Unstoppable Sweeties Show have a new album out today. We were keen to find out what it all means and where they see themselves.
Their new album, Analogy to an Allergy simply reinforces the point. Is it jazz, punk, prog or something else?
We felt the need to get them on a Zoom and explain themselves. It didn’t exactly go to plan, but there we are. A very engaging half an hour with Yash, Rob and Gareth and we’re still less than clear.
But what we do know is: the new album is a cracker and you should go and see this band live as soon as they announce a gig anywhere near where you live.
Also, their Bandcamp page says they’re the cereal of the year for 2009. So, that all makes sense.
P3dro: Where are you? What are you doing?
Rob: I’m in my bedroom. I was just typing up some clues for a cryptic crossword that we’re releasing with this album. It’s a bit strange, but, yeah. I’ve got really sore tongue as well. I bit it yesterday and now it really hurts.
Yash: I’m in my bedroom too. But I before coming here I was changing in the other room and through my window I saw my neighbour has a small puppy. So I was just asking my partner if we can talk to the neighbours so we can play with the puppy. And that’s been on my mind, now.
Gareth: So, I’m in Wallasey. I took my dogs for a walk. We’ve got a rugby field near ours. And we’ve got this ball. It’s like a tennis ball in like this plastic cage. And you throw it and because there’s something about it being in this big plastic cage, that momentum just keeps pulling itself along. So the dog will go for ages and ages. Now the dog is in the other room completely asleep.
P3dro: Tell us a bit about the band, how did you get together?
Rob: Well, we were sort of in a few different bands, I suppose. My and Gareth’s old bands had tried to collaborate but it never really happened. Gareth and I were also in White Blacula by the end, which is a great band that’s not really doing anything anymore. And this is like one of those. I think we got together for the third time and it was one of those rare things when the third time really was the charm.
This was the band that actually worked and actually did stuff. We auditioned for a singer and Yash was just like the weirdest person who turned up.
Yash: It was very weird, right? I was in India at the time. Yeah, my visa had run out and I had to stay in India for two years. And basically, during that time, when I got my visa back again, I got this message from some sax player that I used to know from the improv scene in Liverpool. And he said, there is someone who’s gonna a message you about being in a band.
Gareth: I’d spoken to someone and showed them what we wanted to do. And then they immediately said, you want to get Yash.
Yash: I did one, one improv session with them for half an hour, and it was really fun. So yeah, random message from Gareth.
Rob: The first day I met Yash when you came was like the hottest day of the year that we’ve ever had in Britain, and Yash was wearing this massive bomber jacket.
Yash: I’d just come back from India and I wasn’t acclimatised at all.
Rob: That’s when I knew. Oh, yeah, she’s the one!
Yash: Oh, my God, it was really cold. You know, I’m still wearing a jumper. I have the fan on sometimes and I still wear a jumper.
Gareth: We had a system where it was just a panel of one for the first interview, and then a panel of two for the second interview. And then if you pass that, then you get to meet the whole band.
P3dro: You say you knew what you wanted to do. What was it that you wanted to do?
Gareth: Well, I think I think we started this band, wanting to have as much creative control as we could. With this band, we wanted to be able to, to be able to be as creative as we can with it.
I guess what you’re after is to ask what kind of genre band maybe? I don’t think we knew that at the time. I think we just wanted to do something expressive.
Rob: I wanted more freedom, I knew we would continue to be a sort of rock band. But I suppose I was writing some stuff that was a bit complex for my old band and Gareth writes stuff anyway, that’s quite complex for any band ever.
So I think we both agreed that we wanted to have an outlet, which is really weird, really weird, really hard to play. And, like, sort of madcap.
Gareth: We wanted to have the stamp of rock as a sort of way to trick people in and then we can kind of reveal there’s much more going on than just rock.
P3dro: You definitely are no way a a rock band!
Rob: We try to be.
Yash: In our hearts we are somehow.
Rob: Well it depends what you mean by rock band. We have guitars and drums. I sometimes feel like that’s all it takes.
Gareth: Yeah, I think rock is kind of becoming the same thing that jazz became where you kind of stretch the genre so much that almost anything can be rock nowadays. In the same way that jazz through like the 50s and 60s and 70s really exploded into something more than what its origins were. Rock’s kind of done something similar.
Yash: If you if you mean like rock in a you know, dad rock, kind of thing then we’re not dad rock!
Gareth: Yeah, I think there’s an argument that we could be called a punk band. And people have called us progressive rock or progressive punk.
Yash: I think we’re more on the avant garde side.
P3dro: We were going to accuse you of being prog, actually, because you’ve got a half an hour song on the new album.
Rob: Yeah, it is half an hour, but I suppose it’s, in some ways, it’s a blend of a lot of these different genres that have come up. It may be prog to have a 30 minute song. But the song itself sounds more like avant garde or jazz, I think. And there are even some funky bits.
Gareth: Yeah, it’s a fully improvised piece that’s like directed improvisation. We established a series of hand gestures in order to direct the improvisation. And we thought we’d record a 30 minute version of that, because we’ve been playing it, alongside our songs at gigs for ages.
We wanted to make a version that wasn’t bookended by songs. We wanted to kind of let it be its own thing for a long time. So that’s why we’ve got 30 minute song dedicated to that practice.
P3dro: How did you know when it was done? How did you know when it was finished? When it was ready?
Rob: We timed it, essentially. Sometimes when we do it live, we just get a phone and just put the timer on just to improvise for 11 minutes. And then the alarm will go off and we’ll stop.
But we did this one for 30 minutes. I think our producer, Steven Cole helped us a little bit with that as well.
Gareth: We took it in turns to be the director. So every six minutes, we shift around to another director, which kind of mixed it up as well, because I think each person had an idea of where they wanted the improvisation to go.
But what’s what’s really good about having that kind of direction is that you can structure it a lot more. And particularly when you do it in front of an audience it has this kind of filter before it meets the audience, which is the conductor. It helps it be controlled a lot more. It works quite well.
So yeah, so to answer your question, how we knew it was done is we literally timed it. We planned for it to be that long.
P3dro: Tell us a bit more about the album.
Rob: We recorded it before this pandemic and then sat on it for quite a while. We were lucky really that we did that, because otherwise we would have done nothing. And we would have had nothing. But luckily, we’ve got this third album we recorded over a year ago, ready to go now at last.
Yash: Yeah, Steve finished all of that stuff right at the time when we can actually put it out. Normally, we have a system of recording a CD every year. We just get a one year break, I guess. And then we came back to it because Covid happened.
Rob: Yeah, 2020 doesn’t count.
P3dro: What do you think is the trigger for putting it out now?
Gareth: I think that we’ve got to the point where we don’t have an excuse for not putting it out. We’ve we’ve done all the other stuff that has been preoccupying us and now we were just sitting on our hands doing nothing. So, we may as well put it out. I don’t know whether there was a trigger.
Rob: I think we just realised that the pandemic was going on for quite a long time as well. And yeah, why don’t we release the album that we’ve got? I think maybe at the beginning, we were hoping to do a gig or something. But after a while, we just like, Oh, God, it’s been months now. Let’s just release this album.
Yash: We just really wanted to do it anyway. And then, just this was the right time. When it happens is the right time then isn’t it?
P3dro: What is next for the Unstoppable Sweeties Show?
Gareth: We’re planning to do some recording at home. And we’re always writing, so there’s never not material that we can tap into and make something from that.
And we’re thinking of recording a small collection of songs and putting that out to see if that’s something that people are receptive to. We might do that a couple of times.
Rob: Yeah, it’s not, it’s not entirely set in stone. We’re going to record from home and see what happens.
Yash: Besides working on songs individually, the dynamic is every week we would have a meeting, just like we would have at the practice. And then we would be discussing what songs we’re doing and how we’re recording. We’re also like setting up our own home studio systems, so we can record things.
P3dro: Some bands have been talking to us saying that they can get they can get quite a lot of a track down remotely, but it’s the drums, which are the hardest things to do, because they’re the things you need really to go into a studio to do.
Rob: It is true, I suppose we just perhaps less bothered about the kind of sonic quality.
Yash: I mean, it’s gonna be a home DIY video, isn’t it? Where we’re actually like taking control of our music this time. We are taking control of production, we’re taking care of writing and everything. Like always, we’re also hopefully, we’ve got someone on board for the art and everything else, but everything else has got to be done by us. So I’m kind of excited about that. Because we’ve never done that before. Like, just have total artistic control over your music.
Rob: Well, the artistic control, but, perhaps not an ability to make us actually sound good. It’ll be another fun little thing. We’ve got the albums now that are very professionally recorded, mixed and mastered. It might be fun to just do a really DIY sound.
Yeah, it’s a bit of a bit of a change.
Yash: Yeah, I’m actually looking forward to it quite a lot.
Rob: Our bass player really likes kind of lo fi recording. Whenever we get an album mixed or mastered, he’s always disappointed but it doesn’t sound like it was recorded. I think his favourite album is Trout Mask Replica. That’s the sound he’s going for.
Yash: Although he hates it, if anyone puts any like effects on my voice or anything. He’s a purist.
P3dro: That kind of leads us on to the next question. Where do you think you guys fit into the Liverpool scene?
Rob: Anywhere we can really. I think Liverpool is great because there’s a really good art scene that we sort of fit into. There’s even an improv scene, although we haven’t done enough of that really. We should do for this new album, particularly because it’s mostly improv. There’s a punk scene and we played punk gigs like Free Rock and Roll, and that sort of thing and they like us just as much apparently.
And then there’s just gigs where it’s no particular genre, and everyone’s just friends. And no one really worries about the sort of genre. Now I like those gigs. I like varied, lots different genres going on.
Gareth: We kind of write with the idea that any and every kind of scene or genre is equal. So I think, I think sometimes that’s kind of recognised by whoever seizes that, you know, whatever we play. We try to get a good understanding of it, and portray that in an authentic way.
Rob: Although we have been accused of being disrespectful, disrespectful to punk.
Yash: There was this one guy at one gig who said that for the rest of your life, he was too drunk to know what we were doing.
Gareth: He was apparently a lecturer of music. And he came up to me, and I genuinely thought he was he was going to be nice, but he was so hostile. And talked about how we were. He said something else about disregarding the form … And it’s, it’s so funny, because punk was like a rebellion of a lot of norms. And the idea that we’re not being respectful of punk, which is, you know, the whole point of it is a rebellion.
Yash: It was just funny because it doesn’t make any sense. I just didn’t really think about it. You guys really think about that a lot. I’d already thought about it even once because I just thought like, oh, you’re like, me, like, I just don’t care.
You always have all sorts of people in all walks of life. But then what happened in Liverpool. Liverpool people are nice. They’re just genuinely nice. We’ve done really good gigs here. And I just really like it here.
Home gigs are always the best. You can never compare them to any other gigs. There are always people you recognise in the crowd and people just come from nowhere and then you get support from other bands. And they don’t have to be the same genre.
P3dro: That’s fucking hilarious. Do you do you think of yourselves as punks?
Gareth: No. I’m not sure if we’re qualified. Well, we definitely we definitely tap into some of those vibes.
Rob: Well, I did actually used to be in a punk band. And even that wasn’t particularly generic punk. But I do like punk and I do still now still discover punk bands from back in the day that I like. And I suppose, the main thing we take from punk is that energy and speed.
P3dro: Oh, we think that’s fine. We think that definitely qualifies. When you when you’re attributing labels to things you come across obviously as jazz band but we definitely definitely get hints of hints of punk and that kind of DIY ethic that you bring to the scene.
Yash: I think I find Gareth’s writing’s pretty like punk wires. I found most of his songs kind of challenge the norms, lyrically, at least, because a lot of songs that he’s written in the past are pretty rebellious.
And also, I guess, I do need to also remember if punk encompasses our own personal struggles and things like that, because if it does, and you’re standing up for it, then that is also punk.
P3dro: Recommend a band or an album that you think we should be listening to right now.
Gareth: I think you should listen to Ways by Phil Minton. It’s a really good album. It’s like, free improv, but also kind of jazz at times, and then quite traditional and freaky at times. It’s a real blend. So it’s been, personally quite an inspiring album for the album that we’re releasing.
Yash: I just listen to a lot of popular music. Loads of it, right now. I’m actually listening to FKA Twigs because I really love her voice. Oh, so good. So here’s the thing about her – she wrote, composed, produced, choreographed, cinematic craft everything on her own for that album. Like every single thing was done by her. And that was amazing.
Rob: An album that I’ve been really obsessed with lately is quite an old one is by Stephen Oliver. In the 80s the BBC did a radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. And Stephen Oliver wrote all the songs for it. It’s so good. So much fun.