Pastures of Plenty

An Interview with Fields

by Robert Collins

4 November 2007

It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Fields are proving that on a daily basis.

Fields have musical pedigree. Drummer Henry Spenner’s Dad played bass for Joe Cocker at Woodstock. Bassist Matty Derham was in an early incarnation of Bloc Party. Singer Nick Peill and guitarist Jamie Putnam have a long history of bands behind them. And Icelandic sexpot vocalist/keyboard player Thorunn Antonia’s Dad wrote their country’s national anthem. So when they finally all got together in one room and started playing music, it’s not surprising that magic emerged.

“We’ve been incredibly fortunate in the way we formed Fields and just gelled,” reckons Jamie, who in a certain light looks like a bigger, cleaner version of Dirty Sanchez’s Matt Pritchard. “Within about six weeks we were playing to labels. Interest had been generated prior to that through demos Nick had put together. So the ball was rolling as we found our feet as a band.”

“It was a result of the first couple of rehearsals we had going incredibly well,” adds Nick. “Why don’t we book a gig and have something to aim for? So we got a support slot at Kings College with Sons and Daughters and Vincent Vincent and the Villains.

“The initial thing was just for everyone to enjoy making music together. But very quickly it seemed that there was a really great chemistry between all of us and there was no reason why we shouldn’t try to make things happen. It’s fortunate that we all seem to share a similar vision for the material. We haven’t had any creative arguments over stuff yet. We tend to get through stuff pretty quickly. Matty’s really good at cracking the whip.”

“They’ll start pumping out all this jazz,” sighs the softly spoken Matty. “I just tell them to shut up. It needs a bit of…” at which moment he slams his palm down on the table we’re sitting around, causing everyone to jump and Thorunn to laugh hysterically.

They were obviously doing something correct from the beginning, as the offers started pouring in within weeks of the band’s formation. The band decided to sign with Atlantic Records, home of Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Missy Elliott, AC/DC and The Darkness.

“It’s had its bad moments,” smiles Nick, resisting the urge for a Justin Hawkins impression. “It only takes one label to start showing a bit of interest and everyone seems to be interested. We found ourselves in the lovely position where we had a few people offering us deals and we were able to pick one. It didn’t seem like we were signing ourselves over to some big machine, even though it’s obviously a massive label. We were just quite wary not to sign a massive deal. It came down to how much creative control and input we would still keep as a band. We were aware that the band still had a lot of growth to do. We were signed four months after forming. Pretty ludicrous really. Still, we weren’t living extravagantly by any means.”

“We ate a lot of porridge,” nods Thorunn.

That was February 2006. Since then Fields have been touring with Larrikin Love, The Mystery Jets, The Spinto Band, The Zutons and Bloc Party. It’s made them the band they are today, and was a major factor in shaping their supremely epic debut album, Everything Last Winter.

“Songs take on a different form when you start playing them live,” reckons Nick. “We kept beefing up the guitars with each subsequent tour. That definitely affected the record. And we really bonded across those tours. You can’t help but bond with people when you’re sharing hotel rooms and tour busses with people.”

“We got on really well from the first day,” smiles Thorunn, obviously happy to share her space with four potentially whiffy men. “We’re really close and really good friends. They come up with all sorts of entertainment.”

“Thorunn is the worst out of everyone,” insists Jamie. “She’s led us all astray. She’s corrupted us.”

“I take full responsibility for that,” she nods.

“We don’t smash hotel rooms,” points out Jamie.

“There’s not too much to break in Travel Lodges,” agrees Matty. “The furniture tends to be nailed down. We do nick a pillow every now and again for the bus. That’s about as mad as it gets really. We’re painting a bit of a sad picture here.”

“In some ways the whole soap opera nature of a band and its personalities has overtaken the actual product and the art behind it,” reckons Jamie. “In a lot of cases there’s no art behind it at all. It’s all about profile and spin. It would be nice if quality was actually recognised and celebrated, rather than celebrating kicking the shit out of each other outside venues every night.”

“You’re going to get the Towers Of London after you,” warns Nick.

“We were at these awards a few weeks ago and we were right next to the Towers of London,” continues Jamie. “It would be so easy to get a bit of 3am exposure just by starting off a fight with them. Then I realised that, skinny as they are, they’re probably kill us.”

“Jamie does have shovel hands,” grins Nick. “He could have taken them.”

+ + +

A Field Not Of Their Own
Fields break down the competition

Proper Goths. From the dark heart of Stevenage.
Jamie (to Thorunn): You’d like the Fields of the Nephilim. They were like a pantomime band.
Nick: There’s always been a goth element to our music.
Jamie: I heard an amazing story about the Neph. I don’t know if it’s true. They used to dress up in their cowboy gear, go down their local pub, park the car with the headlights beaming in and come through the door with the light behind them. Then the bar tender would slide their drinks down the bar. I like to think that’s true.

Sunderland’s premier art rockers. Tight with The Futureheads.
Nick: They’re such a different sounding band to us. The only confusion comes in the name.
Matty: I really like what I’ve heard.
Jamie: They’re not as good as the Neph though.

After Terry Hall left The Specials and Fun Boy Three, this was his next band.
Jamie: Hammond Song is an absolutely brilliant song. I actually went out with Terry Hall’s niece when I was a teenager.

Neil Young and Stephen Stills’ breakthrough band.

Jamie: Awesome. I’ll be surprised if there’s any ‘Field’ band better than that.

Fields’ new favourites. Unsigned at present.
Nick: They’re from Sheffield. We discovered them on Myspace.
Thorunn: They have this song, City Of Steel [starts singing].
Nick: They’re the sort of songs that you know what the next line will be, even if it’s the first time you’ve heard it.

Bass player in Korn. Made famously bad solo hip-hop record.
Jamie: We’re not huge metal fans.
Nick: And nu metal is the weakest of all the metals. Slightly below tin.
Matty: Our album was produced by Michael Beinhorn, the guy who made Untouchables – the Korn album that took four years to make.
Jamie: That’s why we picked him.

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