Bronze Medallists Interview - October 2011
by Simon Moore
Ahead of Bronze Medallists' set at the 02 Academy, Bristol in support of The Feeling on their UK tour, Live-Music-Scene sat down for a chat.
North London based Bronze Medallists are a new band, but they're not new to the scene. I ask Olly, the vocalist, how they got together. âIt's a long story but, I suppose we came from previous bands.â The name of the band is lifted from a Bad Plus song and an Idlewild lyric. âWe thought it was quite fitting for us because we'd all been in bands before that had been sort of, nearly bands, and all our friends' bands and so forth, everyone we'd toured with and who'd released stuff at the same time seemed to - and I'm sure it's not the case but - they seemed to be doing AMAZING, and we were kind of like, oh shit, and our bands broke up for whatever different reasons, and we thought, it seemed to apply nicely so we chose the name Bronze Medallists.â
But now things are moving smoothly for them, with a high profile tour and material recorded they're ready to roll. âWe've just released a single on Tape Club Records called âMathematicsâ, there's a video for it on YouTube.â It's a very good looking video, for a good song. Directed by David Higgs, it takes place mostly over a dinner table with two people, a couple, who have computer monitors for heads, a couple of 'screen-heads'. It matches the mood of the song very well, all awkwardness and yearning. âIt's a love story; a love story set against a backdrop of technology andâŚso forth. It's kind of a concept single in that way I suppose, the B-side was on a similar subject. We have another single coming out on November 21st, it's called 'Headspace' It's on Ear Music Records andâŚ.that's what we're promoting at the moment.â
I pause the interview at this point because The Feeling's sound check is coming through the wall. It strikes me how atmospheric Olly is being made to sound with the keyboard line from 'Another Soldier' seeping in. The whole thing feels rather like War of the Worlds, or the intro to Iron Maiden's â2 Minutes to Midnightâ. Olly tells me that he had asked them to sync their keyboard playing with moments of passion in his speaking. I do hope he wasn't pulling my leg. To make the most of our rare accompaniment Olly gives lines like â âBronze Medallists is aboutâŚthe clash of civilisations, in a Teutonic, Olympic struggle, forâŚthird place.â It all sounds rather wonderful. Peace is soon recovered. We move on.
So how's it going out there? âIt's a bit early to say, since the first gig was last night, in Bournemouth, but that was nice, we enjoyed it. We like Bournemouth. Bristol tonight, should be cool. Then we're off to Nottingham and Birmingham and a few other places. Should be nice. It's great, it's our first tour as a band, so it's really nice to get out there and not play to London audiences for a change. And it's not a bad place to start a tour as a band.â At the 02 Academy supporting The Feeling, not a bad place at all. Their set later that evening was received well by the crowd. Opening with 'Binary Girl' and all its electronic breakdowns and they have the audience whistling along with 'Headspace', and even continuing after the song had finished. I think we can officially call it catchy.
How would you describe Bronze Medallists to us, the newcomers? âI suppose, we use a lot of random instruments for our performances; we perform with an ironing board on stage and pots and pans and other household accoutrements, just because that's what we had around when we were making the music, because we do it all in our house, in our bedroomsâŚand kitchens and bathrooms, and living rooms occasionally.â I ask Olly whether they're just doing it to be weird or if you really get a sense of these spaces in the music. âI hope so. I hope if you listen to it, it doesn't sound like it was recorded in some expensive studio. It's all home made you know. And that's what weâŚwe like that. I don't know, if somebody asked us to maybe, record in Abbey Road Studios, not necessarily saying that I would say no, but maybe we'd record in the kitchen at Abbey Road Studios.â
Bronze Medallists have quite a lot of electronic sounds and they like to combine different instruments. âWe come from quite a folkie scene, we've played with a lot of folk bands in London and our music has got a folk influence, or undertone, except that we're completely electronic sometimes and sometimes we have acoustic guitars that come through.â
I offer my theory that genres are often more about a mindset than a set of sounds. He seems to agree. âFolk is an approach. I think laptops are incredibly folkie. It's like, I think hip hop in the last decade became the new folk, because, where Bob Dylan would pinch the chords of other songs and put his own lyrics to it, in hip hop they're sampling other peoples songs and putting their own lyrics to it. And I think that's a very good folk attitude, and nowadays you can very quickly get GarageBand, or equivalent program on your laptop and you can take sounds from anything, and you can make them into anything, and I think that's the joy and that's what excites us about making the music we do.â
Bronze Medallists' next single 'Headspace' is out November 21st on Ear Music Records.