We caught up with Martin Stanier, the frontman of Derbyshire indie synth-pop band Mount Famine.
Fresh from his Covid sickbed, Martin Stanier spoke to us about the old and new artists that inspire him, the challenges of lockdown and the reaction to Mount Famine's new music.
In case you didn't already know about them, Mount Famine are a post-punk/synth-pop band inspired by '80s and '90s indie favourites. Championed by actor Robert Carlyle, Shed Seven's Rick Witter, BBC Derby and In Your Ears radio, they've just released their fourth single 'Distance' (11 March 2022) and it's another that's brought upon a wave of acclaim.
Hi Martin! Tell us about Mount Famine. How did the idea for the band come around?
MS: Mount Famine is a musical project rather a band influenced by loads of music we love from the '80s, '90s and '00s. We just wanted to do something that wasn't self-conscious or an attempt to be 'cool' or fashionable and music that if someone else released it, we'd be into.
It came about because I used to go and play open mic nights in Manchester and Buxton and people always came up and thought my songs were covers!
As a new artist, how was lockdown for you?
MS: F***ing awful. As a songwriter, I try to write stories that are interesting but still really pop and would give you a buzz if you came to a gig. And to do that you need to have a really good relationship with the rest of your life. Except we couldn't do that so I wrote and wrote binning about 200 songs on the way.
Eventually I wrote 'Distance' and some others that sort of "fit together". I deliberately didn't want to sit down at a piano and sing songs about how everything had gone to sh**.
How challenging is it for new artists in this day and age?
MS: It's difficult because streaming provides almost zero revenue for artists and the world needs more vinyl pressing plants. But we try and take the pressure off because we aren't trying to be famous or play this festival or that festival.
For us, we try to work quickly and do only a few rehearsals before recording. It's more important to us that we like what we do and do it on our own terms. Obviously, we want people to like our songs but we aren't focused on anything more than that to be honest.
Which bands were your biggest inspiration?
MS: We're really into classic '80s artists like The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs, Duran Duran and The Smiths as well synth-based stuff like Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode and A-ha. We also love The Clash, Sex Pistols and Blondie. But, we also get inspired by newer stuff like Yard Act, Sea Power and Porridge Radio.
In terms of inspiration as a songwriter, I think it's about songs that have more emotional depth and say something interesting rather than "I love you, you love me..." That said, I would love to be talented enough to write a perfect love song - maybe like 'Something Changed' by Pulp?
What is your new single ‘Distance’ about?
MS: 'Distance' is about the speed of life and its individual punctuation for us as individuals.
It's about delayed gratification and the feeling you get when you connect with something wholly. Like you didn't know that it's what you needed all along until it landed in your face. But it's more than that, I wanted something that was like a relentless barrage of hooks that blew the roof off in a few minutes before disappearing back down into the depths.
I imagined being the first band on at the bottom of the bill and trying to make it the best song the audience would hear that night.
How welcomed has the recent support from BBC Derby and In Your Ears radio been?
MS: We have been really blown away by radio support with 'Distance'. Sometimes, it can be hard to cut through even when the record is strong, but some people seem to have just picked it up and run with it.
And finally, you’re headlining your dream festival, what bands are playing the festival with you?
MS: Oh man, this is hard because we are just taking each day as it comes. But, it would be people like Pixies, The Cure, Porridge Radio, Chvrches, Yard Act, The National, The Strokes, Wolf Alice, Swim School, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Slow Readers Club, Glasvegas, Christine & The Queens, Arcade Fire, Desperate Journalist and White Lies.
Basically anyone with great songs, indie rock 'n' roll guitars and synthesisers, and no massive egos would be more than welcome.
Mount Famine's new song 'Distance' is out now and available on all major streaming services. BBC Introducing East Midlands included it as their ‘Track of the Week’ and 2022 is set to be their biggest year yet with new music expected soon.
If you like what you hear, you can keep up to date with them on Twitter @MountFamine.