Interview with Zulu Winter
In the world of the UK music scene, once you get noticed, your life can change, and it can change fast. Sometimes it can take years, sometimes all you need is a brilliant song, but you’d better be ready for when you get noticed. As they say – you have many years to write your first great song/album, but only months to do the second. For London, England’s Zulu Winter, the moment when they need to show all of their stuff is fast upon them.
The five-piece band formed in 2011, and ended the year with various music outlets telling people to watch out for them in 2012. Not because they are knife-wielding psychos (as far as I can tell), but because their music will be filling your ears and your head with infectious rhythms and songs. The band released their first single in 2011, which featured Never Leave / Let’s Move Back to Front, both strong songs showing promise for future releases.
On February 27, the band will release their second single (and first on new label, Play It Again Sam) called We Should Be Swimming. All of this is a prelude to their first full studio album, anticipated to come out in May 2012.
Zulu Winter’s line up consists of Will Daunt (vocals & guitar), Iain Lock (bass), Dom Millard (keyboards), Henry Walton (guitar) and Guy Henderson (drums). After watching Zulu Winter play live, PeteHatesMusic caught up with drummer Guy Henderson by email for a chat about their recent success, what to expect from their first full length studio album, and tips for fans who will be watching Zulu Winter and others at the Field Day festival in London.
PeteHatesMusic (PHM): One day, you’re forming a band and rehearsing. Fast forward not too long at all, and you’re releasing a single, getting positive press in the UK, and being tipped for greater things, all before an album has come out. Does it make your head spin?
Guy Henderson (GH): It can feel a bit odd after so long tucked away with just the 5 of us to suddenly be out and open to the public. The important thing is just to keep busy and focused on making the best music possible.
PHM: Bands can try for years to get press or even an album recorded, but you guys have been fortunate in that regard. Does this set the bar even higher for your debut release?
GH: It was always important to us to pull together as much material for the album as possible before we opened up to any outside influence. Fortunately we haven’t yet found ourselves in a position where we’re writing under too much pressure… The process has been relatively relaxed. But having said that it’s been the focus of our lives for the past 2 years so at this point it can feel a little scary – and obviously you hope that your music’s going to be well received.
PHM: We’ve heard your first 2 singles, almost on repeat some days. What can fans expect from your upcoming album?
GH: We were chatting about this the other day and it’s funny because, as is the case with many artists, our initial singles have only shown a small section of the sound on the album. The record has some slower paced songs and you can expect some more atmospheric moments with tracks that indulge the more textural side of our sound.
PHM: Are you using the pre-album release shows as a way to try out the songs, see how the audience reacts, and make any adjustments accordingly? Or are you comfortable with the songs and just having fun playing new songs for the crowds?
GH: Having started playing a few shows in September and then done a bit touring throughout the Autumn we’re feeling pretty well drilled live. It’s got to a place where it’s just been really fun to be playing our songs to new audiences. We’ve spent the past few weeks working up a new batch of songs which we haven’t played live yet, so it’ll be nice to mix up the set a bit and keep it fresh. We feel that the live show should always be developing and progressing. We’re really enjoying the process of finding the places that we can bring the dynamics up with some explosive moments and equally bring things back down.
PHM: You guys are playing Field Day in London on June 2. Have you guys attended in years past, and if so, do you have any tips for fans, such as “avoid the dodgy hamburgers”?
GH: We have been going to Field Day since the first one a few years ago and we’ve always been big fans of what the Eat Your Own Ears guys do. I remember it got a bit of bad press that first year for the toilet and bar queues being horribly long but for me I’ve always had good time there… and the cross section of artists they book are usually really good. Make sure you nip into the Royal Inn on the Park for pint after…
(note: You don’t need to tell us twice to have a pint!)
PHM: The album will be out soon, the gigs and festivals are to follow. What do you hope to get out of 2012 (besides “alive“)?
GH: We just hope to get our music out to as many people as possible. Right now we feel very fortunate to have made a record that we’re all really proud of and and have an opportunity to get it widely released. Beyond that we’re keen to play live as much as we can and get the chance to take our music to as many different audiences as we can.
PHM: What artists have influenced you, both musically and professionally? Any band comparisons that you absolutely loathe?
GH: We’ve all been big fans of Radiohead since our teenage years and they’ve always been a common ground for us. Beyond that our influences differ quite a bit between us; we all bring different references together which hopefully comes across as a fresh sound in our music. For this album some key influences in a broad sense have been Caribou, Portishead and TV on the Radio. A big influence for Henry was Moon Gas by Dick Hyman and Dom listens to a lot of library music and soundtrack stuff. Me and Iain tend to listen to more electronic music and dance music but really we try to keep our influences as wide as possible. There are quite a number of comparisons being drawn at the moment which are really quite baffling… I won’t be specific.
(note: Guy means the Adele ones that PeteHatesMusic made up)
PHM: We saw you guys at XOYO, playing a solid set before Howler. Did any back stage shenanigans happen with any of the bands, such as drinking games or arm wrestling contests?
GH: There’s actually just one small dressing room at XOYO and so there was only space for Howler in there. We ended up spending a particularly cold hour sitting in our tour van before the show. Such is the glamour of the rock and roll life. Nothing more exciting to report I’m afraid.
(note: Nothing to report, until PeteHatesMusic edits the hell out of your answer and spreads rumours…Just kidding, we’re nice Canadian kids…)
PHM: What is the one thing you wished you knew about the music industry that you didn’t know when this whole thing started, and have perhaps found out the hard way?
GH: We’ve fortunately had no regrets so far… and no hard lessons yet.
(note: Except for that dressing room mishap at XOYO, right?….)
PHM: As a mainly Canadian audience will be reading this review, we are a bit ashamed that our biggest music exports of late include Nickelback, Justin Bieber, and Michael Buble. Do you have any impressions of the Canadian music scene?
(note: Brace yourself for a brilliant answer)
GH: I can honestly say our impression of the Canadian music scene is very favourable and I think there’s a lot to be very proud of for you guys (although I can see the shame in the above artists). For myself personally, Holy Fuck have been one of my biggest influences and I think they’re one of the most exciting and explosive live band’s around right now. Their show at the Breeders ATP a couple of years ago was in my top 5 gigs. We’ve also all been huge fan’s of Arcade Fire since their pre-Funeral EP…again a formidable live band. We were very fortunate to do a few dates with Braids in Europe in November who really blew us away with their show. We chatted with them a lot about the Canadian music scene, which has always felt very healthy and flourishing to me. They told us about the support there is from the government and community for young artists in Canada and I feel like it really shows. There’s a lot exciting music coming out of Canada for sure.
Told you it was a brilliant answer. Bonus points for Guy and the Zulu Winter lads for their knowledge and liking of Canadian bands that aren’t Nickelback.
Zulu Winter have a few tour dates lined up, which you can see below. For those of you in London, you should stop by the Field Day festival on June 2 (which also includes Franz Ferdinand, the Vaccines, Sleigh Bells, SBTRKT, Gold Panda, Beirut, Com Truise, Django Django, etc.) and stick to the advice Guy gave us above. No word on extensive North American dates (i.e.: Toronto), but we’ll be sure to circulate the news so that you can catch them live.
18 Feb — Hostess Weekender, Tokyo
27 Feb — Cargo, London
09 – 18 Mar — SXSW, Texas
28 Mar — Bowery Ballroom, New York
29 Mar — Brooklyn Glasslands
07 May — Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
08 May — Louisiana, Bristol
09 May — Jericho, Oxford
11 May — The Great Escape (Jam), Brighton
12 May — Soundcontrol, Manchester
14 May — King Tuts, Glasgow
15 May — Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
02 June — Field Day, Victoria Park, London
24 June — Isle of White Festival, Big Top
20 July — Secret Garden Party
18 Aug — Frequency Festival, Austria
Zulu Winter – We Should Be Swimming