|The Crookes Get Into A Lather!|
|10th April 2014|
|Share: Artist Profile|
| a rumbustious fierce panda one sheet
The Band: THE CROOKES
The Release: ‘SOAPBOX’
The Formats: DIGITAL / COMPACT DISC / VINYL ALBUM
The Release Date: APRIL 14TH 2014
The Label: fierce panda records (NONG 86CD)
THE CROOKES consist of George Waite (vocals / bass), Daniel Hopewell (guitar), Tom Dakin (guitar) and Russell Bates (drums). They live in Sheffield and infamously found (most of) each other, bleary of eye and dancing alone, on the indie dancefloor at the city’s Fuzz Club near the close of the previous decade. Five years, 40-odd songs and hundreds of live shows down the line The Crookes are now hardly lacking in fans, followers or worthwhile friends but their new ‘Soapbox’ album still sees them revel in the role of loners.
“The most obvious theme that runs through the entire album is the idea of The Outsider,” frets guitarist and lyricist Daniel. “As a band that seems to suit us…never invited inside, but never wanting to be. I can empathise more with the madman standing on his soapbox, slowly gaining an audience by speaking with passion and honesty.”
Taking the role of The Outsider to its logical extreme, ‘Soapbox’ saw the band forego the studio-related home comforts of South Yorkshire and instead drive their gear and recording facilities to the Alpine wilds of Italy at the start of winter. “We recorded at the very top of a mountain – quite literally in a cloud – in a very old church dedicated to San Antonio,” Daniel beams. “We saw nobody for weeks on end (except for a couple of hunters) and quickly forgot about the outside world. We nearly crashed and died trying to get all the gear up the narrow winding road that took you to Valle di Preone, a road marked with monuments for all the people who had slipped off before. We took a photograph of the church at night and the following day saw that an upside down crucifix had appeared in the picture – although we couldn’t work out how…”
If these pleasures were a wayward distraction then the band's sense of isolation manifested itself in ‘Soapbox’, a record which is littered with put downs and push offs, from “Fools like us, we don’t belong” in ‘When You’re Fragile’ to “Don’t you dare compare me to poster boys too thick to see the truth” in angry, twangy lead-off single ‘Play Dumb’ (released on March 3rd). One of these songs is called, simply and cruelly, ‘Don’t Put Your Faith In Me’, while ‘Outsiders’ sees them sigh, “Everyone you love will leave you in the end”.
Yet if this all suggests moping foppishness to a crippling Bridesheadian degree the meaty, chest-beating sound of ‘Soapbox’ shows there is fire in the eyes lurking behind those floppy fringes. Aside from the sweetly serene ‘Howl’ and a wistful ‘Holy Innocents’ ‘Soapbox’ is packed full of stroppy riffs and emboldened stompings, for these are rebels who barely pause for breath. You may well have been hooked by The Crookes before: on the BBC 6 Music playlist, perhaps. Or maybe supporting Richard Hawley or Little Comets, or at SXSW, or on one of their many gentlemanly excursions around Europe, or in your local local on one of their numerous tours of Blighty.
You certainly couldn’t accuse The Crookes of shirking their tidy shirt-wearing duties: working to an agenda which would cause the shrinking three-gigs-and-out violets of East London palpitations on September 27th 2010 they released the ‘Dreams Of Another Day’ mini-album; in the spring of 2011 came the ‘Chasing After Ghosts’ album; the spring of 2012 saw the release of the ‘Hold Fast’ album. Spring 2013 was relatively quiet – they merely released the ‘Bear’s Blood’ / 'Dance In Colour' standalone single and headlined London’s Scala. But as sure as the daffodils bloom and the cherry blossom blossoms so spring 2014 sees The Crookes deliver this here ‘Soapbox’ longplayer, thereby become the first band to release three albums on fierce panda since the mighty Death Cab For Cutie a decade ago. You can’t fault their creativity or consistency. Unless you’re an uncaring bastard, of course. Which would make you very unlike The Crookes.
“This is definitely the bravest collection of songs we’ve ever written,” states a steely Daniel. “Musically we’ve definitely grown up (after many years of slaving away). It certainly isn’t a happy, carefree album. But again, the intention has never been to make people like us…but simply to make music that we like.” The day after the release of 'Soapbox' The Crookes head out once again to visit your local local, like this:
APRIL 15TH NOTTINGHAM Bodega