[INTERVIEW] with... Average Sex

Photo: Luis Kramer

Hailing from London Average Sex write bright, breezy and melodic three minute indie smash hits that you are going to want dance to the very moment you hear them. Comprising sharp lyrics and commentary with a playful and close to flirtatious vibe there is a pronounced consistency in sound and ethos between the band's recordings and their live shows.

Titled Melodie the band are releasing their second EP today on O Genesis Recordingsthe independent label founded by Tim Burgess. Produced by The Charlatans' frontman and Jim Spencer (New Order and The Charlatans), the songs are crammed with hooks and melody all set to make you go on humming them for hours on end.

Made up of vocalist and lyricist Laetitia Bocquet, guitarists Sam O Donovan and Louise Earwaker, Finn Kidd on drums and Jamie Graeme on bass, the quintet released their critically acclaimed super popular Ice Cream EP last year. Following the successful completion of a UK tour supporting The Charlatans last year the band have been busy working and finishing the EP and playing several UK summer festival dates.

Having revealed their video for the tracks Melodie and Sociopath, taken off the EP, as well as a string of live dates around the UK, there is definitely enough reason to celebrate and enjoy what they have achieved so far. It's All Indie caught up with guitarist extraordinaire Sam to get some insights on how their EP was made and what the band have got lined up next.

Being picked up by one of the legends in British indie music is one thing, it is big but for then to get your music released through that same person's record label does add an extra dimension.

Influential and respected in music circles, Tim Burgess is one of the most admired and enduring artists in British indie rock and beyond. Known for his incredible passion for and in-depth knowledge of a range of music, record releases and the music industry, Tim and The Charlatans have endured more ups and downs than a lot of other bands and not only is it remarkable that they continue to make really good music and go on tour but the fact that they are more relevant and better than ever beggars belief.

Formerly, the drummer of Hatcham Social, Finn has collaborated with Tim when he produced Hatcham's first record. When Finn joined Average Sex they had already played a few shows. A promoter in South London was doing a show at Christmas time for an album launch, it was at around the same time as Different Days came out and the promoter was a friend of Jamie, the bass player in Average Sex. The promoter saw the connection to Tim and suggested Average Sex as a support act and they were offered the slot.

Describe what was it like to meet Tim Burgess and what he said that night following the gig?

"We had met Tim a few times obviously but we were speaking to him after that particular show. It was the first time he had seen Average Sex live and he was blown away saying 'I want to put your records out, let's keep in touch and discuss things'. That was last July and from then on things moved on quickly with the first EP being released in December on O Genesis and it has done really well. It sold out a few times in Rough Trade and Piccadilly Records and it has been restocked three or four times which is a really good sign. Then we did the tour in December and then some European dates with The Charlatans in February and Tim said the plan was to go to their studio in Cheshire and we went up there in March where we recorded Melodie."

How familiar were you with The Charlatans before you got to know and work with them?

"Very familiar. When I was growing up my older brothers had all the albums and when I was really young and still at school I went to see Oasis play at Finsbury Park and The Charlatans were one of the support bands. I remember that very well. One thing that struck me was that Tim has had such a big influence on me at this stage. I remember being very young and then seeing that performance and when I watched it again on YouTube it was like ‘Wow who would have thought all these years later’. It has been totally incredible and a bit surreal as well, I had to pinch myself a couple of times."

Tim Burgess and Jim Spencer produced Melodie, what were they like to work with? What do you see  you see as their key strengths in the studio?

"It was amazing, obviously somebody with Tim’s experience as a recording artist it is just invaluable to have. One of the things that can happen in a recording session to some bands it can a be like ‘We wanna just do this and fill up so much space and add other bits’ but he was very good at keeping things real so we didn't lose sight of what we sound like live and didn't get too detached from that, which is great because sometimes if you don’t have a producer who is willing to do that you can end of going a bit over the top with the finished product being further away from what the band are like live."

"We wanted to keep that connection and Tim said it was really important because he saw us live and he really wanted to capture that on the EP, it was all pretty much done as a live take, the way we were set up the studio was great. It is a residential studio it has got like two massive live rooms, it was very nice and everybody just felt so comfortable not just in terms of what it was like when we recorded but it also felt cool to try out stuff. It was just a positive experience and Jim Spencer is such a lovely guy and obviously he has worked with lots of massive bands as well including New Order and Johnny Marr."

Working with talented producers can clearly make a big difference to a recording and make it stand out but that does not take away the undeniable fact that the songs have got to be there in the first place. Average Sex write superb indie pop songs and even during a first listen it becomes clear that a strong songwriting partnership is bound to be in place.


How long did you spend working in the studio?

"We were there for three weeks. Jim was mixing it as we went along but Tim and Jim were down there together. By the time we were ready to leave we had a listen through and all the songs were in a great place. I mean we got such good recordings and strong takes and I think we also made their jobs a little easier. Within a week of being there we had the mixes sent to us and from then on it becomes the label's timeline. We felt summer was a really good time to release the EP as we are playing festivals and felt it was ready to come out. It has a really good feel to it."

How do you and Laetitia write songs, can you describe the approach?

"Yes it is mainly me and Laetitia just now, we have written most of the songs in my kitchen, we get a laptop open, press record and start jamming and come up with some ideas and then how it usually works is that we will bring the songs to the rest of the band and we will work and develop the songs from there."

"Laetitia has some really great lyrics, she has such a fun take on things which makes it all really exciting and obviously I come up with a piece of music. Some of the topics she touches on, the things she sings about and the way she does it. I think she has got all the tools and the charisma to be the great front person that she is."

Ensuring there is a level of originality in their music is important to the band and Laetitia makes a contribution to that element. 

"I think Laetitia definitely adds originality to the band and our music, it is quite exciting and every time we write a new song you usually have a pretty good idea of what it is going to be like."

Does Laetitia take her lyrics to the sessions or is it more a matter of writing them there and then?

"Even since we finished touring with The Charlatans we have been discussing plans to write and record an album, maybe towards the end of the year we will start recording so we can release it next year. The plan for me and Laetitia to just get our heads down whenever we can and write as many songs as possible."

"I guess sometimes life gets in the way of our plans, at the moment I am the one with the most downtime and I have been recording some demos, I have been getting some ideas down. I will email maybe three or four songs to Laetitia and she will get them back to me after she has recorded vocals, some melody and lyrics over the top and we will then take it to the band."

"I think she feels comfortable with that process and it suits her way of doing things. Maybe at some point it would be good to try and come in from scratch and we all just bring something to the studio and it all just happens like that but so far that is not the way we have been working. At the moment we have all got our busy schedules but we are managing things really well. We have probably got thirty songs written now."

"I am really pleased with the sort of turnaround we have and I don't think there has been many songs we have not felt happy about. It is just a case of having the opportunity for the whole band to work on new songs but we are really pleased with the set we have and it is pretty much the two EPs plus a couple of more songs. So it is a matter of keeping that set going for the time being and it is working out really well. But we have got a whole list of songs to work on with the rest of the band so there will be more to come pretty soon."

How would you describe Average Sex's future aspirations or plans?

"My personal goal with this band has always been to make an album and it is already in the process of happening. We would like to progress with each thing that we do. We all feel really positive about everything as it is just now. At Kendal Calling we were on at the time as The Libertines so we were a bit unsure of how much of a crowd we would get but we still got a really big crowd. We even had a stage 'invader' who knew all the words to one of our songs. As long as people are enjoying what we do and each release goes well I don't see any reason as to why we can't take things far. If you are in it for the right reasons, you like making music with the people you are in a band with and you enjoy that bit then you can go far."   

Upcoming Live Dates 

23 August - Old Blue Last - Saxon Zine - EP Launch Party
31 August - Sebright Arms - Cosmic Strip 'Heavenly' EP Launch 
13 October - Shacklewell Arms - + Winter 

Photo: Luis Kramer