Earlies These Were the Earlies

Earlies These Were the Earlies
Last year buzz crossed the Atlantic about a band comprised of two Texans and two Brits who released an exquisite little album on the taste-making 679 label (Annie, the Futureheads). The Earlies were clogging up blogs and making reviews easy to write in the UK press with their wonderfully inventive psych-pop that well surpassed the surplus of new psych acts with their overwhelming ambition. Right when it seemed as though These Were the Earlies was going to remain a lost, import-only wonder, thankfully, Secretly Canadian stepped up and rescued North Americans by picking up this astonishing record. Built of four members, but often boasting a line-up of 11 to deliver the full Earlies experience live, the band have melded their wide canon of influences and thrown it into a big melting pot for an audacious head-trip that will leave you blissfully disoriented. Part Elephant Six experimentation, part Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev/Polyphonic Spree orchestral wonder and part Warp Records oddity, the Earlies thrive on multi-layered elaboration as their motive to produce such ornate sounds. John Mark Lapham’s obsession with Beach Boy harmonies further drives the music into orgasmic terrain, planting delicate hooks on every corner the music turns. Only once in a blue moon does a psych-pop album this impressive bless us with its presence.

What held up the record’s release here in North America? Multi-instrumentalist Christian Madden: It was very difficult to persuade anybody to take on an act that promotes their music live with an 11-piece band. I think quite a few labels were interested in the music, but they all pretty much baulked at such an expensive prospect until Secretly Canadian tentatively agreed to help us.

The list of instruments in the liner notes are out of control. We had to make a lot of those instruments up, which can be quite time consuming and disorientating. All the real instruments were played by underpaid, bitter but enthusiastic Burnley session legends. They have become the very essence of our live shows. Indeed, the popularity, and in one particular instance ego, of some of them is raging out of control.

There seems to be many different influences running throughout the band. Were those separate or unified? It’s quite difficult to remember who brought which influences to the table now, but as God is my witness, I brought more prog than anyone else, when my body weight is taken into account. Giles brought an awareness of European songwriting traditions with a punk aesthetic, and the pop sensibility is all Brandon’s. The jarringly avant-garde elements are exclusively John Mark’s musical, as well as lifestyle statement. (Secretly Canadian)