Them Things are a psychedelic-pop band based out of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Their last release, 2014’s vibrantly dreamy ‘Good Weird‘ features the highlighting track ‘Oh Brother‘ which takes you on a ride of mental imagery suited for Syd Barrett or oddly enough The Mamas & the Papas. Don’t even ask, just listen. Here we have a look into the band’s own mental imagery, covering creativity, red wine, new music that you’ll want to check out, and a spotting of the rare creature that is Kylie Minogue.
How did Them Things come together?
Louis: Me and Ilya met when I fell asleep in a train station after I got drunk and missed my train home. He let me stay in his house and from there we started jamming together, and soon making music and getting into trouble.
‘Mythomania’ is an instant classic. What went into the formation of this track?
Louis: I wrote the riff alongside a few others of a similar feel like the one at the end of our song ‘Astronauts‘. Back when we used to all practice in my bedroom in the house we shared. It was so loud and the room is so small we had to set up amps outside on the stairs. I remember playing it for the first time and we jammed it through the night; it was so addictive to play.
You’ve opened for Catfish and the Bottlemen and The Orwells, as a fan of both your band and theirs, what were those gigs like?
Louis: Every time we have played with Catfish it’s great fun. We have gotten to know them all pretty well now and they are fantastic people. Obviously it’s great being on the same bill as Johnny [Bond] too like the old days. The Orwells are a band we have loved since the release of ‘Disgraceland‘. They are a wild and energetic bunch and we are hoping to see them soon.
Has there been a specific club or locale you’ve performed at that really sticks out?
Jack: It was a scorching hot day, and I remember us lot cramming ourselves, and all of our gear, onto a tiny stage at a club called ‘Mau Mau’ on portobello road down in London. I went to run and grab a drink before we went on, and ended up meeting A$AP Rocky, who was walking past the bar, heavily guarded by a six man entourage of hench dudes in all black. No one else who we were with knew who he was though, so I just had a moment on my own… Oh yeah, then we went out for food after and Ilya spotted Kylie Minogue on a street corner, hailing a taxi with a little handbag dog. Weird mix.
Let’s talk gear. What is everyone using?
Louis: My pedalboard is all set up on my old skateboard deck. I stripped it down and stuck it up with velcro. Pedalboards are expensive and I’d rather just have another pedal. Or be able to eat.
Ilya: I have my two synthesisers and my guitar. I play all three on every track sometimes all at once so it can get intense. When I’m feeling dangerous I’ll turn on my Fender Blender which basically turns everything into overdrive and ruins everyones life for a second.
Joe: I’m plugged into a tube screamer and some delay and flanger pedals from when I used to play guitar.
Jack: I’ve been playing a cream, 1960’s Slingerland set with Dream cymbals. My other kit was made by a lovely man named Joe Cox, who techs for Bob in Catfish [and the Bottlemen]. He put together this beautiful 1964 Beverly oyster wrap number for me.
Top five favorite albums?
Louis: I think we should all choose one each.
Jack: Death Grips – ‘Government Plates‘.
Joe: Radiohead – ‘Kid A‘.
Ilya: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – ‘Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!‘.
Louis: The Cure – ‘Disintegration‘.
Jack: That’s 4.
Louis: Neil Young – ‘On the Beach‘.
As a listener, what draws you in to an album?
Louis: I’m drawn to words a lot. That’s where conviction lies for me. You could have the coolest production in the world but if your singing about passé bullshit then it’s ruined. I want to connect. Unless it’s Dungen in which case you can sing whatever the fuck you want and I’m not going to understand it.
Jack: I agree with Louis. Though I think the most I’ve been drawn in and moved by a piece of music was right at the end of a film called ‘Seven Pounds’. A choir of children are singing ‘I’m Into Something Good’ and it just fades out to this completely broken down, dischordant, instrumental string and piano composition called ‘The Crisis’, by Ennio Morricone. Very little is said at the end in terms of dialogue, but the music says it all. I ended up looking like a total loser, crying behind my jumbo popcorn, on a weekday.
I can definitely hear your love for psych-rock on ‘Good Weird’, what bands or artists are inspirations for you? Is there anything you find yourself drawing from that’s unexpected?
Louis: For ‘Good Weird‘ we intentionally let the record take itself to where it wanted to go. The songs landed on this ethereal atmospheric landscape that suited what I was going through at the time which sounded quite cool.
Ilya: We listened to a lot of David Gilmour – The Orb and drank this really strong Russian vodka.
Louis: Mix that all together with everything else and you have got a pretty interesting night on your hands. So many inspirations from strange corners of the world. I was hammering the second ‘Girls‘ record in between some
Instead of the classic “Stones or Beatles” question: Can or The Velvet Underground?
Jack: ‘Halleluwah’ by Can is, hands down, in my top 20 tracks ever. Damo Suzuki kicks arse.
Louis: I love both. I heard Lou Reed did terrible things to women. As well as that Metallica record. So it’s got to be Can. Love you Damo.
As a band based in Newcastle, I’m curious: Magpie fans?
Joe: Toon all day.
Louis: I don’t go anymore but born and bred Geordie. We still need to take Ilya to a match but I’m not sure if he’s ready.
Jack: I’m not an avid football fan, but I used to play.
Ilya: No-one will take me to a match so I can’t answer.
What other forms of art get your creativity flowing to better help the recording process?
Jack: Black coffee. A investigatory three minute pace around the studio. Ambient lighting and a strong hand-on-hip pose as I assess the feng shui of my drum kit.
Louis: All of those things work in different ways. Like potions. Potions can be handy. Red wine is a good potion.
Ilya: Listening to everyday sounds outside. I think it’s called
Joe: Wrestlemania. No joke. Pure inspiration.
How much of a role did you play in the artistic direction of your music videos? ‘Mythomania’ and ‘Oh Brother’ have such creative storylines.
Louis: The process works by me coming up with some ridiculous idea representing something tenuous in the lyrics. Then the director, Ross will bounce back some ideas and we end up with a full story and he makes it all happen. ‘Mythomania‘ and ‘Oh Brother‘ came from a rough story and Ross helped build it into something truly magical.
The Mach 1 Mustang in ‘Oh Brother’ is absolutely gorgeous, any gearheads here in the band?
Joe: I’m the only driver in the band and my car has broken down.
Louis: That’s embarrassing. For you. I have a toddler’s carbon footprint. I don’t even release body gasses outdoors in fear for the environment’s feeble impotency because of human beings shitting all over the earth.
Ilya: That’s a lie.
Jack: One day I’d love to own either a black Ford Capri, or an AE86 Toyota Corolla. I’m still taking lessons though.
Louis: That car is really nice though. None of us got to drive it. Probably for the best.
At Trend Prive we’re big on charitable causes, do you have any causes close to your hearts?
Joe: I give to Shelter, which is a homeless charity. I’m deep into my overdraft at the moment so you never know soon I might need tax deductible donations.
Ilya: I donated to Send A Cow who work with communities across Africa by sending families cows.
Jack: At a young age, I used to help my mum with the work she did for The National Blood Service, and I made friends with a few hospitalised children, who changed my outlook on life for good. Apart from that, I found a lovely Versace top at my local Age Concern yesterday. I buy from those guys a lot.
Louis: It is a really nice top. I donated to a children’s charity which turned out to be a scam. I also ran a marathon in aid of Cancer Research which nearly killed me.
You’ve been hinting new music on your social media accounts recently, what can you tell us?
Louis: We have been working hard on a couple of new songs with videos to match, both of which we are really excited about. At the moment we are looking at November for the first release and then the other will follow soon after. We filmed another video with Ross Anderson who directed ‘Oh Brother’ and ‘Mythomania’, which looks as if it’s going to be absolutely mental. These next two are pretty different songs, so it should be interesting to see the reaction.
Can we expect live dates in the near future?
Jack: We’ll have a few more dates up our sleeves before Christmas.
Louis: We are trying hard to get a run of dates in the UK again. We are still reaching out to venues so we should have something soon. We live in hope.