About The Zutons
The Zutons might have officially got together in the spring of 2002, but this is where the story really starts. 2004 will see the release of their spectacular debut album Who Killed The Zutons? It’s an eclectic, carnival of brilliance that will finally establish their unique identity for all to see. As their singer/guitarist – the 23 year-old David McCabe – points out this is the real sound of The Zutons.
“We always wanted to be like Sly And The Family Stone or Talking Heads or Devo,” he explains. “We wanted to cross jazz with funk, and soul with country. We just wanted to mix everything together and get every angle on it and finally we’ve got there.
“About six months ago, I started writing much better songs. I wasn’t just trying to be crazy all the time. I tried to simplify everything and then we found where we wanted to be. We got into this whole soul-funk-voodoo vibe because we were listening to the likes of Dr John. We just suddenly realised what made us exciting.”
It’s fair to say that this epiphany has reshaped the way The Zutons think and the way people will think about them. When they first formed back in 2002 (McCabe was initially joined by Boyan Chowdhury on guitar, Sean Payne on drums and Russell Pritchard on bass, before they later added Abi Harding on saxophone), they suffered as a result of the media frenzy focused on a re-emergent Liverpool scene at that point dominated by The Coral.
“I think before people thought we were just like The Coral but not as good,” argues McCabe with refreshing candour. “It was a fucking pain in the arse for us because we’d only been together for six months and we didn’t really have a clue. Now we know exactly what we want to do, and it’s like a fresh start.”
Their initial releases (their debut single – Devil’s Deal – appeared in September 2002 and was followed the following May by Creepin’ An’ A Crawlin) were very much the sound of a band finding their way, and despite the positive press response the band knew that they needed to dig deeper and forge a more distinctive sound based on their wildly diverse influences. To that end, the latter half of 2003 was spent in seclusion, writing and recording (the sessions taking place at RAK Studios in London with Ian Broudie in the producer’s chair). The first results of that can be heard this January with the release of a single called Pressure Point. A dark, New Orleans-flavoured soul classic that – according to McCabe – is about “that first 10 minutes when you get home from work and want to kill everybody”, it’s a song that forcefully introduces the new Zutons’ aesthetic.
“I guess another song on the record called You Will, You Won’t are the ones that really nail our sound,” says McCabe. “They’re typical Zutons. I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff like Dexy’s and Madness recently and that’s the way it’s gone. Having said that we all wanted to make a modern-sounding record as well. All that ’60s stuff does our heads in a bit.”
As well as the songs that introduce this sound, however, there’s another strand at work on the album that encompasses the aforementioned Devo/Talking Heads angle.
“Long Time Coming and Dirty Dancehall are where that comes out,” agrees McCabe. “Those two almost head towards that punk-funk kind of sound. My ma’ always used to have Talking Heads on when I was a kid. I remember she had the ‘Stop Making Sense’ video and I remember thinking how cool they looked on stage.”
It’s this total overhaul of the band that’s so startling. Their genius take on the last 40 years of musical history is filtered through their own weirdly skewed outlook. McCabe, though, is quick to point out that it’s not an over-intellectualized approach to being in a band.
“No way,” he laughs. “Basically, we just want to be the next, modern soul band with trippy guitars. It’s as simple as that.”
When you hear Who Killed The Zutons?, you’ll know exactly what he means. Without question, it’s going to be one of the revelations of 2004.
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