Isn’t it a relief to know that within today’s music industry, which places such emphasis on production speed and branding, there are still some bands without the major labels cramping their style? Homework is a self-produced band that takes its time crafting its own style and it is paying off, as these four fellows sound like no one else. The Depot recording studio in Edinburgh is now a second home to the Scottish quartet as it works on its debut album.
Homework consists of brothers Oli and Richie, and university friends Ross and Ally who are all currently living in Edinburgh and were kind enough to let me sit in on a typical mid-week rehearsal. Excited to hear what all the fuss was about I waited as they set up, meandering through the sea of leads and pedals that covered the ground to find a seat – and I was not disappointed! These guys are so tight they don’t miss a beat. Self professed electronica, alternative and indie it’s hard to believe they only formed in 2008; their music portrays years of experience.
“Fireworks! I see fireworks”. It’s hard not to sing along to the catchy lyrics and lively hooks. His lips are pursed with concentration as he keeps the beat but Richie’s dimples show his pleasure while he drums. Ally frantically flicks his Bass while Oli stretches his battered converse as he leans in on tip-toe to the mic and sings in his refreshingly clear Scottish drawl. Ross switches from guitar to synthesiser where he distorts the electronic sounds into upbeat energetic vibes that send shivers up your spine. Ultimately Homework’s sound commands you to move.
The lads pack up fairly rapidly when they hear the interview will take place in the pub. In a cosy corner of the very busy Guildford Arms, I ask Homework;
So guys, what’s with the name Homework?
Oli: No it has nothing to do with the boring mandatory work you do when you’re at school. The name is after the Daft Punk album Homework and that’s where we got a lot of the electronic influence. The production on this album has been heavily influenced by Daft Punk/Chemical brothers and Elliot Smith.
You’ve had a pretty jam packed year this year? What was T in the Park like?
Band: Yeah, like it has been non –stop! Scoring a slot at T in the Park was awesome. We managed to gather a big crowd at the T break stage which is an amazing platform for new bands. After the gig we got a BBC1 interview with the man himself Vic Galloway. One of our tracks off the EP We Should Not Regress was featured on the BBC T in the park highlights. It was just a great experience. We even roughed it out proper festival style in the yellow campsite.
Not only have you played a massive festival but you had a sell out launch for your EP “Sleepless nights” and over 10,000 hits on your MySpace page, considering you have only been together since 2008. How does feel?
Ross: It’s great to know we have fans. (laughs) Especially Oli – he has one particular fan that never misses a gig. (All laugh) We have gotten great feedback on MySpace and it’s a handy notice board for upcoming gigs: As we are self-produced we are our own PR team, and MySpace is a direct link to our fans. This year “All I See” was ranked The Scotsman’s song of the month.
Does Homework have a set date in mind for the release of your album?
Band: We are aiming for July but we’re still undecided whether to release it before or after the festival.
What is the music scene like in Edinburgh? Do you play many gigs in town?
Band: There are so many bands in Edinburgh and some are great, but right now there is very “folktronica” scene and these bands have very particular crowds that would not enjoy our style. We feel that when you play in Edinburgh you’re just playing to other bands, so it’s never really an enjoyable set when you feel like you’re being judged. Glasgow on the other hand is far better. More open minded atmosphere and there is less people you know – and the crowd are usually up for anything, and actually dance!
You could gig in Edinburgh every weekend if you wanted to, but if Biffy Clyro played every Friday night in Sneaky Pete’s people would soon stop going. Right now we are prioritising important venues and we figure if we play less we’ll get bigger crowds.
Would you ever consider getting a manager or signing up to a label?
Oli: (Shouts) I’m the manager!
Ross: Yeah right.
Oli: Well there certainly are a lot of phone calls to be made and emails to be sent when we’re organising gigs or festivals. Playing is the easiest part. We like having our own touch on Homework and to be honest we’re not “Knobheads with egos”. It’s never been about getting signed, it’s about having fun.
Are you looking forward to the Festival in Hungary? What is it called?
(All laugh) Well it’s so good we don’t know the name of it!
Oli: “Hungfest”. Yeah, that would be a great name for it. All we know is that all food and booze is paid for. So, happy days.
Do you guys ever drink before or during gigs for a little bit of Dutch courage?
Ross: Well not exactly for Dutch courage but when it comes to performing White Russians, Buckfast, whiskey and Red Bull always seem to go well.
Band: Yeah we’re probably the hardest drinking band in Edinburgh! Ross likes to get naked after gigs. He doesn’t deny this. Richie transforms from, like, Harry Potter to Voldermort – He is the nicest guy you can meet at first and then by the end of the night he is a total menace. Ally just seems to get more and more sensible and wise the more he drinks: it’s kind of freaky, really, while Oli asks for a cigarette and leaves for a bit.
So, where do you lot see yourselves in five years?
Ross: Probably married.
Oli: There hasn’t been a sustainable Scottish export in 30 years, so if things keep going the way they are now, who knows? Maybe we’ll break that. It’s a huge fear that people will get bored of your music but we are going to keep introducing new technology as time goes on. The production on our album right now is ridiculous thanks to our new synthesiser.
Homework’s funky sound is not to be missed: check the band out on Myspace, and keep an ear out for its debut album this summer.
Words by Erris Healy