UK Tour
April 2014
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

"A thing of beauty. Pop tones matched by slivers of visceral noise." CLASH

"It's music that's as tense and urgent as it is brooding and pensive, with savage and sweet lyrics wound around shredded guitars." DAZED & CONFUSED

"There’s a wonderful, drowsy, baggy-ness to their pace. Wood’s vocals come in mantras as if Ridgard has simply sampled a voice from some old psychedelic 60s record." THE RECOMMENDER


Coves, are a duo who hail from Leamington Spa and formed in mid-2011, when Beck Wood was "working in the ticket office of the local music venue where John Ridgard was also an assistant manager. When she heard he wrote music and played in bands, she volunteered her vocal services." Other notable extracts from the group's press release (which describes them as "A beautifully ruined pair – he a leather-clad glowering guitar phantom, she a glacial, broken bombshell") include: How they have "acquired critical acclaim and support from BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe, Huw Stephens, Nick Grimshaw, 6Music’s Lauren Laverne, Don Letts and Radcliffe & Maconie and XFM’s John Kennedy, to name but a few."

How their "scuzzy cover of Chris Isaak’s haunting classic ‘Wicked Game’ peaked at No. 1 on the Hype Machine last year and has since been used to advertise ‘The White Queen’ drama series across BBC’s networks." As well as how they've toured with Echo & The Bunnymen and had their debut LP, "mixed by Brendan Lynch (Primal Scream, Paul Weller) to concoct a masterful fusion of Lynchian desert menace and modernist electronic crankiness. It’s a demented energy that Brendan, on mixing and additional production, has brought to the whole album. “We specifically asked Brendan to do whatever he wanted,” says John, “so he’s gone really crazy with all these echoes, and tape delays, he’s making it a lot more psychedelic.""

So, as one of my favourite new acts to have emerged in recent times and having been privy to an advance copy of Soft Friday (Nettwerk Records), which from its tuneful singles to its deep cuts, is set to become a standout album of 2014 and will undoubtedly light up music lovers lives / deserves to commandeer column inches all over the globe! I sent a selection of questions to Coves, whose name derives from "the old-fashioned word for friends or fellows,"
which Beck and John generously answered as part of their promotional activities just before the group's April UK Tour kicked off...

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1. A number of musicians talk of their 'need' to make music and how songwriting 'stabilises' them. Would you agree with this, and also, do you have a specific subject in mind when writing lyrics / does the mood of Coves' music always have to match the lyrical content or be reflective of a song's title?
John: "As far as writing and producing goes I totally agree... I think I love it as when I am working on the music I am alone. It's my own time and no one can interrupt me. I find if I have been a week or so without making any music I start getting pretty edgy."
Beck: "This all just depends on what mood I'm in and what has been going on around me. I would say mind blocks don't help."

2. If you were asked to give an example of a classic song in terms of musical arrangement, lyrics, production etc. as well as an album that you feel works really well as a collection of tracks, which would you say?
John: "Flaming Lips Soft Bulletin was the first album that got me into production... how they managed to make something that was simultaneously so Low-Fi and with lush strings and big production... it also works as a whole body of work so well, plus the lyrics are pretty moving at times."

3. And if you had to put together a record sleeve in homage to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, showing a selection of your heroes and influences (musical and otherwise), who are some of the people that you would include?
John: "Our good friends from Leamington and the ex pats in London."

4. As a group, did you know exactly how you wanted your debut long player to sound before entering your live-in studio + how long did you write for / how complete were your song ideas before committing them to tape?
John: "We had no plans whatsoever, I think the only reason the songs work well together is that they were all recorded within a little bubble of time. There was no theme, no plan... at the time it was all just for fun... never expected it to go all bizznes."
Beck: "I agree with John, doing it the way we did it for 'Soft Friday' was the right way for us, no added pressure, which made it flow in the right way, which I think reflects in the album."

5. On a similar note, a number of musicians acknowledge how they write some of their best tracks once an album is nearing completion, as there’s less pressure on them. Was this the same for you with any last minute additions and did you purposely include older songs?
John: "Totally the opposite for me. I work best in new environments where I have no idea how to work equipment and fall upon happy accidents. Towards the end of the album I was writing more and more to a formula and some of the later ones were not used for the album. I am now making really exciting stuff again for the second LP as I have moved to London, have new equipment and have no idea what I am doing."

6. Do you often know which instruments + studio 'Plugins' you want to use on individual tracks, and have you ever used different instruments to inspire you / has this then made you reassess your primary instrument?
John: "Once again, once I started doing that it got boring. I now have a different studio and new instruments and haven't got a clue how any of it works... and stuff is sounding good again. I use lots of toy instruments and things but quite subtly... it adds atmosphere."

7. As a songwriting partnership, could you describe the collaborative chemistry between you both, and also, give us an example of a particular track where you each contributed notable parts that were successfully joined together to create the final whole?
John: "I am the ears."
Beck: "I am the eyes."

8. In terms of investing time in artists / bands, have you ever gotten more into someone after reading interviews with them and learning more about their history, beliefs, ways of working etc?
John: "Totally, everyone loves a good rock and roll back story!"
Beck: "Do they?"

9. Continuing with this train of thought, compilations given away with music publications have long helped listeners to discover new music which they may not otherwise have heard. But, have you ever had a favourite free CD that came cover-mounted with a magazine?
John: "Yeah, when I was young... when I used to save up my £2 a week spends to buy vinyls, in-between these rare purchases I lived off cover-mounts."

10. Throughout the history of popular music, singles are undoubtedly the songs which seep into the public’s consciousness and most acts are identified with. But, how do you choose which of your tracks will be singles + are there any groups who you think released a great ‘standalone single’ which never actually featured on one of their records, i.e. Suede's Stay Together?
John: "We let the man choose the singles. I think we are on the wrong side of the fence to say what will work best. When I was really young, The Super Furries released 'Man Don't Give A Fuck'. As a 11-year-old this was obviously the coolest song I had ever heard... and yet it was on no album."
Beck: "Yeah, unfortunately for us, we don't get too much of a say about our Children."

11. Why the LP title, Soft Friday, and in-keeping with the theme of titles, do you have any favourite tracks that share the same title as each other? For example, although completely different musically and lyrically, I love both Yes by the Manic Street Preachers and Yes by McAlmont & Butler.
John: "The album was recorded on Fridays. Getting soft was a term for experimentation's in prescription medicines. But everyone has their way of winding down on a Friday night after the week..."
Beck: "With a lot of red wine John."
John: "As for favourite tracks that share the same title as each other, ermm... can't really think of any... Come Together by Beatles, Come Together by Spiritualized... erm... that's a bit of a boring one... not sure?"
Beck: "Good choice there Mr RidRidRidgard."

12. As a fact fan, some of my favourite album and song facts include how only 40,000 copies of Nirvana’s Nevermind were originally pressed but that it sold 1 million copies in 6 weeks, and how Noel Gallagher’s iconic guitar solo in Oasis’ Live Forever was nearly cut-in-half at the request of Owen Morris for "sounding too much like Slash." But, do you have a favourite music fact?

John: "Pigs have a similar capacity to appreciate music as humans, it has been proven that they are mostly responsive to jazz."
Beck: "Hummmm... I know that your brain will remember a song for many, many years even without hearing it."

13. 'Pop & Politics' is a new consumer rights bill set up by the government to help prevent touting / ticket price mark-ups as much as possible. Do you think this is a wise move, and in terms of gigs, did you ever see anyone play at an intimate venue before they went onto become huge?
John: "'I'm not too fussed about touting... I've bought tickets off touts before when gigs have sold out, you've just got to be good at haggling. I saw LCD Soundsytem at ATP just after they had released their 12" of YEAH... not sure that many people had heard of them and they totally blew my mind at like 1am after 3 days of partying at Pontoons."

14. Radiohead have spoken about how attempting to emulate sounds from records they admire, often results in them coming up with their own unique interpretations. Is the creative process similar for you, and does it continually fill you both with excitement when you hit upon new ideas and see songs beginning to unfold?

John: "Yeah, yeah... that's what I live for."

15. Lastly, chips or cream buns?
John: "Chips mate."
Beck: "ALL."

A very special thanks to Beck + John, and to Mel @ Wasted Youth PR, for all of their time and help.

"I want you to wake up"

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?