This Many Boyfriends

Passionate lovers of pop who don’t believe in taking themselves too seriously, This Many Boyfriends are winning fans all over the country, and will be touring with The Kaiser Chiefs soon. Their self-titled debut album has just been released and was recorded in Edwyn Collins’ West Heath studios and produced by Ryan Jarman of The Cribs. With influences that include the C86 cutie movement, Patti Smith, The Pastels, Bruce Springsteen and Pavement, they’ve declared themselves on a mission to ‘make people want to form bands.’ Current single Number 1 is a beautiful bitter-sweet slice of pop that captures the ache of a long-distance relationship. We talked to them before a headline London gig about how they write, their kit, and their musical manifesto.

Angular Records

An energy drink pressed into an album

This Many Boyfriends want you to have fun. When they describe their new album, it’s all about tunes that give you a lift.

Ten pop songs, quite short, it’s good if you’ve got a short attention span. They’re just good songs, short sharp melodic, riffy, you know. Fun. Ideal to get ready to go out to. It’s like a can of Red Bull that’s been pressed into an album.

Working with Ryan Jarman from The Cribs, in Edwyn Collins of Orange Juice’s studio was overwhelming at times, but great.

It was pretty fun, the studio’s really nice. Just fun to hang out in. Kind of weird being around people like that though. I’ve been an Orange Juice fan for a long time now. Cribs even more, which is really weird. It’s like, Edwyn popping in for a cup of tea and like. Yeah I’ve seen an episode of Ready Steady Cook with Edwyn Collins.

Ryan the producer had plenty of ideas and was keen to experiment.

Ryan was just really excitable, it was like working with a little kid. He’d just bound around the studios like, changing guitars all the time, and he had loads of ideas. He got in a piano, that were good. Opened it up, got in to that and were like playing the strings in it.

Then there was the time Ryan introduced a bin lid into the recording.

He played a bin lid with some chains. So there’s a lot of sounds on the record that aren’t us, that are him just messing around. It was really fun, it was just really weird to be around people who are heroes.

But in spite of adding some extras, Richard says that Ryan really wanted the band to be themselves.

We’d given him demos and he’d heard the first EP and he basically just wanted us to do it like that. He was very insistent on making it live and making it fun and not trying to mess about with it too much, and I think that kind of helped us. I think if we’d had a producer who’d been trying to gloss it up a bit, make it into something else, then it probably wouldn’t have worked. I think that he just wanted to keep it as rough as possible really.

But there’s room for the smooth too, and their new single Number 1 is a charmer, that’s a bit less frenetic than some of their tracks.

For Richard it was important that the vocals came across clearly on the album. He may joke about the band being chaotic at times, but he wants people to hear the lyrics.

There’s a current trend of very very high reverb and everything kind of mixing in together and you really don’t get an idea of the vocals. I mean a lot of the time it’s about nothing, whereas I’m kind of trying to write stuff, you know, for people. I quite like being kind of crisp and clear because it just keeps things simple and I really wouldn’t want people to not hear what I’m saying. I don’t know why you’d mix it to sound like that unless you’re hiding bad writing. I don’t know. I think a lot of people probably are.

When the band are writing, most of the songs start off with guitar, as Daniel explains.

It usually starts with a riff. I’ve written the music and then Richard’s done the lyrics and then we’ve just kind of worked from there, and then other times somebody else would do the chord progression and then I would just do a riff. The last song we did, Ben did all the music.

Richard says they try and get things recorded fast, as rough demos. He usually writes the vocal melody himself.

Ben’s got a recording studio and Dan’s got an 8-track so we just try and get as much stuff down as possible then he’ll send it to me and I’ll work something out. We work quite quickly.

The band says the album tracks translate well into a live set.

When we’ve recorded them they’re all like, not too much piano that we could never do live or not too much ridiculous stuff that we could never replicate live. The album’s basically live, other than a few embellishments, so iit’s been really easy to tour it because it’s just straight off.

You can kind of let loose a lot more when you’re playing live. It probably means the music gets a bit ropier but we can enjoy ourselves a lot more than you can in the studio.

We asked them about their influences.

The obvious ones would be The Smiths and The Cribs. And there’s also a lot of Jesus and Mary Chain, Pavement, Weezer, just kind of for the random awesome fun-ness. At the moment it’s The Strokes, a lot, as well. And like 80s indie pop, sort of stuff as well, because obviously, that’s the sort of stuff we play.

They are hitting their stride as songwriters and are out to make perfect and petite slices of pop.

We’re into writing snappy pop songs that people can latch onto really easily. So there’s a bit of a formula going. There’s a bit of noise as well Because that’s just more fun that way. We just write chorus verse chorus riff, chorus, noise, always try to keep it under three minutes.

We never really like to go that far over two minutes to be honest. Because once you’ve heard it, once you’ve heard a riff, once you’ve heard a chorus and a verse once, what’s the point of repeating over and over again. Don’t bore us, get us to the chorus. That is our aim.