Words and photos by JENZ
“I like to see lady drummers. It’s fucking cool,” says one of the security guards at Popscene as The Whip plow through their soundcheck. The Manchester quartet are in town to open for fellow UK outfit Late of the Pier, but in two short hours the Mancs will blow their contemporaries out of the front door and onto the alleyway outside of the club.
“What was the name of that first band? They were so. Much. Better,” I overhear while standing in line to use the ladies’ room.
And it’s true. Cousin to The Faint with a dash of Daft Punk knob-twiddling, the four friends from college now known as The Whip are able to deliver more songs to grind to then their headliners. The most success comes from songs like “Blackout”, which carries a sexy bass line with a light Nintendo synth, and “Muzzle #1”, a rhythmic foot tapper that sort of sounds like what The Horrors would be if they went dance-punk. And while the band doesn’t talk much in between songs, opting to end their short set with lead single “Trash”, the venue breaks into continuous cheering at the end.
Both bands are sharing the green room, where I’m whisked into for The Whip interview pre-show, and the scene is somehow serenity-meets-frenzy. There are lanky Brits from both bands falling over themselves trying to reach the riders while I plop down onto a black vinyl couch, and even though the vibe is at a calm tone, everyone is talking to one another — and not me. Never before have I had to keep track of my interview subjects until now, as various members of The Whip actually leave the interview mid-thought to answer a phone call, talk to a manager, or huddle up next to a LOTP member.
It’s somehow not rude, though — it genuinely feels like all the people smashed into this tiny ass room want to hang with one another, and I even find myself floating from person to person to spark a conversation. “I love this song,” says Daniel when Bloc Party’s “Banquet” thumps outside, and we talk about the influx of British bands to hit America in recent years.
The whole setting resembles a cozy house party, which is both endearing and neat. I end up speaking with drummer Fiona Daniel and keyboardist Danny Saville the most while sitting on the couch, as vocalist Bruce Carter and bass player Nathan Sudders to my right are distracted at various intervals, but piping in when given the chance. Most of our conversation centers around their hometown of Manchester (both Sudders and Carter are tickled to know about the goth night I went to while there a few months back: “I actually know the owner for Satan’s Hollow!” says Saville), and what some goals are (Carter: “Ride a cable car”). As I leave, all four extend their hands to shake mine warmly, offering to hang out if we all were ever in their hometown at the same time. This cordiality is again replicated as I join Sudders outside for a cigarette post-interview.
“Please, MySpace us if you decide to join us in Manchester for grad school,” he urges. I’m amazed he remembered that small detail from our conversation amidst the ringing cell phones and chatter about doing shots back in the green room. “Maybe I will,” I reply. “You lot seem to be really good folks.”
There seems to be the common theme of “fucking shit up” when people talk about your music. Is this accurate?
Fiona Daniel: Fucking shit up? Really? [laughs]
Danny Saville: Well, I mean, I think that’s a good thing. Right?
Nathan Sudders: Oh, wow.
“Trash” is the opening song on your album, and has been the one garnering the most attention. Are you afraid no one is going to be listening after that first song ends?
FD: You know, people don’t have to dance if they don’t want to. I mean, we want it to happen as naturally as possible.
Bruce Carter: I think we did a great job on the album as a whole.
You’ve cited having older siblings and friends who got you into the Manchester scene. What particular interaction stands out most?
DS: I got my foot in the door with that scene from an older friend [who gave me a cassette of music]. I remember the tape cover was a yellow and black picture/painting of sorts with some vandalism-looking writing. There was the FAC 51 symbol in it and Bigfoot was prancing around. So weird but very cool.
I fell in love with Manchester when I was in England over the winter. I saw the Hacienda apartments and it’s so sad what they look like now. Is it weird something so historical like that is now defunct in your own hometown?
DS: I used to live right across the street from the Hacienda. I used to break in and play there before it was torn down to be converted. It’s a bit of a shame that it wasn’t saved but what can you do? And now it’s like any other neighborhood in the area. There’s weed on the corner.
There’s always seems to be a Manchester/London comparison that happens.
FD: True. But when you consider how many amazing bands that have come out of our humble little area, it’s quite impressive.
DS: And it’s all about the sizing, really, too. Birmingham is bigger, but in Manchester you can still bump into people. London is just too big for us. We might not have been able to succeed if we had decided to move there first instead of sticking to where we started.
BC: In any case, it’s obviously not as cool as here. [grins and points to his surroundings]
How many sexual innuendos have you gotten in reference to your band name?
DS: What, you mean like bondage or S&M-type stuff? None. None at all. [smiles]