Whether she’s playing with Tender Trap or charming us with Allo Darlin’, Elizabeth Morris Elizabeth creates music that makes our ears sparkle. Cheery indie-pop that reminds us that music can be upbeat without being vapid. Elizabeth and Bill are from Australia, Mike and Paul are from Kent. Their debut album Allo Darlin’ was released in June 2010, and another single Dreaming was preceded this in March. The album was recorded at Soup with producer Simon Trought, underneath the Duke of Uke shop in Brick Lane. TDOA writer Amy McCarthy helps to explain why they make our toes do a happy dance.
TDOA: Your songs are so wonderfully constructed. Do they generally start with a single guitar or vocal melody or are they the result of something that comes from the group writing together?
EM: Thanks! The way it normally works is that I will take a complete song written on uke to the boys, and then we will work on the arrangement together. Everybody writes their own parts, although sometimes I’ve taken the song to Paul first so he can work out his often quite complicated guitar parts. They don’t really become proper songs until we’ve played them together as a group. That’s when they start to feel like Allo Darlin’ songs.
TDOA: We recently interviewed Amelia Fletcher regarding Tender Trap. Elizabeth, can you talk about working with Amelia and how it has influenced your writing with Allo Darlin’?
EM: Well, I wouldn’t say playing with Amelia has influenced my songwriting as much as she personally has. I think we have quite different styles of songwriting, although people often put us together because we play together. I think since I’ve started playing in Tender Trap I’ve learned how to sing out more, mainly so I can hear myself over the guitar! Amelia is a very inspiring person and I love being around her.
TDOA: Great reviews in Pitchfork, the BBC and seemingly everywhere. Do you put much stock in reviews and could it ever impact your writing? Because you’re having some success, do you dare venture from the musical path you’ve begun?
EM: We’ve had plenty of bad reviews too! I stopped reading them after Darren Hayman told me to either read all of them or read none of them. I guess there’s some good things to take from reviews but I try not to pay attention – I’m too sensitive! We’re really looking forward to making the second album though and to making it as good as we possibly can.
TDOA: Do you know if Henry Rollins have ever reacted to the song, “Henry Rollins Don’t Dance”?
EM: No I don’t know! I very much doubt it though. I’m terrified at the thought he might ever hear it.
TDOA: The cover of “I Wanna Be Sedated” is one of the most unique I’ve ever heard – where did the idea for that come from?
EM: Thanks. Well I recorded that at my parents house on the Queensland coast, just into the computer. I’d been asked to do a cover for this indie pop Ramones Tribute compilcation. I’d just found this cool instrument called a Mandobird in the old music shop in my little hometown. I found it quite an inspiring little instrument and Marianthi (who runs the label that was releasing the compilation) wanted it quite quickly, so I just did it the only way I could really. I think it’s kind of sad song, when you know about Joey’s OCD and all that. I think it’s nice to hear new meanings in songs when they’re played differently from the original. That compilation has just been released, by the way.
TDOA: I listened to “Heartbeat Chilli.” I noticed that Johnny Cash’s “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine…” is repeated throughout. What made you choose that line?
EM: Well I wrote that song two years ago, so writing the song is a little hazy to me. I remember writing it in an afternoon. I’m a big Johnny Cash fan and I think that line always shone brightly to me. It’s funny, when I write songs I’m almost in a dream, and I can’t really remember the process very well.
TDOA: The single released in March, Dreaming, – who’s singing on the track with Elizabeth?
EM: That’s Monster Bobby. He’s a friend of ours and an amazing songwriter – he has his own project called Monster Bobby. He also plays guitar in the Pipettes, if you know them.
TDOA: In interviews you’ve referenced being influenced by The Maytals and reggae. Can you talk about how that is reflected in your music?
EM: It’s funny, I used to listen to indie pop all the time but now I like to listen to a lot of old reggae and surf and blues music. I guess because it’s so different from what we do and I just like the way it sounds. I think you can hear it in some songs – like If Loneliness Was Art. We call that song The Reggae Song to ourselves…
TDOA: How did you like playing at South By Southwest, this year? Do you think there continues to be value for bands to come over to the U.S. to play festivals like SXSW and CMJ or has the internet made it easier to be “noticed”.
EM: It was pretty cool but also kind of overwhelming. We’re really not into the whole “music biz” thing, actually we find it kind of disgusting, and SXSW is full of people who are into “networking”. We had most fun when we played things outside of the festival, like our friend Michael’s Waterloo Cycles shop and the Red House Pizzeria. Playing for pizza is gold!
I think there’s value for certain types of bands to play these kind of things, but really I don’t think music PR people are ever going to be into bands like us, we’re too difficult to characterise and we’re basically not interested in being cool. We like to play for real people, without press badges on, who are there for the music! People like us! Music dorks!
TDOA: Any plans to come back to the U.S. in 2010?
EM: Yes! In October – the album is being released in the States then and we’re plotting a East/West tour – we can’t wait! Look out New Jersey house parties – we’re coming back!
See them live!
Aug 21 2010 The Portland Arms Cambridge, Cambridge, UNITED KINGDOM
Aug 22 2010 Acoustic solo show at The Hangover Lounge at the Lexington Kings Cross, London, UNITED KINGDOM
Aug 25 2010 Proud Camden Town, London, UNITED KINGDOM
Sep 5 2010 Wasserturm Berlin, GERMANY
Sep 9 2010 End of the Road Festival Dorset, UNITED KINGDOM
Sep 10 2010 End of the Road Festival North Dorset, Dorset, UNITED KINGDOM
Sep 17 2010 The Red House Sheffield, UNITED KINGDOM
Sep 18 2010 The Deaf Institute Manchester, Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM
Sep 25 2010 Bunker’s Hill Nottingham, Nottingham, UNITED KINGDOM
Oct 1 2010 Magic Kids/Allo Darlin at Barfly Camden London, UNITED KINGDOM