You should know the score about Turbowolf by now. We’ve been hollering their praises since before Thrash Hits was even conceived. Last weekend they debuted a new song – ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ – on the BBC Radio 1 Rock Show.They’ve finally gotten their second album – by the name of Two Hands – lined up to drop early next year. This week they’re tearing up the UK as main support on the first ever big UK tour by those possessors-of-a-UK-number-1-album, Royal Blood. Things are looking pretty damn exciting for team Turbowolf right now.
Being the fully-biased, ‘wolf superfans that we are, we had no shortage of questionsto ask the band’s vocalist Chris Georgiadis and guitarist Andy Ghosh to get the inside scoop on Two Hands.
Gentlemen, you’re gearing up towards the release your second album, Two Hands. You took your bloody good time doing it though, didn’t you?
Andy Ghosh [guitar]: Yeah, just finished it, haven’t we?
Chris Georgiadis [vocals/keyboard: I think we’re just going to work out the best way of getting it out there to as many people as possible. As you can see it’s not going to be everyday that we’re going to release an album or maybe not even every year.
You put out ‘Solid Gold’ which has been available as a freebie for a couple of months. And a lot of people took that as like a harbinger that you were about to announce something big, but was that like just a stopgap, thing?
Andy: No, no.
Chris: We hadn’t really sort of worked it all out at that point. If we’d said things we might’ve ended up looking like we were lying because it might’ve changed. We weren’t trying to be coy about it. We just don’t know [laughs].
Andy: It’s going to be like a striptease.
Was it more of a case that the material was still being worked on, or was it the case that was done and all it was the business side of things that needed to be sorted?
Chris: It was a bit of both. The songs were written, but we just hadn’t quite finished recording them. We’ve been fucking about with them, doing all the weird shit on top of them and all that sort of stuff. We just want to make it more bollocks, fuck around with it, make it weirder, and harder to listen to [laughs].
There was a lot of business delays about [the self-titled debut] because we made that album totally before we did anything to get a record deal at all. So that was part of the reason that time. We had it completely finished and then we had to find a way to put it out. So it wasn’t all our fault last time.
Let’s move away from the tedious, hand-shaking-signing-bits-of-paper side of things and talk about the music. Your last album spent a long time brewing as some of the songs have been in your live set for years and years and years. This time it’s been a slightly different affair, would you say?
Andy: Actually the first time it was a bit weird because we had a lot of songs before that album that we actually jettisoned because we didn’t feel we were good enough. When we actually came around to do that album we pretty much took maybe three of those older songs and then pretty much started again. That first album almost felt like a second album in that regard. We kind of had it hard the first time around because started from scratch, with quite short deadlines to record it. So its been quite similar really in a way.
Do you feel like this new record has sidestepped the “difficult second album” situation then? A lot of people have got wonky theories about “difficult second albums”.
Andy: I feel like a lot of that thing, the difficult second album thing comes from like record company pressure to just sort of shit something out immediately after your first one and having years to make your first one.
Do you subscribe to that theory? Because I don’t personally think that. I think it’s bollocks.
Andy: I think that is a lot of why people struggle with it.
Chris: I think that’s true, like as you say. That’s the reason they say it’s like that. Because you released one out then go out and tour the album and then you’re expected to release another album when you come back from tour. Which is obviously difficult to do.
Andy: We got away with that by just saying “No, we’re not going to do it yet.” We made it a bit easier for ourselves. Because the thing is these days if you’re in our sort of position, no one’s giving me any money. It’s not like the old days where everyone’s throwing money at you so you just do whatever they say. Now you’re not giving me any…so…fuck off! [laughs]. We just do what we want to do, and as there’s not really anything anyone can say.
Chris: We’re our own bosses.
One thing I wanted to ask about, you guys do seem obsessed with both the color gold and snakes. And i’ve been meaning to ask this for ages. why is it about snakes?
Andy: I don’t know.
Chris: I don’t know.
Thats a terrible answer.
Chris: It’s definitely something that we have never thought about.
Andy: Snakes are very primal aren’t they? Their a very primal thing. Their sort of dangerous, and quite of sexual, one can say.
Chris: All the things about our band basically. It’s basically describing our band.
Andy: They just very primal creatures but they’re just cool as well.
The video to ‘Solid Gold’ is full of snakes. Because theres a song title on your first album [‘Ancient Snake’] that references snake. Theres a snake on your debut album’s cover, and you at least reference in the lyrics in at least one other song. That’s at least three times as many snakes as most albums.
Chris: Well, I guess some rock and roll bands have songs about whisky and women don’t they? So if you don’t want to sings about whisky and women, then you’ve got to sing about gold and snakes.
Andy: There’s like two options basically if you’re in a rock band – whisky & women or snakes.
Chris: You want to hear the story on why ‘Ancient Snake’ is called ‘Ancient Snake’? Because that’s a good bollocks story.
Who doesn’t like to hear bollocks stories?!?
Andy: We did it at a major session early on – way before the album and we haven’t called it anything yet. It was quite a sort of apocalyptic sort of song and I was like we can’t call it like ‘The End’ or anything because there’s that Doors song and we just started bolloxing about the Doors song. Then we were like “what about that bit in the Doors song where he says something about an ancient snake?” So I said, ah this is cool. If you go back he doesn’t even say it.
Chris: Ride the snake. The Ancient Lake.
So you had snakes on the mind even though you pretended it was Jim Morrison.
Andy: It was the Lizard King’s fault.
Where would you say the new album lies on a scale between “full on bangers” and “out-and-out proper weirdness”? Where does this album lie in relation to the first?
Andy: It drifts as you go into it i think. It starts off a bit more bangery and by the end of it it gets fucking weird.
Chris: That’s what we were kind of thinking when we were arranging the oder of the songs. We wanted it to smash into your the face a bit at the start, then as you keep on going through it, it starts becoming…not more difficult but maybe a bit more interesting, with a bit more space in the songs.
Andy: We always lay the albums out for people that can to sit and listen to the whole thing. We’ve always ignored that whole put-the singles-at-the-start-as-it-is-better-for-reviews way of thinking. We just sit down ourselves and like listen to it, with the idea that it breaks you in easily, with maybe a few of sort of snappy ones at the start but then gradually grabs hold of you and drives you under this duvet of bonkers as it goes on.
The first album always struck me as sort of like a weird half and half between like sort of hallucinations and musings about the end of the world. That’s just me how i listen to it.
Chris: Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally.
I was listening to it again today for no reason. Would you say you’re sort of sticking with a similar formular thing for this album? Where are you going with the names?
Andy: Well I would say, because obviously Chris does most of the lyrics, so I’m sort of a spectator. I would say it’s a bit more tangible where the first one was more abstract and sort of vague apocalyptic hallucination. This ones a bit more about actual stuff and weird things.
Chris: People will say it’s “more focused”, which itself is a bit of a cliche really. I think when it comes down to lyrics maybe it is bit more focused. I guess a lot on the first album I was just sort of riffing on different ideas. A different way of writing words and stuff but this way was a bit more telling a story and even if it might sometimes not be as clear as people may like or something. I always try and make it let people have their own ideas of what the songs are about.
Andy: I think you can get support out of these ones while some of the ones of the first album are quite sort of trippy, sort of vibes. These ones, they’re about things.
Obviously ‘Solid God’ has quite like a solid concept of the idea of rules and things like that. Societal pressure, if thats not adding too many syllables to the concept. And “American Mirrors”, i’ve only heard that once. I think I only saw you guys play it on tour. That sort of seemed a bit more sort of reflective, like the bounds of life. Again, I’m just remembering that from one listen about a year ago.
Chris: Yeah. I mean theres a lot of weird shit being going on in the world since we’ve been working on it.
Has your process changed at all or is it stuck with the same?
Chris: It’s definitely been more work this time. Because we were playing live so much at the time, a lot of the tracks on the first album grew out of playing live. I was still trying to understand the sounds of words and stuff, so this one i was a bit more clued up to what words sound good. I just had a bit more experience of what I like and what I don’t like.
Andy: It’s definitely been different doing it entirely away from gigging, which has been different. The first album was written it over quite a short period of time while we were gigging constantly. You would write a song and just start playing it. Most of it we played quite a bit before we got into it. As with this one we made it pretty much as one whole piece without really making it quite gradually. When you hear it, its definitely one big chunk.
How has playing the new stuff live in front of audiences changed the way you perceived your new material? Or did it slot in how you expected?
Andy: When we started playing it together [as a full band] was a more interesting bit. When we did it in the studio we really didn’t worry too much about how we were going to do it live. So there might be like loads of guitar parts on top of each other, or like loads of extra synths. We got in guest vocalists and stuff. We just concentrated on making it great on the record and then we had to work out how to play it live. We had to strip it down and work out how we were going to do it. So that was how we started practicing it as a four piece. It was quite interesting.
Am I right in thinking that Chan from Vodun did some stuff on that?
Chris: Yeah, yeah. She’s on ‘Solid Gold’. She’s in the chorus a little but there’s another song where she’s all over it and it’s absolutely amazing.
The other thing I noticed when I was listening to the album today; I was listening to some of the arrangements. There’s kind of a 50/50 mix between songs where the melody is led on the vocal line, and then on some of them it’s sort of guitars, and in some songs it switches from one to the other. On this album would you say that the construction is the same sort of bounce or is that nonsense?
Andy: We always try to get our bounce in all sort of directions that we sort of work out as we’re doing it, so I don’t know about that specific need. We might be like doing something a little bit different on each song with the guitar. And the way we arrange it around the vocals and the synth, we try not to repeat anything too much.
Chris: That’s always been our sort of thing; we always find a great hook. So if we’re like well, this is going to be a vocal hook so everything else just sits back for a little bit and then you want to do a big rift then we let that kind of stand out.
Andy: That’s been a big difference on this. That’s a big lesson we learned on the first one: not to do everything all at once. On the first
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Chris: We’re better at spacing everything out now.
Was there anything in particular on the first album that you were disappointed with? That didn’t come across because of that?
Chris: I think we accept the limitations of how we were doing it on the first one. We did it like really super ghetto, just in a basement. It was all analog mix so that was an absolute nightmare. So you couldn’t revisit a mix – it was literally just done with your fingers on sliders.
Andy: Four months of mixing, when everyone got their hands on the sliders.
Chris: And once you put it down that’s it you can’t go back. So if you think “oh, we should have had louder vocals” or “the snares are too loud” you have to deal with it. You couldn’t go back. If you did go back, you have to start from scratch, and inevitable you’d screw something else up then! So there’s loads of shit in [the first album] that we wish we could sort out. But it’s just how it was. It was just ghetto.
Have you self-produced or did you get someone in?
Chris: Half and half. The initial idea was for me and Chris to just produce it. Actually there was quite a few big producers that wanted to do it. We did sort of try some stuff out with people and we weren’t really into what was happening. We were just going to do it ourselves, and asked a guy that had engineered one of our demo sessions that we’ve done we really got along with if he wanted to engineer it with us. But then it quickly became a problem that he was actually – and we didn’t know at the time – now quite a big producer. His name is Tom Dalgety and he’s just done the Royal Blood album. He’s an awesome producer, but we didn’t know as we just met him as an engineer.
It ended up being pretty much 50/50. All the sort of weird shit and the more art side of it came from us, and then most of the science-y sort of stuff came from him. He’s done some stuff with Band of Skulls; he’s done the new Therapy? album. Since we started working with him he’s like the hottest shit around. We had just met and we liked him.
Lucky coincidence! I dont know whether or not this will be relevant by the time this gets published but the video concept behind solid gold, where did that come from?
Chris: It was a bit of a mish mash really. It definitely ended up as something different to where it started out. Basically it started with this guy called Ben Foley, the director. He’s made music videos in the past but he’s been making films and been away from making music videos. He wanted to go get back into [making music videos] and it worked out perfectly because we needed a video…and he wanted to make one! We threw around some ideas and it was probably more of [Chris] and Ben who came up with it.
Andy: We knocked it together in one night. I really wanted to do something kind of different; we didn’t want to repeat ourselves and do anything too similar to what we’ve done before. To me [‘Solid Gold’] just had a bit of a tribal feel to it. I wanted to do something like that without it being stupid or anything, and then that became more of a voodoo thing. [Ben Foley] had that van, that’s why that’s in it.
Chris: Yeah, yeah, he was great. He built a whole team up. He did the whole thing
Andy: They worked their arses off.
Ok and the last question. What has happened to that giant pharaoh’s head you used to have at the back of the stage when you played live?
Andy: Oh he’s just resting. He’ll be back.
Chris: He went to the beach last I heard.
Andy: He actually genuinely did, yeah.
Chris: You might see that soon.
That’s a mystery.
Andy: Yeah we still got him. It’s just we did that last time so we thought we’d leave him home this time but maybe he will come out again in the future. He’s always there. He’s actually in our practice room. He sits behind Blake.
Turbowolf are currently on tour supporting the number-1-album-possessing-chart-destroying Royal Blood – good luck getting a ticket to that tour as it is completely sold out. HOWEVER – Turbowolf are going out on a tour of their own headline tour in December – go buy yourself a ticket right damn now.
Turbowolf’s new single, ‘Rabbit’s Foot’, is also out now and is available to buy from iTunes. However, if you’re feeling flush and fancy you can go pre-order their new album Two Hands right damn now, and the band will give you an immediate download of ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ if you do. They’ve got some sweet exclusive merch bundles available as part of the pre-orders – go check them out.