Music & clubs

Squid on their debut album Bright Green Field

We spoke to Anton Pearson and Laurie Nankivell about Bright Green Field

Photo: Holly Whitaker

Squid sounds a lot different from the minimal jazz band it started out as. How did that happen?

Anton Pearson: I don’t know. It wasn’t like we all just said, ‘Well, that was crap, let’s move on!’ I guess we just didn’t worry about making music in a linear fashion the way other people would perhaps expect. Honestly though, the fact is that back then we were performing to the 30 people who had actually heard of us.

There seems to be a trend right now among British acts for this genre-bending style. Is that something you’re aware of?

Laurie Nankivell: Well, one thing’s for sure, people like to create trends. I feel like the only thing that’s different now from 20 years ago is the internet. We’ve all had a massively international perspective on music from an early age, even though we are from areas of the country which aren’t necessarily musically interesting. Anton’s from the sticks in Norwich and I grew up mainly in Torquay, and the music scenes there – well, I speak for myself when I say that they are pretty diabolical. But people now try and amalgamate all those different things that have excited them into the music they want to make, and if that’s done with five people, then you get this big melting pot of different sounds.

Critics definitely find your music hard to pin down. What are the strangest genres that have been attributed to Squid?

AP: Honestly, I don’t pay much attention to it. There was some talk of ‘crank-wave’ at one point. I have absolutely no idea what that’s supposed to mean, but then again, I don’t know what any of them mean. We get called post-punk all the time, and that’s fine. I don’t really mind what you call it; as long as some people like it, that’s fine with me.

Bright Green Fields has a young, raw, frenetic energy that’s common in new British music. What’s fuelling the existential angst in this generation of musicians?

LN: The whole world feels existential angst right now.

AP: I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but it feels like there’s always something in every generation. At a certain age, you tend to have those kinds of feelings and sentiments about the world. But we’re not trying to be too academic with how we approach music. We’re trying to keep it raw and not be too self-analytical. We’ve got to keep it spontaneous and fun. If you’re feeling something, you need to shout about it, let it out, play it, without having to make it into a formula. We don’t need to contextualise everything.

You’re notorious for your energy at live shows. How much does the live experience inform your compositions?

LN: Three or four years ago, we were thinking about music made for a live show. That is still a massive factor in our compositional process. Bright Green Field is the first time we held back a little. There are some songs that we didn’t play live to anyone. So you could say it was kind of discreet – maybe the most studio music we’ve ever made.

Squid are always getting rave reviews for their live performances. Did it ever go wrong on stage?

AP: We don’t always play perfectly and we do sometimes get bad reviews.

LN: Do you remember the Christmas party? I fell over on stage and we did a dreadful cover of George Michael’s ‘Last Christmas’.

AP: It was one of those days. I had just started playing the bass line when the strings fell off the bass. That was actually one of the most fun shows! But in general, I’d say we’re usually pretty good.

How would you describe the vibe of a Squid show?

AP: We always try to do things that have a high amount of energy and tension. It needs to be interesting to watch and surprising. Obviously we’ve been working on new music over the last few months so there will be things in this show that we’ve never played to audiences before, and there’ll be things that we’ll play that will never be played in that form ever again. So I think it will be a very fun and interesting show for us and for the audience. It’s going to be the busiest stage we’ve ever had for a live show and we’re really excited to see how the audience reacts to that.

Squid – bio

First among equals in a new generation of British bands, Squid is a five-piece art-rock band from Brighton. After shooting to fame with their EP Town Centre on cult taste-maker label Speedy Wunderground, Squid signed to Warp records. Their debut album Bright Green Field was received with universal critical acclaim.