The Answering Machine

answeringmachine cage

answeringmachine cageThe Answering Machine

After forming five years ago at Manchester University, UK guitar band The Answering Machine have spent the past few years creeping up on people’s radars after touring their impressive debut, ‘Another City, Another Sorry’. Now, with the imminent release of new album ‘Lifelines’, early in the New Year, the band are preparing to go overground. We managed to catch up with singer Martin Colclough to discuss the new record.

Your latest single ‘Animals’ is available on your website as a precursor to your second album, ‘Lifeline’. When’s the album out?

The new album ‘LIFELINE’ is out in the UK in early 2011, and hopefully available worldwide very shortly afterwards.

Did you actively try to do something different on this record, or is it something that you don’t worry about as a band?

We’ve always wanted to progress and evolve the sound of the band, that just feels natural. As our own lives bend and grow, it seems only right that our inspiration, and therefore our songs, do the same.

We heard that you lived in the U.S. for a year. Did that change your perspective on anything? And how did that filter through into the writing and recording of the record?

We were out in LA for a few weeks and in New York for just over a month at the end of last year. We’re besotted with the US, it’s one of our favourites. There’s an optimism about life in the US, that seems a bit lost in our homeland. A few of the songs on the new album are direct references to our time in New York. We have a song called ‘Hospital Lung’ which I wrote in our Brooklyn apartment, and we recorded in Manhatten. I tried to make the song reflect my take on the city, and Pat’s lyrics on this song really outline his time there, with lyrics like “I am a transplanted heart, meant for the shadows of skyscrapers, morning coffee and newspapers”.

Speaking of the U.S. I’ve been thinking for a while about the impact ‘place’ has on a band. You formed at Manchester Uni, do you think any part of the city comes through in your records?

It has done in the past. Much of our first record “Another City, Another Sorry” was inspired by our time at University and living in and around Manchester. I guess the title of that album sums up the content pretty well. It was our take on life in a major city, growing up and making sense of the world. I think we were wearing rose-tinted glasses on that album. The new album has a lot more brutal honesty in it, open wounds and emotional content. I actually share my true feelings on life and relationships on a few of the new songs like ‘3 Miles’ and ‘Rules’. Where we’ve hidden behind themes in the past, songs like these show our true colours.

What was the thinking behind not signing for a major label? And what impact do you think that’s had on you as a band?

I guess there’s no certainty to success anymore. A band has just as much chance of survival by putting out music themselves than they do by signing to a Major label. When we were ready to start our first album and sign to a label, the industry plummeted into new lows. It was at this time that our current label ‘Heist Or Hit’ came along and offered us a deal. The label was set up with the artist at the forefront. It’s not a profit-led model. It’s simply about allowing us the greatest creative freedom we can hope for. So in hindsight, it was the best thing we could’ve done. Heist Or Hit have allowed us to develop into the band we are today. I’m not sure we would’ve even got a second album if we were signed to a Major.

And you recently remixed your new single. How did that come about?

Since producing our second album I’ve become really interested in sound recording, and I guess I’ve started remixing as a bit of extra-curricular work to help with the band. I’ve done some remixes for bands like The Wombats, Pomegranates and The Crookes in the past, and I had the idea of trying out a new slant on our own song. It was actually quite hard to come up with a new variation on it. I’m really happy with the final mix though, it’s refreshing to hear a couple of viewpoints on the same song by the same artist.

You’ve handmade lyric books to sell on tour right? What inspired that?

It actually came about after we spoke about the artwork for our new album. We have decided not to include the lyrics within the CD booklet for one reason or another. But we wanted to still offer the lyrics to fans in a special way. We care alot about our lyrics, so to handwrite them seemed a great way to present them. Gemma set out on the task of making as many as she could before her hand fell off. I think she managed 12 in the end. They’ll soon be available to buy from our online store. They’re all individually written and designed. It’s probably quite clear to see why we’re not signed to a Major label now! Haha!

And what, if any, records have come out in the last twelve months that you’ve been impressed by?

I love The National’s latest record! Also a band called Cherry Ghost from Manchester have recently put out an unbelievable second album! They should win a Mercury Music Prize in my opinion. I’m not very good at knowing when albums came out, but the latest release by The Radio Dept is pretty much faultless too!

And finally, what’s next for you guys? Tour then album release right? Anything else we need to know about?

We head out on our European Tour with Tokyo Police Club on the 16th November. We’ve never toured in Europe so this will be the highlight of our year! We then plan on doing a few more shows in the UK in December, and then a huge UK tour in January to support the release of ‘Lifeline’. But not before we get a visit from Santa. We’re huge fans of Christmas in this band!

By Alex Berwick