For The Cult Fat Guy EP is out 28th October.
You can find all kinds of useful things in your junk drawer, right? Just recently, in my junk drawer, I found my membership card for this football club (College Corinthians) I ‘played’ for back in 1996, a key for a door that no longer exists, and my VHS copy of The Nona Tapes by Alice in Chains. You can find all kind of useful things when listening to Belfast based alternative rock quartet Junk Drawer too. Their new EP For The Cult Fat Guy sees them somehow meld junk from Graham Coxon, Queens of the Stone Age, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr. to create something visceral, expansive, and yet still extremely infectious. Bravo, boys.
Stevie told us about the EP title and the first three tracks, with Jake taking over for the final track ‘Quandary’.
For The Cult Fat Guy
Stevie Lennox: We’re under no illusions here, there are so many bands on this rock, and we hope we offer something unique, but it’s likely that we don’t, so the most we can do is create the purest representation of what we are for this idea of some cult fat guy, or person, and leave it out there. The cult fat guy is kind of all of us in the band. We couldn’t decide on a title for the EP. We wrote out a list of possible titles from themes and lyrics, The Genetic Reproach, The Foundless Critic, Sighing the Silent Moan,Tapestry of Idiosyncrasy, even Undecided.
We might have trouble cutting the songs down to under 5 minutes, we might always save the awesome bit for the end and force you through too many meandering sections, but we’re all cult fat guys here, and the most we can hope for is for it to really click with another. I went on a rant one night about how all bands need just a small, but devoted following of cult fat guys who will always get it, and that there’s no point pandering to people who aren’t after it anyway; the music is going to happen whether or not someone enjoys it.
I was told by a friend recently that I’m referential in how I make things – although I can’t speak for the rest of the band – even down to the production of the EP (by the brilliant Caolan Austin of Smalltown America) catering to that ramshackle every-song-has-different-touchstones broader Junk Drawer idea.
1. Song 3
SL: The one with the chorus, I guess – ‘Song 3’ evolved from a jam that happened after Brian (Coney) asked Stevie to ‘play something a bit Coxon-y’. He played the intro riff and more or less everything after it came straight from whatever we heard in our heads afterwards. We recorded it live in Smalltown America studios with Caolan Austin & Chris Cassidy, who knew instinctively exactly what we were after sonically – which was a Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth-meets-Sebadoh / Dinosaur Jr vibe.
Each of the four songs veers off on its own course musically, but lyrically, they share a lot of fragments of themes that (we hope) add up to a whole over the course of the release. Without meaning to sound pretentious or angsty, it broadly comes from the sense of trying to overcome your own wiring, an inability to enjoy the moment and the sense that any attempt at maintaining integrity is just pissing in the wind. Much like ‘Black Cat’ later on, it talks about some of the issues with having no direction; indecision, my epileptic brain, how it gets and how it’s programmed, getting in the way of just finding a little slice of something you can call content.
2. Do You Ever Think About Existence, Adrian?
SL: When 3 of us busted out almost the entire basis of the song in under 10 minutes in a spontaneous jam, we knew it was some kind of pure distillation of what we are – for better or worse, that’s not for us to say. I thought the song was more or less finished, then Jake added some instinctive harmonies that immediately felt like they had been previously missing – and afterwards as a four-piece, Rory put in this soaring lead line in the second chorus that’s quite honestly, my favourite moment out of anything we’ve written. Full credit to (Brian) Coney for his bassline, which was the generator of the whole song, and the instinct to bring things down a semitone in the outro.
I took much too long to finish lyrics for the song, but the seed of it comes from having to quit the job I was working in a shop, and the weird connect & disconnect with certain people, with the titular Adrian as a reference point. There are plenty of elements of minutia, like sci-fi references that frame some relationships, for me anyway. It’s very much a snapshot of that point in time. I saw – in my opinion possibly the greatest single artist kicking around right now – Richard Dawson, shortly before it was written, and it changed everything creatively for me, pretty much, in terms of melody, how I put words together, and just generally the “craft”, and the vocal parts got slightly less self-conscious too.
3. Black Cat
SL: Our attempt at garagey psych-rock. This one took a long time to write before we decided to blow my throat out in a kind of garagey-freakout ending. Caolan did a fantastic job with this one in terms of getting it to sound like Spacemen 3-meets-Ragged Glory-era Neil Young/Wooden Shjips on guitar.
Again, thematically similar to ‘Song 3’ in terms of addressing some topics dudes don’t generally like to talk about out loud. I had been reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and listening to too much of Marc Maron around this time and certainly some things that struck me there carried over – not that some stupid psych song can touch literature. Around this time, a black cat started coming around our house while I was living with my family, terrorising my own cats – incidentally my father started feeding it – and I guess it’s about this idea that there are some things that will follow you around, be it genetic, or through trying to escape too hard from it. There’s a ‘November Rain’ reference in there too, obviously.
Jake Lennox: With ‘Quandary’, I (Jake) am coming from the point in my life at the peak of condensing my duties into a airtight tin. Trying to cover too much ground at that pace just left me perpetually exhausted. So I was doing shitty work – not just work work; life work, relationship work – and at the end of it, I was even more disappointed in the result. That, coupled with the persistent niggling thought that whatever kind of slump I’m in, if I’m not actively fixing it, I had to make something out of it (a song, a painting or whatever). So there’s no rest, just infrequent catharsis.
My perspective was shifting when I wrote it though, so it was nice to conclude that spell with a sonic something. What came with it was the periodic acknowledgement that I am nothing. Then if somebody else with the same quandary gets something out of it, we can share a nice little momentary, clichéd bond & they’ll accept their nothingness too.
Musically, I was listening to a lot of slowcore.
Snap up the EP on Bandcamp.
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