Record Overplayed
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Athlete interview | Stockton Georgian | March 2003

They Got The Style

Athlete interview by Drew

It’s a cloudless spring evening and I am sitting in one of the most bizarre little paved squares I have seen. It looks like something out of Middle-earth, and feels like it should be in the Arctic Circle. I’m in Green Dragon Yard in Stockton, and opposite me shivers two member of Athlete. In a few hours they will go on to play one of the best gigs I have witnessed in a long time, but right now I want to know about their new album, Vehicles and Animals.

"It’s ten songs of genius," grins bassist Carey Willets, with the telltale signs of a Manchester accent hiding behind his South London vowels. "I think, because of the way we wrote it, not one song sounds the same, but they all still sound like us. It has a really nice flow throughout the album. I think there’s enough quirky little twists and turns to keep people interested, and hopefully it will freak a few people out."

"The first thing we ever put out was an EP last March," adds keyboard player and general whiz kid Tim Wanstall. He’s wearing what looks like his Granddads’ golfing jumper and a cap that, according to the name across the front, belongs to someone called Debbie. "It’s been a bit unusual in that rather than signing the deal and recording an album straight away, we’ve done a few weeks touring, then had a little writing session, recorded some stuff, and done that whole process about 3 or 4 times throughout the year."

"It was good because we got used to working and writing under the pressure of having to tour." says Carey "In terms of the actual length of writing the album, it’s not been a really long time. It’s been strange in that we’ve had to put singles out as we were writing it.

"All four of us write pretty equally," he adds, "There are four sets of individual influences, which is why the influences are so diverse." He’s not wrong. The album sounds like nothing else being released at the moment. "We could call ourselves The Athlete and put some leather jackets on, and some ripped jeans maybe. People do find it difficult not to put you in a box. There’s the obvious influences of Grandaddy, Pavement, Flaming Lips, Super Furry Animals and the Beta Band, but it goes on to stuff like Stevie Wonder and old 70s soul, funk and even hip-hop. I think everyone has slightly different influences and it all ends up in each song in one way or another."

"I’m sure some of the bands on the current garage rock scene will prove themselves to be bigger than the scene," adds the diplomatic Tim. "I think Blur is a brilliant example of what we’d hope to look back on in a few years and be like. They have proved that they are bigger than a Britpop band. We’ve never wanted to be a band that is defined as being part of a particular scene. Some of the current garage rock bands are only popular because of the sound they’ve got, and not necessarily because they’re good bands. We’re quite pleased that we don’t fit into any kind of pocket."

Thanks to Athlete and to Mike at Infected. Vehicles and Animals is due for release on the 7th of April.

 

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