Back in the 1990s a band from Wales called Murry The Hump recorded 3 sessions for John Peel and had high profile fans such as Alex James from Blur. Despite this support the band never achieved the success that many had predicted and eventually went their separate ways. Almost 10 years after the split several members have now re-grouped as The Keys. The band recently launched their debut album 'Fire Inside' with a storming show at the Cardiff Arts Institute in June. Matthew Evans, guitar and vocals, explains how the Keys came about.
You have just released your debut album. How did you approach writing material and the recording process?
We nearly always write first then record - We've tried that whole writing in the studio thing and you just end up with poor songs so we try to write good songs first so then you can concentrate on recording them as best you can. We didn't want something polished; we were after a distinct sound.
The album is out on 'See Monkey Do Monkey' why that label?
It's a new label in Cardiff and I passionately believe that its time for a change in Cardiff. I'd met Aimee (who runs the label) a couple of times and it felt that we were on the same page musically speaking so when I found out she liked my band I did my best to get in with them.
You started out life as Murry the Hump and recorded 3 sessions for John Peel. What makes you carry on making music and why the name change?
Well, we did pack it in for a while but I ended up having a shoe box full of songs that would have been a pity not to do anything with. Coz I find myself writing songs whether I like it or not - I get bored doing other people's tunes so instead of doing the crossword I write songs. The name change was born of frustration really - people kept talking about the old name more than the music so we thought lets come up with something simple that doesn't get in the way.
How do you think you can manage things differently with the Keys that will avoid some of the pitfalls that Murry the Hump experienced?
We're all a bit older now and know what we want. I've been doing this long enough now to be able to tell people to 'fuck off you are wrong!!' If I think they are wrong of course! Whereas in the Hump days I took people's opinions on board perhaps too much.
Your music incorporates a lot of 60s influences. What is it about that period that interests you?
We get this one a lot. I really don't like categorising music into dates, or genres for that matter - I just like what I like. Granted 'Fire Inside' has a 60's feel but 'Vita Hope' was inspired by Alan Vegas and Suicide who are a 70's band. I think the album sounds 60's perhaps because we used a lot of gear and techniques that were prevalent in the 60's such as a small number of microphones, Spring Reverbs as opposed to digital ones, and we recorded to tape instead of pro tools. But this was partly out of necessity as well as a creative decision. I hate to complain but it seems to me that a lot of UK mainstream indie bands sound homogenous. We wanted something with its own identifiable sound.
How do you manage to use your musical influences in a positive way to create your own sound rather than copying your heroes?
I'm not sure what you mean by 'in a positive way'. There may well be an assumption that 'positive' means 'original', that's a critic's view, not necessarily an audience's opinion.
What is different about being a band in Wales as opposed to elsewhere in the UK?
Nothing if you're an English-medium band in Wales. If you're a Welsh-language-medium band in Wales then there's a hell of a difference. Relatively speaking, there's an obscene amount of money pumped into Welsh-language-medium bands, but that's my opinion not necessarily the opinion of The Keys!!!
What other Welsh bands/singers do you like and or get on with?
David Wrench, White Noise Sound
What can people expect from a Keys gig?
Volume, melody, rhythm
What are your plans for gigs and recording in the next 12 months?
We hope to have another album out early next year.
The Keys album Fire Inside is out now.
The band can be seen live: 23/07/2010 - The Gower Rock Festival
07/08/2010 - The Octopus Club, Fat Cat, Stoke-on-Trent
Le Mans EP (2009)
Christmas EP (2009)
Fire Inside (2010)
Misty's Big Adventure
Jam with RoBina
The Rumble Strips interview
Battle of Land and Sea