Probably, but theres another reason we do it thats far more underrated but equally important. To make puns. Just as a band tinker at their instruments to play songs for us all to raise our goblets of ale to (I wish goblets were used in more common practice these days), its up to us to play on words in order to make these ere paragraphs as interesting a read as possible (because lets face it bands dont ever say anything THAT mind-blowing Ouch!)
Only kidding, but Im sure youll agree a great pun is a wonderful thing. When NME started calling Morrissey the Mozfather I shat my pants right on the spot, it was that spectacular. But, sadly for me the perfect pun remains elusive. After chatting with Matthew Swinnerton, guitarist and quiet genius of The Rakes, my initial idea of calling what youre reading The Rakes Of Wrath was made redundant, as the chap was just so damn nice. With a word as versatile as rake, surely a least one appropriate pun could be applied? Apparently not, unless you think Rake Me Up Before You Go-Go is the apex of modern wit.
Its the sixth day of the bands tour and as we sit in the basement dressing room of Sheffields Leadmill, the atmosphere is as rock and roll as a game of French boules polite chit-chat, cups of water and a lot of relaxed silence (forcing me to scratch Rake, Rattle & Roll off the list).
Matthew is a pleasure to talk to and he seems pleased to be able to. He explains how this tour has dramatically mushroomed in size since its initial announcement last year, we booked it before Christmas, and seeing as they started to sell out we decided to put a few extra gigs on at the end of the tour during May, to round off the promotion for our first record.
Are you surprised how big the tours been? Do you think last years Franz Ferdinand support slot helped at all?
Yeah, it does help, but then a lot of things contribute really. Weve been a band that sort of developed pretty gradually. We havent gone from playing a little bar to suddenly playing the Astoria, we can quite easily chart how weve developed. All these things have helped the good reviews on the record, building up a reputation as a good live band and of course the Franz tour, which couldnt do anything but help us. Its brilliant to go on a tour like that as its very slickly run and you get a lot of exposure.
The Rakes have been together for around three years and having worked long and hard to reach where they are today. I wonder if theyre still loving every minute of it:
Oh yea, I mean it just gets easier really. Especially doing gigs, you learn to appreciate the different aspects and approaches to them. For instance, when were doing our own tour now sold out shows, playing an hour-and-a-bit set, we build it up, we learn how to structure the set, hopefully give people a good show with the lights. Whereas when supporting Franz we just pick the songs that are a good introduction to the band.
So far so good, but still no Rakish Revelations (GEDDIT!!??!), still no mind-blowing pun for the title. Talk turns to festivals and Matthew informs me that they hope to be playing Reading and Leeds this year, probably on the Radio 1 stage. After playing a handful of UK festivals last year, including Glastonbury, T in The Park and the Reading & Leeds weekend, the band found time to plug in their amps further afield at some festivals abroad, including Japans Summer Sonic. Matthew is keen to share his experiences in The Land Of The Rising Sun. [..and you thought the puns too cliche?? Will you say 'bonnie Scotland' next? - Ed]
Weve been to Japan twice now. The first time was great with the second time at Summer Sonic, we were only there for a weekend. Its not your average weekend break destination, sitting on a plane for 12 hours to Tokyo. We got there, felt completely dazed, did the gig and flew back. But the time before we went with Bloc Party as a support for a five day tour Osaka, Tokyo, Nagoya. You go to Japan and see things you recognise from over here, a skyscraper, a big city, but the scale of it is just so different, theres much more intensity. It was a really interesting experience.
So far on this tour theyve played Cambridge, Portsmouth, Norwich, Bristol and the first of several shows in London. Tonight is the first gig of the Northern Leg, but sadly they dont have any dates booked in Cumbria, meaning I can forget using A Trip To The Rake District as a title. As Matthews said, this tour will mark an end to promoting the first album, so I wonder where do they hope things to go next? Have they started writing any new songs? Matthew graciously fills in:
Yeah we have, weve begun to put a few tracks together very early demo stage, if you like. Now that weve got some songs that weve been working on for the past five months, were working towards a new record. Were going to try something a bit different.
And will there be any new material performed on this tour?
Were playing our new single, All Too Human. Its not on the album; its a song that we wrote whilst on the Franz tour. Then when we got back to London we just bashed it out in the studio over a couple of days. We decided it would be a good idea for fans old and new to hear a new track from the band. Its a good tune, it shows a slightly new direction for us. Therell be a few little other bits and pieces in there tonight too.
The other bits and pieces turn out to be a mediocre cover of a Serge Gainsbourg ditty and a trite song about Celebrity Big Brother a shame as their inclusion serve to pot-hole an otherwise excellent set. It also means I cant get away with using This Rake Aint Rusty as in those few moments, theyre scraping off flakes.
We end with the obligatory current-affairs-in-the-realm-of-the-music-industry questions, so I ask for his opinions on Arctic Monkeys phenomena and My Space. With wistful insight he dispels:
Well I mean these things are connected really. We felt as a band developing that our forum [helped]. One of our first support tours was with The Others, who built their fan base through the internet, so weve always been aware of this thing going on. I dont really go onto our forum too much because when youre in the band its not really advisable to go on your own forum, just simply because its for the fans to communicate with each other [rather than us]. Yeah, and you dont want any obsessive saddos stalking you or sending you picture messages of their private parts either.
Are you at all cynical that it has become a media obsession to talk about internet communities and My Space? I saw an Arctic Monkeys show the other night and the band didnt seem to trusting of all the adoration they were getting...
From what Ive heard what people have told me and what tracks I have heard Im sure their success is deserved. But the thing is theres this hype machine that you have to wary of. Theyve sold an incredible amount of records for a first album, but that type of sudden leap would personally make me feel uncomfortable. I think its a case of them not believing their own hype. Weve been lucky in the sense that although we havent sold as many records weve got steady sales and now were on a certain trajectory. We havent just gone from little straight to massive, which is good for the bands development. It means we never feel too much pressure.
And with a conclusion drawn, both suitably at ease, we wrap things up. Its just a shame he admitted to the steady sales, I was on the brink of hazarding Rakin It In as the title.