It’s been a little under a month since The St. Pierre Snake Invasion unleashed their album, which shattered the post-hardcore rule book into smithereens, ‘Caprice Enchanté’, and seemingly out of nowhere, the Bristol based punks’ sophomore effort is becoming one of the most talked-about albums of the year.
We sat down with frontman Damien Sayell at Cheltenham’s 2000 Trees Festival and spoke about his inspiration for lyrics, the biggest misconceptions people have about being in a band, the current political climate, and some advice for people looking to start a band.
DP!: How does it feel to be playing 2000 Trees Festival this year?
DS: It feels ace. It’s nice to be back. We’ve played it so many times now that it feels like a family barbecue where we get to play in front of friends, as opposed to playing a festival as such.
DP!: How has the reaction been to your latest album, ‘Caprice Enchanté’?
DS: It’s been good. I think it’s been 70% good, 15% okay, and then 15% of people think that it’s madness, ill-thought-out, and ill-conceived. But I’ll take those percentages.
DP!: What do you feel is the main difference between that album and your debut, ‘A Hundred Years A Day’?
DS: There are a few. I think it’s less down-the-line. I think the first album is quite linear, whereas this one has a lot more consideration for dynamics and playing with song structures. It’s lyrically way more ambiguous than the first album. On the first album, I felt like it was very on-the-nose. I knew what I was singing about, and I really wanted to move away from that with this one.
DP!: What inspired the decision to write in that way lyrically?
DS: It was becoming apparent that there were a lot of bands that were getting big for being on-the-nose, and I think we’d done that quite a lot already. We didn’t want to get lumped in with something which was current; because we’d gone under the radar, it would have looked like we were jumping on a wave that was happening. And invariably when you do that, you miss the wave and you end up lost. So that was part of it. Also the album is more of a reflective album, because I don’t really like talking to people in-depth about how I feel, and that informed the decision to make them more ambiguous and more open to interpretation.
DP!: You’ve been open about the setbacks that occurred during the making of the album. What do you feel is the biggest misconception people have about life in a band?
DS: Groupies is probably one of them. When I speak to people at work about it, particularly men, they ask me about groupies. In nine years of being a musician, I’ve been propositioned once by a girl because I was in a band. That’s a big misconception. And that backstage is glamorous is another one as well, the ‘glamour’ of the VIP thing. It’s literally a tent.
DP!: How inspired are you by the current political climate?
DS: What I recognise in myself is that I put a lot of importance on my identity, and it led me to think and feel certain ways and make quite poor decisions in regards to how I supported other people with their success. And I realised that me putting that much impetus and importance on my identity wasn’t a healthy thing. I think with the current British political climate, and probably on the left as well, identity politics is probably at the forefront. The left used to be about mass labour, globalisation, and about the class struggle… it’s now more about identity and race, gender, sexuality and the importance of those things. That album mirrors my understanding of the importance I put on my identity, it kind of mirrored that with Brexit, with being British, and the poor decisions that were made. It’s okay to be proud of where you come from, but when it gets to a point where you’re so proud that you feel like you’re being attacked by having people who don’t look like you in your area; that’s not healthy at all because it poisons things. There were nods to it, but it isn’t overtly political.
DP!: Who are you most excited to see at 2000 Trees?
DS: Every Time I Die, obviously. I love Every Time I Die. But usually that would be it. I always said to James Scarlett for years, “You have to get Every Time I Die”, and now they’ve got them it’s amazing. But I happened to listen to an album called ‘Only Love’ by The Armed last year, and I thought it was one of the most beautiful, amazing pieces of art I’d ever heard. I saw them in Bristol a few months ago, so I’m now at the point where I’m actually more excited about seeing The Armed again than I am for Every Time I Die. And that album is an absolute masterpiece. There’s nothing that anyone can say to me that which will ever make me think that that isn’t a perfect album.
DP!: Who would you love to tour with who you haven’t yet?
DS: The Armed! Frontierer I’d like to do a tour with, I’d love to tour with JOHN and Frauds. Maybe Idles. Idles are my friends. Dev, the bassist, is my best friend and I never see him anymore. So it’d be nice to do a tour to spend some time with him.
DP!: What advice would you give to people wanting to start a band?
DS: Expect nothing. Be nice to people. Be nice about people. Get over yourself. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid of going out there and there not being anyone in the room. If you get the opportunity to play a show and there’s no one there, you’ve had the opportunity to play a show. Focus on the opportunities that you’re given as opposed to the ones you aren’t – that would be the main thing.
The band’s second studio album, ‘Caprice Enchanté’, is out now.