A Chat with B-Film Etc (30.10.2020)

Paul Luttrell (vocals, various instruments) and Caitlin Barnett (vocals, guitars) have been making music together for years. With their latest album Maybe in the Next One, they turn their focus to characters and bring them to life with each song. Putting a greater focus on lyrical content, their album was completely DIY and encompasses everything the band has to offer. We sat down with Paul Luttrell about the album, production challenges, their creative process and much more!

OSR: You started playing together as teenagers in a different band, what made you stick together to form B-Film Etc when that band broke up?

Luttrell: We were dating (still are), which makes it easy to organise band practice. We found that with just the two of us, we didn’t have those tensions and struggles over artistic direction that you tend to get in bands. We were very much on the same page; our musical tastes were quite similar, though they may have diverged quite a bit since, and we worked really efficiently together.

OSR: When you started, did you have an idea of what sound you wanted or has this evolved over time?

Luttrell: We initially began with the idea that we’d play psychedelic/shoegaze music. We were really into bands like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive and Spaceman 3 at the time, but the novelty soon wore off. After our third album, we had a bit of a break, and I played in a few other bands.

By the time we began writing music for our fourth album, our tastes and songwriting sensibilities had shifted quite considerably. There was definitely more of an emphasis on brevity, vocal performances, lyrical themes, and far less reverb. I developed a sickening distaste for reverb – particularly on vocals.

OSR: Is there a backstory or theme to your latest album Maybe in the Next One?

Luttrell: A lot of the songs tend to be about characters and the personas that these characters “try on” in order to impress the people around them or on social media.

OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you start with a concept or work from a single track?

Luttrell: There definitely wasn’t a concept to begin with and I wouldn’t say there’s any prominent concept to the album, at least not intentionally. It’s just a collection of songs that happened to be written within a 6 month period (roughly). However, there are bound to be links between tracks that are written around the same time, either aesthetically or thematically. We’re always influenced by what’s going on around us, and what’s piquing our interest, and a lot of the time one song isn’t enough to express or articulate ideas about a given topic.

OSR: As the album was produced by yourselves, what was the biggest challenge you faced and overcame?

Luttrell: I always hate the final stages of mixing and mastering tracks. By this stage, I’ve likely heard the songs hundreds of times, and so they all begin to sound like mush. I always feel as though everything I do during this stage makes the songs worse or degrades the quality of the audio. However, if we want people to actually listen to the tracks, then they need to be reasonably loud, and a consistent volume.

We also live in a second-floor apartment with neighbours below, so recording drums can be a stressful experience (our neighbours must hate us). We usually just get one drum take for each song, as we don’t want to push our luck.

OSR: Did you find that certain tracks were easier or harder to create than others?

Luttrell: A few songs came together really quickly and easily like ‘Attention’, ‘Butterfly Clip and ‘Pet’, but we had to labour over some. ‘Big Shot’ was rewritten a few times, as was ‘Fed Up’ and ‘This Impulse’. I think I recorded the rhythm guitar in ‘Carpet Ride’ at least 5 different times, before giving up and settling for what’s on there now. I’m still not happy with the sound of it in the chorus, by the way.

B-Film Etc

OSR: Over the last 7 years, you have released 6 albums and various singles and EPs, how does Maybe in the Next One compare?

Luttrell: It’s always hard to tell. I think the response we receive tends to influence the way we view our albums. I am pretty happy with the lyrical content and melodies on this album. Perhaps it isn’t quite as diverse and colourful as our fourth album, Punch Line, or as “rocky” as our fifth Drive Away The Sensible.

OSR: If listeners could take only one thing away from the album, what would you like that to be and why?

Luttrell: That’s a tough question, and I’m not sure exactly how to respond to it. I guess the short answer would be that I’d like them to think that we write interesting songs. Hopefully, that would extend to the point that they’re intrigued enough to listen to the songs multiple times. This would quite possibly allow the meaning of each song to be revealed.

However, I do get the sense that analysing music isn’t as prevalent as it was when I was a teenager or perhaps I’m just getting old.

OSR: If the band were pack animals, what would you be and why?

Luttrell: Meerkats for no other reason than they looked cool in the latest season of ‘Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia’.

OSR: What else do you have planned for the next 12 months?

Luttrell: Short-term: We’ll be releasing a bunch of B-Sides, covers and demos within the next couple of months. I know that sounds kind of self-indulgent, but I like it when other bands release their super-raw recordings, so maybe there are other weirdos like me out there.

Medium-term: I’m sure we’ll have another album written and recorded within the next 12 months.

Thanks to Paul Luttrell for chatting with us! You can find more about B-Film Etc on their Spotify.

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