Interview: The Carpels

The Carpels, one of Birmingham’s most promising young bands, headline their biggest show to date at the Mac this weekend.

Amy Sumner caught up with Moseley outfit to talk single releases, tour dates and balancing college homework with the ever-increasing demands of the band.

“It’s a bigger problem for some of us that it is for others,” grins guitarist Tom Minchin. “I mean, those of us who got on with the college workload in the first place still do, and those of us who didn’t… .” He breaks into laughter.

“It’s what we’ve been used to though,” explains lead singer Dylan Williams. “We’ve never not been at college since we’ve been doing the band, so it’s not like it’s an added pressure.”

“Yes, I think we’ve just learned to balance it,” concludes Tom.

And that’s something they managed incredibly well towards the end of last year, when they racked up an impressive collection of live dates, including The Christmas Carnival at The Rainbow with Troumaca, Silver Souvenirs and Cajole Cajole and a date at the 02 Academy in support of The Twang within a hectic 24 hour period.

“We hadn’t played live since early October at that point,” explains Dylan, “but the fact that we’re releasing our third single Bears at the beginning of this month means that we’re working extra hard to promote it.”

Bears is the forthcoming (and third) in a line of free releases that the band have put out, and it’s more of the same raw energy and scallywagship that the band do best. It’s made it onto the Xfm playlist and enjoyed an airing on NME’s website alongside fellow Brummie band Troumaca. With these two inclusions on one of the most frequented music websites, and the Birmingham music scene beginning to attract a (relative) lot of outside media attention, it wouldn’t be hasty to speculate that 2012 could be Birmingham’s year for music.

“I think this ‘scene’ has been there for a while,” says drummer Jacob McQue, “although recently it has started to sound a bit less…gritty.”

“It was kind of linear at that stage though,” suggests bassist Ewan Wallace. “A couple of years back with Tantrums and Scarlet Harlots etc it was far more a case of three bands or so doing the same thing at the same time… .”

“But that little thing was never going to explode,” interrupts Dylan. “And this new scene, and this new buzz around Birmingham is quite exciting.”

“And the dream is to be part of that scene,” concludes Jacob.

The Carpels return to the live stage this weekend for arguably their biggest gig yet, headlining the Mac just down the road from the school where they first formed. It has also given them a chance to fly the flag for more of Birmingham’s new or young talent, with Is I Cinema, The Heist and Savant also on the bill.

“And I’m talking really young in some cases,” explains Dylan, “I think The Heist are still at secondary school. But this was a conscious decision – we really wanted to get young bands together and give them a platform on which to show what they can do.”

And this is one of the things that makes Birmingham so exciting at the moment. For the first time in a long time it feels as though the best of the city’s musical talent and musical instinct is coming together and creating some really fantastic nights, and that’s something to get excited about on all fronts.

So what have these scamps got planned for the year ahead? “Wembley stadium would be nice,” fantasises Ewan. “But more realistically, we want to play some support slots with established bands,” clarifies Tom. Jacob agrees: “Exactly. Next year we finish college and then we’ll have the time to tour with the bands who venture out of Birmingham. I mean, we could end up playing to a room full of people or to no one at all, but we want to shake as many hands as possible. Within Birmingham I think we want to start playing bigger venues that draw in the bigger bands and crowds, like The Ballroom.”

“And we’re hoping to secure some festival slots in the summer too,” adds Dylan.

You see, the greatest thing about this band – and the most endearing too – is their confidence, and their drive, and their ambition. And that’s exactly why, though by all accounts it should be, even if 2012 turns out not to be Birmingham’s year for music after all, then it should be The Carpels’ nonetheless.

The Carpels are live at Mac, Birmingham, with support from Savant, Is I Cinema and The Heist, on January 21.

New single Bears is out now.

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