“It’s awesome to get a good review, but a review doesn’t make a band. What makes a band is individual people, and the live show.” – Giles Bidder (Great Cynics)
It’s been a big year for Great Cynics: The band adopted a new name, released their debut album and recently embarked on a short stint across the UK with The Living Daylights. During that time, I caught up with Giles, Iona and Bob in Liverpool. We discussed touring, the new album, playing Fest and what the guys have planned for the future.
Anthony Barlow: Hi guys, how’s it going? How’s the tour been so far?
GB: Good. But it’s been a mission to get to Leicester yesterday. Bob had to fly in from Prague.
AB: That’s dedication!
Bob Barrett: It is, yeah! It is Giles.
GB: Yeah, a hundred and twenty quid.
GB: Me and Iona drove up from Exeter. So yeah, it was alright. We finally got there in the end. I thought we were gonna die.
Iona Cairns: We got a Pimms at Kieran Kelly’s house.
GB: Oh yeah, Kieran Kelly’s mum’s house.
IC: He wasn’t there, but his mum accommodated us.
BB: Mrs Kelly
GB: Teresa Kelly
IC: She’s a great woman
AB: So, I’ve heard there’s seven people in the van. That must be fun?
GB: It’s a nice little sized group actually.
BB: Yeah, it’s not too squashed. It’s quite nice. It has only been one day though *laughs*
AB: You’re not all in eachother’s pockets then yet?
IC: Not yet
GB: I don’t know. There’s been a few big pinches of backy.
BB: That sounds like a euphemism *laughs*
AB: You’re in Liverpool tonight, are you expecting a good turnout?
GB: Well we’ve never played in Liverpool before. I personally have no idea.
IC: It’s a cool venue though.
GB: I know the promoter when he put on his first show, he put on The Arteries and The Living Daylights, he said there was a sweet turnout.
AB: Watch Commander are playing tonight
GB: Yeah. I’m really looking forward to seeing them, because I hear they’re fucking awesome. I know Si, Si’s a great guy. I heard a couple of songs on Bandcamp the other day, and they sounded great. They’ve done it a really cool way, because they recorded before they started playing shows, which I think everyone’s kind of learned from. Everyone’s made that mistake before, I think.
IC: Realising you’re songs are shit once you’re up there. That’s happened to me *laughs*
AB: So the album’s been out for about a month
BB: Just over, yeah. About a month and a week.
AB: Did the name change have any damaging effects on the release, aside from the LP jacket stuff?
GB: I think, for the first week, it was a massive bummer.
IC: I haven’t really noticed it, other than people saying “the new name’s rubbish”
BB: Yeah I get that a lot, and I always kinda go “too little too late”
GB: I think the name’s pretty fucking rad.
AB: What’s the response been like?
BB: It’s been really good.
IC: The few people that have heard it have been positive
BB: On a review basis, it’s been quite good. It’s been accepted very warmly, which is nice.
GB: We got some really cool reviews from AlterThePress, which is an awesome UK Zine, and Alternative Press in the US. And Rocksound which is cool, because I think it’s awesome that we’ve got these reviews of the record, but we haven’t really started to tour that much yet. I’m really excited about this tour especially. We got the reviews, and even if we got bad reviews, I don’t think I’d think of it that much. It’s awesome to get a good review, but a review doesn’t make a band. What makes a band is individual people, and the live show.
AB: We’re you expecting such a good response?
GB: I’ve no idea because, when you go through the process of writing a song and then recording it, you hear it yourselves and you get so close to it that you can’t really take an outside view of it.
IC: From someone that came in later, having heard the album and not being a part of it, I really liked it already. So I really expected it to be liked. I’m on the same side as the people listening to it, I guess.
AB: Do you or can you actually listen to it?
GB: Yeah, I can listen to it and not puke up. I’m happy with that.
IC: Isn’t it your ringtone Giles?
GB: No, that’s the EP.
IC: He was listening to his EP on his phone, and it just went off.
GB: I’ll tell you what fucking happened! You know on a Blackberry if you hit the play button, even if it’s on lock, it plays the song on your music list.
IC: And you were listening to it because?
GB: When I got my Blackberry the first thing I put on was the acoustic EP, which I’d just recorded like six months ago, and then I lost my USB cable. So that’s the only thing I’ve got on my Blackberry. So, yesterday, I was getting something out of my pocket and I accidentally pressed the play button and it started playing the acoustic EP *laughs*.
BB: We have also listened to the album whilst driving to a gig.
GB: But I believe that was to learn it, and practice.
AB: How was it that “Great Cynics” became the new name then?
GB: I was in Sainsbury’s in Camden…
AB: As every good story always starts
GB: …I think I thought of ‘Hate Cynics’ and hate rhymed with great, but we’ve settled on the name and we’re happy with it. There’s no point looking back. I mean, we don’t even think about it. As soon as we changed it, I didn’t put a second thought to it.
BB: I always think that the band becomes the name after a bit anyway. People sort of overlook it after a while. Because of that, I think it won’t matter.
AB: Are people still throwing the Against Me! comparisons about?
GB: Yeah, but I think that’s always gonna happen.
BB: Probably less though, I’d say.
IC: Just because of the way you started on your own…
GB: Yeah. I started playing acoustic on my own, and then we became a band. I think no matter who does that, they’re gonna be compared to Tom Gabel and Against Me! I personally think it’s fucking awesome for our band to be compared to Against Me! At the same time, it’s like reviews, it’s cool that it happens, but it’s not worth thinking about is it? We just get on with our shit.
AB: You’ll be playing on the same bill as Against Me! this year too, at Fest 10. Are you excited?
BB: It’s gonna be awesome.
GB: I’m fucking well excited
BB: I still can’t really believe it.
AB: Giles you’ve already played Fest before, right?
GB: Yeah, I played acoustic last year.
IC: It’s nothing to him, is it?
GB: Fuck off. I think ten people were there last year. So maybe we’ll get eleven this year.
AB: There’s a lot of British bands playing, so you’re gonna have a good group around you.
GB: I think it’s awesome that there’s quite a lot of UK bands going over to play, because you’re friends are already there and how fucking cool is it to see your best friednds’ band play on the other side of the world and to be up front singing along? It’s a great feeling.
AB: So what’s the plan between then and now?
GB: After this tour, we’re doing a four date house show tour. We’re taking a PA and van, setting up in our friends houses and playing a show. It’s probably gonna be two quid donations and bring your own beer. It’s just gonna be a party for four days straight. After that, we’ve got a few things in the pipeline. Nothing confirmed yet.
BB: And then a bit of a tour in America on the way down to Fest. We’re flying in to New York, and then traveling down.
IC: So, hopefully, we’ll get a few shows on the way down.
GB: If it ends up that we can’t get a show every day down the East Coast then it’s be a fucking great holiday anyway. The Fest 10 is the big thing for us.
AB: Not thinking of a Great Cynics headline tour anytime soon then?
GB: I don’t know. I don’t think we warrant it.
BB: I think we need to tour a bit more.
AB: So Don’t Need Much is out. People can buy it. I was wondering if you’d be willing to donate a percentage of the profits from the album towards commissioning a Chuck Ragan fishing show, produced by Dicking Around Productions and Geoff Rickly from Thursday? Like that Robson Green show, but with Chuck Ragan.
BB: That sounds excellent.
IC: I’d like to watch it.
BB: [To Giles] Go on, give em some money.
IC: You’re such a bastard, Giles.
GB: *laughs* Alright, yeah, I’ll pay fifty percent.
AB: *laughs* Great. Thanks for this guys.
GB: I’m excited.