Biscuit Mouth released their album Hot Change at the start of 2017 and its now getting a vinyl release. Storge editor Sarah Lay had a quick catch up with guitarist Sean from the duo about their experimental noise rock sound, their customised instruments and the Derby scene.
When and where did Biscuit Mouth begin? Had you both been in bands together before?
The first three or four times Tim and I (Sean) met we were on magic mushrooms. It made for a really really strange start to our friendship, and I’m not sure it ever recovered. That was when we were students. Tim lived with a mutual friend. We formed a doomy post-rock type band called Felusia End – dreadful name – shortly after we’d met. We had a heavy and obnoxious side-project called Stabbed In The Face with our friend Olly Toogood from You Judas also.
We then went our separate ways for a few years, Tim played in The Atoms, Qisa and Wazz Table. I mainly played in Grande Duke. We then just sort of started playing together again as (I think) other projects had fizzled out. We also suspect no other musicians wanted to play with us anymore, so we probably had no choice.
Was there an idea of the sound you wanted to create when you set out? Were there bands around who influenced you?
I’m pretty sure it was instrumental at first, maybe a bit mathy, but then Tim started doing vocals, which gave us much more freedom to play around with sounds and ideas and rely less on making complex arrangements in weird time signatures. I guess we just wanted to make something loud and intense and heavy, but NOT punk and NOT metal. I dislike the idea of heavy music being pigeon-holed into one of those genres, or in a sub-genre born from punk or metal.
We get called post hardcore… neither me or Tim listen to, or have ever really listened to hardcore, so we find it amusing that we apparently create something that is born out of music we don’t know very well. We don’t care, of course, we’ll take anything.
Some influences are more obvious than others: Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Drive Like Jehu Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart. Some are probably less obvious like Paul Simon and Fleetwood Mac.
You use customised instruments – how did this come about?
Well, to be honest, we didn’t want a bass player, or any other person joining for that matter, so I whacked a bass string and a bass machine head on a couple of guitars and played it through a variety of bass and guitar amps to get a big nasty sound. It is nice just being the two of us. If anyone wants me to really bore them with the details, email me.
How do you shape your sound? How does Biscuit Mouth differ from Pet Crow, for example?
The main difference with Biscuit Mouth and Pet Crow in terms of guitar sound is just frequency range. With Biscuit Mouth, I want it to be as loud and as full on as possible and I try to cover as many frequencies as I can, bringing in and dropping out frequencies to create dynamics.
With Pet Crow, I utilise a pretty tinny, trebly sound as there is enough other stuff in other frequencies. I get to step back and play less, play more simple stuff and just slot in where needed or required. There’s very little downtime when playing Biscuit Mouth, it’s a pretty relentless task. I think Hot Change demonstrates that pretty well.
How did the vinyl pressing with the French label come about?
About eight years ago, when I was playing in Grande Duke, I played a few shows with a band from France called Calva. The drummer, Stephane, runs a record label called A Tant Rêver Du Roi out of his studio / venue complex in Pau, a city in the Pyrenees, South of France. I think the label name translates to The Dream of the King, or something along those lines.
Stephane is very active in the French noise rock scene and I’ve been down to Pau and played shows with both Grande Duke and Biscuit Mouth (it is always a fucker of a drive… check where it is on a map). He liked the record, which we had already put out digitally, and wanted to put it out on wax!
Which bands do you enjoy on the local scene at the moment or that aren’t around anymore?
There is so much good stuff in Derby at the moment. Crimewolf are my collective spirit animal. Unqualified Nurse Band, A-Tota-So, Grawlix, Haiku Salut, Goddesses, Papayer, Cheap Jazz, Them Are They…I’m gonna stop there but I could go on.
Dead bands that I miss Fixit Kid, specially the early days. Crash Of Rhinos, and My Psychoanalyst.
What do you love or loathe about the Derby music scene? Do you think we have a good music scene in the city?
I think although we have GREAT bands, I think we only have an OK/GOOD scene, I don’t think there is enough people into alternative music in Derby to withstand a GREAT scene… but I don’t think that matters. It is small city. We do alright and should be proud… some of the worst gigs I’ve been to have been in London, and some of the best have been in Derby.
Tim and I are planning on calling the next record Music Of Limited Appeal, because at the end of the day, if you go out of your way to make weird music, you are eliminating 90% of the population. And if that 90% started listening to weird music, then we’d have to find some other sort of music to make that they wouldn’t like. I’m joking, of course.
I think having Dubrek as a venue is great, because if only 15-20 people turn up to a show, it can still be really cool. I love how people party hard at gigs in Derby. There is always someone drunk and shouting stuff between songs. Ahhhh Yeahhhhh.
Biscuit Mouth’s Hot Change is available now on ltd edition vinyl through the A Tant Rêver Du Roi label and you can order your copy on Bandcamp.
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Images by Rob Gill.