The Zutons Apply A Bit of Pressure

Sometimes it takes a few years for a band to break into mainstream popularity, but when it does finally happen, they seem to shoot right up that ladder of success with lightning speed. Such is the case with England’s The Zutons, who have been sowing their oats throughout Europe since early 2002, finally seeing all of their hard work and effort pay off quite nicely in 2004. That was the year they released their first full-length CD Who Killed The Zutons (Epic), which has received a huge amount of praise from the press, both in America and abroad, who have given it positively glowing reviews. One publication even labeled the Zutons as “one of Britain’s most important new bands.” Between being the only band that was ever invited to perform at the Museum of Modern Art in New York to having their highly addictive single “Pressure Point” used in a popular Levis television commercial, 2004 was definitely the year that some big things happened for The Zutons.

Currently wrapping up an extensive American tour with fellow Brits Keane, and also the Chicago quartet The Redwalls (on select dates), the band recently made their first St. Louis appearance at the Pageant. Prior to their soundcheck, Zutons lead guitarist Boyan Chowdhury and guitarist/lead singer/songwriter Dave McCabe lent some of their time, British charm and very thick accents to the following informative and entertaining chat.

How did you all first meet?

BC: We were all in different bands and they all split up, so we decided that we should get together. Dave had some songs, and he approached us all individually. Everyone agreed, so that’s basically how it happened.

DM: Yeah, we’ve all known each other for a while, through all of the bands we were playing with, so it just made sense that we should start a band together.

Did you expect your quick success, or did it come as a surprise?

BC: I don’t really think that it was that quick, because in England, it all came about from word of mouth—people recommending us to their friends, and things like that. Our album moved very slowly before it really started to spread. And we haven’t headlined any dates yet.

DM: But it’s nice to hear you say that—it’s a good compliment for us. We don’t really see it that way, though—we’re just happy to be coming to towns here in America on this tour—like St. Louis and Indianapolis—that we haven’t played before, and have the clubs be full of people. It’s a really good thing. On our first trip to the states, we played some gigs where only like 15 people showed up!

BC: Yeah, and even back home, we’ve played some new clubs for crowds that size, too.

DM: And now, we have people over here waiting outside of the clubs for us to sign copies of the album—we weren’t expecting that. So it’s good, but we just don’t really know what to expect over here yet.

How did the connection with the Levi’s company come about?

DM: Our manager just asked us if we thought it would be a good idea, and we said yes. That was basically it, really. He asked us if we were interested in having our song in a commercial, and we all said yes!

BC: And then there was that day in San Francisco when Dave stood outside of the Levi’s building holding a giant Levi’s banner! [Both laugh]

DM: We just wanted people to hear our music in the States, and since Levis is a national company, it made sense. We’re not one of those bands that’s been on the front of every magazine like the Strokes or Franz Ferdinand, so we have to get our music across in a different way. Because America is so big, you really have to do that sort of thing, if you can. In Britain, though, I think that is seen a bad thing—putting your music in an ad.

BC: Yeah, but that’s just musical snobbery, really.

DM: But here, it seems to be seen as a good thing, a sort of status symbol.

What are some of the big differences between British and American audiences?

BC: Some of the venues that we’re playing here on this tour feel like venues that we played in England a year and a half ago. The crowds aren’t really all that different, though.

DM: Right—sometimes we play crowds that are really quiet and they just sort of stare at us, and others get really into it, and dance and go crazy.

BC: And then there was that one couple in Portland, Oregon, who were like bumping and grinding each other in the front row! [Both laugh]

What are some of your favorite and least favorite current American bands?

BC: We really like the Queens of the Stone Age a lot. And I like the Mars Volta, too.

DM: We like the Redwalls, too, now that we’ve heard them.

And how about least favorite?

DM: There’s a lot of the new rock bands—I don’t even know their names—they all sound the same! We just hear them on the radio stations. What’s that one song? [Starts singing]: “I’m not a perfect person…” That’s just awful! I don’t like that, and it can only come from America.

What are your plans for after this tour?

DM: We’re going to write some new stuff. We’re also going to tour with REM in Europe for a while, which I’m really looking forward to. And we also will play some of our own gigs, in some of the biggest places that we’ve ever played, like 5,000-seat places or bigger, so those should be good.

BC: We’ll come back [to America], too, later this year, but nothing’s really set in stone yet.

Do any of you have families—wives and/or children?

DM: Nope, no wives or children….

BC: Not that we know of! Dave’s been engaged, like, four times, though—no, just joking.

Well, that’s it for my questions. Is there anything that you would like to add?

BC: Yeah. [In a very serious voice] We love America!! And, we are— [Starts laughing too hard to finish his sentence]

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