Mercedes-Benz Mixed Tape favourites The Words use plenty of the same to tell us about the musical background of their hometown Manchester, their upcoming album debut – and a fantastic gig at "Stuttgarter Sternstunden" event
Witty, eloquent and blessed with a rare sense of melody, Mancunian indie quartet The Words are destined to spread their musical message far beyond the British Isles. After starring on not one, but two Mercedes-Benz Mixed Tape compilations, they are now set to release their first full-length release, Truth & Faith, a rare aural blend of infectious riffs, happy hooks, clever song-writing and a generous nod to Manchester’s seminal sound.
As part of our extensive interview, lead singer Steven and guitarist Neil also revealed a few facts about their upcoming open air gig at Stuttgarter Sternstunden on August 11th. The Brits will join Placebo and 30 Seconds to Mars for Mercedes-Benz' celebration of 125 impressive years of automobiles.
Do you remember what brought you together in the first place? Was there a specific moment or spark?
Steven: We met years ago at some place in Manchester. We were all playing in different bands. We used to talk and chat and jammed together outside of the place and said one day, we should have a band together and here we are. This is about 5 years ago.
I personally started to make music, because my dad was a big fan of music. When I went to college I was joining different bands. I realized that you could learn to play guitar yourself and I started writing music. Ever since, this was what I wanted to do.
Neil: We were actually influenced by everything around us. I mean we love the Beatles and David Bowie. Songwriting is what we’re about and we like playing songs in front of people and that is the main reason for making music. Music is great medication for many things.
Tell us something about your band name – why The Words?
Steven: Coming up with a name is one of the most difficult things. We tried looking for something in the words of songs, so actually the word “words” kept cropping up and we thought why don’t we stay with that for good?
Neil: There were actually a few other options. But because we don’t write music to fit trends or anything, we wanted it to be about the music and not anything trendy. However, all the other options beside The Words were silly and stupid and they are probably not repeatable.
How does the Manchester heritage influence your music? Do you ever feel pressured by the inevitable comparisons to The Smiths, Joy Division, or New Order?
Steven: There’s a lot of good music coming from here. It’s a good thing coming from Manchester. It’s a very musical city. It makes you feel like you can do it instead of putting pressure on you and it inspires you.
Neil: Yeah, there’s no pressure if you do your own thing. Like Steven said, it is inspiring to see people you know, who just live around the corner making it. More than anything it inspires you to carry on.
Steven: Also, it rains a lot in Manchester. That is a good reason to write music. You stay indoors and play guitar.
Tell us something about the album. What does it take to make a record?
Neil: It is going to be released November 14th, which is actually the birthday of the album. We started recording it last year on the same day. And it’s going to be called Truth & Faith, which is inspired by a song we sang on a gig one day. We didn’t have a title for that particular song and asked the audience to name it and one lady there shouted Truth & Faith and we like it and they all liked it, so.
Steven: We practice and gig a lot. Over the past 5 years, we came up with a lot of material for the album. The stuff we recorded is the best of it and some of the more current ideas. We tried to make songs on it that are catchy and good fun, so people can sing along to it. So the concept of the album is just to make great music.
Neil: The process of recording it has taken longer than we imagined actually. We spent a lot of time with listening back and improving. We actually sound like a real band now. The album is a mix-up, there’s some rock tunes on it, some happy tunes, but also dark ones. There are fast and slow tunes. We didn’t want it to sound all the same. We are excited to get it out and get people listening to it. It will be released digitally but some indie stores will have it physically with additional material, like a DVD and bonus tracks and stuff.
What did it feel like to hear your own single, Under the Sun, on the radio for the first time?
Steven: I think we were in the car, on our way to a gig. We had to turn right – and took a left turn by accident. It was strange, funny – and nice! Being on the radio makes you feel like you’re going the right way.
Neil: It inspires you to make more music, so you can listen to your songs on the radio even more. It is an achievement. So, once you’re on it, you want to get on it again and again and again.
You have graced the Mercedes-Benz Mixed Tape twice already. What is your take on the platform? Do you consider it to be a stepping stone for new talent?
Steven: It is most definitely a great stepping stone for new artists. For us, it has been a fantastic opportunity and we are really grateful for it.
Neil: Being featured twice gave us exposure that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise and it really helped us to take a step up. So, it’s two thumbs up for Mixed Tape from us!
Are you excited about sharing a stage with Placebo and 30 Seconds to Mars at the Stuttgarter Sternstunden event?
Neil: Placebo were massive in England in the 1990s and they are a great inspiration for us. Their drummer is fantastic. So, we are looking forward to playing with them. And 30 Seconds to Mars are a great band, too!
Steven: We can’t wait to experience them both live. We are very excited. We have never played a gig in Germany before. It will be our biggest gig to date, so we look forward to it and we hope it will serve as a catalyst for many great things to come!
Official website of The Words:
Open air gig at Stuttgarter Sternstunden
11 August 2011 / gates open at 4pm
Line-up: Placebo, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Words