To coincide with our slot at Oxjam Cardiff takeover festival BeatReview.com (who curated our stage at the Moon Club) interviewed us!
You can find the interview here below :)
Who are the echo and the always and what does everyone do
The Echo and The Always is:
Laura – vocals, guitar and kung fu lyricist
John – guitar, emo fringe and fancy hats
Deano – bass, ‘the ladies’ and fort-building
Angela – keys, trumpet and interpretive yoga
Matt – drums, guitar and cuddles
In the real world Laura, Dean and Angela all work for a substance misuse charity (drugs are bad kids), John works with special education students who apparently think he’s Jesus (stay in school kids), and Matt moonlights as an au pair for a wealthy French couple’s pug named Francesca, but that’s when he’s not running his own organic micro pig farm in the Gower (don’t talk to strangers kids).
Why the name change from Sleepy Panda Club
Like a lot of bands, we’ve gone through our share of ups and downs with members, creative differences and overall vision. We’ve been lucky to settle into this line up, and we’ve really grown as musicians and as friends. Panda was formed with a very vague and somewhat insecure identity that was somewhere between apologetic dance-pop and pretentious indie, which we quickly grew away from and became uncomfortable with. We just didn’t feel like the band that was Sleepy Panda Club and we wanted to break free of that identity, so it felt like the right time to have a fresh start. Plus, we found out that despite their immense cuteness pandas are celibate, solitary creatures and that’s not something Deano is not comfortable with.
How did the band come to be formed?
This line up really did form from the ashes of Sleepy Panda Club. Angela is the only original member of that band, which formed about three years ago during a random glitter and sugar-induced coma. Angela picked John up at uni and used the ‘I’m in a band’ line as a lame pickup, which worked and he’s been one of us for close to two years now. We were searching for a female vocalist with fierce pair of…er…ovaries and heart wrenching lyrics, so when we saw Laura play with Shadow Theory in 2011 we knew we had to have her. She joined shortly after that, and she and Angela now form what is quite likely the most awkward frontline in band history. The other half of Shadow Theory joined earlier this year, but we made him play bass to keep him in line…a legend such as him only needs four strings. The last addition was Matt, our drummer, who we didn’t even know was a drummer. He’s been our sound guy at gigs before, and he’s played guitar in other bands. It’s good to have at least one band member with some level of musical ability.
How would you describe your sound?
Tropicana Lionel Richie sunshine mixed with stale coca cola? This is always a difficult question to answer. Late 80s the Cure meets sombre Brand New with heart-felt, honest driving female vocals. We all have fairly different influences, and we write collectively so our sound ends up being layers of pretty, simple melodies. Without trying to sound pretentious, our songs are like simple indie-pop baroque symphonies. By that we don’t mean masterpieces of composition, but layers upon layers of complimenting guitar, bass, synth, trumpet and vocal melodies that dance together and play off one another.
You’re playing Oxjam Takeover Festival 7 October with some great bands, anyone you’re looking forward to seeing?
Seriously, where to start!? We’ve played with Palomino Party and Kalidephone before and loved every second of their sets, but we haven’t seen them since so it’ll be great to see them again. There are loads of other awesome bands playing the other venues too. The acoustic Method set is one that we definitely don’t want to miss. The Keys are definitely on our must-see list too. If you watch closely enough you might actually catch the soul-crushing moment when Angela becomes fully aware of her advancing years…and she’s hoping someone custom bakes her a hypoallergenic, cruelty-free organic vegetarian unicorn-shaped birthday cake.
What are your highlights so far of being in a band?
There have been loads, but most recently it would have to be playing Focus Wales 2012 and recording with Todd Campbell earlier this year. He’s an amazing producer and an all-around nice guy who managed to work wonders with our songs. We’ll be releasing a couple of those tracks in the very near future. Other highlights include band cuddles, pancake breakfasts and John’s hat.
What are your plans for the rest of 2012
Other than playing Swn? Oh, right, we’re not. Awkward. *collective pitiful sigh*. Seriously though, we’re heading to a remote cottage in Carmarthenshire in November to do some teambuilding exercises, try not the end up in a teen horror flick, and hopefully write some new material. Later that month we’ll be back in the studio with Todd Campbell – if he survives touring with Straight Lines. Laura’s looking forward to running the Cardiff Half Marathon for charity, and she’s looking forward to you sponsoring her too…text: ”RUNL85 £5” to 70070. Please and thank you.
If you could have anyone listen to your music who would it be?
That’s a tough one because we’d all probably have someone different. Can anyone be everyone? Having everyone listen to our music would be pretty amazing. Or how about Beethoven, because in order to listen to us he’s have to hear, so really we’d be giving the gift of hearing in addition to our music. Seriously though, probably Robert Smith, just so it can inform his decision about the next question.
What if you could collaborate with one artist? Who? Why?
Again, we’d all likely choose someone different, but given an overall adoring passion for the Cure that many of us have, it would likely be Robert Smith. That man is a musical legend who has very strongly influenced a lot of our sound without us even really knowing it until we listen back. If Laura had her way we’d be working with Ludo from Labyrinth, but he’s in pretty high demand these days so that’s not looking likely. More realistically though it would be great to work with someone like Rod Thomas (Bright Light Bright Light) or at least have him remix one of our tracks. He could probably add a really interesting sorrowful dance pop twist to our stuff.
Any bands you think the BeatReview readers should be listening to?
As a band we collectively endorse Cut Ribbons and Paper Factory. There must be something in the water in Llanelli. The Adelines are solidly on our list as well. You’d be doing yourself a solid favour if you listened to them. Individually, Angela says listen to Citizens!, Laura says listen to Heathers, John says Thrice, Dean says Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds, and Matt says listen to Jingle Cats.
Finally, give us three words to describe your sound
Echo And Always? Sombre Dazzling Cacophony.