Nick Quantrill writes:
Like all good stories, the roots of the Infidels goes back years, a collection of musicians known to each other through various projects from around the city. But every new project needs a spark to bring it to life.
‘Arch is the driving force,’ Matt Hogg says. ‘It started with him sending me some stuff and saying, do what you want with it. It wasn’t really conceived with the idea of doing it live, or even recording it. We just sort of fell into it and then rehearsing with the other lads.’ Matt, of course, will be well-known to people who follow the local music scene, not least from working with David Rotheray of The Beautiful South and numerous other bands down the years. Arch, guitarist with Horse Guards Parade, released his debut album, “Gardening Leave” in 2018. ‘I had some vague notion of gigging with a band, but then got involved with this project and I decided to concentrate on it more.’
Another familiar presence in the band is Andy Towse, once of FRONTEERS, on vocals. ‘I used to teach Andy,’ Arch says, ‘and we kept in touch. I bumped into him outside an off-licence when I was on my daughter’s scooter and we ended up chatting, saying we should do something together.’ Separately, Matt had met fellow-FRONTEER, James Taylor. ‘We got talking about music and he got really fired up. James and Andy are very strong musicians. They’ve got the harmonies, but they’ve got real control over what they do and can produce it at a moment’s notice. I was like, I definitely want to play with you two.’
The rest of the pieces fell quickly into place. Andy Dimmack was recruited to play drums, his son Eric, just sixteen years old, joining on bass to give things a true multi-generational feel. ‘It’s not something that causes any problems within the band. I think you can play anything to anybody,’ Matt says. ‘It can be a country song by a 50’s artist, or the latest thing by Rihanna and then spin it back round to James Brown. It is what it is. Some of it you instantly get why the others like it.’ Arch agrees. ‘The younger ones are well-steeped in music, but Eric plays it with a poke face and doesn’t give much away.’
Arch explains how things moved on. ‘We started recording at my place, getting together one night every week. “Step Out” and “Rocks and Stones” were the first songs I sent Matt and they’re on the EP. ‘It was a good way of working,’ Matt says. ‘There weren’t any expectations. There wasn’t any pressure involved, and that’s important, as you can let things go. It’s going quicker than we thought, but what matters is that the songs are ready. They were formless until we did some long rehearsals and then we came out the other side quickly. It’s starting to get a bit more solid, so me and Arch can decision make better.’
The EP is the first of three planned by the band. ‘I like the idea of EPs,’ Arch says, ‘I like that they happen over a shorter period of time. When you’re doing an album it’s hard, and I wouldn’t necessarily choose to listen to a full album myself.’ It’s maybe the way technology has gone with listeners picking and choosing, but as it flows from soul and funk through to indie and folk, the EP showcases the variety of material within the band. ‘We didn’t even discuss it,’ Matt says. ‘I think both of us are short attention span people and it fits around real life, too.’ It’s been an interesting challenge to them as musicians and songwriters. ‘It was a case of building it in blocks,’ Matt says, ‘but it also got quite loose as everyone got involved. We’ve gone from a technological process using Pro Tools to unwinding it for a live experience.’ Arch agrees. ‘It hasn’t really been organic, more genetically modified. It’s maybe a slow release album,’ he says, explaining the releases will initially be digital, but that ultimately combing them for a vinyl release is a possibility.
Turning to live performances, it’s something a lot of thought has gone into, not least because some members of the band are regularly away from Hull. ‘It means we have to think outside of the box,’ Matt says. ‘We’ve rehearsed up so far, but now we’re thinking about who the right personnel might be to slot in. We’ve realised what we can do and what we can’t do, and which people we can use and their different styles. I like the idea of getting out of town, getting away from what you normally do. We don’t want to just play to people we know. You have to hold your own elsewhere. It’s about getting the most out of it. I don’t just want to go and play a gig and give to people. I want to get something out of it, too.’
It’s an honest appraisal of the relationship between artist and consumer, a thread that maybe runs through the band, the sense that there’s only so much time to do something and it’s about outcomes for everyone. It’s a different approach, but one that’s even there in the band’s name. ‘People often misunderstand what an infidel is,’ Matt says, explaining how it can be misused and misunderstood. ‘Plus, we just like to poke the hornet’s nest a bit.’
Download the EP (available 12th April) – https://infidels2.bandcamp.com/
More information – https://www.facebook.com/Infidels-311488789514406/