Interview: The Cribs

Looking back on music in 2007, it feels almost like another world. Mika signed to Universal and was about to kickstart a high-pitched pop revolution. Avril Lavigne had just released her smash hit single ‘Girlfriend’. A Spice Girls reunion was actually happening. It was also the year Radiohead released ‘In Rainbows’ on a pay-what-you-want scheme, as well as the year Arctic Monkeys put out their storming second record ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’. And, of course, it was a year that underground sensations won out, as The Cribs released their seminal album ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’.

“The scene in the UK was so amped up – it really was a pressure cooker,” Gary Jarman states. “A band would start, get a buzz, get signed to a major label, and be on the radio within a few months. It was crazy.” With two albums already under their collective belt, as well as a series of charting singles, The Cribs were forging out their own path, and no matter how long it took them they were determined to see it through. “We always used to get told we were ‘too lo-fi’,” Gary groans. “The major labels were snapping up any band who looked cool, or any band who had a buzz. We were really reacting against that.”

An expression of rebellion, ‘Men’s Needs…’ was also the record that propelled The Cribs from being homespun heroes to becoming the nation’s sweethearts. A storming criticism of the culture it was released into, the album is as ticked off as it is switched on. It’s the sound of a band who know their voice and demand it be heard. Earnest, heart-on-sleeve emotion meets storming pop riffs in a series of twelve songs that spoke out for the discontent in everyone.

A decade on, it’s an album that still rings with as much resonance today as it did the first time you heard it. “When you’re making a record you always hope that people will still care about the record,” Gary admits. “You hope that it will be something that resonates with people. But looking this far down the road?” Now, as they take the album on tour across the UK, with dates already sold out across the country, the admiration is as keenly felt today as it ever has been.

“When you’re making a record it’s all about trying to capture what you’re doing at that time, and trying to capture what’s important to you at that time, or what the feeling is at that time,” Gary describes. “You’re never really looking that far ahead – but secretly, you’d always hope this.” It’s something fans have been hoping for too. As 2017 ushered its way in, so began the tweets requesting an anniversary celebration for the release, something the band addressed a mere three days into the year. Their response? A taunting “never say never,” soon followed by an ever so subtle “*cough*never*cough*”. Liars.

Remembering this, the band start to chuckle. “You don’t necessarily want to be led by peoples’ opinions all the time,” Gary starts, “but…” With the idea planted, and the excitement levels high, the trio started to look back on all they’d achieved in the decade past. “The fact that people were asking us to play a record was such an honour. We thought ‘y’know, there’s really no reason not to – we should do it.” A way of giving back for the support that’s got them to where they are today, this tour is a celebration of the fans as much as it is of the music. “We’re doing this tour because people asked us to do it,” they state. “We’re not really doing it for ourselves. That is the coolest thing.”

“We really value the people who have stuck with us for this many years,” Gary expresses. “There’s been people who have really cared about the band for a long time. That’s such an enormous honour. You feel fundamentally indebted to them for that reason.” Describing the decision as “a way of us trying to be the ideal band for them,” this whole tour has been pieced together for the fans that have grown with the music – no matter when they discovered it. “We looked at it from the viewpoint we had when we were younger, when we were fans of bands,” the musician recalls. “I was really into Weezer when I was a teenager. I was like ‘I don’t know why they don’t just go out and play ‘Pinkerton’ and just do that, that’d be really cool.’ They own those songs. They can do that. I could never understand it.”

While hopes of a ‘Pinkerton’ anniversary performance went unanswered last year (if you’re reading this Rivers: it’s never too late), the celebrations for ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ are in full swing. For the favoured fraternal trio, they couldn’t be more thrilled. “Things don’t age very well nowadays because technology moves so fast. A lot of things from back then are obsolete,” Gary mulls. “To see that it’s embraced and it’s bringing back good memories for people in the way that it’s bringing back good memories for us is really gratifying.” Drifting between enthusiasm and amazement at the excitement they’ve inspired, and continue to inspire, the band couldn’t be more excited to take this show on the road.

Promising a performance of “the record in its order,” along with “some b-sides from that era,” “some rarities we don’t normally play,” and “probably a few of the classics just because,” the setlist might be somewhat predetermined, but these shows are all going to be one of a kind. “When else are we going to play a song like ‘Fairer Sex’?” they tease. “This seems like the time to do it.”

“It’s not going to be like The Cribs in 2017 playing those songs,” Gary proclaims. “It’s going to be exactly like the shows were back then.” Digging through DVDs of decade old gigs to get themselves in the right frame of mind, what The Cribs are offering is an authentic escape into freewheeling celebration. “The fact that you can put something out there and see people respond to it like that…” he trails off in awe. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he summarises, sincerely.

“Everyone at these shows is in the same boat,” Gary declares. “Everyone is nostalgic for that record and that time of their lives. The band are in the same place, celebrating that period of our existence too. Everyone is on the same page and feeling the same way. Hopefully, that will give it a sense of unity.” If you’ve seen The Cribs play before, then you know that creating unity is something the band excel at. Caught up in the motion and appreciation of the moment, singing hand on heart to your favourite songs, surrounded by a sea of people all echoing that same adoration – what better feeling could a concert promise?

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