Saturday, 28 January 2012


Max Radford – Singer / guitarist / lyricist

Billy Foster – Bassist / Synth player
Bertie Crawley – Drummer

Interview Date: 19/01/2012

New Carnival are standing up and getting noticed in amongst the carnival of the internet: music’s new home.

Secret Admirer met the New Carnival boys before their gig for This Is Tomorrow at the Hare and Hounds supporting Casio Kids in Birmingham. We had a nice chat in The Victoria pub. Secret Admirer hardly had to ask them anything, they were more than happy to talk. Torture simply wasn’t necessary.

Are you guys excited for your gig today?

Billy Foster: Yeah, definitely! We brought a crowd from University so that should go down well. It’s only an opening slot but it’s with Casiokids, who we are big fans of so…you guys looking forward to it?

Max Radford: Yeah, should be real good.

This Is Tomorrow are really good promoters.

Billy: They were very professional with us, I emailed them and they emailed back in literally two minutes.

Did you contact them then about the show?

Billy: I found them…I looked up Hare And Hounds on the internet and I looked at the promotion nights for them. This Is Tomorrow came up and they offered us another gig but it was too short notice. Then they said; we’ve got a slot with Casiokids, is that alright? And we jumped at it.

Max: Are you in a band?

Yeah, but we don’t have to talk about that.

The New Carnival boys share a laugh.

Max: What’s it called?

We are called Drool. We are like a punk band.

Billy: How did you hear about us?

It was through This Is Tomorrow putting you on tonight. Then I listened to you on your Soundcloud and I really liked it.

Billy: Soundcloud seems to have done really well.

Soundcloud is awesome, it’s my favourite!

Max: We’ve given up with MySpace.

MySpace is dead.

Bertie Crawley: So 2005… (laughs)

Max: It’s not got a good look either. Soundcloud is so much more immediate. And also I like the fact that you can see the waves. I was talking to a mate about it and we were like: you can tell if that’s going to be a good song from the waves.

Bertie: It’s building up, I can see it!

Max: You’re like, awww it’s going to…

You can see where it kicks in.

Max: Yeah!

Bertie: Also, the media player on MySpace is shit.

MySpace used to look good I thought, quite…alright then they re-did it and it didn’t look as good.

Billy: Yeah.

So when did your band start?

Billy: We started…erm…maybe two years ago? How did it happen, we were jamming…

Max: Me and Billy were sort of jamming. We were actually playing folk music, Billy was on double bass, I was playing a banjo. It was when folk was quite exciting. Then we were like: oh it would be nice to stop playing the same three chords all the time and start playing something a little more interesting. We gave Bertie a call and started actually playing jazz, sort of like, ambient, quite ambient jazz. I think Bertie got quite bored, sort of like…

Bertie laughs at the mention of previous musical experimentation.

Max: He wasn’t really sticking to a rhythm. So then we started putting more of these 4/4 beats over the top. And then sort of started taking some of the jazz-like guitar lines and making them into dance, more dance orientated riffs. And then just started to make real songs that sounded quite…

Billy: Started incorporating more electronic equipment in there as well, samplers and synths and triggering stuff off with effects pedals. Very different from when we started.

Max: It’s very funny and we are enjoying have some more electronic sounds in there. I just got the SPS, the drum pad and we’ve got a new track that we just made called ‘Let Me Shake’ and we’ve got all of this whole like…it’s like African drumming over the top. But with like an electro-y sounding bass and snare over the top of it. Then Bertie plays over the top of that.

Bertie: It’s a lot of drums. Always good.

Max: It’s really percussion-y.

Billy: We’ll play that tonight actually.

Why did you choose the name New Carnival? Is there a reason behind it?

Billy: We thought ‘carnival’ went well with the sound. And the ‘new’, well, we were listening to a bit of New Order at the time…and we played with a lot of different names at the time.

Max: The name is the killer thing to decide. Unless you’ve just got something, I guess it’s like getting a tattoo, like: that’s what I want then you just do it. We didn’t have that, we didn’t go: oh, we want to be called that. We started off as Pelican Brief.

Billy: I quite like that; it’s the name of a film.

Max: I thought that was quite fun but then I thought, actually, you’ve got to think of all your hits. It’s not as romantic as people like to think. You’ve got to think about hits on sites and what’s going to come up on searches and what’s not, as in on the internet. So we settled for New Carnival, which…

Billy: We were Callay for a bit and that didn’t work.

Max: We then found out that New Carnival is a Nintendo game.

Billy: It’s a Nintendo game seller.

Bertie: But fortunately we…they hadn’t built a website so we own the website rights so that’s quite cool.

Max: So yeah, that’s seemed to of stuck. It’s difficult with a name because when you say it, you can’t be embarrassed by it, you can’t be shy of it. New Carnival, we all agreed on it.

How did your first gig go as New Carnival?

Max: Our first gig, was like, unbelievable!

Bertie: Probably our best.

Max: Yeah, we were in Cheltenham, in a place called The Two Pigs. First gig that wasn’t in our living room or to some friends and it was unbelievable, there was a proper mosh pit going on and no one knew our songs or anything. In half an hour we just came off and we were like: what is going on?

Billy: There were these boys and they looked pretty normal and they just started moshing at the front. There must have been maximum forty, fifty people in the crowd.

Bertie: I was just scared to look up!

Billy: They just started chanting ‘drum solo!’ at you, didn’t they?

Bertie: They just came in as we started playing, started kicking off and started the crowd completely going. They all just went boom, off, and went mental. We were like: oh, this is how it works, this is a lot of fun.

Billy: Fond memories.

Max: It was a good starter. It was quite out of the blue.

Billy: And it was supporting Pegasus Bridge, who just recently broke up but they were doing really well.

“Shit, this is actually quite intense” – Max Radford

Max: Then it went down-hill a little bit from there but then we said we’ve got to play in London.

Bertie: The first London gig was good actually.

Max: We played two first gigs then we were like…well first and second gig. You can’t really have two first gigs. The second one was our first London gig. Which we just got a random email for, literally out the blue through MySpace.

It’s not that bad then.

Max: We forgave MySpace after that. Since then it’s never given us any joy so we’ve given up on it again but we got this email and it was like: do you want to headline a gig in Shoreditch? At a place called The Catch…

Billy: Catch 22.

Max: Yeah so we invited everyone under the sun and we were like: everyone’s gotta be there. It’s make or break! We were sort of naïve at the time that one gig in London…we’d make it from there. We’d be in NME next week and supporting Foals the following Wednesday. But that didn’t happen. But it was a really good turn out and after that we played loads of pretty shitty London gigs. Ten to twenty people there…

Billy: You had to promise to bring twenty people.

Max: The promoters weren’t even there at the door when you arrived.

Bertie: Since that we’ve been doing a lot of more spaced out gigs, making sure we pack them out and make sure they’re fun and getting the mood right. That’s sort of what we are focussing on more.

Max: Since we did a self-release of ‘You Can Call Me Thomas’ in October.

Billy: It was October 24th because it’s my dad’s birthday so I always remember it.

Max: Since then things have really gone up. Like all our views and stuff, it’s all sky-rocketed. Then we got loads and loads of emails from America! Because we got onto this thing called The Hype Machine, on the chart. I was talking to some girl who was American and she didn’t know anything about us and she was like, because we were talking about music, I use The Hype Machine to find all the good music and it’s massive in America. I was like cool because it makes all the sense. We got to number fifteen on the download chart on Hype Machine. And we were like, this is literally the most exciting thing ever.

Billy: The catch comes that it wasn’t because people were downloading millions of our track because you are only on it for three days.

Max: No but we were still on loads of blogs and stuff.

Bertie: And we started getting emails like you said, from the U.S, asking us: do you have any representation? We had a brilliant email from a guy the other day who was describing that he was clearly quite a keen fan and he asked us if we wanted some representation.

Max: Yeah it turned out he wasn’t anything to do with anything. He just sent us an email and we were like thanks very much, no we don’t. And that was pretty much it.

Bertie: We are trying to get an EP out in a couple of months time…

Max: Yeah, in April. We are recording.

Bertie: The guy is coming tonight actually, the producer.

Who are you working with?

Max: Erm, his name…

Bertie: Andrew Halford. He’s just recorded an album for the band called Trophy Wife.

Max: Yeah he produces all the Trophy Wife tracks.

Billy: They might be coming tonight actually…

Bertie: No they have gone back to Oxford.

Max: Yeah we are really excited about that because we worked with…we are hoping to release a single before we do the EP. But we basically need some label backing. So we are sort of approaching the smaller labels or we are planning to. We got interest from this American guy and then I literally sent him an email yesterday and he hasn’t got back to me yet. So we don’t know about that but hopefully sometime in the next month or so we’ll get something out. All our previous recordings have all been done ourselves. We’ve produced them and recorded them. And so it would be really good to get out something that’s…because we were in the studio last summer recording a track called ‘We Make Circles’. That’ll be our single I think. And then bring out the EP and then hopefully we can get a stable standing block. That you could go from there, which would be cool. I guess we just gotta keep playing gigs and stuff and having a good time.

Do you feel like you are getting a fan base yet?

Bertie: We did a gig not long ago in Bristol and that was really good, that was really packed. And when we go up to London people turn up not because they have any affiliation to us but because they’ve heard good things about the music. When that happens it’s really exciting.

Billy: I think more than anything its fan loyalty and people are generally more interested than we realised. When we did a gig before Christmas in Bristol, I tried to work it out and I got about 150 but apparently there was 200 people there. And then we did Barfly in Camden on the 7th January and there was a 100 people in there.

Max: We also try to make our sets more exciting, not exciting, more like fun. When we started we played quite dark…dark indie.

Bertie: It was quite intense.

Max: And then we were like: shit, this is actually quite intense. It was more of a sit down and listen job than like: aww, I’ll go out and see these guys, it’ll be fun. Then I really started getting into my dance music and stuff like that. I was like: actually this is what people go out to. Suddenly we were like that is so much more fun to play, everyone boogying and what not. And then we started doing that and people responded way better to it. Because they come again and you know because a lot of people say it’s a fun night out and that’s what we wanted when we started going in that direction. It’s good fun and also I think as far as fan bases go, it’s quite nice when someone brings other people. It’s just that expansion effect when someone brings someone and they bring another person. It just keeps filtering through. So this time, for this gig we’ve got one mate in Birmingham, we played his house party a couple of weeks ago. No, a month ago, ages ago wasn’t it?

Billy: Late November.

Bertie: That was awesome.

Max: That was really fun, it was packed in this tiny room and it was really cool, really fun.

Bertie: Everyone was going nuts.

Max: We think they will be there and it’s quite cool not to know your fans. You get your friends along and you always have a nice time but it’s pretty cool when you don’t know anyone and they are like: oh, I really like your stuff.

Billy: One guy I didn’t know that well text me and said can I have fifteen tickets for tonight. Well of course you can! That’s really really encouraging to hear that.

Do you play a lot of house shows then?

Max: We…last summer we played a lot of private parties. In the summer you play more outside but I like it when it’s inside and it’s like really sweaty. We’ve done a few of them though and they’ve been really fun.

Billy: Where people are literally in your grill.

Max: Yeah, falling.

Billy: One time I nearly hit someone with my guitar.

Max: Yeah and he got drinks everywhere.

Bertie: That’s really good.

Max: When it’s just wall to wall shouting.

Billy: Max’s pedals are dying a death because people keep dropping beers on them.

Max: It is a bit of a nightmare but it’s a lot of fun. Basically it’s just awesome when people are having a good time. It’s genuinely perfect.

Billy: It’s exactly what we are aiming for.

Max: Yeah, basically, and if they like the music then that’s fantastic. As long as they are boogying and having a good time, that’s important. I like house parties a lot. At the moment we are first year university, next year when we’ve got houses and what not we’ll set up a few parties. I think it’ll be quite cool.

Come and play my house too.

Bertie: Yeah that would be really cool.

Billy: We’d love to.

Max: Yeah let’s do it. We’re in.

Nice one. Are there any other bands you like playing shows with?

Bertie: We’ve supported Trophy Wife before.

Max: Those guys are a lot of fun.

Billy: Yeah we love them. Who was it…? Love In The Asylum!

Max: Yeah they were fun. I don’t think they’d remember us though which is sad.

Billy: They were playing before us and I remember thinking: god, we can’t compete with that.

Max: A Genuine Freak Show we played with which was like watching Sigur Ros.

Bertie: They were technically perfect.

Max: They had strings and stuff on stage and we were like just three of us crammed in. The crowd watching us was their band, we were like: shit, big crowd tonight! And they all just went on stage, they were all in the band. (Laughs) But we often get put with a lot of bad bands.

Bertie: We got put on a night down near guild hall, for some bizarre reason they put us on with only heavy metal bands. We turned up playing, I don’t know, it was ridiculous. We were playing dance music and these guys just go on with like hair down to their knees and just screamed.

Billy: There was one band, they were a heavy metal hardcore band and they had a drummer, two acoustic guitars which they put pick-ups onto and they were thrashing out with loads of distortion and screaming. I just couldn’t understand it, two acoustic guitars, where’s that coming from?

Bertie: I think there is more heavy metal bands than any other band. It goes with the image, you have to be in a band. There are lots of them about. Recently we’ve done alright but when we used to do loads and loads of gigs, it felt very strange.

Billy: That’s why I’m so excited about tonight because we’ve really been matched well with the other bands. Couldn’t ask for more. There’s been a change because Swim Deep I think dropped out and it’s Silver Souvenirs now. I look at them and they are really quite close to our sound, it’s slightly guitar based dance music. It’s just really great to be put with them.

It’s This Is Tomorrow’s mission to put on gigs where the bands share a similar sound.

Max: Well it makes sense doesn’t it? To have a night with a complete mix of music just messes with your mind a little bit.

Bertie: What’s the venue like?

It looks like a normal pub then you go upstairs and it’s a huge gig room.

Max: We are pleased because I’d like to watch Casio Kids anyway. It was the same with Trophy Wife actually. We found out we were playing with them and we were like: that is fantastic because we are big big fans of Trophy Wife. So we get in free and play in the same place.

Billy: Get a dressing room next to them.

What gigs have you got coming up this year?

Max: We haven’t got that much actually, we need to organise another one in Bristol really. Which is important but we are trying to limit it to like once a term really because otherwise…because we’d prefer to do one massive gig than lots of little ones.

Billy: Unless it’s like a house party or a private gig. But in terms of public gigs we’d like to do one Bristol, one London, one Birmingham…

Max: Yeah but to be honest at the moment we’re looking to do recordings and videos. We’ll do live shows probably more for practice than anything gaining wise. Because we haven’t got anything to promote otherwise it’s sort of wasted gigs if you haven’t got CDs to sell. So we want to get some merchandise out there. We need t-shirts.

Every band needs a good t-shirt.

Max: We need some art-work and we need to get onto it. We have a way of writing New Carnival that we like. We need a picture that we are like: we like that a lot. Hopefully it will go well.

Thanks for your time guys.

Billy: Thanks for having us.

Photography by Jack Parker

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