They’ve rented a mobile home for this tour, or, really, a friend of theirs has rented it on their behalf from a company in Essex. “You can’t say it’s for a band see, cause then they’ll never let you have it.” Even with all of the kit taken out, it’s hardly spacious; the band barely fit on the benches in the back, but graciously shift a pizza box to make room for me to sit down.
Is that your dinner? “Er, it was breakfast actually. And tomorrow’s.”
There’s four of them. Dave, Chris, Andy and Capone, and really their manager Russell, a bald man in a fedora who looks like an acid jazz Dave Courtney, is the fifth.
There’s no bones with Crash Convention about what they do. They are in a band. And they’re all mates. It’s not glamorous, but then neither are a lot of jobs. This is their first tour to take them outside of London, and they’re looking forward to it. “If we get anything like the reception we got in Brighton last night, we’ll be happy.” “Some bloke even drove down from London to see us, cause he heard a song on the radio. That’s the best thing”
Dave and Chris are the songwriters, but it’s Dave that does most of the talking in the interview. He’s more thoughtful than his long time mate, more ready to make jokes, to take command of the conversation and steer it back on course. Their vision is a shared one, but Dave is mission control. Tonight’s gig is a showcase of London bands taking place in the cavernous Koko, formerly Camden Palace. It’s been given a makeover, and now looks like a cross between club silencio in Mullholland Drive, and a hideously mutated Madame JoJo’s. “It’s the biggest venue we’ve ever played”, offers Andy coolly, more excited by than daunted at the prospect.
Ostensibly they’ve got the best slot of the evening, 11:00, but it’ll be tricky sharing fans with six other bands, all with their own fiercely loyal following. The tribes wander around, barely interacting, and although the skinny tie, porkpie hat and 5 o clock shadow is the most represented look, there are enough jewboy afros, leopard print bodystockings and bottle peroxide to up the variety stakes. The Bar area is quickly marked out as THE place to be seen schmoozing, and Zach from Special Needs holds court over a gaggle of 17 year olds, introducing everyone to everyone else. He’s not the only representative of Poptones in the building. Client, or ‘Alan Mcgee’s girlfriend and Sarah from Dubstar’, are due to play later, and there’s evidence of cross pollination going on in the fan-base. A pissed up teenager in gargantuan shades fills me in: “You know they did a duet with Pete and Carl” Pete and Carl Andre? “No silly, the Libertines”. Oh. Who are they?
Crash Convention are all too aware and wary of parochialism “We make a conscious conscious conscious effort to not be part of any scenes. The bands who are really worth it come through on their own, and that’s what we hope we’re doing. Y’know, bands like the Metro Riots”. It seems like the greatest patronage a band can get on London’s indie scene is to be namechecked in public by another band. Crash Convention have already benefited from this with their first single Patrick O Neal Making Faces, singled out by Carl Barat as his NME single of the year. A read through CC’s on-line blogs, shows that they have similar feelings about the Riots. “They’re stand up gentlemen through and through. Their music is their own, no one elses, and it’s brilliant.” True words. Like CC, the Riots wear their 60’s influences with pride, but deliver such a polished homage to 60’s pop rock that you have to pinch yourself to remember John Lennon is dead, Ray Davies is a vigilante and Mick Jagger is a sleazy old man.
If the kooky, post Pulp ironic noise of the Poptones and Angular contingents seems all too dominant at the moment, it’s worth remembering that for some kids, it was like indie didn’t happen. “When we formed at school, we were all massively into Nirvana.” If their 60’s britrock leanings had you thinking that they’d done their homework from listening to Supergrass and Blur, you’d be wrong. “We got into indie much later, kind of retrospectively.” As for the Kinks comparisons: “That’s a fucking accolade” beams Dave, “It doesn’t mean their the only band we listen to, but there are elements of the Kinks we like. That kind of songwriting is eternal.”
Longevity then, is something the boys aspire to. “We want to make ten good albums, or twenty. Not just one.” It might seem like a starry ambition, but when you look at their faces you can see why they’re in this in the first place. Crash convention aren’t enamoured with some myth of rockstar living. They’re not in this to get rich quick, (as if). They’re eruditely opinionated about the music they love, but wont take part in the snide inter band squabbling that journalists so profit from. “What pisses us off? People being fake, ripping each off. And these moody fags I just bought that are full of lead and burn down real quick.”
They’re proud about where they come from and are genuinely excited about the London scene “There’s never been a better time to be in a band in London. You can go out most nights and see a great band for not much money at all. It certainly wasn’t like that a few years ago.” It’s true. During the Britpop days, a line up such as tonight’s six bands for a fiver would be unthinkable. With more talented bands on the gig circuit, comes greater competition between them, and the rush to create a hype around your band, has been known to outshine the music on more than one occasion. An example off the top of my head? The Others. There’s a collective intake of breath from the band; “You said it not us”. Dave shows a diplomatic side which obviously serves him and the band well. “I’d never say anything bad about the Others. I think Dominic really believes in what he’s doing, and that’s commendable.” He goes on, “You need publicity to get your stuff on radio in the first place. Whether people like it or not is another thing, but you have to get it heard.”
No-one seems sure if the gig is a success or not. They come on, play their hearts out for 15 minutes, and then disappear again. Although I’m assured that they have an album’s worth of material ready to record, these shotgun gigs are grabbing people’s attention, and getting people talking. And that’s always good.
It’s 2:30, and although the band are in various states of inebriation, they pull on their deepest reserves of professionalism to pack the kit away, before bundling into the diminished interior of the van. They’re heading home for a final send off before the tour proper starts tomorrow in Birmingham. I’m reminded of something Dave said earlier. ” We’re not interested in getting drunk and going back to stupid parties. Besides, we’ve got our own stupid parties.” In a scene where there’s a constant struggle to assert your individuality, Crash Convention, by acknowledging their influences, and respecting the scene, are undoubtedly doing it their way.