Cattle & Cane: Interview
Teeside five-piece, Cattle & Cane have built up their reputation the old fashioned way – touring small halls and getting local radio play.
Their first album Home was very well received and the folk aesthetic and sound was drawing inevitable comparisons to the likes of Mumford & Sons. However, Cattle & Cane and much more intriguing and progressive than that comparison suggests and their new album, Mirrors goes a long way to proving this.
Mirrors finds the band broadening their sound into previously unexplored electro-landscapes and the result is an exciting blend of experimentation and core accessibility.
We caught up with Cattle & Cane’s singer-songwriter, Joe Hammill as they travel the country on their UK tour. We discuss the pros and cons of playing music with your siblings, the perfect playlist for the UK general election and the surreal experience of hearing C&C’s music on a Brazilian soap opera.
Q. Hi Joe, tell us where you are and what you have been doing this morning?
We currently on tour so we’re just at a Welcome Break Services on a motorway contemplating another night’s work. It’s not a bad life.
Q. You have just released your new album Mirrors. Please tell us a bit about the album and the evolution in your sound?
We recorded Mirrors in a studio in Belgium and we wanted a very different sound than in our previous work. We’ve been experimenting with different instruments and different sounds. The songs are still rooted in the acoustic singer-song-writer vibe but we have used a lot of electronic instruments in an effort to layer and broaden our sound. The response that we’ve got from Pledge music and others has been really positive so hopefully that will continue when people listen to it.
Q. What are the pros and cons of working in (what is essentially) a family band?
There’s a multitude of pros and cons. Mostly, each pro is also a con and each con is also a pro.
One of the main pro points is that we can say what we want to each other – we can be brutally honest and it doesn’t have to be a massive thing. If I’d said some of the things to a mate that I’d said to family members we probably wouldn’t be mates anymore! It’s nice to have that freedom and honesty and assumed love.
The con is that you’re with you family all the time! We grew up in a relatively big family with lots of siblings so I think we all craved a bit of alone time – now that we’re all in a band together, we’re still craving it. Maybe one day haha!
Our parents get all of the benefit of us being in a band and being on tour as they get the house to themselves!
Q. You are currently on tour. What out the challenges of translating your recorded sound to the stage?
The difficulty is that it’s hard to translate the intimacy and delicacy you get when you’re in the studio crafting the songs – you can’t afford to adopt that approach in a live performance as it’s a completely different energy. Our live sound is heavier and it’s faster but hopefully the craft and the quality of the songs still come through.
Q. What do you enjoy most of touring?
To know that people have spent their money on coming to see us is an amazing feeling. I never get tired of walking out to the cheer and the welcome of a crowd who have come to listen to us play music. There’s a lot of things to get jaded about in this world but that is definitely not one of them.
Things like motorway services stations, traffic, no sleep and general confusion are all symptoms of the touring process that seem unenjoyable but I’ll probably look back on those moments with great fondness.
However, after working on music in the studio and then getting on stage to hear people singing your songs back at you – there’s no better feeling.
Q. Your music has been played on the Brazilian soap opera Avenida Brazil. Have you ever seen the episode?
I can’t say I’ve seen a whole episode but I have seen clips of it on YouTube. I have absolutely no idea about how that came about. Someone tweeted us and said a Bralizian soap opera was using our music. Apparently, it’s as big as Coronation Street is here and one of the main characters was seen dancing around to one of our songs. That’s maybe our most surreal moment so far!
Q. If you could put a playlist together to sum up the current general election, what songs would you choose?
1. Help! – The Beatles
2. Beginning of the Twist – The Futureheads
3. Evil Woman – ELO
Q. Arts funding has been slashed over the last seven years. As an emerging artist, what are the difficulties young people face when wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
It’s never been harder for a musician to make a living out of playing music. Don’t get me wrong, it’s never been easy but it just feels as there’s no political will to support young artists and musicians anymore. Arts funding has been slashed and I just hope that the next government will start putting more resources into this. Without creative people being encouraged to express themselves – to a point where it seems they are being actively discouraged - society is in a very bad way.
Q. You’re on a deserted, tropical peninsula and you are stranded on Coney’s Island – what three things would you most like to have with you?
Easy – a guitar, a football and a life-time supply of Yorkshire teabags.
Q. How do you see the future for Cattle & Cane?
We’d like to continue our steady growth. If we end up playing venues to thousands of people that would be great progress. Of course, we’d like to eventually ‘break’ America and things like that but to be honest, our ambitions are pretty humble. We just want to continue making music, playing live and earning a decent living out of it. So far it’s been great and we just want to continue what we’ve been doing.
Cattle & Cane are on tour now.
9th May - Manchester Gullivers
10th May - Nottingham Bodega
11th May - London Camden Assembly
12th May - Bristol Louisiana
13th May - Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach