Don’t tell the trend spotters but there’s an indie-pop album doing the rounds and getting great reviews. It’s a full volume blast of nostalgia from the late 80s or early 90s, with lyrics about bands, song titles about singers, and shouty choruses crafted with drunken indie disco sing-a-longs in mind. The band behind it make music videos about picnics in parks and, guess what…? They’re from the north of England. Meet This Many Boyfriends, both the band and more recently, the debut album.
Describing themselves as a “fun pop band who like to play loud with the odd quiet moment thrown in”, This Many Boyfriends have mastered the art of doing something simple, really well.
“I think we make it seem really easy because it kind of is,” explains the band’s singer, Richard Brooke. “We’re not a miraculous band, you know. I want people to really enjoy our record and not think about it too much. We all said it would be a really good record to listen to before going out to a rubbish little indie club.”
He adds: “I also really like the idea that people might form a band after listening to it. Not in a cocky way, but in the way that it would be really nice if people listened to it and thought ‘oh yeah, that’s piss easy, I could do that!’” If just one person picked up a guitar after listening to it I think that would be brilliant.”
If there’s any deeper meaning to read into This Many Boyfriends, it’s ‘don’t take music too seriously’, as album opener ‘Tina Weymouth’ warns.
“It’s about fandom and how it can go too far and how you can forget about life when you like music too much,” explains Richard. “A lot of the songs on the album were written two or three years ago when I was obsessively obessed with music, and I’m not like that anymore. ‘Tina Weymouth’ was written later, so it’s a comment on the rest of the album. Which is weird with it coming first. It’s like the end of the record but first on the album. It’s like saying all these references we are making are really great but don’t get too excited. And I think that sums up the record pretty well.”
As for Tina Weymouth herself, Richard is a massive fan. “The Talking Heads film, Stop Making Sense is absolutely amazing, it’s one of my favourites. It’s beautiful and in that Tina Weymouth is like some kind of God, the way she moves and the way she plays, the way she carries herself, it’s spectacular. I’m probably never going to meet her but I’m besotted with her on that DVD.”
Standard indie-pop influences such as The Smiths, Orange Juice and The Wedding Present are a part of This Many Boyfriends and Richard’s vocals are unmistakably northern, but perhaps the most obvious reference is paid to The Cribs. The shouty chorus of recent single ‘Young Lovers Go Pop!’ could quite easily have come straight from Ryan Jarman himself. “I think it’s the one thing we all agree on,” explains Richard. “We all have quite different music tastes in a way, but The Cribs are the one thing that brings it all together. We’ve all been to see them and we’ve all bought their records.”
It’s no coincidence that This Many Boyfriends was produced by Ryan Jarman. “We still don’t really know how that came about,” says Richard excitedly. “Our record label sent his management some stuff because they thought he’d like it. Somehow it got to him and he got on board pretty quickly. I don’t think he does that very often so it’s quite nice that he decided to do it for us.”
While many of the songs were written over the course of the last three years, the record itself was recorded rapidly, during just three weekends. Needless to say This Many Boyfriends are delighted with the results. “It means everything and having Ryan produce it was mad, because I’ve loved the Cribs for ages,” says Richard. “It’s been really surreal, we’ve been reading reviews this week and can’t quite believe it. To see the 8 out of 10 on The Line Of Best Fit, is like ‘wow’. I get a lot of recommendations from there so it’s weird seeing our own record. It feels great. It actually feels better than having singles out because it feels like we’ve done a proper piece of work.”
As well as help making their record, This Many Boyfriends were also invited to join the Cribs on tour earlier this year. It was their first taste of playing larger venues and also their first steps outside the boundaries of the often insular indie-pop community.
“It was amazing but absolutely terrifying because we’d never done anything like that before,” explains Richard. “We had been playing above pubs for our entire career, then playing in front of hundreds of people was pretty scary. Their fans are really lovely. We were a bit apprehensive and thought they might not like us, but they were really nice. And getting to see The Cribs every night for free was really good too. And it was great being around them, because they’re really nice, we felt really welcome and they were by the side of the stage every night and patted us on the back when we came off and made sure we were all right.”
Performing at Leeds Met was an obvious highlight for This Many Boyfriends, playing in their home town to their friends and family. “It was really special, playing to all the people you know but in a massive place where we’ve all been to see gigs before.” It was the perfect preparation ahead of releasing their first LP. “I think since The Cribs tour we’re getting a different sort of fan,” says Richard. “We started as really indie pop and we still are. We play a lot of indie pop gigs – with bands like Allo Darlin’ and Standard Fare – who we love and we’re friends with, but I feel like we’re moving kind of away from that now with all the stuff we’re getting booked for.”
Whether this is a conscious move or not, Richard is positive about it. “It’s weird because I really love the indie pop thing but it can become quite stifling. It’s as if you’re not allowed out of it. Like you can get to a certain level and you have to stop and you have to become a cult band. And we really don’t want to do that because we want to be as big as you can be.”
And so, this group of music lovers from Leeds who named themselves after a track on a Beat Happening album, and sing about their love of bands like The Pastels, could well be headed for bigger things. First up is a tour of the UK, about which they are justifiably excited. Richard has promised unlimited fun and (probably) balloons and glitter and confetti. “We’ll all be having a good laugh. And hopefully people will really enjoy themselves. We’ll be really loud, excessively loud probably,” he laughs. “I’ll probably run out into the crowd at some point and scream into people’s faces. It will hopefully sound a bit like the record, but probably not that much. It will be fun. We’ve got loads of really good support too, from bands that are a lot better than we are.”
If This Many Boyfriends is anything to go by, expect “that golden period of 80s indie”, as Richard describes it, to be recreated at a venue near you, wherever you are in the country.
This Many Boyfriends is available now through Angular Recording Company, and the band can be caught at the following live dates:
17 Oct – LONDON, The Lexington
18 Oct – EDINBURGH – Sneaky Pete’s
20 Oct – CARDIFF, SWN FestivaL
21 Oct – YORK – Stereo