Interviews Photos

Interview with Tim Smith, Kurtis Smith, Jason Barwick, The Brew

Interview by Adrian Hextall / Picture Credit Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media

With a huge European fan base, lovingly referred to as the Brewligans, British retro rockers from Grimsby [it’s grim up there you know!] are releasing a new album.

They’ve been writing new songs for the last few months and are heading into the studio on the back of a successful UK and mainland Europe tour. This time round the band are looking to directly involve their fanbase in the whole release process and, like many other artists have done in the last few years, they have teamed up with PledgeMusic. The campaign will enable fans to pre-order the album, receive updates along the way and have the opportunity to own a little bit of the Brew with exclusive merchandise.

At the end of their UK tour, prior to a gig at second home for the band, The 100 Club, I managed to catch up with Jason, Tim and Curtis for a chat and we revisit a conversation topic from the last time we all met;

MGM: So who’s the best band in the world?

Tim: The Who [zero hesitation]

MGM: Go on [to Jason].

Jason: I don’t have one. I honestly cannot say.

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MGM: [Having had a similar discussion with them last time we met, it was the logical starting point but Jason, this time is being evasive.] That’s not what you said last time.

Jason: Really?

MGM: Oh Yes.

Jason: This all changed. I’ve grown up since then. Was it the Spice Girls?

Tim: I thought One Direction mate. We’re not in the 90’s anymore.

MGM: Last time you were putting Zeppelin right to the top. It’s still the done thing then?

Tim: Yeah. Probably, I’m sure in Kurt’s eyes definitely. Yeah.

Kurtis: John Bonham was the greatest drummer ever.

Tim: Still can find Pink Floyd in there. Obviously Hendrix, who’s obviously one of the greatest artists ever, more modern stuff, Wolf Mother, and Black Keys.

MGM: I saw it on your Facebook page actually. You’ve got Wolf Mother mentioned. These days they seem to be off form a bit in comparison.

Jason: The first album Wolf Mother. Then anything after that kind of went downhill.

MGM: Influences aside musically. I was flicking through some of those early promo shots for the Control sessions. You’ve got the picture with water behind you, and the flag draped across the three of you. Modelled after The Who?

Tim: Yeah. We tried to use what we have locally as a local band in Grimsby, which is a decaying desolate fishing industry. So we just thought why not try and just get that grittiness and working class type feel to a promo shot, and we just sit on the dock side with a Brew flag over us draped to a derelict ship behind us which is what it was, and it came out quite well. It was cool.

MGM: I’ll give you that. You say desolate fishing village. What’s the home reaction been to having been put on the map thanks to Sacha Baron Cohen. Is it really as bad as everybody suggests.

Tim: No! I didn’t even think any of it was filmed in Grimsby. It was like one scene. The rest of it was totally out. It’s irrelevant because it isn’t really about Grimsby. It’s about two brothers from Grimsby.

MGM: Yet set everywhere but Grimsby.

Jason: I think the channel four program. Skin, gave us more of a bad light than Grimsby did. Skin was actually quite accurate.

Tim: Everyone spoke about it for a week, and then it just completely forgot about that.

Jason: I was just listening to today on the news as we came down it was saying that it’s the least successful of all his films.

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MGM: Looking back to the time of those promo shots and that first gig here [The 100 Club] around 2014, it had been about a six year gap total wise in the UK whilst you’d taken Europe by storm. Subsequently you’ve really put the effort in, and the miles in all around the UK. Is it working? Is it paying off for you now? Is it hard work?

Tim: Slowly. Oh yeah. It’s ridiculous. Trying to get people interested in this country is just a nightmare. But there is a progression.

Jason: We sell two tickets instead of one.

Tim: It’s a step in the right direction. Slowly but surely.

Tim: I think now we started we can’t stop and that’s the point. We started pick up festivals now in the UK, and gradually we noticed that since we’ve started playing people do see us, people are getting interested, but it is a very slow process. Far, far slower than countries that we haven’t played in. In Europe we’ll go there for the first time, and the next time we’re selling out. I mean that is the total difference. I just don’t get what is holding the Brit population back to coming out, to checking out.

MGM: Are we too cautious?

Jason: I think people are afraid to spend money on a band they don’t know unless everybody around them is telling them that they’re a great band. You need so much hype in place to get people off their asses.

Tim: There’s many bands that you’ll check out on the internet live, and you’ll think yeah they’re okay, but you’ll go and see that band live, and they’ll blow you away because the whole ambiance, atmosphere, the whole vibe of the gig is part of seeing that band live. For some reason people seem to have forgotten that point in the UK. Maybe, I don’t know.

MGM: You’re right about the live piece. I mean take each of you, you could watch your own segments in isolation as there’s always something going on. Isn’t there?

Jason: Don’t flatter. It’s too much.

Tim: There isn’t a lot going on in my brain I can tell you that.

Jason: I’m searching for stuff in mine.

MGM: When I’m doing the band shots in the gig for example, I much prefer to take shots of the three of you individually because there’s something to fill up the shot. This stage [at the 100 Club] works for you as well.

Tim: I mean for a three piece band, we use a ten piece stage. We’ve always been known for the live show, we certainly do utilize every inch of the stage where possible. It just seems to suit the way we are as a band on live. Just a bigger stage seems to suit us, some bands really stick together, close in together, and pretty much stay locked in together all night. But we do that, and we do a lot more beside. Big stages suit us.

MGM: Certainly from the video footage we’ve seen of you on the European festival stages for example you’re right. Seems to work very well. I presume you’ve got the summer season as it were, out across Europe again have you? Where are you going?

Tim: We’ve got a full date headline tour starting in May in Germany. And then we start the festival circuit. But importantly for the brew by the end of May beginning of June we go into the studio to put the new album together due for release at the end of October.

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MGM: That’s the question we’ve all wanted to ask.

Kurtis: Can we just get this right. When is the release date? Because I’ve been told September, I’ve been told November and October. Because we need to get it right.

Tim: We don’t actually know. Clearly.

MGM: Is it classified as Autumn?

Jason: Yes.

Tim: It’s in the fall.

Kurtis: It’s in the fall.

Jason: It’s in the fall.

MGM: In terms of your support, every time you play London you seem to make a real effort to bring in up and coming bands. Again that fresh face in music in the UK. Last time I saw you got Hands Off Gretal who seem to be doing great things in London at the moment. They’re getting their name on lots of bills. What do we expect tonight?

Tim: It’s a bit of mystery for us this one. Steve’s [tour manager] been talking to these guys, apparently Black Ball a big following for us for a few years. One of the guys plays in New Model Army. So we’re looking forward to seeing them. The other guys, Jupiter Away are an international band, some of the guys from France, some of the guys from the UK. So that could be an interesting proposition as well. So yeah we’re looking forward to it. It’s good to bring in these different styles in music to the show. It gives an interesting vibe for the people coming in to see us as well. It’d be pretty boring if all the bands were the same.

MGM: At the end of the day people want to come to see you do that style of music. That’s why they come in to the show isn’t it? So anything that’s a bit different makes you sit or take notes outside of the bar, can’t be a bad thing.

Tim: Absolutely. Needs some variety. I think so.

MGM: You talk about you’re going to record the new album coming out in the fall. Except tonight can we expect a few teasers.

Tim: No. Well–no.

Jason: That would be a riff.

Tim: A riff or two. They’re still very much in the planning stage. We haven’t even gone into pre-production yet. So to try and throw a song out there at the moment would be a little foolish. And the problem is in this day and age when every world and his [inaudible] and his brothers got a recording device in their pocket it can’t be done really. We do have to be careful. We might throw out a riff here and there, but that’s literally all it will be at the moment.

the brew control_cover

MGM: Fair enough. So you want it to be right, you want it to be nailed, and embed in the right way. That’s fair enough. So just carry from the base then you go into studio in May?

Tim: End of May.

Jason: The tour for the album will be November. So that’s just after the release. The festivals and everything will still be the control set probably at that stage with a few new ones in building up to the album release tour at the end of the year.

MGM: When you made the previous album, you recorded ten tracks in four days.. was it?

Tim: Well what we did was we did the whole tracking in four days. The whole of the tracking was done in four probably five straight days. But yeah that was just the way it was at the time.

MGM: That as I recall was to sort of give it that real life feel.

Tim: I think we’re going to approach this the same way.

Tim: We’re working with the same producer. Toby Jepson, which is great, and at the same studio, the Veil Studio’s. We’re hoping for the same sort of vibe again really because it worked so well on the control album. We had such a good reaction from that album, the way it sounded, and the way it came across. And I think we found a sound on the album to be honest, and we’d like it to be more of the same but different.

MGM: Everything Toby seems to touch at the moment is getting good press, good reviews. I mean we’ve just done a live review, the album review for Toseland’s album. That’s fantastic. You can hear Jepson’s influences on that definitely. Yours I think is a little bit more you than him isn’t it?

Tim: Yeah. I think Toby’s also writing some of the songs for Toseland as well. I might be wrong.

MGM: You’re right. He is.

Tim: It’s always going to have a bit more an 80’s vibe to it i guess or 90’s vibe to it. But yeah we have a distinctive sound. It’s taken us a long time to find it, but I think we found it in the control.

The PledgeMusic link for the album is here:

Currently the Pledges are sitting at around 60%. With a copy of the album costing a mere £12, Pledgers can get the follow up to Control as soon as it becomes available. Other items including signed products, and unique opportunities to meet the band are all available.


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