A Chat with Scatterchild (21.05.20)

Influenced by The Beatles and Interpol, but sounding much more like a combination of The Strokes and Radiohead, Scatterchild is an alt-rock band from Manchester. The band was founded in 2015 around guitarist and frontman Jay Plent’s solo work and quickly grew into a collaborative project with drummer and percussionist George Addison-Atkinson. We had a chance to chat with Plent (JP) about Scatterchild’s upcoming EP, life ambitions and superpowers!

OSR: How did you come about the name Scatterchild?

JP: ‘Scatterchild’ is actually the result of a recent name change and we pretty much agreed on it immediately. We had the name on the back burner for a while and then independently were thinking about changing to it for this EP. It was George who brought it up, which was a weird parallel thought moment because I’d been thinking about suggesting it to him; it all just fell into place very naturally. I forget the origin of the name, but it certainly sums up the band’s scatterbrained, emotional sound, we think.

OSR: Who would you say influences your music the most?

JP: Artistically, we generally list our influences as Interpol, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead and The Strokes. I also listen to a lotta different stuff – Doja Cat, Tyler The Creator, Kendrick, Happyness. I like good tunes, genre is largely irrelevant to me.

OSR: You just released an EP called Parallel Lines; is there a theme between the tracks?

JP: Yeah, definitely. The songs are about different things, but they share the common line of being about observing other people’s lives. There’s a term, ‘in sonder’, which means to be aware that everyone has a life as complex as your own and that could well be the alternate title to this record. I chose Parallel Lines with that idea in mind.

Musically as well, we wanted this record to feel much more wild, punky. It’s a much angrier record than our last one and I think that’s because the emotions that are in the tracks are more raw and potent, as pretentious as that sounds.  

OSR: What was it like to record the EP, particularly the collaboration with Ashley Garrod and Tom Chapman?

JP: We were lucky enough to win the studio time as a prize in the Cambridge Band Competition, so we got a day with Tom Bainbridge at White Lion Studios to do the drums, which was fantastic. It was a great room and a great vibe too. The process of recording was hard because it was three songs in one day. I think George in particular really had to bring his A-Game for ‘Parallel Lines’ (it is stupidly fast for drums). The rest of it was recorded in my home studio space which sounds fancy but it’s basically a small room with one mic, a keyboard and an interface.

Because of the coronavirus lockdown, the collaboration with Ash and Tom all took place digitally, but my God did they deliver. Ash really transformed ‘Parallel Lines’ with this insanely detailed bass part, very John Entwistle. Tom’s part on ‘Target No. 9’ brings a lotta tension; it has a very bass-heavy middle section. I think in both cases they really elevated the tracks beyond their original conceptions. I’ve known them both for a number of years, their bands (Sylvette and Oystercatcher respectively) are fantastic. It was really exciting to get them involved and also have them LIKE the songs we were working on.

OSR: Do you recommend collaborations with other artists and why?

JP: Hell yeah! Why limit yourself to just yourself and/or your band? It’s always good to get fresh perspectives, especially if you know you’ve hit a stumbling block on a track. Outsiders are less precious with the material, so they’ll try stuff you might’ve thought sacrilegious. Case in point: Ash on ‘Parallel Lines’. There’s a section where he chose to leave one bar of silence between the end of a verse and the start of a build-up. On paper that doesn’t sound like much, but in the context of the song it really let the vocals on that bit breathe and it makes the impact of the bass returning much harder. Stuff like that only comes from getting others involved, you get outside your own head.

Obviously, it isn’t for everyone, but I’ve had a real crash course in collaboration over the last few weeks. I’m heavily involved with this project called Collabavirus that has musicians collaborating over the internet whilst they’ve been isolating due to Covid-19. It’s great because people who have never met are working on each other’s ideas and there’s been some really, really cool music come out of it. I’d say, if you’re stuck on a song, bring someone else you respect in. What’s the worst that can happen?  

OSR: Which is your least favourite song from the EP and why?

JP: None of them. We put a lot of work in and I wouldn’t be able to pick.

OSR: Does the EP have a specific meaning to either of you?

JP: Well, it’s our first official release as Scatterchild, although we do still count our last record The Candidate EP. So, in that sense, it feels like a fresh start for us and the sound is far more varied than the last EP. We’ve got ballads and super intense fast stuff, as well as slow groovers. It’s a big step into the sound we’ve always wanted to make.

The record was also made possible because of the success of the previous one. People paid attention to that one, offered to help out on anything new we made, so it sort of spurred us on to keep going and try to do something even better. That was a big concern for me, I needed for the music to be better than what we’ve done before. It’s kind of stupid because it’s supposed to be for the joy of making it, which it is, but also I set our very high standards because I don’t think half-assing music is worth anyone’s time.

OSR: Can you recommend any Manchester bands to our readers?

JP: Oystercatcher and Sylvette, since their members play on this record! They make beautiful things. We’re also tight with The Vanity Project, they make wonky art-pop and dress in crazy costumes and do songs about centaurs and stuff. It’s worth a look, trust me. Ist Ist are also pretty good if you’re into White Lies or Joy Division.

OSR: How do you feel the local music scene influences your sound?

JP: I’ve always found Manchester’s scene to be extremely welcoming and receptive to our sound. I think, if anything, it’s encouraged me to push it further and try new things musically. Everything Everything is from Manchester. They use pretty much any influence you can think of in their music and I think that’s a good mentality to have.

OSR: What is your greatest ambition as a band?

JP: I wanna be able to live off of the music.

OSR: What is the worst haircut you have ever received?

JP: The day before sixth form prom, some stupid bastard who was a trainee gave me the worst short back and sides I’ve ever had. It was uneven and longer on one side than the other at the back. Like think about that, a short back and sides, the easiest fucking haircut in the world and you can’t even cut it the same length on each side? I still wake up in the night sweating just thinking about it.

Image courtesy of Scatterchild

OSR: If you had the power of invisibility, what are two things you would definitely do?

JP: Turn invisible, then un-turn invisible when I need to deposit a cheque or something.

OSR: Thre are so many great emerging bands at the moment. How do you think you can distinguish yourselves among your peers?

JP: It’s kind of a weird question because I think most bands think they have a distinct sound and strong songs and hope that’s enough. I like to think our songs have hooks that stick while also being slightly oddball, but I think our foray into creative video making for the material has helped us stand out quite a bit, especially on The Candidate EP. I mean, that was when people started properly paying attention; when we committed to something ambitious and different. Hopefully, our ambition and imagination set us apart from the rest.

OSR: What is on the cards for Scatterchild?

JP: Well, we had hoped to set up some gigs and tour this new EP, but at the moment with coronavirus, we aren’t sure. In the meantime, we’ll be pushing the EP as much as possible. Maybe make more videos and collaborative stuff until social distancing has lifted.

I’m heavily involved in the Collabavirus project which I mentioned before. There are plans to release a charity record made up of the songs that’ve been made as part of that, which Scatterchild will definitely be involved in.

OSR: Do you have any message for your fans and potential fans?

JP: Hello, we’re Scatterchild. We have this tight little three-track EP that we’d love for you to check out. It’s called Parallel Lines and it’s out now. There’s a dumb video of my face plastered onto an old photo on our social media and stuff if you’re interested. We do a lot of DIY visuals and make music that’s fast and angular. We hope you like it or will grow to tolerate it.

Thanks to Jay Plent from Scatterchild for chatting with us! You can find more about Scatterchild on their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Spotify.

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