Sounds From The Other City

May 2, 2019

Interview | Emma Davidson chats to Grotbags

Describing themselves as Andy Kaufman-esque pub pop, Grotbags are another band billed for a large crowd at this years Soundstown. They’re a bad Dad joke kind of ensemble pushing things back to the pop punk era of eyeliner clad poster boys and low rise bass playing. But fear not, they have sternly said that they’re ready to blow everyone away this May bank holiday. As anticipation for their set rises high, Emma Davidson chatted with the quirky quintet about what they have instore for us at this years SFTOC.

Who are Grotbags?

In alphabetical order. Beckie Davies, Benjamin John Pitman, Ian Dominic Breen, Morgan Lane and Nick Colman.
Tell me about yourselves and how you started as a band?

The true inception was the realisation that we all wanted to get into festivals without paying.

We also started because Morgan said to Ben that he wanted to start a pop rock band that sounded like They Might Be Giants, Nick was the only drummer we know that would do it, we didn’t want Mike singing, plus Morgan can’t sing and play guitar at the same time so we got Ian to do it. After a bit we realised we wanted to sound more like the Glitter Band so we got Beckie in.

Any reference to the 90’s TV show Grotbags?


Describe your sound and where you draw inspirations from?

We are a pub pop band.

Morgan: We draw our inspiration from whatever I’ve been listening to most when I decide to write a song, whether that’s George Ezra, Squeeze or more recently Steeleye Span and Slade.

Ben: Andy Kaufman, Frank Sidebottom, D-Generation X, Chas and Dave, Speedo (aka John Reis).

Ian: Jakobinarina are a big vocal influence.

What can we expect out of your live set?

Pretty much this but with one more person on stage.

Also we’ve been listening to the shipping forecast a lot recently and there’s been some really weird reports of a lighthouse keeper that’s gone berserk and is currently tearing their way up the coast headed for Salford. I think it’s something related to this weird book of religious looking scribbles we found on a day trip to Fornby and there’s a sense that it’s all going to come to a head around 3ish at SFTOC.

Have you attended SFTOC before? How do you feel about playing it this year?

I think we’re pretty much the SFTOC house band now. Whether they like it or not.

Ben: As a visionary promoter (Bad Uncle) I’ve had the pleasure of booking acts for 10 years at Sounds. After going through the previous line ups I knew I had to pick the best band I ever booked for the Quindecennial, so without question I opted for the Greatest Band in the World™, Grotbags.

Morgan: I’ve been to lots of sounds but I can’t remember what I did at any of them apart from DJing at that Chatroulette disco where somebody with bitch written on their chest stuck something up their bum live on webcam.

Ian: This will be my 8th time being involved in Sounds in some form of another. I’ve played various times since 2006 with my old bands Day For Airstrikes, Well Wisher and Borland, plus I helped co-run two stages with This City Is Ours and Mind On Fire in 2011 (while also playing three sets that day). Myself and Beckie both fronted the Borland/Champion Lover Big Band for Bad Uncle one year and I also took part in Bad Uncle’s TV stage in 2014, where I triumphed in the Stars In Their Eyes segment with my absolutely killer rendition of Bowie’s Sound And Vision (complete with interpretive dance by Paul Hallows in a crab costume).

Beckie: I’ve still got that eyeball helmet thing I wore at Family Fortunes in 2014 when we lost because my serial killer picks were too obscure. I think I kept it on until 3/4am. Also, I didn’t see any bands at Sounds for at least two consecutive years in the early 2010s.

Who are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?
Nick: Morgan on pills.

Ben: The Uber driver at the end of the night, also Upset Stomach are killer, go see them straight after seeing us.

Do you think festivals like SFTOC are important for artists?

Morgan: Yeah definitely, as long as everything runs smoothly, people get paid and the organisers are on the ball, festivals like this need to be carefully planned.

What has been your favourite ever gig?

Ben: The Cure at Primavera Sound 2012, or Parts & Labor at The Klondyke in Levenshulme.
Beckie: I can’t think of any gigs. Maybe Kate Bush. If you can count festival sets then Pet Shop Boys at Glasto 2010.
Morgan: Legit mines either Kraftwerk at the velodrome or British Sea Power at Tan Hill Inn.
Nick: Favourite gig I’ve attended was Riot Fest in Chicago where Weezer did ‘Blue’ and Slayer did ‘Reign in Blood’. Fave Grotbags gig was the one at Wharf Chambers in Leeds where there was a kid so Breen changed the lyrics to be child friendly.
Ian: Grotbags played a gig at Maguires in Liverpool (RIP) and it was mint cause we got free booze and pizza. 10/10
Anything you’re listening to at the moment?
Ben: Charli XCX, Martha, Mike Krol, PUP, The Beths, The Smarthearts, Kermes.

Beckie: Haven’t listened to an album in ages. I think the last one was Broadcast, but Spotify says J Dilla and Earl Sweatshirt.
Morgan: Last thing I listened to was that Jakobinarina album. That plus Lizzo and Teenage Fanclub.
Nick: I’m at home off sick and Lynsey’s playing System of a Down.
Ian: Jakobinarina.

Have you been working on some new material for the festival?

We’re in the studio the week before the festival recording an album, so who knows what treats we will have in store for all the lucky people attending.
If people haven’t heard your music before where should they start?

A strong start would be to come down to our stage at 3pm and have your day ruined by seeing the best thing first.

Best party trick?

We don’t like parties and tricks are for kids.

Watch Grotbags play SFTOC at 3:15, Unit 5.