I cannot express how happy I am that we have Protectors playing on Sunday; From the very start of Youth Anthems they were the band I always wanted playing and hopefully you’ll understand why when you see their glorious indie-rock at Wharf Chambers this week. I grabbed singer/guitarist/charmer/man of mystery Chris Charlton to answer a few questions before they take to the stage…
Oh and apologies to the band, this video is oooooold but worth a watch!
Could you give us a brief history of Protectors with this unfamiliar?
I formed the band sometime in 2009 with Tim Bradley (formerly of Dugong) and Matthew Parkes (formerly of Nathaniel Green). We had a mixed set of fairly spiky indie pop songs that we recorded all over the place and then self released as the Can’t Shake the Moves lp in 2010. We did a few gigs in Wakefield and Leeds, even ventured to Middlesbrough and Newport. Then a 4 track EP The Stem and Leaf followed in 2012 on Wakefield based Philophobia Music Label, then Fixing a Hole records re-released our lp in Japan and a Japanese tour followed in 2013 but with Dave Allen replacing Tim on drums. Since then we recruited Mark Silcock on piano and Kerry Ramsay on vocals and we wrote and recorded our second album Soul and Fire is all we ever need on Bombed Out Records in the UK and Fixing a Hole in Japan. We did some more gigs in Wakefield and Leeds and then Parkes moved to Bangkok and Oli joined us on bass. Then we did a few more gigs in Wakefield and Leeds 🙂 We’re rehearsing new songs at the minute, hopefully release them in 2016 and tour Japan again. I’m sorry I don’t have a proper history, most of these dates will be wrong but I think the facts are right ha!
How does it feel playing songs from the first releases when the line up (and to an extent the sound) of the band has changed so much?
I try and steer us away from that! I’m not too comfortable with it for a variety of reasons. Both the members and the dynamics of the band has changed since our first release and I’m a big fan of moving on and playing and developing new material.
There are a couple of tunes we sometimes throw into the set which I think benefit from added piano and vocals and what not, but a lot of the early tunes were developed as a 3 piece and now we are 5. If we ever had time then there are maybe one or two I’d consider revamping but never at the cost of new material, leave to that to the acoustic album when I’m in my rocking chair with my pipe and whisky in hand !
I’ve actually got a big backlog of songs which goes back ages, for the last few years I’ve been trying to get them all out in the open and in some form, which in turn creates space in this old head for new melodies and songs.
Having members from some fairly legendary faster punk and hardcore bands in Protectors do you ever feel tempted to up the pace?
Ha! No. I have a hard enough job keeping Dave on a leash as it is.
With more of a hardcore punk background it’s something Dave has had an eye on on since he joined us in 2012 and he’s done a terrific job. We all get a bit carried away from time to time but it’d be a bit boring if every gig was exactly the same no?! I think there’s some footage of us ramping up Shake The Moves at Vapeur in Tosu, Japan on youtube.
There are one or two new tracks we’re working which are proving a bit more difficult but I think just because I’m writing all the time doesn’t mean they’re all songs for Protectors, and that’s been a feature recently I guess. Saying that there’s one I’ve had in the locker for a long time that I’ve struggled to finish. Last week I doubled the speed and it’s sprung into life from a Belle and Sebastian folky pop number to a full on ALL style pop punk hit ! Result.
Do you consider there to be a Wakefield ‘sound’ and where do you feel Protectors fit into the Wakefield music scene?
I think there’s been a few ‘Wakefield Sound’ waves over the years, certainly in the times I’ve been in and around the city. As far as the punk/diy scene goes the whole Chopper>Pylon>Dugong>Milloy thing was pretty unique and a great time was had and some great songs emerged from all that. There was defo something in the water back then, cans of Red Stripe probably.
Now there’s the Philophobia Music label, to some extent inspired by the likes of The Cribs, The Research, Mi Mye and taken on by Runaround Kids, The Spills, IMP, The Ainsley Band. I always heard a lot of US 90s indie rock like Pavement, Archers of Loaf, Sebadoh coming through. Mi Mye are pretty unique in what they do and I would have to say are my personal faves.
Take a step back from all of that and I think you have some great songs written by some really talented and pretty humble folk just doing their thing in a diy fashion. The city wide Long Division festival recognises and champions this year in year out and fingers crossed will get the funding and support it needs to continue for years to come. I know Dean (Long Division organiser) is really keen on getting the kids involved more and had an all ages stage at The Orangery this year, plus The Cribs played an U18 matinee gig in 2014.
Tell us a bit more about your numerous other musical projects and what else you have coming up?
Yeah we’re all in very different bands, Dave (Young Conservatives), Mark (Achtung Everybody and The Wedding Crashers!), Oli (Above Them) and Kerry (Big Love). I’m halfway through writing and producing an album for Shake Your Halo Down which is my solo-ish finger in the Philophobia Music Pie (Wakefield Indie record label) as well as working on some acoustic and flamenco versions of Kiss tracks from the 80s 🙂 I’ve also been co-writing an album with Henry Carden (Dartz!) as International Departures.
I really enjoy writing music and collaborating with other folk on-line. I prematurely hung up my stage boots a few years ago until the new Protectors vibe (mk3) convinced me to give it another go. I have no idea how long that will last if I’m honest, as long as it’s fun I guess! But I don’t ever foresee not writing and recording at home, that’s a big part of me and what I enjoy doing the most.
If you had to sum up the Protectors experience to those coming to the gig in five words what would they be?
maybe…. Five Get Loud and Over Excited
Fine Heavy Lush Pop Songs
Top three bands, cakes and gigs?
Guided by Voices, AC/DC, Band of Horses
Chocolate Tiffin, Bakewell Tart, Rhubarb Crumble
The Wedding Present and Buffalo Tom (Leeds Coliseum May 1990)
Broccoli at The Shelter in Tokyo (Sep 96)
The Van Pelt and The Sin Eaters (Nottingham Old Angel 1997)
Last question, whys it taken two years to get you to play one of our gigs?!
I can only apologise Razor. As a band we don’t tend to play many gigs full stop but we’re genuinely excited to be playing our first Youth Anthems. It actually also provides some kind of cool solution to the childcare vs band camp conundrum a couple of us currently have.