At some point, we’ve all attributed the success of fame and fortune to luck or connections. We see these big touring bands (or mega stars like Rhianna), and we think, “they sure knew the right people” or “lucky them—that kind of thing never happens to us lowly musicians here.”
But we assume too much.
Eagulls, a post-punk band from Leeds, England, reminded me the other day that sometimes “making it big” is all about passion, dedication, and hard work—or, as their lead singer and main songwriter George Mitchell put it, “having a record.”
Eagulls got together in full form in 2010 and released their first single, then got right to touring. “We just started playing as many shows as we could from then on. That’s what it was about, playing shows and going to as many places as possible,” Mitchell said.
Eagulls continue to play show after show, in country after country, with just about no end in sight. Earlier this year, they toured with Franz Ferdinand in the UK, playing lots of bigger shows than what they’ve played in the past.
“It was good; lots of big venues with big crowds, sometimes thousands of people,” Mitchell said. “But with shows like that, you’ll always just be the supporting act. But I think we warmed the crowd up good for ‘em, you know.”
Since then, they’ve played in other countries in Europe and, as of a few nights ago, have started to trek across the US, starting with New York, coming clear across to Seattle, and then back to New York. Of course, after that, it’s back to the UK for some shows in London—they’ve got dates planned all the way through November.
“I think to a normal person it’s like, you’d just about die right away, you know, but we’re used to it and we like it, so it’s good,” Mitchell said of the Eagulls’ never-ending tour. “We’re still young, so we can handle it quite well.”
Before they could tour the US, as Mitchell put it, they felt they needed a full-length, well-recorded studio album. Their self-titled debut was released this year.
“Before we had a record we didn’t really have anything people could buy and listen to. So when we finally got a record released in the US, then we had something to support us and make money with while we’re touring, We’ve all got to pay the bills, you know, so now we can do that,” Mitchell said.
Along with paying their bills, Eagulls have built quite a bit of buzz in the last year, what with their lively music, infamous music video that depicts a brain decaying (for their song “Nerve Endings”) and supposed “off-stage antics” (according to Wikipedia).
“I don’t know who writes these things,” Mitchell said. “But yeah, we’ve had some pretty fun times. I can’t really think of any of them off the top of my head, though, because I’d usually had quite a few drinks by then.”
Once particularly noteworthy event stands out: a house raid by police during the filming for “Nerve Endings.”
“We hadn’t been paying our gas bills, so the gas man came to shut it off, and he was in the house doing that and saw the brain there decaying. It had been going for about a few weeks by that time, and I think he thought it was like a baby’s brain or something like that. So he got freaked out and called the police,” Mitchell said.
But the video – albeit kind of weird and maybe gross to some – actually comes with a bit of artistic honesty and real creativity.
“It really goes along with the lyrics, ‘cause the song is about anxiety and how it’s just a never-ending process that continues in the brain. As the brain decays, the anxiety goes away a bit, but it comes back because it’s just replaced by something else, like the maggots. Then the maggots become something else, and it keeps going. It’s like an expression of the cycle of anxiety,” Mitchell said.
“You know, there’s thought behind the madness,” he said.
Despite the antics, which one review claims have overshadowed anything else, the Eagulls’ first album has been received well and reviewed on sites like Pitchfork, metacritic, and NME, who gave the album an 8/10 but called them “a group of pissed-off 20-somethings living in Leeds, stuck in the soulless drudgery of a dead-end nine-to-five existence and loathing every second of it.”
Can we blame them? I certainly can’t. After all’s said and done, they sound like your average creative, fun, ambitious guys who just want to do what they love. Any musician (or artist) I know, myself included, hates working a 9-to-5 job and wishes they could be supported by their passion of choice, quit the stupid corporate/retail/food service circus, and go wherever they please.
And I’m quite happy to report that, as of six months ago, all members of Eagulls did just that. I wish them nothing but the best.
Eagulls will play in Seattle at the Crocodile on June 4.