Indietracks interview #20: The Understudies

It’s now just over a week the festival opens its gates! Hopefully you’ve now booked those travel tickets, blagged the Friday off work, and found somewhere to sleep (not forgetting our handy accommodation quiz of course). So you can now sit back and relax as we continue to get you better acquainted with some of this year’s line-up.

The Understudies are Brian, Bree, Graeme and Kris; a London collective, by way of Scotland, who make the kind of dreamy indiepop that Felt peddled in their prime, tinged with a caustic wit last seen dribbling from Luke Haines’ mouth. The band released a single, Flicknives, on Cloudberry Records which was described by Indie MP3 as follows: “”If you have ever fallen for bands like The Magnetic Fields, Camera Obscura and Butcher Boy – you’ll be right at home with The Understudies and their beautifully presented indiepop. ‘Flicknives’ is one of those pop songs that manages to drill itself into your brain – making itself comfortable and refusing to leave – it’s fabulous little song and one I can’t stop listening to. They’re a cracking little band”


Graeme and Bree have kindly popped by to answer a few questions:
Hi, tell us a bit about yourselves…

Graeme: The Understudies are Anglo-Scottish melodic indie pop, we’re still unsure if twee is an insult. Bree does have a stuffed fox but the rest of us fantasise about being in Grinderman, we have a glock but Brian has a big muff. Our influences go from Arab Strap to Sixties girl groups to Scott Walker, and Brian likes Guns and Roses but we don’t talk about that.
Bree: Graeme and I met working in a bookshop, actually that’s a bit of a Rock Family Tree story as there are three other people playing this year’s Indietracks who have worked there too, bizarre! A railway-related Understudies fact is that singer Brian works on South-West trains when he’s not being a quiffed rock god, so if any of the steam train drivers need a hand…..maybe not a good idea after too much fizzy pop though. To sum up, I think that if The Understudies were a song we’d probably be The Rubettes by The Auteurs.

What music are you enjoying at the moment?

Bree: Some of the bands I’m enjoying at the moment have ended up playing Indietracks, which is really exciting for me, like Cats on Fire and Wake the President. I’ve also just bought The Leisure Society, Grizzly Bear and Jarvis’ new album. I have to have a physical copy, I’ve never downloaded anything in my life, I can’t bear not having an inlay card to obsess over.

Do any band members have any particular skills, hobbies or claims to fame you wish to share?


Bree:

I ended up joining Aberfeldy a few years ago when the girls in the band left. I helped them out with some summer festivals in Scotland but, what with me living in London, logistics meant that it wasn’t to be. I was a massive fan so it felt very odd but I had an amazing time. It’s always funny when I hear Summer’s Gone on that bingo advert now….

Graeme: Many years ago I once went on holiday to France with a group of people including Eddie Izzard. I chronically name dropped him for years afterwards until one day I saw him walking towards me down the street, I ran into a nearby hat shop because I was scared he would or maybe wouldn’t recognise me. He followed me in and started looking at trilbys. I bravely looked at some bowlers for ten minutes. Moral: never go on holiday with your heroes.

What attracted you to play the Indietracks festival?


Bree: Indie pop and steam trains, are you kidding?! We love the sentiment behind the whole thing as well, it just seems really down-to-earth. There are so many great bands out there who don’t get the exposure they deserve and not everyone wants to go and not-quite-see The Killers whilst being crushed and sodden. Brian got in contact last year and we nearly ended up playing but missed out. I was having kittens when we were asked to play this year, I still can’t believe it. It’s going to be an amazing weekend!