You’d be forgiven for thinking that Little Comets’ debut album, In Search of Elusive Little Comets, ought to be steeped in references to the city of its birth. However, it is curiously free from location, leaving you wondering the role the band’s Newcastle roots played in its creation.
‘I think a lot of music from the North East over the last sort of forty or fifty years has, almost, a melodic footprint. You get very similar phrasing if you listen to Sting, or even Maximo Park and lots of Northumbrian folk music, like Kathryn Tickell. I think it’s just that people have different intonation in their accents, but it’s definitely not thought about or anything. But we’re not trying to have a local sound.’
On the question of how far the band see themselves as belonging to a distinct scene, drummer Mark Harle explains: ‘I don’t think scenes really exist…they’re just made up by the press, one day some people went to a disco with neon paint on them, and suddenly that’s new rave. It’s just a tag line you can put on music so you can sell it and the wider population.’
Maybe this is why Little Comets have been able to remain so grounded over the last two years, and what helped them to not change in line with the pressure that their record company put on them to change their recording and production principles. Lead guitarist Michael Coles has also always produced for the band, something that they refused to change, leading to a split with their original recording contract.
Far from being arrogant, however, this comes with a whole lot of humility, as Rob continually emphasises how he thinks he lacks the maturity as a writer to portray soul-searching themes or political ideas in two verses and choruses, preferring a kind of objectivity and realism in his lyrics that has lead to their songs being described as ‘kitchen-sink indie’. The band explain that their writing process progresses very organically, from the grain of an idea that gets turned into a song: ‘we are instrumental writers, essentially – a lot of the melodies come from Micky’s guitar – I’ll steal a riff and sing it. It’s very often we start playing together and then I’ll sing right at the end.
We do just stand around and play for like an hour, I wouldn’t say with no directions, but with very little, and after a while you’ve just got something – its bizarre. Beautiful. I think we don’t really think about what it’s going to be when we start working on a song, it just has a mind of its own. Our friend once said that he believed that all songs were just floating around in the ether, waiting for people to channel them. I don’t really think it’s as spiritual as that, but I like that idea that songs sort of find you. But some take more work than others to get found.’
This is the band’s first headline tour, and though the venues they have played have varied in size, you can’t help suspect that as they take on the big festivals this summer they will find a similar reception.
By Maggie Lund