in Stratford and collaborated more back then than now, but yes we are still firm friends.
NT: Which five albums are still influencing you guys?
Sound of Silver, LCD Soundsystem
Doolittle, The Pixies
Return to Cookie Mountain, TV on the Radio