The Cribs enjoy being a trio again

, Editor-in-Chief

The Cribs are back to being a band of brothers. Returning to their original three-piece and releasing a new album next month, the English rockers are touring America with a rejuvenated spirit. On Saturday, they’ll close out their U.S. tour in Boston with an intimate show at the Brighton Music Hall.

In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, the band’s fifth studio effort, will be released May 7. It marks their first as trio since 2007’s Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever, after recording 2009’s Ignore the Ignorant with guitarist Johnny Marr of The Smiths. Brothers Ryan, Gary and Ross Jarman clocked up plenty miles while recording the new album. Sessions took place in upstate New York courtesy of David Fridmann’s Tarbox Road studio with Fridmann at the controls, a short self-produced¬† session at London’s Abbey Road and a few days in Chicago with producer Steve Albini at his EAR studio.

As one of England’s top bands thanks to their energetic live shows, the Wakefield-bred group is hoping to expand their fanbase on this side of the pond in 2012. Using Portland, Oregon as their American homebase, The Cribs are going back to how they started: packing in van, hitting the open road and rocking the clubs.

Earlier this week, we caught up with Ryan Jarman to discuss the band’s new album, life as a three-piece and their future plans.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): You’ve been together as band for over a decade now, how do you feel the band has evolved to where you are now?

Ryan Jarman (RJ): It’s not something I really think about at all, we do evolve all the time but it’s better not to be too aware of that, otherwise you’d run the risk of becoming contrived.

BMS: How has been a being a band of three brothers helped you through the years? Has anything been harder because you are family?

RJ: I guess some things are but fundamentally we have a really good understanding of each other and our ethics and opinions are very much a shared concern, so that makes us feel very unified I suppose. You do become a little insular though, for example we have always hated being lumped in with any scene that is going on. That happens a lot in the U.K. and I really feel like we operate entirely on our own and in a different way to most of the other bands that we get wrongly associated with.

BMS: You’ll be releasing your fifth album, In the Belly of the Brazen Bull, next month. What can you tell us about it?

RJ: It took us about a year to write, we wrote it in Ross’s garage in Wakefield [England] and Gary’s basement in Portland, Oregon. We wrote from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day pretty much and it was a very creative time. It was quite a turbulent period for the band to be honest with Johnny leaving and the press around that, plus some other personal problems, but I feel like we turned it into something positive. Writing and recording this record felt like one of the best times for this band in my opinion.

BMS: This marks your first album since the departure guitarist Johnny Marr. Explain how the recoding process was this time around without him and what you were looking to achieve sonically as you returned to being a three piece.

RJ: We had actually been missing the sound of us as a three piece to be honest anyway as we’ve always been fans of keeping things as stripped back as possible. All we were trying to achieve really sonically was a stripped back, live performance as really that is what this band has always fundamentally been about. I like the sound of three pieces, if you are good live as a three piece you really just have to capture a good performance.

BMS: Tell us about working with Dave Fridmann and Steve Albini on this album. How did they each influence and impact the album in their own way.

RJ: Well the main reason we chose both those guys is because they like to record the band live in the same room which is the only way we like doing it really, as we always have the songs fully written before booking the studio. Plus, between the two of them they are responsible for the best drum sounds ever so they were our dream producers.

Steve’s approach is very hands off, he sets up his signature sound if you want to call it that and then just hits record and let’s you decide which is a good take, etc. He offers no opinion on the music side of it, which is perfect for our way of recording; we’re kind of control freaks in the studio. We did four songs, recorded and mixed, in three days with Steve so that gives you a good idea how swift it was.

Dave is much more involved in the record I feel, he has some truly great sonic ideas when it comes to adding layers or creating more experimental sounds, but again he records live and gets a very organic sound so I think that the two different recordings actually work really well together and are certainly cohesive.

BMS: Are they any track you are particularly proud of?

RJ: Personally, my favorite is “Back to the Bolthole”. It was one of the very first tracks we wrote and I feel it had a large part to play throughout the rest of the writing process. It really seemed to sum up where my head was at at the time and playing it live is something I’ve really been enjoying on this tour.

BMS: The album will be released in a variety of packages with some bonus content and goodies. Tell us about the inspiration for this, especially the “Golden Laminate”.

RJ: We have always been huge advocates of the physical format and trying to make buying a record as exciting and satisfying as it was when we used to buy records growing up. It’s such a shame that records are so instantly available and almost disposable now due to our fast food culture. So, we try and offset that by offering things like a DVD documentary and as many exclusive tracks as we can: things recorded during the album sessions or songs written specifically for bonus tracks; just so there is still an element of surprise on the day of release. The golden laminate was something we came up with in Chicago during the Albini sessions and it just seemed like such a good idea as the live experience is something that can’t be diluted by the internet, etc. As I said, we’ve always prided ourselves on our live reputation and it’s a good way of giving something back to our most loyal fans over the last 10 years. You get the chance of coming to any gig, anywhere, for life. Plus, Ross got the actual laminates made himself and they will be a really nice collectors piece, there are only three in the world so they will be the ultimate Cribs rarity!

BMS: You’ve adopted Portland as a hometown for the band in recent years. With such great success in the U.K., what’s the biggest challenge to expanding your fan base here in the United States?

RJ: We just really intend on touring out here much more now than what we have had the chance to in the past, we love coming here and Portland is a great place for us to be based out of and an inspiring place to write. We have our own van out here too now so we can do it like we did in the U.K, just jump in the van and play wherever people want us.

BMS: How is the touring going thus far and what should fans expect from your upcoming show in Boston?

RJ: It’s been going really really great, we are having so much fun just being the three brothers again in the back of the van. There’s a real sense of camaraderie. We try to keep our gigs as unplanned as possible so it’s difficult to say what people should expect, other than we will play with passion. We never phone it in, plus it’s the final night of the tour so should be fun.

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