Furrow are two guys from a small village called West Felton just on the English/Welsh border. But don’t let their bucolic background fool you. Furrow create gnarly, super lo-fi noise pop capable of reigniting any flagging house party. Between Richard Cartwright’s pounding rhythms and Thom Snell’s shredded bass sound, Furrow also manage to infuse their songs with plenty of melodic verve and enough catchy hooks to give the likes of No Age a run for their money. We caught up with Rich and Thom to talk about playing in caravans, forging new comedy musical genres and their forthcoming album.
How did you guys first start making music together?
Thom: We come from this little place called West Felton, and we both ended up back there after university. We were hanging around, looking for jobs and listening to lots of No Age.
Rich: Yeah, we were thinking about what No Age were doing and listening to a lot of Male Bonding as well and we thought, if they can do it, then we can try to do the same thing. I’d never played the drums before, but I lied to Thom and said I did and said that we should buy a drum kit (laughs).
T: We bought the kit off a crazy guy who used to bet on the horses all the time. Rich had this old bass and I got a couple of pedals and it went from there.
R: We though we’d just start making music and see how far we could go.
How long was it before you started playing shows?
R: Not long. We played Manchester, then a show in Leamington Spa, then we met some really inspiring bands on the road like Sex Hands and Mowbird, then it just escalated from there. Because we’ve got a car it’s easy to drive around and play. I think we went about things in the total opposite way to most bands. I think bands usually go into a studio and record, taking time to find their sound then use their album or whatever to get shows. But we just started playing loads and loads of shows and found our own sound that way. The tour we did with Fawn Spots was cool and a big learning curve. We learned so much from those guys and John (Fawn Spots) was really cool. We learned a lot from John. He’ll probably love that we said that! (laughs).
T: Also, because of where we’re based, it’s pretty easy to get to places to play gigs.
West Felton, that’s near the Welsh boarder, right?
T: Yeah, it’s sort of in the middle of the country so it’s just as easy to get to London as it is to get to Glasgow, so it was quite easy to go touring as soon as we could.
You guys have got a seriously lo-fi aesthetic. Is that something that you intentionally planned or did it happen naturally?
R: It all happened pretty naturally. We started recording all our stuff using one microphone and we still use Garage Band to record everything. Then we send it to Mark from Soundsavers and he mixes and masters it all and makes it sound better. We just get on with it really and try and record as much as we can.
T: Things are a bit harder now because we’re both working full time so we try to record and play whenever we can. But it’s almost like each show is practice now.
Is there some improvisation that happens during you’re shows?
T: Sometimes, but we know what we’re doing… most of the time!
R: We played this show in Berlin and we couldn’t take a drum kit, so we just used a keyboard and a SP 404 sampler.
T: We had to rework a couple of songs and we just winged it.
How did that work out?
R: It was really good. People were into it.
T: We ended up playing for about an hour. That was a weird show but it was really fun.
Do you guys have the chance to practice much now?
R: We have this caravan back home that we put carpet in and kitted out with our gear. We use that as a little practice space . I think we’re quite lucky to have that because there isn’t anywhere near us that’s a dedicated rehearsal space, and our caravan is in a field in the middle of nowhere.
T: It’s good because we can play as loud as we want in there. It’s just getting the time to use it. Even when we started, we’d write something and just play it at the next show no matter what. We played a song tonight that we wrote three days ago.
R: The same thing happened with ‘Dear Hunter’, we wrote it then had a show almost the next day and just played it live to see how it went down.
Yeah, ‘Dear Hunter’ is your latest single, it got released on Bleeding Gold records. How did you start working with them?
R: I Facebooked Roger, the label owner, and basically said “Please put out our record”. We sent him some tracks and he really liked them so we ended up putting together A Field, which is a collection of a few EPs and the Bleeding Gold guys released them on cassette, then we recorded ‘Dear Hunter’ and ended up releasing that as a single. We were really lucky.
You guys have released a lot of your suff on cassette, why did you decide to release on that format?
T: It was cheap and easy!
R: It’s nice to make your own artwork too, and that’s really easy to do that with cassettes.
T: We’ve put stuff out digitally as well, but having something physical feels good. It’s proof that you’ve created something. In the past, we’ve recorded songs digitally and they’ve ended up being lost one way or another, so physical format is important from our point of view.
What are you working on now?
R: We’ve got an album coming out.
T: Yeah, it’s called West Felton and Bleeding Gold are going to release it. I think Roger’s stuck with us now! (laughs).
R: It’s all recorded and it’s getting mixed and mastered at the moment. We’re just sorting out a few things but it should be out at the end of August.
You’ve described your sound as ‘Field-Gaze’. That’s pretty funny, is it a tongue-in-cheek reference to your agricultural home town?
R: We’re creating a new genre. Loads of young farmers are going to pick up guitars and buy cheap drum kits and form bands. It’s going to be featured on Country File. It’s gonna be big. That’s the plan. (laughs)
T: Yeah, it’s gonna spawn it’s own sub-genres too, like ‘mudcore’, ‘hedge rock’… I can’t think of any more! (laughs)
I guess the name Furrow has an agricultural feel to it. Why did you decide to go for that?
T: There’s a car dealership called Furrows back home but we thought Furrow sounded better, and it’s got something to do with where we live. It’s pretty cool living in the country. It’s got it’s down sides but it can also be really good, so we thought we’d embrace it.
What have you guys got coming up over the next few months?
R: The record’s coming out, then we’ve got some shows in Europe with Something. We’re big fans of them so we’re really looking forward to it.
T: Then we’re off to Japan. An album and lots of shows coming up. It’s gonna be good.
R: Other than that, we’re just going to keep writing new songs and see what happens.