Interview by Mike.
According to their Bandcamp profile, Cosines are a mathematical pop band from north London. Simon Nelson and Alice Hubley met on the London Underground after a Stereo Totale gig in 2009; two days later Simon was at Alice’s house unblocking her kitchen drain. Since then Simon has been round and put up two curtain rails, a blind and a shelf.
This unlikely meeting got them talking and once the DIY was done they started making music together, fusing metronomic pop sensibilities, 60’s grooves and Krautrock noise. Their line-up was by completed Daniel Chapman and The Late Jonny Drums, from Alice’s previous band The Loves, and Kajsa Tretow from A Smile And A Ribbon.
Cosines played their first show in April 2012 and since then have performed with Comet Gain, Seapony, The Pooh Sticks and Flowers, and also at Indietracks 2012.
They kindly agreed to field a number of questions for this blog, and it soon became clear that Alice and Dan are Indietracks stalwarts while Jonny is the joker of the band.
I know you’ve recently released a single, Commuter Love. Any sign of a long player?
Simon: Our first album is out around the time of Indietracks, actually http://shop.fikarecordings.com/album/oscillations – it took a few years in all to record it as I am an inveterate sonic tinkerer. Having access to a shared studio (www.studioklank.co.uk) is sometimes a bad thing for efficiency too. However the extra time allowed us to really craft the recordings – it definitely isn’t a bang-it-out-in-a-week type of album. We’ve tried to leave a certain amount of wonkiness in so it doesn’t sound exactly like Hall & Oates (much to Alice’s chagrin) but made sure it feels as solid and tight as we can get it.
Jonny: We banged out a new LP last week. It’s great, sounds just like Hall & Oates.
Alice: The next album is going to be a saxophone fuelled smooth rock odyssey, Simon just doesn’t know yet! The album is to be released on Fika Recordings, the same label which released our two previous singles Commuter Love and Hey Sailor Boy!, we are so indebted to Tom Fika that we made our keyboard player Kajsa go out with him.
Any special plans for when you play Indietracks this year? A sneaky cover, perhaps?
Simon: Telling you what we’re planning would spoil the surprise wouldn’t it? We could spill the beans, but then we’d have to kill you.
Jonny: I think a Krautrock-opera is on the cards.
Alice: Or our own performance of Jesus Christ Superstar with Daniel as Jesus. I can confirm we will have some special guests playing with us, but you’ll just have to come see us to find out what we’ve got planned!
Where are you all based?
Simon: Despite being from all over the place originally we all (bar Jonny) live in north and east London. Jonny sleeps on our sofas.
Jonny: I do. They’re all in my lounge. I should give them back but I like the way they smell.
What’s the furthest the band has travelled outside London? Gigwise, that is.
Simon: We played Dresden in eastern Germany in October of last year for my friend Sascha who runs a bar there (www.madness-dresden.de). I love the city as it’s full of people I’m very fond of and who know how to get very drunk and stay up all night. A thoroughly recommended holiday destination.
Jonny: I went to Brixton the other week.
Alice: We also played in Paris last year for Another Sunny Night which was a lot of fun.
You played Indietracks in 2012. Any radical departures people should be listening out for since then? Any lute solos?
Simon: Dan has started playing the gamelan, but he’s contractually obliged not to play it outside of south-east Asia. Jonny might bring an extra cymbal – that should be more than enough for the fellow geeks in the crowd.
Jonny: They’ve been trying to talk me into bringing an extra cymbal like I’m Carl Palmer or something. I may bring a new drumstick though.
Alice: No lutes or ukuleles in the band!
Have you attended Indietracks in your ‘civilian’ alter egos?
Simon: I helped Flowers out by being their dogsbody last year. I drove them about and helped when Sam broke yet another pedal by stamping it into the stage. I even wore my Motorhead t-shirt so I’d look like a proper roadie. Alice and Dan have been heavily involved with Indietracks for years so they’ve always been in the vanguard of the action. Kajsa gets to come along with her beau who runs a major record label, and Jonny comes along for the trains.
Jonny: I think I’ve played almost every year at Indietracks, but it’s getting a hassle creating new bands just so I can get in for free.
Alice: So that’s why we have to share you with so many other bands! Yes I’ve been to pretty much every single Indietracks and have been involved in the organising since 2009, this means my weekend is normally a bit hectic looking after workshop people, but it’s always a lot of fun! I’ve DJed the Sunday night for the last two years so in part was responsible for a giant conga line last year and a very unexplainable East 17 moment in 2012, I’m going to miss DJing this year, but very excited about playing again!
In many ways it’s easier to get music into people’s hands, heads and ears these days, but is there a reverse knock on that it’s more difficult to make even a small amount of money? Not only because people don’t always pay, but because there’s so much of it out there? It feels overwhelming sometimes.
Simon: I don’t know whether it’s harder to make money from music these days as I’ve never made much money from it anyway. I think the people who are really losing out are the big major labels who are coming to terms with casual listeners not buying Now compilations in supermarkets any more – people are on Spotify, Grooveshark and YouTube listening for free. Sales of vinyl and live gig takings are still going up though, so there is still money to be made if you think of music as a business. It just depends on whether you’re making music for money or for the artistic expression – the less of the former the better in my opinion.
With regard to the greater choice nowadays I think that can only be a good thing. Finding new and exciting music has always been a challenge; it’s your own personal treasure hunt – relish it! However if you get tired of the hunt then it’s still okay to listen to whatever your favourite album was when you were thirteen. You don’t have to dig deep in every pile of dusty vinyl, but if you do you might find a gem. More people should be confident in their own opinions I think.
Jonny: I actually think there’s too much music in the world. People should just stop. We’ve got enough thanks. Have a lie down instead.
Alice: If you form a band to make money then good luck to you! I kinda see music as a fun, necessary and some what expensive hobby.
What’s the largest amount of money you’ve ever found?
Simon: Nothing exciting – a tenner once. I did find an eighth in a plastic bag in the mud at Glastonbury – not sure that’d happen at Indietracks…
Jonny: Are you going to say you lost the exact same amount? Not falling for that one again.
If you could absorb one member from another band playing at Indietracks this year into your line-up, who would it be? And why?
Simon: Gruff Rhys, because his onstage banter is baffling and yet thoroughly charming. And his head is great at writing lyrics in a second language that top anything I’ve ever done.
Jonny: Is Flavor Flav playing this year? He could make sure the trains run on time.
Alice: Emily from Slum of Legs, cause she’s generally bad-ass and she would help us win the yearly Indietracks Buckfast drinking competition.
Where do Cosines sit on the serious/stupid axis of music?
Simon: Hopefully at both ends simultaneously. I think it’s ridiculous that bands have to either be one or the other; we all have a sense of humour but take the creation of music very seriously. It wouldn’t be fun otherwise would it?
Jonny: *Difficult analytic geometry question* …err, we sit at the back, flicking bits of paper at each other.
Thank you , Cosines.