There has always been something beautifully modest about Field Music. Over the past decade they’ve seemingly gone about their business in an almost reticent way; quietly and assuredly recording the songs and records that they want to make, never once pondering whether they were going about things in ‘the right way‘. Which, of course, is absolutely the way it should be and is also what gives the band such inherent charm. Thankfully for us, the band mostly make correct decisions. This years Plumb was a stunning addition to their expanding collection of LP’s – as interesting and introspective as they’ve ever been.
The record was short-listed for this years Mercury music prize; an award that all artists strive for, right? Well, yes and no. We caught up with David Brewis to find out his reaction to it all…
Good day Sir. How are you coping with the sudden shift into Autumn?
And good day to you! Autumn is working out fine for me. Every season has its positives.
Are you a Summer or Winter person?
Like I say, every season has its positives. We’ve missed quite a bit of the last few summers, hunkered down in our mostly windowless studio making records which we then tour in the darkest depths of January and February.
Any specific records you tend to pull out at this time of year?
Not really, although there is a possibility we’ll start singing ‘Autumn Days’ in the van at some point.
Now that the dust has settled on the Mercury nomination, how do you feel about it all?
Pleased, confused, conflicted. The prospect of a lot more people having the chance to discover our music is a very positive thing as is the thought that there’s a panel of bona fide music devotees who think that our album is worth sticking their necks out for. However, we’ve spent so long avoiding the music industry, being confronted by its machinations is a little bit bewildering. Everything and everyone is telling us that now is the perfect time to spend a load of money we don’t have but the evidence that that is a good idea seems pretty thin. DIY forever.
It must have been a crazy couple of days when the names were announced?
Fortunately for me, I was on holiday in Iceland. Me and my wife had an amusing time watching the tweets and texts roll in and then watching or listening to Peter’s moderately-oiled interviews.
Are you pleased with how Plumb turned out and are there any tweaks you would make now you can look back on it?
It was pretty much the album we were trying to make. There are lots of things we wouldn’t do if we were making an album now but as a snapshot of those few months, it seems pretty honest and complete.
Why do you think Plumb in particular has garnered the attention that is has?
I know Peter thinks it’s probably the best album we’ve done but I think the extra attention is mostly just a result of longevity. Because we’ve never been widely-hyped it’s taken people a while to find us and get a handle on what we do.
Upon reflection the record is more downcast than first appeared. Was that part of the plan when you made the record or did it come out naturally?
I think of all of our records as being quite down and melancholy. The description of us as chirpy has never made any sense to me. Most of our songs are at some level about confusion and alienation but because we don’t couch it in the doomy, reverb-heavy cliches of angst-y music, sometimes the innate sadness of the songs passes people by
Have you written any new material since finishing the record? If so, how is it sounding?
I’m sure Peter will have a few pieces of music floating around. I have very little. I really struggle to write when we’re touring. I have far too much to do and have hardly any time on my own. The few snippets I have appear to be aiming squarely at Justin Timberlake but with lyrics about confusion and alienation rather than about how sexy I am.
Have you thought about the next record and where you might like to take things?
I can’t speak for Peter but at the moment, I’m not sure I’m going to make any more music for public consumption, at least not for a while. Ask me again in a year’s time.
You’ve never seemingly done anything to chase the limelight – have you thought about how winning the prize might affect the band in terms of the notoriety that would come with it?
Peter is a little bit worried that there’d be a huge backlash if we were to win, and I’m sure there would be a lot of raised eyebrows. I honestly don’t see there being a huge untapped audience for what we do so it’d probably be swiftly forgotten and be put down as a Mercury aberration. We’ll never, ever be crowd-pleasers and we’ll always strive to avoid making creative decisions for commercial reasons. We’re never going to employ big-name producers or hire a stylist. To be honest, I can’t even see me sharing the driving.
You’ve been quite open about the (lack of) money you make from the band. Have you allowed yourselves to think what the £20,000 would be spent on?
Me and Peter struggle to agree on spending a couple of hundred quid on new drum heads and guitar strings so I think it’s best we don’t dwell on a hypothetical of that scale.
The band tour this week and you can catch them at the following places;
17th October, Electric Ballroom, London
18th October, The Haunt, Brighton
19th October, Komedia, Bath
20th October, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
2nd November, The Cluny, Newcastle
Interview by Tom Johnson