Still Don’t Have That Kind Of Bread
With their second album “Propeller Versus Wings” about to drop, Zoey Van Goey’s Matt Brennan and Kim Moore talk to Kenneth John Porteous about day jobs, the writing process and their hopes for the new album.
Zoey Van Goey have been busy. But then it seems like Zoey Van Goey are always busy.
Valentine’s Day sees the launch of their second album “Propeller Versus Wings” and the band are having to fit promoting the album around their day jobs. It’s a mix they have gotten used to since their formation in 2006.
“It’s a difficult balance,” muses Kim Moore, the band’s lead vocalist.
“It depends on how you look at it,” adds Matt Brennan, “but if we were to only do the band full-time, we wouldn’t be able to pay the rent.”
Luckily, the day jobs on which they are reliant also involve music. Matt is a music historian and teacher at Glasgow University and is currently writing a book on the history of live music in Britain. When we meet, he has just come from teaching a class on censorship in pop music in the aftermath of 9/11 (“It’s a weird topic.”)
Kim does a lot of community work and is currently working on a community art project, with other artists and young people, which will see the creation of an outdoor installation. She also does session work, as do other band members Michael John ‘MJ’ McCarthy and Adam Scott.
“We’re all as invested in what we do for a living – what makes us money – as we are passionate about what we do as a band,” says Kim, “so sometimes that can be quite difficult because we equally want to do the best that we can in both.”
“We’re pretty restricted in a way,” Matt expands, “We can only say yes to the gigs that work with all four of our work schedules, but I think that they are flexible enough that we can do that most of the time.
“Being in the band is one of the tons of part-time things that we do with all kinds of other part-time things in order to make a living making music.”
Kim adds, “Sometimes (the band) does mean taking time off work though so in a way we lose money. But it’s worth it. It also depends what is happening. We’re going away to (play shows in) London, Liverpool and Leeds next week, so I guess (the band) is our full-time job for that week.”
The gigs are necessary to support the album – the follow up to 2009’s “The Cage Was Unlocked All Along”. Released through Chemikal Underground, it sees the return of producer of Paul Savage – who collaborated so successfully with the band on “The Cage…”.
It also sees the addition to the line-up of bassist Adam Scott, a move which seems to have really motivated the band.
Matt says, “Adam’s not a bass player who sits in the background, he comes up with parts that are meant to be heard. He helped arrange the brass section – I don’t know if we would have done that before he came along.”
Both Matt and Kim agree that the process of writing the second album was a collaborative affair. The band took a week off work to go down to Kim’s parent’s home in England to write together.
Kim says, “The songs on the first album had existed for a long time in Matt and Michael John’s brains. They’d been written, pre-existed for a while, then they were added to by all of us and made into songs within the band. The new songs came about from a much more collective process with all of us. I feel like there’s more of my input in more of the songs in this album as well.
“We’ve all got our strengths, I notoriously find lyrics really difficult, I write in quite a different way. I love melody. I’m a violinist so I love little melodies and cool riffs and stuff like that.”
However, Matt enjoys the process of writing the lyrics but finds other elements more difficult: “I don’t know many chords so I’ll come in with a song with the same three chords (all the way through). Then they’ll change all the chords on me and I’ll huff and puff for a little bit and be like ‘It’s not the same’ – but then, it probably gets better!”
The slightly tweaked approach to writing means an album which sounds different to it’s predecessor while still distinctly sounding like a Zoey Van Goey record. “We worried less about trying to get an overall aesthetic,” explains Kim.
Matt expands on this: “It makes it different from the first one. We’re all older, two years older. We’ve matured. One thing that affected MJ and I was a friend of ours said he likes albums to be like a good late night radio playlist, a collection of songs that sound different from one another. If you can imagine hearing them all together late at night on the radio then that would be good. So I think that, in our heads, we kind of wanted to make some songs that sounded a little bit more different. There’s a song that’s more like a 1940’s song with brass on it, and there’s one that’s definitely punkier than anything we’ve done before, more distorted.”
One thing that becomes clear from speaking to Matt and Kim is that their aims for Zoey Van Goey are very grounded – but that’s not to say they lack ambition.
Matt says: “I like doing things with the band that we haven’t done before. It doesn’t really matter if it sells loads or not, if it enables us to get to tour in Europe or something or be involved in a new kind of project with the band doing something different we haven’t done before, then that’s great.”
For Kim, getting to perform the album is the most important thing.
“I just love playing – I’d love if we could play a lot more shows, play to different people in different places. That’d make me very happy. There are festivals I’d love to play at: End of the Road, Green Man Festival, Glastonbury – that’d be pretty amazing. It’s a weird kind of process when we were unsigned artists we played like 7 festivals in the summer of 2008. But then once you’ve done that, you can’t be unsigned again. You’re in a weird limbo, you have to wait to be invited.”
The most important thing to Zoey Van Goey though is to just keep going and make as many more albums and play as many more shows as a band that they can.
As Kim says, “(It’s a question of) how do we maintain it? How do we make it so we can invest the same amount of time? As long as we can keep finding time and we’re still loving it and still enjoying it. We all love each other so…”
(Propeller Versus Wings is released through Chemikal Underground on 14th February 2011)