August 12th, 2011 | Published in Interviews
The up-and-coming group Scams is making quite a name for themselves. Front man Andy Morgan stopped by Vivoscene for a quick chat recently to tell us about their music in an exclusive Vivoscene interview.
Thanks for chatting with us, Andy! Tell us your history – how did Scams form?
AM: Scams started around a year ago. We were working under a different name with a different lineup but new members and a new outlook led to a name change and led us towards being the band we are today.
How did you decide on the name Scams?
AM: We just wanted something basic, one word, one syllable, short and simple.
You were able to perform at SXSW – would you call that your “lucky break”?
AM: SXSW was amazing but really hard work. It lead on to a few things but I think the only way we’re going to get out there is by writing good music and being able to play the fuck out of it live.
Your new track “Helicopter Parents” explores various elements of indie/alt rock, art-rock, and some that sound distinctly dubstep – What do you think sets Scams apart from other indie bands experimenting with these sounds?
AM: We listen to a lot of different music so it’s really hard for us to stick to playing just one style. We do try and keep things coherent though with a big focus on melody, lyrics and cutting the fat. Our songs are usually short and to the point with no unnecessary bullshit.
Scams is very hands-on with the production of their image – you all seem to play a big role in the direction of your music videos and online presence. What are the benefits of this approach? Do you feel more attached and devoted to your music this way, or is it just a creative outlet?
AM: It’s out of necessity, either we do it or no one will. Being in a band does open a huge window of creative opportunity and ultimately we just enjoy getting involved.
Who are Scams’ direct musical influences?
AM: I honestly don’t know.
The lyrical sentiment on many tracks in Rewrite Fiction is introspective, or deals with heartache. Who predominantly writes the lyrics? Was that intended to be a theme, or are the lyrics just written organically to stand on their own?
AM: It’s me (Andy) who writes all the lyrics. The lyrics are actually the last thing to happen to each song and then they are made to stand alone. I actually try hard not to write many songs about love ‘cause to me it’s far too easy to write about. I also try hard not to be preachy as who am I to tell other people what to do? Mostly I just have a go at myself and sing about things I find interesting. The main theme for Rewrite Fiction is a lot of analogy, I like telling stories or rewriting other stories to say something else.
You’re working on a new album right now. How’s it sounding so far?
AM: It’s sounding really fucking fun. We’ve focused more on what was best about our last album and tightened everything up; deciding to make our heavier side less serious and our lighter side more spiteful. We’ve had time to experiment more and branch our sound out on a few logical paths. It’s really hard to describe what we’re doing though; we’re just looking forward to when everyone will get to hear it.
How do you think the new album will differ from Rewrite Fiction?
AM: Like I said it’s more focused, it was written in a much shorter time period than our last so that makes sense. We know what worked best before and have expanded on that.
We heard your live performances and interview on BBC Leeds recently. Scams’ live music is just as good as the recorded material. Is that an important distinction for you?
AM: Of course, I worry about the number of bands who can’t even play their own songs. We recorded our album live, to tape, with the most minimal of overdubs. It’s still hard to replicate our live energy on record though (something we hope to capture better with our next album).
How do you keep the live material fresh as you incorporate new, hard-to-replicate sounds on your tracks?
AM: We find innovative ways to replicate the sounds on our album, as well as the vocal harmonies etc… and we play them live, not to a backing track. That seems to be happening a lot these days, drummers playing to click tracks, recreating impossible studio production but I’d much rather things were stripped down. We make sure our songs sound good before we record them.
We’ve read that you all come from very diverse musical backgrounds – what are they, and what is the commonality that those sounds, or the intention of those sounds, share?
AM: For a start the four of us are from all over the UK (Northwest, Scotland and London) and met up in the middle in Leeds which is just an amazing city for music. We’ve all different music tastes, I wouldn’t like to start listing things though but what we share is a love of good melody.
Scams is signed with the German label Devil Duck, and have several upcoming shows there. How were you discovered by them? Is Scams more recognised in Germany than in England?
AM: Yes at the moment we are more recognised in Germany but really we’re only just getting started this year. It’s important for us to be recognised on any level as an honest band. It’s a bit of an around-the-world reason for us getting involved with Devil Duck, we played a show in Texas at SXSW where we were seen by the head of the label who are based in Hamburg. Devil Duck has been a perfect stepping stone for us and along with Clouds Hill Studios they’ve done so much to help us do exactly what we need to do.
You were named Best Emerging Band by the Liverpool Sound City Festival – do you want to be signed with a label in the UK? Or are you enjoying the DIY thing?
AM: With the right label it’d be great for us in the UK, the right label of course would be behind us in our decisions. We’re just really looking forward to getting this new album recorded.
What’s next for you in 2011?
AM: Studio of course! With a few dates in Germany : 23rd Sept at the Reeprbahn Festival in Hamburg and Independent Day in Berlin on the 24th. More dates (Barnsley, Manchester etc) are being added at the moment (see here : http://www.wearescams.com/gigs/ )
We want to get out and play these new songs as much as possible. First things first though, our Helicopter Parents single is released August 22nd!
Watch the new “Helicopter Parents” video here: