Interview with Cucamaras: ‘Pre-Covid, we’d focus on writing two minute bangers but we’re realising you need that variety’
by Sara Seddon at The Bucket Playlist
Nottingham-based band Cucamaras stomped into 2021 with their aggressive post punk anthem ‘Death of The Social’ and will bring out their next single around July.
They comprise Olly Bowley (guitar/vocals), Josh Hart (guitar/vocals), Joe Newton (drums) and Dan McGrath (bass). They took their name from a bar of the same name locally. ‘Not the kind of bar that plays our music, it’s a cocktail bar,’ Bowley joked.
‘Death of The Social’ came about because Hart was studying sociology and, in Bowley’s words, ‘banging on’ about the term, which was coined by sociologist Jean Baudrillard. His writing portrays societies always searching for a sense of meaning, or a ‘total’ understanding of the world that always remains elusive. ‘Instead of writing a long essay, we wrote a song!,’ Bowley said.
It’s a massive song, with its distinctive instrumental chorus, characterised by a haunting lead guitar riff that throws you down the band’s very own sonic rabbit hole. They describe it as ‘pulling you in by the scruff of the neck and won’t let go until the last crash of the cymbal, leaving you begging for more’.
As the song goes: ‘Where did all the hate come from? We’re just taking orders, taking orders. Be careful on the borders of your ambitions, and then what’s lawless. Where did all the hate come from for your sons and daughters, sons and daughters? We share existence more rather than talking.’
The song was written after they performed a gig in Paris, after a hungover debate between Hart and Bowley. It takes inspiration from postmodernism as well as drawing on internal anxieties that the two have about an increasing social divide in society.
‘I think it will be somewhat of a protagonist in our live set’
Hart typically writes the melodies, with Bowley coming up with the lyrics: ‘The lyrics that Olly wrote for the track took a really simple but stark form,’ Hart said. I think we both enjoy how literal and honest the track is, and that’s matched with probably our most simple song structure we’ve ever had, but that chorus just has impact and I think it will be somewhat of a protagonist in our live set. You can’t not go nuts for that, surely?‘
The past year has been a very productive one for them: ‘Over lockdown, material-wise, songs have fallen into our laps a bit, they’ve just appeared,’ Bowley said. ‘I keep saying, it’s like imposter syndrome but we do write them ourselves!’
They don’t want to say much about their upcoming releases, although Bowley admits that it’s ‘painful sitting on them’: ‘They’re post punk definitely.’ Newton nods: ‘One of the benefits of lockdown is not writing for the live sets, we’ve got more freedom.’
That includes branching out to try new approaches: ‘Beforehand, pre-Covid, we’d focus on writing two minute bangers but we’re realising you need that variety,’ Bowley said. Newton joins in: ‘We’ve got four songs completely recorded and a fifth floating around.’ Bowley nods: ‘Yeah, our goal is to release a new song every two months. I do the main body of ‘Death of The Social’ but on the new set of songs, sometimes it’s just me singing, sometimes it’s Josh and sometimes it’s both of us.’ Newton starts laughing: ‘Doesn’t it depend on the guitar part?’ ‘Yeah,’ Bowley said, grinning. ‘It depends on whoever has the least intricate guitar part!’
‘Before lockdown, 2019, say, we all became disillusioned with indie as a genre’
They’re both fans of local punk band Do Nothing, who Newton describes as ‘a bit like us, post punky, they have funny lyrics’. He’s also a fan of London-based post punk band, Shame: ‘They’re on a path to somewhere.’ Both praise Irish post punk band, The Murder Capital. Nonetheless, they acknowledge that their musical tastes have shifted in the last couple of years: ‘Before lockdown, 2019, say, we all became disillusioned with indie as a genre,’ Bowley said. ‘It felt as if it wasn’t moving anywhere, we felt old!’ However, their love of New York rock band Parquet Courts got them back into it: ‘Their first album (Light Up Gold + Tally All The Things That You Broke, 2013), we were obsessed with it, Newton said. ‘It was a good way to segue into the newer stuff.’
Bowley’s most prized musical possession is his Jazzmaster Martin GT 75 guitar, which he loves for ‘its screaming rich part’ and which he bought with money he inherited from his grandmother after she died. “I didn’t just want to fritter it away,’ he said. Newton tell me that he’s just bought a new drum kit: ‘I sit and look at it every day, I can’t play it at home, so I haven’t had a chance to play it yet.’ Bowley’s other treasured possession is a Wurlitzer, which he bought off Ebay: ‘It was dying, rotting on someone’s floor, I drove up to Liverpool to collect it. I had it repaired by this guy called Dave, who had a magical shed palace of Wurlitzers!’
One song that Newton wishes he’d written is ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ by LCD Soundsytem: ‘I put it on repeat for 20 minutes, I find them fascinating. I’d like to do more dancey ones.’ Bowley says he wishes he’d written ‘Roy’s Tune’ by Fontaines D.C. ‘It’s a happy sounding song with depressing lyrics.’
If they could hear their music on TV, they both say they’d rather be on Jools Holland than on a soundtrack: ‘We’d love it,’ Bowley laughed. ‘If he says, what are you doing New Year’s?!’
this story first appeared on: https://inthebucketplaylist.com/ on April 29th 2021