"The thing with us is that we're just so different. We don't sound like The White Stripes. We don't sound like Coldplay. We don't sound like anything current. We don't do it deliberately. It's just the way our music turns out. We're not like anyone else."
Engineers, London, 2004
Lots of bands claim to be different, but few actually are. Engineers, though, are definitely one of the few.
They're a group who ardently believe in the restless, symphonic power of music. They're driven forward by the same impulse that compelled Dennis Wilson to write 'Pacific Ocean Blue' or Talk Talk to forge 'Spirit Of Eden'. When so much around them is prosaic and mundane, Engineers want to create music of immense depth and scope that combines the experimental with the emotional. Or, as their guitarist and keyboard player Dan McBean rather more succinctly puts it:
"We want to turn the lights down, get stoned and then blow our heads off. We just want to please ourselves."
Engineers are a band of substance over style. A London-based four piece (Dan is joined by Simon Phipps - vocals/guitars, Mark Peters - guitars/vocals and Sweeney on drums) who've only been together since March 2003, they're inspired by everything from Brian Eno and The Cocteau Twins through to Todd Rundgren and Spiritualized. They're interested in the music they make and little else.
To that end, the band are intent on creating a live experience which matches the powerful psychedelic intensity of their music. They might have only done two gigs to date (the first a (i)Phoenix Night's(i)-style occasion in an Irish club in Chorlton, the second a more suitable affair alongside the High Llamas at the London ICA), but they know exactly what they want to achieve in the future.
"We have a guy doing visuals for our shows now," says Sweeney. "He's this mad German guy and he's got all these brilliant ideas. He's given us these Lomo cameras. They were originally the Russian's 'People's Camera'. They're really cheap and they take these really strange, sterile-looking blurred photographs. We're going to have them projected behind us. It's got to be an event when we play. Having said that, though, we don't want it to be really slick like the Flaming Lips."
At the same time as working on this, though, the band keep coming back to their music, reshaping it and honing it the whole time. The first fruits of their obsession will arrive this April with the release of a double A-sided single featuring two songs - 'Home' and 'New Horizons' on Echo. Both tracks were self-produced by the band, before being remixed by a resurgent Dave Bascombe (a man perhaps most famous for his work with Tears For Fears).
The band are also currently hard at work self-producing their debut album. Again, they're doing it themselves, holed up in a claustrophobic space in The Depot studio, North London.
"We know exactly what we want to do, so it seems pointless to let anyone else meddle with it," explains Dan.
"You've got to be able to live with every aspect of the music you've made," adds Mark. "You've got to love it so much you can keep going back to it night after night. That's why we're doing it ourselves. We know what it's got to be like."
All the signs suggest that deep in the labyrinthe corridors of The Depot, Engineers are forging their own highly original, deeply intense, utterly original sonic masterpiece. The band, however, are a little bit more circumspect.
"We've always said if more people started taking acid we'd clean up. I doubt whether that's going to happen though," sighs Sweeney, slightly sadly.
He needed worry. Engineers are different. This is a band who are going to clean up whatever happens.