|Giles Van Lane and Terence Warville - Slam Cartel - Interview Exclusive|
|Written by Tazz Stander|
|Wednesday, 31 August 2011 05:00|
I first heard of Slam Cartel at Sonisphere about 2.4 seconds before they were thrust in front of my roving microphone in what turned out to be a great, yet uninformative, interview that you can see here. At that point I was also given a copy of the band's debut album, 'Handful of Dreams' to listen to. Little did I know that this album would be a defining listening moment for me, so picking myself up and dusting myself off, I decided that I needed to revisit these boys in the hopes of finding out a hell of a lot more than what I was garnering out of their album.
Amidst the chaos of the August Riots I met up with Terence Warville and Giles Van Lane in a bar safely up on the 15th floor in the middle of the West End. Quietly I began to unravel what I deemed to be a band that needs a lot of attention - unassuming from the outset it struck me how humble these two incredible musicians are. Doing things their way they've certainly put their mark on my life and they're sure to do the same to you. Read on to discover the REAL Slam Cartel
With the release of 'Handful of Dreams' comes a mixed bag of responses from the media. I, like many of them, recognise the sheer brilliance of your musicianship collectively as a band but am finding it hard to pigeonhole your sound. If I were to push you for your own appraisal on this album, what would your response be?
Terry: Why do people need to pigeonhole sound? When writing and recording the album, for me personally, I didn't listen to music for a good couple of years and before that, I didn't have that much interest in it because of my previous experience in the music business; being signed to Geffen Records - doing well, getting the 'big' deal and getting to do the whole Hollywood thing. Because of the music business, I felt a bit jaded and a bit disappointed because they didn't know if they wanted to keep us or let us go.
Was this with Stimulator?
Terence: Yes, with Billy Morrison. I didn't listen to music so what was written by me only has my own take on my early influences, which were The Pistol and The Clash. It probably sounds nothing like them but when I write music or lyrics, it's me behind the songs. I didn't know what I was going to write until I was writing. (Laughing)
Someone was willing to type it for me but we were lucky enough to have some good people working with us and the songs came and they came quickly. My appraisal for it is that, I don't compare it to anything, it came from within. Now when I listen to the songs I can identify that it sounds a bit like other bands but that's only because people feel the need to compare.
Now that I've heard the album after being handed it at Sonisphere and had been given a 2 second run down on you where Billy Morrison's name was thrown in, Russell Brand's name was thrown in; Now that I've listened to it, I can almost understand with Giles' vocals what makes it, for want of a better words, directionless - it goes in every direction but I think it does show what brilliant musicians you all are and possibly where you could go for the next album.
Terence: Absolutely. We can see what happens if there is a next one.
Talking about the phenomenal direction that you've branched out in, you've covered Talking Heads, 'Once In A Lifetime' so well that it could be mistaken for a 21st Century song. Why this song when apart from a diabolical version by The Pixies, it's never been covered in an alternative genre before?
Terence: That song was called 'She's Into Something'. Giles and I wrote it in Ibiza when we were working out there. We weren't totally happy with it as we wanted it to have that Hendrix style talking in it ... 'You might find yourself ....' and it just sort of fitted so well. Luckily enough the chorus fitted with 'Once In A Lifetime'. I was a fan of the song when it first came out - David Byrnes' energy at his live shows was incredible. We could have been taking a risk with it but it's on there and it's consistent with the other songs.
I somehow think that your younger generation fans that aren't au fait with Talking Heads will think that it is one of your own songs.
Giles: I've had younger kids thinking that it is our song already. When we were recording the songs we were mucking about with our song and changing the lyrics and it just worked so well.
Terence: We were thinking about doing a cover, something like the Bee Gees but this is what we ended up with instead. Going back to the direction that the album goes in, you can hear that it's very consistent and I think that that is enough for an album. For me the songs have to be catchy, the hooks and the riffs have to be good and who doesn't like singing along to songs?
I've got to say, the first songs I listen to when heading out my flat of a morning, since Sonisphere, have been 'Once in a Lifetime' followed by 'Breathe'.
Terence: (Laughing) We got the order right then?
Terry you've kinda shot down my next question so Giles, musically your songs portray a multitude of bands as influences. Who would you most liken yourselves to and what exactly has been so inspiring about them?
Giles: It's hard for me to say because I like lots of different bands but at Terry said, when we recorded the album, I didn't' listen to anything else because you can't have your mind poisoned. Not in a bad way but when you're working on a project, you have to be caged in or walled in to do what you have to do to make it good. If you start listening to other bands, you can quite easily be influenced by what they're doing instead. I think that is why it's come out the way it has.
Terence: Absolutely. I think because I've recorded a big budget album and hearing it played on KROQ in the States, comparing what we've done to what's on the radio and it just puts a block on you.
That must be so hard. I couldn't imagine my life without music.
Terence: Normally it would be but I was pretty jaded and I took some time out.
That's good, look what you've done.
Terence: That's right ... 'Oh my God, what have I done' (laughing)
As a songwriter, where do you draw on inspiration from? Your song 'Breathe', lyrically is paying thanks yet musically it rips shreds through the hardest of hearts.
Terence: As one of the songwriters in the band, I write about a lot of my own internal push and pull, the devil and the angel; the truth of my life. I would like to say it's all Rock 'n' Roll but that's not the truth - the songs are about normal life so that people like yourself can identify with it. Even though it's probably something different happening in your life to what happened in my life. I like to get in touch with people emotions.
Equally as important is 'Handful of Dreams' which has a riff breakdown that climbs at the same pace as the most earth shattering orgasm and culminating in a like for like scream.
Giles: (Laughing) I know after a gig, I do have to change my pants.
Thankfully songs are always open to personal interpretation but what for you does this song mean?
Terence: It's just a handful of dreams. Giles, what's it to you?
Giles: It means a handful of dreams - we all have dreams. It happens time and time again, when I'm singing it, I'm locked in it; it's a story and something I believe to be believable.
I was quite intrigued when I realised there are 6 members in Slam Cartel. Where does the difference in dynamic come from say a band with 3 or 4 members, which covers most standard rock bands to Slam Cartel's 6 members?
Terence: I've always liked 2 guitar players in a band dating back to Alice Cooper's live shows with 2 guitarists. You've got to have your bass player and drummer and I also like keyboards so we've brought all that together. It's all about light and shading the songs with the keyboards. We put whatever a song needs, into it and we accommodate it in the live shows too.
'Sundown' is being played on Planet Rock's 'A' List this week. Why was this track chosen and what does this mean to Slam Cartel by way of a good follow up to playing Sonisphere?
Terence: It was amazing and was played between Steppenwolf's 'Born to be Wild', Judas Priest's 'Breaking the Law' and David Bowie's 'The Gean Jeanie'. For the single release, we had to make a decision. It was between 'Wishing Eye', which is catchy, but the beginning is quite heavy so some stations wouldn't get past it. With 'Sundown' there is a gradually catchy build up with a lot of atmosphere and feeling to it.
Finally, what's next for Slam Cartel to keep the momentum at full pace?
Terence: We're playing the Trout Festival, probably on a few pallets with someone shining a light on us. We're in the process of finding an agent to book us some decent shows. We haven't booked loads of shows, as we didn't know if there was going to be any call for it.
Guys, thank you both so much.
Terence: Thank you Tazz and thank you Uber Rock for the coverage.