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Cats In Paris Get Square Eyes

The superb Manchester avant-pop quartet try to tear themselves away from the TV.

Mixing splendid Casio-pop with surprisingly grand choruses and a fierce experimental edge, Cats In Paris' Courtcase 2000 may be the most enjoyable debut of the year. I spoke to Ben Summers, the band's drummer.

DD: Is there a receptive scene in Manchester at the moment for more experimental stuff?
BS: There are two quite distinct scenes. On the one hand, there’s the indie scene that still sees Manchester as the home of the Stone Roses. They put on all these gigs that I really have nothing to do with – when I first read about the Cortinas and the Ting Tings being Manchester’s next big thing, I had never, ever heard of them. Then there’s the DIY scene, but it’s so expensive to put on gigs in proper clubs that they always happen in Chinese karaoke bars or Turkish cafés or bowling alleys. You can hear some really experimental drone/noise stuff like that – like Stuckometer, who are totally free improv. Hit and miss in the best way, sometimes terrible but sometimes absolutely amazing.

Dazed Digital: Your own songs turn some pretty startling corners.
Ben Summers: I think the reason they sound like they're in sections is that we start off writing bits that flow into each other, and then we realise they sound too similar, so we hack out the transitions. Our songs start off around the 10 or 15 minute mark but we get them down to 3 or 4 minutes. It can sound disjointed but it’s fun to zip from one thing to another.

DD: So if you get really famous, then in 30 years' time they might exhume the demo tapes of the original marathon takes?
BS: I hope not, that would be terrible! There’s a reason the songs are shorter. People have described us as being exhausting to listen to, so I can’t imagine what they’d say if the songs were still 15 minutes long! We’ve all played in post-rock bands so we’ve done that thing where you play the same motif over and over again, but with this we’re trying to be as concise as possible.

DD: There are a lot of quite twee bands around at the moment.
BS: Actually I’m not sure about the twee comparison. We did start off very twee, with glockenspiels everywhere, but we’re phasing that out a bit. Maybe it’s that, by being a bit childlike, you can get away with talking about dark stuff. And it’s also wanting to keep the songs pop.

DD: In particular, you might be grouped with Bearsuit and Los Campesinos.
BS: Yeah, we love Bearsuit, they’re friends of ours. I started off loving Bearsuit a couple of years ago so it’s great to be compared to them now. It’s nice that there’s a little movement of bands wanting to be pop in an interesting way, because it means we don’t feel so isolated.

DD: Who writes the lyrics?
BS: It’s Mike [Watson], or sometimes Mike and Sara [Beard] will write them together. A lot of them come out of dreams and a lot are just terrible in-jokes. That comes from spending so much of our time hanging out together in the van, talking about ridiculous stuff like Matthew McConaughey and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

DD: Are you big Buffy fans?
BS: Yeah, we’ve got a slightly terrible obsession. Also My So Called Life and Freaks and Geeks. The thing is, we all have jobs, and then we spend the weekend driving around the country, so on weeknights we’re in such a daze that all we can do is watch TV.

Courtcase 2000 is out now on Akoustik Anarkhy. Cats In Paris play The Fly on Friday September 26.