Reaching The Sunny State

An interview with Boys Forever

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by sammy maine

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Turning 30 can be a daunting prospect. Whilst most of us will simply question our existence and seemingly speedy aging in pre-sleep worries, Patrick Doyle decided to record his first solo album. He’s been in a bunch of bands before – namely Veronica Falls – but has never gone it alone and with the big 3-0 around the corner, he decided it was now or never. “I was quite aware that I was turning 30 in June of last year and I wanted to do the record before; that was my deadline,” he explains. “I don’t know why. Maybe I thought something insane was going to happen once I turned 30 – like I was going to forget how to play music or something.”

The solo project is Boys Forever, with the self-titled debut as sunny as it is cynical. It looks at life through a lens of self-discovery; a relatable quip at the stuff that gets us down but with a premeditated balance of both light and dark. Growing up in the Scottish Highlands, Doyle first learnt to play music through his older brother, sneaking into his bedroom and secretly borrowing his electric guitar. His brother also got him into the usual suspects – The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian – but it was his psychics teacher at school that really made an impact. “She got wind of the fact that I was into music from Glasgow and basically introduced me to loads of music,” Doyle remembers. “Every week she would bring in a new CD; a Yo La Tengo record or a Pastels record and stuff that like. I mean, I was on the internet at that age but it wasn’t as easy to get hold of stuff like that – it really changed everything for me.”

His love of Glaswegian bands soon led him to the indie club nights of the city. Surrounded by the music he had fallen in love with, Doyle soon became frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm for the music scene in his home town. “I knew then that Glasgow was where it’s at,” he says. “I went to one club night religiously from the age of 16; I remember being scared that I wouldn’t get in every time,” he explains, before adding, “I learnt a lot about music there.”

With the recent #indieamnesty confessions, I probe Doyle for any of his own. “I don’t know about it being indie but I went to a Girls Aloud signing,” he laughs. “I took a copy of Love Machine on picture disk with me and I remember I was in the queue and there was this guy in front of me and he was a big guy and he had this crazy looking brown parcel, taped up. He got to the front and Cheryl Cole was like “Oh, thanks, we love getting presents” and he just turned around to her and said “It’s not for you! It’s for Nadine!” and he slammed it on the table in front of Nadine. Security just took him out and chucked the package away!”

His love of indie clubs soon led him to move to Glasgow and later New York. Doyle then found himself in London and like a lot of first-timers, he found the first year pretty tough. Renting out the attic room of an older woman’s Victorian house, he struggled to adjust from the familiar to an almost non-existent music scene in Seven Sisters. “I mean there’s a lot more happening there nowadays but at the time, there was nothing at all. It was quite terrifying,” he says. “A few months in, I got attacked in the street and got my laptop stolen. It was horrible. But then I started making music; it’s all about finding your area and your local scene. Coming from somewhere like Glasgow where everyone knows each other and you bump into people constantly, it was a bit bizarre at first and I felt really lonely; somehow I persevered. [London] either works or it doesn’t. Sometimes you just have to be patient.”

Finding solace in bands meant that after their demise, Doyle found himself in need of a new project. He began writing “for practise,” never expecting anyone to hear these Boys Forever songs, let alone release the album. To his surprise, they were picked up by Amour Foo – “Bent music for bent people” – with Doyle travelling to California to record with Andrew Schubert at Golden Beat studios in Los Angeles in April of last year. Reaching the sunny state meant that the production side of things couldn’t be further from their melancholic construction in the depths of London’s cruel winter. However, thanks to Schubert’s working methods, they managed to capture the dark, recording only at night.

“We had never met before,” Doyle continues. “He’s also the only person that works in the studio and it’s not even a studio in the sense where you go in and there’s different rooms. You go in and it’s one room. It was me and [Andrew] in this little box.” The pair would start recording at four in the afternoon, working through until about six in the morning. “To go from not knowing someone to then suddenly spending four days in a row with, only them, in those hours, it’s probably one of the most intense things I’ve ever done,” Doyle says. ”And I was also jet lagged and we were drinking most of the time, doing drugs, so it was kind of crazy. When I think of it, I can’t really remember it specifically because it was kind of a blur but it was really fun. Oh, and the studio’s got a really nice tape machine that used to belong to 2Pac. Which is nice if you want that vibe!”

Doyle describes their relationship as “an entire friendship condensed into four days”, only able to escape each other for a few minutes if they ever became frustrated. In these brief periods of solitude, Doyle would Skype his boyfriend Mark who also happens to collaborate on the Boys Forever artwork – the cover art, in-lays and merchandise all have a strong direction in terms of their creative endeavours, something which Doyle finds important concerning the output of a new musical project. “I find it more surprising when bands don’t want to do the art direction side of it because I feel like if you’ve gone to the effort of writing the songs and recording them, it would be really weird to hand that side of things over,” he says. “Surely that’s easier than trying to get someone else to get on board with where you’ve been all through this whole record. I feel like that would be stranger so yeah, it was always kind of a given to work with Mark.”

The pair have always experimented with marbling at home, producing colourful screenprints when one day, the album cover just happened to come about. “We were just trying things out and the album cover happened really quickly after I got back from California. So in a way it was easy because we were like, that looks like an album cover so we had an album cover!”

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Art isn’t the only thing that the pair share a passion of – if you head to Boys Forever’s Instagram or tumblr, you’ll find a few homages to Gilmore Girls’ favourite Grandma, Emily Gilmore. Doyle admits they’re both rewatching the series thanks to Netflix putting every season up ahead of its reboot – “I think this is the sixth time I’ve seen it from one to seven. It’s amazing,” he smiles. “Every time I watch it, I get something new, there’s so many different references.” Doyle then dives into one of his own theories, “You know Rory goes to school called Chilton? Well, they play a lot of Big Star in it and I was trying to work out if the school was named after Alex Chilton which would be an even cooler thing to add to the Gilmore Girls. I’ve got a lot of time for that show.”

In-between Gilmore Girls catch-ups, Doyle is already mid-way through the demos for Boys Forever album number two. Finishing just over half, I ask whether there’s anything he’s learnt from this debut that he’s bringing forward for its follow-up. “I’m not going to chain smoke for three days before I record vocals!” he laughs. “I smoked so much because I was so stressed that by the time we got to the first song to do vocals, I went to sing it and completely lost my voice. Me and Andrew had to go to a supermarket and get some throat coat because it had just gone completely and we had like, twelve hours to do all the vocals for the whole record.”

Despite smokers cough setbacks – Doyle is now 6 months cigarette-free – did album number one turn out how he’d hoped? “I basically didn’t really have much criteria apart from I wanted it to sound like it was a band playing in a room. I want it to feel summery and I just want it to be an uplifting record,” he says, before adding. “I’d really like people to feel better for listening to it.”

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Boys Forever self-titled debut is released on Friday, via Amour Foo

Pre-order it here

Live Dates:

27th Sept – The Shacklewell Arms, London
28th Sept – Headrow House, Leeds
29th Sept – Eagle Inn, Manchester
30th Sept – Mono, Glasgow

facebook.com/boysforeverandever

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