[sane] is the name for a Northampton electronic quartet consisting of Gabriel Halford, Tim Robinson, Adam Bullock and Connor Webb. New single ‘Stitching’ sees the band return from the studio with music after a bit of a hiatus. New Boots spoke to the guys to get up to speed.
How did you guys get together?
Gabriel: We formed the band about four years ago, off the back of these four songs I’d made as part of my music tech degree. When I moved back to Northampton and got to see so many bands I was really inspired to start performing again. I asked my old bandmate Adam first because I knew he could nail it and we shared similar tastes, then asked Northampton’s busiest drummer/musician Josh to join. I asked my friend Tim from school to join as we shared very similar tastes in music and I knew he could play keys. In all honesty I didn’t know what to expect as he’d never played in a band before, but when he learnt so much so quickly it became obvious that it was a great bet. The other guys were very keen to try another singer for a song, and after I eventually pushed my ego as singer aside, we got him on ‘Born Lever Puller’ and the difference was undeniable.
Connor: I was drafted into the band a little after its creation, I was originally a guest vocalist on a track (‘BLP’), did a couple of gigs with the guys where I sang on said track, as well as a couple others. I was made an official member sometime after that.
Adam: I was in a band with Gabriel when we were young. We had a break for a couple of years before starting [sane]. Gabriel had written an EP and wanted a band to do live performances and that’s where we started.
Tim: Gabriel had been making music under the moniker ‘sane machine’ for a little while before deciding that he wanted to put the band together in order to play live shows. At the back end of 2014, he assembled Me, Adam and Josh (our old drummer) to fulfil that. Gabs had previously been in a band, called Black Friday, with Adam whilst teenagers, and all four of us have been kicking around together for years. Josh left the band a while back and we gained a vocalist in Connor. He brought so much to the song and had a great feel for the music so we asked him to join .
How would you describe your sound?
Tim: That’s a tough one really. We dread having to associate ourselves with any particular genre because nothing quite fits! We usually tend to go with electronica/ambient techno, but there are elements from all sorts of different places.
Connor: Danceable, emotional electronica.
Adam: Electronic, moody, dance, infectious.
Who are your main influences do you think?
Gabriel: All the guys on Monkeytown Records (esp Siriusmo), Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Country Teasers, Flying Lotus.
Tim: We are all big Radiohead fans, so some of the songwriting is influenced by them for sure. Artists such as Siriusmo, Modeselektor and Alex Banks are huge influences in terms of production style. Most of what is put out by labels like Monkeytown, and Ninja Tune, is usually a pretty good bet. Bonobo, Machinedrum, Amon Tobin. Maribou state, Dark Sky, and vocalists such as Jono Mcleery, Thom Yorke and Sampha. To be honest, we all just really love listening to music. Our tastes are fairly eclectic, and massively overlap, but we each bring something individual to the table.
What was the reaction like to ‘help your self’ EP? Also, why the two year gap in releases?
Gabriel: It was generally really positive! We put a lot of effort into every song and making sure the CDs looked swanky and professional. We also learnt a lot about how to improve for our next release, mainly simplifying the arrangements. The main reason for the long gap is that we’ve been wanting to make an album. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and it’s taken a long time to create material I’d be proud enough of to release.
Adam: We had a good response to HYS. I spent six months travelling around India at the back end of last year, so the band was a man down for a while also.
Tim: Generally pretty well received. ‘Holy Poly’ got a fair bit of radio play and is the one people tend to anticipate at live shows. It took us a long time to put together and we have definitely progressed a long way since then, in terms of production and songwriting. We did release another song, ‘Born Lever Puller’ the following year, which was the one that featured Connor. The big gap is down to a combination of perfectionism, lack of time, and various life events that slow the whole process down. Our drummer left the band, so we had to regroup a bit after that as it changed both the type of music we make and the way in which we make it.. And also just miscellaneous work commitments and trying to fit music around a functioning life. It would be great to be able to dedicate more time, but once or twice a week is about all usually manage.
Tell us everything about this new track, ‘Stitching’.
Gabriel: The song is about the feelings you go through after losing something and trying to put yourself back together again. The aches of grieving and trying to also be grateful for having had something worth losing in the first place. ‘Good grief’ I suppose you could call it.
Connor: Very melodic, multi-sectional, fun to play live.
What are your live shows like?
Connor: Big in sound, lots of emotion.
Tim: For live shows, we have synths, guitar, vocals and a couple of midi controllers to deal with the drums and various samples. The recorded stuff adds piano in to the mix, so we have those on Ableton to drop in for added texture. There’s normally quite a lot going on!
Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands?
Gabriel: We’ve played with Usurp, Rise quite a few times. There’s a lot of mutual respect there I think. Those guys are amazing musicians. I have a side project called Mr Mulvaney with Angus McAlpine (formerly of Adolphus Tips), which is high energy stuff.
What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Gabriel: Playing at The Garibaldi Hotel earlier this year, no doubt. Our live setup is technically pretty complicated so we’ve been haunted by very distracting issues a few too many times. It was about first gig since Adam got back and motivated us all to keep going!
Connor: Our most recent gig: everything ran smoothly, everyone performed well, it was our most successful gig up to that point and it felt like we’d really nailed it .
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Gabriel: Tyler the Creator – Flower Boy
Connor: Khruangbin – Con todo el mundo
Adam: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food
Tim: Djrum – Portrait with Firewood, and Maribou State – Kingdoms in Colour
What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Adam: Have bigger gigs with bigger bands and get more releases out on Spotify etc. Work towards an album.
Tim: To get our music out there, really. Its really satisfying to hear positive feedback. Its also incredibly gratifying seeing people dancing when we play live, so more of that. It would be nice to be playlisted somewhere, to get ourselves heard outside of the local scene.
Gabriel: We want to tour off the back of our next release and get some good shows and recognition. I myself want to do more solo live sets (Ableton live) in some different environments. Basically though, play Glastonbury!
‘Stitching’ is out now via the usual platforms