06th Aug2012

Listen and Love: The Early Morning Satellites

by Todd

As you can imagine, we get quite a few songs sent to us by bands, labels, aunts, uncles, etc….. The percentage of delicious music in this collection is rather small. But when The Early Morning Satellites reached out to us, with their brilliant new Fantasist EP, we swooned. After listening to their wonderful take on psych rock, it was no surprise to find that they’ve appeard on a Northern Star Records compilation, played a show with The Telescopes and aspire to play the Austin Psych Fest. Convinced yet? Take a listen while you read our interview with singer/guitarist Nick Donnelly.

TDOA: Tell us a bit about the background of the band. We know that you’ve got a couple of EP’s, dating back to June 2001, but tell us about how you guys met.

ND: We’ve been playing together since late 2009; although we had known each other for a number of years before then. David [Bass] and Alan [Drums] had been playing in an outfit called ‘The Suspects’; whilst Gary [Guitar] and I had also been playing together. Musically, it was very different to what we’re doing now. We formed The Early Morning Satellites after The Suspects had ended and moved into a more shoegaze/psychedelic sound. We released our first E.P, ‘Taste It And See’ back in June 2011, and have released two download only singles since then.

TDOA: One of the things that drew us to you, is your handling of the vocals within the mix. While we hear some shoegaze and krautrock influences, the vocals are uncharacteristically clean and up front. Was this a conscious decision and is it reflected in your live shows, as well?

ND: Initially it wasn’t a conscious decision; we had planned on recording the vocals with a lot of effects. We did this on the track, Counting Seasons and it sounded perfect. With the other songs we lost some of the clarity of the lyrics so we kept the vocals higher in the mix. We do this for our live shows and it works really well.

TDOA The logical conclusion we draw, is that you actually care about your lyrics and intend for them to be heard. Given that, can you talk about what writers, musicians, live experiences have influenced your lyrics?

ND: Lyrics are very important to us; it’s not enough to have the surreal musical landscape we create paired with a half baked idea for a song. It has to be deeper than that. A lot of common themes expressed in our work are to do with existentialist, surrealist and absurdist chains of thought. Much of Albert Camus’s writing has been a driving influence on us.

I’m also interested in trying to express the subconscious through lyrics; an idea I picked up from Andre Breton’s, ‘Surrealist Manifesto’. I had been watching a lot of 24 hour news coverage and began to feel disillusioned with what I was watching. The images on the screen appeared false; so I wrote Cape Canaveral with the intent of finding a resolve between, dream and reality.

With respect to contemporary musicians; Trish Keenan has perhaps had the most profound effect on me as a writer. There’s an extraordinary amount of poetic beauty in her lyrics; they just seem to resonate true with me.

TDOA: Can you talk about your individual musical interests and how they impact the sound of your band?

ND: We like all kinds of genres. I’ve been listening a lot of film score just now; particularly from the Czech new-wave era. The soundtrack to Sedmikrasky (Daisies) by Jiří Šlitr & Jiří Šust has had me thinking a lot about minimalism in music. I’ve been experimenting with ways of incorporating it into our own work. Lubos Fiser’s score to Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders is fantastic too; it’s full of violent orchestral strings and lush harmonies.

We’ve been listening to a lot of folk music; I always seem to turn to Leonard Cohen. He’s one of the finest songwriters of all time. Really been digging Colour Green by Sibylle Baier too, it’s such an incredible record.

Gary recently picked up an Acid House compilation down in Camden that’s full of old school mixes. I love the energy from all those old House numbers. I’ve got a vintage Roland 606 drum machine I’ve been using to make some interesting sounds. I ran it through a delay and some reverse reverb which gave me a really odd rhythmic sound with the punch of an Acid House beat. I’m not sure how I should use it yet but it’s all about experimentation.

TDOA: You have appeared on a Northern Star Records compilation and done a show with one of our old favorites, The Telescopes. Can you tell us about the show you did with The Telescopes and what is was like to see this legendary band playing live?

ND: That was one of the best shows we’ve played; the whole atmosphere down there was fantastic. Scott [Causer], who runs Northern Star knows how to put on a good show. Seeing The Telescopes play was incredible, but it wasn’t just them that made the night. The Nova Saints and The Lost Rivers – both on the Northern Star books – blew us away. The psychedelic vibes were in full flow, as were the drinks. Plus there was a dog on the venue roof; what more could you want?

TDOA: Social media has become such a force in driving music, so we’d be interested to here your opinions on it. In researching your band, we noticed that other than Facebook and BandCamp, you don’t have a large social media footprint. Is this a conscious decision or are you guys just to busy making music to bother with it?

ND: Social networking is a great tool for bands; if you know how to use it. I wouldn’t say we were computer illiterate but it’s definitely something we need to improve on. We want more people to listen to our music but just find it hard to keep up to speed with any new form of social media. We just find the whole process tedious; we’d much rather be in the studio or performing live. Personally I could do without social media but I suppose we should get with the times – or get someone else to do it.

TDOA: What’s next for the band? Any plans to record a full-length? Make a video? Travel to the U.S. (please!)?

ND: Right now we’re planning out a video shoot for Cape Canaveral, we’ve got a few tour dates around Scotland coming up and we’re busy in the studio making a start on what will hopefully be our first album. No plans to come to the U.S right now although it’s something we want to do. It would be great to play the Austin Psych Fest next year but we’ll see how it goes.

For more information about the band, follow them on Facebook!

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