Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Good Natured - Interview & Show Review

One of the more satisfying aspects of discovering new and upcoming artists these days (besides being able to hear their great music) is seeing them acknowledging the artists that came before them - those who have been an inspiration for them to make music at all.
The Good Natured are just such a band, unashamedly ticking off their influences (Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure, Aha, David Sylvian/Japan, Depeche Mode, Kate Bush - just to name a few) in interviews.
Having started out as the brainchild of the youthful and gifted songwriter/vocalist Sarah McIntosh, TGN act now as a fully formed band, with brother Hamish and long-time good friend George filling out the musical duties on bass and drums respectively.
As they work their way through another well-managed US tour - hitting prime cities New York, San Franciso and Los Angeles - Sarah and the band have been both gracious and accomodating to those seeking them out for interviews and show reviews.
I consider myself fortuante to be among those having been granted this kind of access.

Read the interview I conduced in the band's US record label's offices (Virgin / EMI / Astralwerks) - presented below:

Introducing the the band, there is frontperson Sarah, who writes sings and plays multiple instruments; Hamish plays bass and George plays the drums.
Q: Sarah, you have a new guitar I hear.

S: Yes. A fender Stratocaster electric. I’d always played acoustic guitar before, but decided to add an electric this time.

Q:  Is this your first time in New York?

S: No, we played CMJ Festival in 2010.

Q: George, I understand that you are a fan of heavy metal music. Which bands in particular?

G: All the classic ones. Metallica, Slayer, Machinehead – even Slipknot for a while. When you are an angry teenager, this music is great to vent your frustrations with.

Q: How did the band transform from what was essentially a solo project of Sarah’s to the full group of today?

S: I started writing songs about four or five years ago. When I got a few gigs, I didn’t really want to do them on my own, so I asked my brother Hamish if he could play bass with me. I then went to University and met George. From then as a three piece we jelled pretty well and became a band. Everyone brings something different to the table. A new element that makes its more interesting.

Q: When will the new record be released?

S: Our first single will be in April and the album should be out in September.

Q: Explain how “Video Voyeur” fits in with all of this.

S: That track is on the album, and we basically wanted to put it out there because he hadn’t had anything out for a while and wanted to let people know we were working on the record. It’s intended to be a taster and to get people excited.

Q: Were you surprised or excited by the success of your song “Wolves?”

S: I suppose both. That was the first song I wrote with Patrick Berger, who has produced most of the album. That was really the start of finding our sound. I think it takes a while to decide what you really like and narrow it down. When I met Patrick that’s when it came together. From then it seems to have progressed.

Q: It’s been reported that you had ‘the best time ever’ at the SXSW festival in Austin last year.

S: Yeah, we did. It was so good. It was amazing to be able to get up and do a gig – then have some food – and do another gig.

Q: What spaces did you play?

S: We played Emos and The Convention Center. We did loads, actually – at least 8 or 9 spaces.

Q: Do you think you will be playing there again this year?

Whole band: Yes, we think so. Fingers crossed.

Q: Sarah, talk about your tendency to sometimes do a walkabout out into the audience during your live performances.

S: If the stage is low enough, I’ll step off in the audience and have a little dance. It’s fun. It’s cool because people don’t expect it.

Q: BBC Radio’s Huw Stephens has been noted as an early supporter of your music.

S: The first song I wrote for The Good Natured, when I just started – I was determined to get it heard so I literally sent it to everywhere. I sent it to Radio 1 and he played it. I thought that was amazing and I felt that I wanted to really keep doing this. It definitely inspired me to keep going. It’s nice when people recognize what you are doing.

Q: There’s talk that you started out playing on your grandmother’s old keyboard. Do you still have it?

S: Yes. Some of the keys are broken now that it’s a bit old, but I love it - it’s amazing. She was going to throw it out, but I took it home instead and started writing on it.

Q: Do you come from a musical family? S: Our parents don’t actually play music, but they listened to a lot of music. Q: Like what, for instance?

S: Stuff from the 80’s like Blondie and Tears For Fears, Siouxsie & The Banshees – which definitely inspired us.

Q: I’ve heard you’ve been inspired by the lyrics of David Sylvian with his original band – Japan.

S: Yes, I think the album “Tin Drum” by Japan is really great.

 Q: What is the songwriting process like for you? Especially when working with producer. Do they help you fashion how the song will ultimately sound?

S: Yes, definitely. With Patrick – he’s been a real big inspiration and has helped my ideas come to life. You definitely have to get on with the producer you’re working with and have a really good with them. I think production is really important to the songs.

Q: How did you write “Wolves?”

S: On an acoustic guitar. It started out quite driving. As we went along we’d add different bits – we’d add a drum beat and other sounds and just build it.

Q: Video Voyeur has benefitted from a number of interesting remixes, some quite techo/dance oriented.

S: It’s always really nice for us to hear how people interpret it and make their own thing of it. Every remix is so different and that’s really inspiring.

* * * * * * * *

The impression I'm left with Sarah is one of a young person who is professionally experienced well beyond her actual years.  There is an utterly charming aspect to her combined gentle almost shyness, yet its obvious how confident and determined she is.  Mix that with a prolific songwriting ability and its easy to see why so many noteworthy music industry professionals are eager to work with her.
On to the live show experience then - and what an experience it is. Heading over to Glasslands in Brooklyn on the 17th of January, The Good Natured took to the stage at 11:00 pm. The first thing you notice about Sarah and the band is their keen sense of style. Knowing full well that the "rock show experience" is as much a visual as sound presentation, their look is a cut above most club show acts. Sarah has impeccably combined the best of Siouxsie Sioux and Robert Smith, with her own glam/gam elements that bring to mind the leggy appeal of Britsh artist Sophie Ellis Bextor.
Adding to that the genius move of going out into the audience to sing directly to the crowd - not once but twice during this show - for the songs "Be My Animal" second song in - and then and later on again during "Dancefloor" 
getting down with the fans

up close and personal

you really can't get much closer than this

well, everyone loved it

taking to electronic percussion for one song

Bassist brother Hamish plays a five string version of the instrument because, as he says "there's a a lower note that has to be gotten to"

A tight and entertaining set that leaves the audience wanting for more.

Signed posters for anyone who wanted one after the show.  (Of course I wanted one).

As I have been known to do from time to time - take a picture with the band. 

The pleasure was all mine!

Special thanks to Andy Von Pip and his great music site The Von Pip Musical Express - for his tireless efforts in making me aware of this band!

Check out Andy's stuff here:

And be sure to go and consume all things The Good Natured !


Spike said...

This group is great: her voice, the melodies, the arrangements. It renews my faith in humanity, especially the youth of today.

Ivanka said...

wow!!! first what I want to say it's her voice ... wow!! Fantastic! such an amazing sound!!! and she looks very good) also great photos, especially I love those when she goes down to sing in the crowd! that's amazing!
truly awesome interview Dave:) thanks for sharing with us!

Patricia said...

This is a wonderful interview, Dave. Great voice, great Music style, great photos. I can say love this band. I like so much "Video Voyeur" amazing song!!

DaveCromwell said...

I'm pleased to read this feature has been so well received already.

Though not all that surprises as The Good Natured are dripping with talent and great music.

Happy to spread the word about them!

Andy said...

Excellent Dave. Nice to know my support of TGN has drawn others into their world and they are getting a great reception
stateside! I've been banging TGN drum for a few years now!

If anyone else is interested they can read more below

DaveCromwell said...

Indeed. AVP's features have provided a wonderful resource for all things The Good Natured.

I'm pleased they have turned their attention back to the US for this go round.

Andy has got some great live clips of the band up on YouTube as well.

William said...

i was not aware of them before but i like them and will check them out as is often the case on your fine page

Mr Smork said...

nice piece, dave. i like your interview, but i had to have "my ears pealed", ;)
they has an interesting sound.
and i got to say her voice sometimes reminds me of Doloress O'riordon's voice.

DaveCromwell said...

William - do investigate further. This is one band that gets better and better with each new song discovery.

Mr. Smork - yes, the Cranberries is another band they have been compared to in the press. I don't think Sarah minds either. Though I think TGN have a bit more of an edge to them (which is what I really like).

Anonymous said...

Great review Dave! Loved the interview and the photo's!

DaveCromwell said...

Thanks, Anouk.

I had a feeling you would like this.

As you've been commenting on (and posting links about) them over in our Sophie Ellis Bextor forum.

So I already knew you were a fan of their music ;-)

Anonymous said...

Intriguing new entry, Dave.

The band's music is not really my cup of tea but I do hear some interesting bits here- especially the voice. Don't get me wrong, both Hamish and George are doing a really good job in their respective roles but Sarah seems to be the driving force here and her voice has a very original 'color'.
It's also nice to see the band still looking for their sound and trying many new things.

All in all- a very nice read.