Misgivings: Isolation, For Better Or For Worse [Interview]

Southsea gruff punks Misgivings discuss the inspirations for their new album ‘Hermitage’.

Interview by Sarah Williams.

Portsmouth’s Misgivings are one of the best gruff, melodic punk bands the UK currently has to offer. Think Iron Chic, Leatherface, Samiam, Osker and you’re on the right track.

We love Misgivings’ intricately melodic, emotive songs and their coarse vocals. Following a string of EPs, they’re due to release their debut album Hermitage via Lockjaw Records and Charlie’s Big Raygun Records in December.

We spoke to vocalist/guitarist Will Pearce to learn more.

Hi Will! I’m madly in love with your new single Call It Off. Do you think this marks a big milestone for the band?

Hi! Thank you and yes it surely does, it’s our first ever video and our first single for Lockjaw which is very special. We made the video in one day and wanted to capture what a typical Misgivings rehearsal looks like.

I’ve had a bit of a sneak preview your new album Hermitage and I’ve fallen in love with it. How long has the album been in the works? You must be excited to share it with the world?

We recorded the album at the end of 2017 with Tim Greaves at Southsea Sound and finished mixing at the beginning of this year. The songs were mostly written in the years since Rob (drums) joined the band, although Shameless dates back to 2013 around the time we first started!

As for sharing it with everyone else, we are beyond excited. We’ve never been happier with a recording we’ve done before and we are looking forward to getting it out there.

How did you decide on the name Hermitage for the album?

The title is a nod to a few things, the idea initially came from an old place called L’Ermitage in the south of France, near Nimes, that I used to go on long walks to (rather resentfully I should add) on holidays as a child. Me and my parents went back shortly before the making of the record and I started to think about how, as I get older I get more inspired by simpler, quieter things in life as opposed to the short attention span of my youth.

I proposed the title to everyone and people seemed to like it. It sounds like a Descendents song which is a nice touch for us too!

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The artwork for the album’s equally unique. How was that chosen?

So in this place I mention there’s a chapel (if you go to 1:17 on this video this is it!) that has the drawing of Mary on one of the walls. I took the photo and we ran with it for the artwork as something that was striking. The image always scared me a bit to be honest. But I like that it’s unique and differs from our previous artwork where it’s all been ‘pizza-based’, this one feels a bit more personal to us. Like a personal pizza.

It would be great if someone who was local to the area saw the record and made the connection. That would make my day.

Nowadays, a ‘hermitage’ is usually a place where a hermit lives in seclusion from the world. Do you think there’s an element of that solitary nature present in the record? Are there any themes you’ve aimed to follow, lyrically?

Yeah! Isolation is a big theme on the record, for better or for worse. A lot of the songs deal with how modern life encourages connectivity and overstimulation but how people still feel an absence of human connection.

Some of the songs are about political events of the last few years and divisions in society and communities but others are more about everyday life. My work in mental health and social care sometimes inspires me too.

What’s your creative process as a band?

We tend to write songs in short bursts, and we aim to work on new songs at most band practices. It can be a slow process occasionally, but since we’ve recorded Hermitage things have been picking up a lot, especially with Rob now chiming in with the occasional song too. Sometimes my songs start out from just titles and single lines of lyrics.

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What’s had the biggest influence on you when writing for Hermitage?

I think that, compared to our previous releases, we’ve embraced some of the influences that were a little bit below the surface. We were always looking to classic alternative rock such as Dinosaur Jr, Husker Du, Mission of Burma particularly in the guitar sounds, use of feedback and effect pedals. But I was also listening to a lot of newer bands that share that idea too, e.g. Cloud Nothings, Titus Andronicus, Fucked Up, The Men, etc.

Which part of the album are you most proud of?

The last half of the song The Last Word.

You’re releasing your album on Lockjaw Records – how did that come about?

So I’d worked with them for my other band Sombulance’s Lifer EP and had been introduced to Lesley and Rob as part of that!

After speaking to friends (including yourself and Ant from Sombulance), who told me I should definitely seek out a label to get this record out, I sent them a message and they very kindly got back to me. Top people, they run a great conference call too.

Tell me a bit about Misgivings’ history – how did you first meet? How has the band changed over the years?

Ollie and I were introduced by our original drummer Peter Hardy (who I met on the Strung Out message board over ten years ago now) in around 2011. The three of us went to the pub and talked about forming a band but it never materialised and then we eventually formed in 2013, when he moved in with one of my best friends. I then moved in and continue to live in the house to this day (fun fact: I’ve written most of the songs for the band in the same spot).

Joe Anderson joined on bass shortly after. We recorded our demo and the Delete History EP before Pete left the band.

We had a couple of of drummers, until Rob joined at the beginning of 2016. I kind of consider this the beginning of Misgivings as we moved into a regular practice space with a group of other bands in Portsmouth and had more time to work on sounds and think critically about what we wanted to do musically. Joe left in 2017 around the time of us recording Hermitage and we’ll always be thankful for his hard work. He’s currently the mastermind behind Nerd Rage Bookings.

Martin Spooner joined permanently on bass at the end of 2017, he’s been our biggest supporter since day one basically. He came down on his motorbike cycle and hung out when we were recording our first demo, and he has driven us around on a few tours. So he knew what he was getting himself into.

What do you like to do when you’re not playing music?

Martin watches ice hockey, collects jerseys, and enjoys driving and trains.

Rob cuddles his dog Scout, fixes things and drinks orange juice.

Ollie does BJJ, is a member of an acting group and is a Twitter lord.

I enjoy cooking casseroles, drinking Bud Light and watching football.

What are your ambitions for the band in the future?

We’re aiming to play as many shows as we can on the back of the record, try to find our way into Europe again and to try and release as much music as possible with the time we have. We’d like to release a record that builds on the direction we’ve gone in with Hermitage but most importantly to continue having a good time playing and enjoying each other’s company.

You can pre-order Hermitge directly from Lockjaw Records on gorgeous blue suede shoe coloured 12” vinyl. Follow Misgivings on Facebook for the latest updates.

You can also catch Misgivings on two upcoming dates:

  • 28.10.18 – The Birdcage, Portsmouth w/ Capitalist Kids, Aerial Salad & Triple Sundae
  • 31.10.18 – The Shooting Star, Southampton w/ Coupe Gorge & Discount Lindas

Interview by Sarah Williams.

 

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