I Am Kloot: The Backstreet Boys look didn’t quite go to plan
I Am Kloot/Liquid Room, Edinburgh/18.01.11
You’re playing Edinburgh tonight. Why should people come and check you out?
(Peter Jobson, bass): We have not played in Edinburgh for a number of years now. Last time we were a three piece band. Now the band has been augmented to play all the songs from our mercury nominated album ‘Sky At Night’. After 10 years it is like a new day for Kloot – we are playing the best gigs we have ever played and are feeling more confident than ever.
Do you have many fond memories of Scotland?
Many fond memories of Scotland – I was brought up in Northumberland and spent many weekends in Edinburgh before all day drinking was legal in England. There is a bar on Rose Street that was run by a Geordie – it was the only place that would let us in. New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh Gardens watching Big Country and Orange Juice many years ago. I was about nine years old on holiday in Aviemore when my mother took me to see ‘The Jazz Singer’ with Neil Diamond. That film got into music in a big way.
Who is Kloot and why are you pretending to be him?
I Am Kloot is a left handed card game made famous in the diaries of Jerome K. Jerome. The rules are expounded in Jerome’s sequel ‘Three Men on the Bummel’. The general ethos of the sport is to at all times to conduct oneself in a dishonest, cruel and deceiving manner. On winning a hand, one is required to gloat in the harshest fashion, provoking shame and self loathing amongst fellow players. Tactically it is tradition to quickly raise the stakes so high as to leave the opposition recklessly insecure and anxious to commit to future endangering wagers that on transaction would throw the opponent into a Dickensian poverty. Games rarely last more than one hand and all betting commitments are to be honoured and enforced on the night.
You’re five albums into your career and only this year you have been shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize. Why did it take so long?
We had our whole life to make our first album ‘Natural History’ and since the release of that album in 2001 we have been gigging non stop pretty much. It was only when we started making ‘Sky At Night’ that we stopped and took time to write and record. Having time with nothing else to get in the way makes a big difference. The Mercury’s are great and being nominated has helped more people hear about the band. Better late than never.
The nominated album, ‘Sky At Night’, was produced by members of Elbow. How much influence did they have over the record?
Guy Garvey produced our first album ‘Natural History’ and we have been friends with all the Elbow boys since we all met in the 90s. We love and respect Craig Potter and Guy very much. Working with them was the best recording experience we have had – every idea was tried and mutual decisions were made about what to keep and what to drop. The process was one of mutual learning. When we made ‘Sky At Night’ we literally had nothing. No money, label or manager. All we had was our instruments some songs and the grace and talents of our friends. We felt we had something to prove. Guy and Craig’s support, expertise and influence were inspiring.
In February you’re headed off to Australia. Is transcontinental gigging up your street?
We have been lucky enough to gig in many different countries. We tour Europe regularly. We have been to Russia, Japan, Turkey and America over the course of our career. Never been to Oz though. We have many Australian friends in Manchester. In the UK you have a good idea of the workings of the music industry – that is not the case when you are abroad. There is much beauty and spontaneity in the not knowing. Travelling to do gigs is one of the most enjoyable parts of our life. Over the years we have made time in our schedule to stick around in places we like. After years of seeing the world from a tour bus window we thought ‘Fuck this – we will play Thursday/Friday/Saturday and the rest of the week we will have a look around’. I think more bands would do the same if they could afford to.
For your 2009 release ‘B’ you invited fans to make the album cover. Were there any absolutely awful submissions?
It is good to get people involved in what you are doing. The standard on the whole was very high. It is something we would like to do more of.
And finally, you’re from Manchester, a place well known for rearing bands. If Manchester had a musical fight with London, who would win?
We are a mixture of Mancs and a Geordie. We do not really do the north vs. south divide thing. In my opinion the Beatles would have the Stones. Street Scousers against London scenesters – think about it.