As guitars are being dusted off and gigs get into full swing bands are finding themselves full of optimism for the future. But so often life conspires to throw a spanner in the works. The always affable Alice’s Ants talked to Gary Trueman about drummer shortages, musical families and why staying friends with ex band members can pay dividends further sown the line.
It’s a little while since we last spoke. We’ve had the pandemic but we’ll skip past that because everyone just wants to move on now. People seem to be a bit more optimistic now. Is that how you find yourselves?
Emily: “Yes definitely. We’re fed up with not doing anything and being stuck inside. Now everything is opening back up. Over lockdown we did a lot of writing. A lot of stuff happened that gave me a lot of inspiration to write songs. We have a date for our EP release which is July 4th. We’re going to release a few singles leading up to that.”
Will the EP be available in physical format as well as online?
Emily: “Yes, both. And it’s going to be called delusional as usual.”
Some people may notice from the images accompanying this interview that there are two of you. So let’s talk about drummers. You’ve obviously parted ways with the drummer from last time we chatted. You’ve had someone else play called James. You’ve parted on good terms we take it? So are you actively seeking another drummer and how far down that road have you got?
Emily: “Yes on good terms. We are holding auditions pretty soon.”
Sam: “I’ve been dealing with finding a new drummer and messaging a load of people. We’ve got a few people interested and I’ve sent them some demo tracks. We’ll be arranging to meet up with them pretty soon.”
There’s a bit of a dire state in the UK with regard to drummers isn’t there. Lots of bands always seem to be looking. Why do you think that is?
Emily: “They are all so sought after that they’re all already too busy. Or they’re off to uni like our drummer. It’s just one of those things.”
So one of the things that’ll be your prime criteria if you find someone that’s a good fit is being able to commit?
Emily: “Definitely. It’s the main thing. We want to do shit now and it’s frustrating. Our last drummer joined in lockdown and we’ve just started getting into gigging again.”
Sam: “We’d only played a couple of gigs at the start of the year before he left. He did join us to play supporting Weekend Recovery.”
Is he somebody you would still consider as a standby in case any new drummer did have an issue?
Emily: “I think so. We’re good friends with him. So if we really needed him he hopefully could help. We do appreciate what he’s done.”
Sam: “He’s helped develop our sound a lot. From our stuff before to when James was in the band, he’s really helped how we structure songs.”
You have appeared together doing acoustic sets. You played with Hex Poseur, Parallel States and The Addiction recently unplugged. That went down really well. Is that something you’d consider continuing to do?
Emily: “Personally I don’t enjoy it as much as being in a full band. That’s the sound I prefer. I don’t hate it but I’d rather not. It’d need to be a really good gig where we couldn’t have a drummer.”
The pair of you are also in other bands too, Sam in Parallel States and Emily in Hex Poseur. So there’s almost a little community of musicians through the three acts, a band family if you like. Would it upset the apple cart to suggest either of the two other drummers might be worth looking at for Alice’s Ants?
Emily: “There’s a bit of History behind that actually.”
Sam: “Our drummer in Parallel States, Jack, actually tried out to be in Alice’s Ants at the same time as James. So that’s a bit awkward. It worked out for the best because he’s a good fit for Parallel States. He does bring it up though, haha. Going back to what you said about asking them to drum I think they’re both too busy as well. Again they might fill in if it was a special occasion or something.”
You often get a lot of bad blood when people leave. Yet you get on with James really well still and that karma has come back as he’s played with you since officially leaving. Do you think sometimes people can take things a bit too personally when changes happen and burn bridges they will need in the future?
Emily: “Yes. I mean James going to uni is his future and we don’t want to hold him back. We’re just really grateful he was in the band for the time he was.”
Sam: “There’s not a lot of point in falling out with people.”
With gigs and touring you’re obviously itching to play so what have you got booked?
Emily: We have a tour coming up in July but we can’t say much else on that yet. The band we’re playing with have got a few issues at the moment. We don’t want to announce anything yet until they’re ready to as well.”
Sam: “We do have a few gigs booked in too, and a few potential gigs if we can get a drummer in time for them.”
We need to talk about a place you play quite frequently that’s a great place for high quality musicianship. That’s The Chameleon in Nottingham. Why do you think the standard is so high at that venue?
Emily: “It’s a good question. I’m not sure on that one. It’s fun and it’s a nice little community there.”
Sam: “It’s very DIY and all the bands know it’s there and want to play there. The people who run it are nice too. They’re easy to get on with and easy to deal with. A lot of venues don’t want to put you on unless you’re already established. They won’t give you the time of day whereas The Chameleon will give you that chance. Just because bands are good doesn’t mean they’re established yet. Another good similar venue is The Adelphi in Hull.”
They don’t tend to stick to genres in The Chameleon either. You get a really diverse mix of stuff at the shows there.
Emily: “That’s important as well because that’s how you discover new bands.”
With your own aspirations, is there anywhere you’ve not played yet that you’d like to?
Sam: “We’ve always said we’ve wanted to play Rebellion. That would be cool.”
Emily: “Or Download, but we’re not that confident yet.”
Rounding off by staying on theme a little you can each pick any drummer from history to be your new tub thumper. Who would each of you love to have as a dream choice?
Sam: “I’m thinking Taylor Hawkins because of the grungy sound. RIP.”
Emily: “I’d like James back. Or how about Dave Grohl. That would be cool.
Interview and photos by Gary Trueman