The Crimea

Big Mac Tragedy

Towards the tail end of last year, The Crimea astounded us here at Atomicduster by releasing what was undoubtedly one of the best albums of 2005. No doubt it will eventually hit the charts belatedly, like Arcade Fire’s “Funeral” before it, especially given that the first single taken from it, “Lottery Winners on Acid”, has already begun the onslaught by brightening up the lower reaches of the top 40.
Frontman Davey McManus was quick to point out that his influences in making the album stretch back much further than many of the current ilk of great British hopes:

DM: I was listening mainly to sixties kind of stuff really, you know, a lot of Leonard Cohen and Dusty Springfield, but we tried to get an element of originality in there too so we sounded bang up to date. And one of the biggest inspirations for me was not having to compete in everyday life with normal people! We were in a different world in that studio.

AD: I noticed that a lot of your lyrics were quite bittersweet. Deeply personal?

DM: I wouldn’t say they were necessarily personal to ME. I guess they’re personal to everybody! I’m so vain I’m trying to speak for the whole world, you see! Bittersweet? Hmmm…I’d say they were more bitter…

AD: One particularly bitter track is the album’s finale, “Someone’s Crying”…

DM: That song was just me questioning religion, saying “Who’s in charge here?”, because when you look at all the tragedy around the world it’s practically all caused by religion and that’s just not on. It’s the way we all feel when we suffer the loss of a loved one and you start questioning your own values and beliefs.

AD: At the same time, a lot of intensity comes through in the music. Was the recording process a particularly acrimonious one?

DM: It was more arduous than acrimonious – it took a long time. We must have recorded every track five to ten times, changing lyrics here, tempos there and instrumental parts all over until we got it right. I guess there was a BIT of acrimony while we were in the States with a certain producer who looked like ET…up until that point I’d had full control but he took that away from me and I found that difficult to accept.

AD: Well, you obviously struck a happy medium in the end! Now, I saw you several times in your incarnation as The Crocketts and you were always value for money entertainment…

DM: Ha! Comedy value I suppose…

AD: Maybe, but you were always worth seeing. How did your experience with that band shape the way you approach things now?

DM: Musically, not one single bit, as we’re a LOT different now, but our knowledge was a lot more shabby about the industry back then – it was like serving an apprenticeship really, being in The Crocketts, so I’d say we’re only MENTALLY influenced by the past.

AD: Any career highlights?

DM: Too many to mention; I don’t think I could possibly pick just one. Being in the wilds of El Paso, touring with The Bravery, gigs with Billy Corgan – the list goes on. You have to remember that over the whole of last year we played well over 100 shows and it’s difficult to choose from!

AD: How surreal has your success seemed to you? You did, after all, get some massive gigs just by handing out demos to lead singers of well known bands…

DM: It IS weird yeah, but it seemed more surreal with The Crocketts, having this massive debt hanging over us after the record company pumped thousands of pounds into us. I was only 18 back then and we weren’t as successful as we – or the record company – had hoped. We managed to wangle our way out of it last time though, so hopefully if it all goes wrong again we’ll be able to do the same thing, although we went balls out for a major label release this time, so we can get a proper push!

AD: What brought about the album title – “Tragedy Rocks”?

DM: I came up with it a while back. It’s just that whole darkness, voyeurism, suicide, murder and destruction people that people find sexy and attractive, and hopefully it will intrigue them.

AD: Some of the tracks on the album are so supremely moving that they bring a tear to your eye. How exactly do you go about transferring that depth of emotion from your head to music?

DM: I’m not sure, but Zane Lowe came to one of our gigs recently and he started crying, which was pretty funny to be honest!
It’s probably because I take time to experiment and I’ll sit there and sit there until I find the right vocal. So many people aren’t willing to do that anymore and I find that really frustrating.

AD: What would you regard as the ultimate success?

DM: We want to really take the band to Chinatown, no messing around. We want to break the entire world…hell, we want to be the next Coca-cola!

AD: One final question then: Describe your album in 4 words.

DM: Kylie Minogue shagging Tchaikovsky.

Er…Ok then…and in some deeply perverse way, I can see what he’s getting at…but then the mention of Kylie’s name ALWAYS brings about a perverse way of thinking to me…
Anyway, you’ve read the interview, you’ve heard the single and you saw The Crocketts. What you need to bear in mind now is that “Tragedy Rocks” is ten times better than all three! Off you pop then…

Interview: Tone E

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