Interview with The Echo and The Always

What can you say about this new five piece from Cardiff? Personally, they’re polite and compassionate with the majority of the band working for charity. They’re enthusiastic in what they do and it shows in their sound. It’s refreshing, angelic and it’s honest. 

In the midst of recording more tracks for their EP we caught up with them to talk about recording, their recent name change, nick names and band antics. 

Tell us about your recent name change and what people can look out for?
We’ve wanted to change our name for over a year now, but with our latest line up change that happened back in the spring we finally took the opportunity to put Sleepy Panda Club to rest and take on a new identity. As fun as that name was it really didn’t suit us. It doesn’t represent who we are or what our sound is about. Our sound isn’t really bright, sparkly indie dance pop like it was when we first formed, so we thought we should take on a name that reflects who we feel we are. Plus, it’s a name that all of us chose as a group, so it just seems to fit. People can expect some of the same elements – layers of simple melodies playing off one another, and we’re still have all the same elements with guitar, bass, trumpet, synth and female vocals, but we’re a bit more sombre and more melancholic.

What have you got going on at the moment?
We’re in the process of recording our EP and working on new material. In November we’ll be playing at the Parrot in Carmarthen with our mates Paper Factory and the Adelines, as well as Boy Royals, which we’re really chuffed about. We’ll be holding an EP launch in January in Swansea, which in some ways is our original hometown.

Tell us about your upcoming EP – How was the recording process?
The process has been absolutely amazing. We’ve never had it go so quickly or so smoothly. It’s partly because we’re really prepared this time around, and also because we’re all on the same page with where the songs are going. We’ve had tension in the studio before because of different visions and individual senses of ownership over songs, but now the songs belong to us as a whole. We don’t have massive creative differences, and when we do differ in opinion we take time to figure out what serves the song, rather than anyone’s ego. Working with Todd was great too because he was quite enthusiastic about our songs, but also quite blunt about what he thought worked and didn’t work. He was brilliant to work with.

Who did you record with?
We recorded with Todd Campbell at Skwad, and we’ll be going back there next month to record a few more tracks.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be and who are your major influences?
This is always a tough question to answer. I suppose we’re somewhere between shoegaze and post punk with a bit of indie pop, but that’s attaching labels for the sake of attaching labels. Collectively we have a massive range of influences, so it’s hard to pigeon hole us. All of our songs are so completely different, which isn’t because we’re trying to find our sound but because we’re comfortable not having a defined sound that we have to adhere to. One day we might write a dark dance song, then we might write an ethereal acoustic song, then we might write a waltz. That being said, you can probably hear the influence of the Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Brand New, You Say Party!, Brian Fallon…but as cheesy as it sounds, we’re more influenced by each other than by anyone else.

How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
Laura and Dean have been friends for years and they’ve had their own band ‘Shadow Theory’ going for quite a while. Angela and John met in uni, and she nicked him from another band to play guitar for Sleepy Panda Club. They saw Shadow Theory opening for Cut Ribbons in Swansea and decided Laura would make the perfect singer for Panda. Earlier this year Dean joined as our new bassist. We all know Matt because he’s a sound guy in Swansea, so he’s done sound for us loads. We had no idea he was a drummer until we put the call out and he stepped forward.

If you could give the rest of the band nicknames, what would they be?
Dean is Deanosaur, on account of his disproportionately short forearms… that’s why he has to play a 4-stringed instrument.
Laura is Kung Fu on account of her ninja skillz.
John is Sid…’cause he looks like a sloth.
Angela is Bandgela because she does all the housekeeping.
Matt is Jingle Cats.

Favourite book and why?
When Angela tucks us all in she usually reads us a good Hungry Caterpillar Story, which is nice.

Favourite tattoo and the story behind it?
Angela’s favourite tattoo is a Virgin Mary she has on her left arm, which ironically was done by a tattoo artist who specializes in pinup girls. It’s a tribute to her grandmother, who ironically was a protestant minister turned agnostic in her later years.

Tell our readers an interesting fact about the band?
We’re collectively weary of hats.

What’s your wildest ambition for the band?
To make love without crying.

If you could go back to any era, what would you chose?
Dean – The era when Game of Thrones happened.
John – 1997.
Angela – The 18th Century but with better hygiene and women’s suffrage.
Laura – She just wants to stop time to play Skyrim.
Matt – Jingle Cats.

EXTRA TIME:

The Bird is the?
Suspect.

If your life was a song, what would the title be?
‘Sometimes…’

Most embarrassing clothing item owned by you or a band mate?
Dean’s pair of silk leopard print boxers that say ‘party animal’ across the front… and finding Matt in them.

You can find The Echo and The Always on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/TheEchoAndTheAlways

About Nadine 118 Articles
Soundscape co-founder, webmaster and South Wales music photographer. Forever traveling on buses and singing all the wrong words. Get in touch: twitter: nadinebphoto e: nadineballantyne@soundscapemagazine.com

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