Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

The drama of it all – I am Kloot in interview

It’s funny, because for a band with such a definite sound and mood, it seems that plenty, journalists in particular, misinterpret their intentions and results. Part of it is perspective, he freely admits. When people suggest the music is melancholic, it’s not something he sees, but then again, he’s from Manchester. “There’s a bit of schadenfreude in our stuff, black humour. I hope it gives a feeling of wanting to embrace life, to carry on life, that life is a great thing, and that love is a great thing. It’s just that it comes with some baggage. I feel that we’re optimistic. We’ve been called melancholic, but I don’t really hear that – he says, puzzled – Manchester might have something to do with it, with the rain and the melancholic feel. I was born in the green belt of Manchester, out on the edge of the City. It was up in the hills, and I had a view of Manchester from my bedroom window. I could actually see it stretching out, the lights, and the huge clouds that gather, and the rain. I got my first guitar and learned to play songs in that bedroom, so maybe it’s that. I tend to find a beauty in it.”

In fact, if you put on a song like Over my Shoulder from the latest album, you’d be hard put to describe it as melancholic, tapping your foot along to a song that the Beatles, on a good day, would have been proud to put their names to. And yet, as you sing along “Shut your mouth and watch my lips, can’t you feel the healing fingertips, coming down on you like rain, and tell me now whether we remain”, you get the sense that Kloot are virtually incapable of singing a straight, unambiguously happy love song. It’s one of the things that sets them apart from the crowd, this tension between the music and the lyrics. Bramwell protests that he has written straight, simple love songs at times, such as No fear of falling from their first album, but he takes the point broadly: “I twist songs up, in a way it’s an interesting cover for me. I’m not interested in getting up on stage, and just presenting songs that are as soppy as I am in real life. To a degree I do adopt a persona. I love that songs dramatically affect you.”

Drama is abundant on Gods and Monsters, as one could guess from the title. It is, unusually perhaps for these i-pod, compilation obsessed days, a cohesive album, both musically and lyrically. There are threads that run through from song to song. From a musical point of view there’s the aforementioned texture, with strange tones and sounds leaking into the songs. From a lyrical perspective there are a number of deliberately repeated images. The themes? “Lovers as vampires, and obviously gods and monsters. Frankenstein. The gods and monsters are us, as human beings. And the word astray [ponderously]. I don’t consciously edit it in that way, but there are themes.”

Bramwell is the group’s sole guitarist, and thus not only its lyricist, but a cornerstone musically. Let’s tackle the chicken/egg dilemma of songwriting – which comes first, the lyric or the melody? “It’s intertwined with music for me. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing, cause me Mam or Dad, or sister, when they put on a record at home, they’d sing along to it. It was natural in our house to do that, so I’ve been doing that since I was a kid. The way the lyrics come, really, is that I’ve a melody and it’s like when you’ve heard a new song on the radio, and the melody’s got stuck in your head, and you’re singing along but you don’t know the words, so you make your own words up. That’s how I write.”

A classic response from songwriters, when being questioned about their lyrics is to shrug, suggesting that once recorded they’re up for grabs in terms of interpretation. A democratic approach, that makes a certain amount of sense, but can often seem spineless, or lacking in artistic value. “I like lines that can mean two or three different things, but I’m not a fan of this idea that a song or a line can mean whatever you want it to mean. To me that’s sloppy – Bramwell agrees, unwittingly soaring in my estimation. “I like the idea of a line like ‘There’s blood on your legs, I love you’ [Twist] that can mean a number of things between lovers, but it’s in a context – the context of the song.” The idea of academic discussion of lyrics though is another thing. Bramwell is a songwriter – with an emphasis on song. To debate the meaning of a lyric, stripped of it’s accompanying melody, tone and rythm is a folly: “It’s not a meaning that I’m after. That’s why it all comes undone, and why lyrics can’t be looked at outside of a song. It’s not about meanings. It’s about how it makes you feel. The words, combined with the music, are making you feel an atmosphere, and that’s what we’re trying to get over. There isn’t a meaning. If there were a meaning inherent then I’d have to have the answers to the big questions, and I don’t.”

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