Shortly before their sell-out show in Manchester, UK, Punktastic caught up with ‘A’ bassist Dan to chat about the tour, their new stuff and why not to call them ‘Cheeky Monkeys’.

P: Do you wanna introduce yourself, and describe your sound for people who’ve not heard you?
D: Yeah I’m Daniel from ‘A’. Our sound is probably Jane’s Addiction meets Faith No More meets Green Day meets [pauses] oh I dunno.

P: The release of ‘Nothing’ has propelled you up the charts…
D: Yeah it’s done really well..
P: Apparently it’s 10th on the midweek sales?
D: Actually I think it’s 8th now, I’m not sure. We CD:UK this morning, which was kinda weird, strange you know?

P: Who else was there?
D: Well Kylie and Westlife had pre-recorded their stuff so there was White Stripes and Mystique.

P: Did you get to hang out with them then?
D: Nah I didn’t get a chance to meet Shaggy which was a shame, ‘cos that would’ve been wicked.

P: Where do you see ‘A’ going in the future now then?
D: I dunno [pauses to think]. The thing with us is, we’ve always done what we do, so we’ve been doing this for 5 years since I’ve been in the band, and we’re only just starting to get a bit of mainstream recognition for it. I can’t really say what I think’ll happen with [‘A’], it’s all good and whatever happens we’ll just carry on doing what we’ve been doing.

P: You’ve not always had the support you’re currently enjoying from the radio etc. though have you?
D: No, exactly, that’s the weird thing. In the mainstream way, there’s been a lot of things that’ve changed – there’s been a lot of American bands really breaking things open for everybody else, so you know it’s a good time to be out ready to go now, ‘cos everybody’s like, “Ooh yeah, rock music, that’s cool!”.

P: Do you think your attitudes towards the radio have changed at all?
D: Not really, you just have to have a healthy…[pauses] you’ve just got to take it as it comes really, we’ve never changed what we do, we’re always doing our thing really.

P: You’ve been fairly vocal in past about your treatment by the likes of Radio 1 though?
D: Yeah, because I think it was pretty criminal the way that when they were playing stuff on Radio 1 it was a case of like, “oh yeah we’ve got ONE slot for a rock band”, which is really lame…

P: And now they play ‘Nothing’ 4 or 5 times a day…
D: Yeah it’s going off at the moment, that’s it. It’s kinda scary, because everybody else’s expectations of what it should do and shouldn’t do are different from our stuff on the last record, where people were like, “yeah get on with it, whatever”. This time though people are like, “It’s gonna go here in the charts” and “you gotta do this, do that”, and that’s kinda weird. We’ve never changed our attitudes towards [the radio stations] really, it’s just kinda interesting that they’ve changed their attitudes towards us.

P: We’ve gotta ask this one, just what are so ace about buildings? [‘A’s first record is titled “How Ace Are Buildings?”]
D: I dunno it’s just… [pauses] we actually had the “buildings discussion” on the way up here, they’re cool – not that fucking monstrosity over there [points across the road], but… I dunno, buildings are just wicked, you know?

P: Have you got a favourite building then?
D: Probably Martello Tower, where we did all the demos for ‘Monkey Kong’. We thought it would be better to hire this place off the Landmark Trust, they let you hire castles and shit. So we did that, and it actually worked out cheaper than hiring a studio for 4 weeks, and we lived in this thing on the beach that’s like totally circular, it was amazing.

P: How did you find your recent US tours compared to touring over here in the UK?
D: Touring’s all good, the only drawback of touring is being away from your folks and stuff. We’ve been very lucky really. The [US] tour before the last one was kinda shit, because we’ve only had support stuff and the odd showcase gig, but that’s the way it is [over there], you just gotta go out with other bands. Our first and last tour were with Bloodhound Gang, which is always cool, ‘cos they’re great blokes. In the middle we did this tour with a band called the Marvellous Three, who were like Motley Crue, but in the worst way, and that was pretty miserable, being on tour with them for six weeks, playing to people who don’t give a fuck. It’s good to be in a support position really, just to get on and win over a crowd that’s never heard you before.

P: Back to ‘Nothing’ again, it’s totally different to anything else on the album, was that a conscious decision?
D: No, the wierd thing about it is there’s been a lot of people on our bulletin board saying, “Oh yeah, it’s like a real departure for us”, and that it “sounds like Linkin Park“, but it’s weird because, one of the biggest influences on us has always been Faith No More, and [Nothing] was kind of us doing that. It’s just something we wrote, and we thought it’d be good as a first single, because, for people in the UK it’s like we’ve been away for a long time, and this record would be like a kick in the arse to everyone. Yeah, a lot of the record is different from that, which is kinda why we wanted to do it as a first single, really.

P: Have you any idea what the next single’s gonna be?
D: Starbucks, probably.

P: If you got to choose one record from the past three decades what would it be (excluding your own stuff)?
D: ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’ by Refused, that’s an awesome record.

P: For any particular reason?
D: It’s just amazing, it’s one of the best hard records recorded, it’s just full on.

P: Is that what you’re listening to at the moment?
D: Well, that’s an old record but it’s one I’d take for definite; the stuff I’m listening to at the moment? Rival Schools obviously, that’s kinda why we wanted to get ’em on the tour, I’ve always been a fan of everything [Rival Schools frontman] Walter’s done before, I think the guy’s a genius. I still listen to loads of emo stuff, loads of Fugazi.

P: What do think of the new Get Up Kids sort of stuff?
D: Yeah, Get Up Kids are good, I like ’em, I liked the first EP a lot.

P: When you’re back in London, where’s the best place to hang out?
D: I dunno, we don’t do that much hanging out in London any more, every time we go back it just seems so fucking hectic. When I was in college all I ever used to do was go hang out in Slam City Skates with a few mates, which is like a decent Skate Shop, with a really good record store down stairs.

P: You gonna be making a trip back to Tahoe in the near future?
D: We normally go every new year, but we missed it obviously this year, with the new record coming out. Hopefully we’ll be able to go soon, though, ‘cos we haven’t been boarding in a long time. I think we’re doing some shows in Austria and Switzerland, so on our days off we’re gonna try and get out there a bit.

P: If you weren’t in ‘A’, what would you be doing right now?
D: I’d be in another band, because it’s something I’d probably have to do. Also I studied to be a graphic designer, I’ve done a couple of record sleeves for other people, I’d probably do that as well.

P: So what sleeves have you designed?
D: I did a load of stuff for Cable, did a couple things on RoadRunner, not that much recently simply ‘cos we’ve been so busy touring. That’s what I think I’d be doing, that and photography.

P: You’ve got £20 in your pocket, and nothing to do all day. Where do you go?
D: I dunno, I’d probably do what I’d do when I was unemployed, I’d just go out and wander round London and watch people, which is slightly weird maybe, but kinda entertaining. Then I’d go by myself a CD; it’s pretty much what I used to do anyway. Now we get to do it for free – we just did a bunch of instores for Virgin, we played London and
Leeds, and did signings in Newcastle and Glasgow too. They were cool, you get to meet loads of people, and get given loads of free CDs. It went off in London, it was like a gig, there were kids coming over and crowdsurfing. It’s good to do stuff like that, ‘cos it’s kinda weird to see a load of kids going sick in a record store.

P: I bet the store manager was having a fit…
D: Nah, they all seemed to love it. They’re all fans of music, I suppose, so it must make for an interesting day.

P: About your gig tonight, are you gonna be playing [Punktastic office fave] ‘No. 1’ tonight?
D: No, we’re not I don’t think.
P: Awww…
D: We are playing some stuff off the first record though. We’ve been doing ‘Cheeky Monkey’ recently, which is a weird thing. We thought we’d do it again because everybody didn’t want us to, all the people who were coming to shows. We thought it kinda set us back a bit, every time we were being interviewed it was, “Cheeky Monkeys ‘A’…”, so it pissed us off constantly for ages, so we didn’t play it for years.

P: Ah well, it was worth a try…
D: well, we’ll be coming back in May for the album tour, so maybe then. It’s one we did in rehearsal, but it never made it into the set.

P: Are we gonna be treated to Tahoe foam again?
D: No! We didn’t get the foam machine tonight [looks upset]. That stuff fucking stinks anyway, it’s not good.

P: Ok thanks for your time.
D: Cheers guys.

Check out the review of the Manchester gig here, also go take a look at the review of ‘Hi-Fi Serious’ by clicking here.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]