Eagulls: Britain’s hardest working punk band
Hanging from a skyscraper, skipping school to smoke weed and parring the cast of Emmerdale. All in a day’s work for Eagulls.
We were in a vomit-coloured backstage room in Camden, waiting for Eagulls to arrive, when we started freaking out. Last year the Leeds-based fivesome responsible for some of the most unyieldingly grotty punk music to emerge from the UK this decade – called out the entire country’s music scene in a scathing open letter. And when we eventually tracked them down they were outside having a fag while casually ribbing their manager Daniel, who’s evidently blessed with the patience of a fucking saint.
We emigrate from the nauseating back room to a nearby boozer, and the first signs of the band’s mythologised cold front to the press are obvious. “Oh, it’s a dictaphone interview is it?” sneers Tom, the band’s bassist. “I’ll sit here,” says guitarist Mark sitting down right next to the obtuse symbol of journalistic formality we’d just placed on the table, “I’ve got a loud voice. I’ve got an ‘orrible voice.”
The thick Northern accents are disparate. We thought they’d all grown up in Leeds, but we got that wrong. “Nah, none of us did” states drummer Henry, bluntly. When we ask how they ended up there, singer George – intimidating, tall, wearing sunglasses inside – is quick to crack a joke. “Train”, he mumbles sarcastically. Luckily we’re saved from the tension by Mark’s blunt backchat. “Didn’t your Dad drop you off?” He pauses. “… for uni?” – at which point the gang burst into contagious laughter. Their reputation as ice-cold snipers has quickly dissolved. We’re just down the pub with a group of mates who’ve known each other forever. The sense of unity in their youthful energy is instantly relatable, it’s a dynamic every nearly-grown- up group of mates can understand. We all know invading that dynamic as an outsider isn’t easy, but there’s no point trying to run from a landslide. We figure it’s best to let it roll. From the top.
“Me and [drummer] Henry grew up together in a town called Ripley in Derbyshire. It’s a shitty, dead end town. Right from little school, wan’ it? Then to big school” George explains. “I was right square, me” adds Henry. They share a cursory glance before George smiles for the first time and tells us “I skived off a lot. I’d try and get [Henry] to skive off with me, but he’d stay there. I’d go and sit in a park and smoke weed in a tree.”
Things have changed since then. See, the band recently played a track from their ferocious self-titled debut on Letterman. “He rang me and he was like “Do you wanna come on mate?” and I was like “Nah, not today” says George. “He’s from Derbyshire isn’t he?” jokes Tom. So was New York scary for a gang of small- town lads from up North? “You feel like you’re on Grand Theft Auto or something,” guitarist Liam speculates. “That is actually the closest thing we’ve come to New York before, innit!” After the performance was broadcast the internet was ablaze with pictures of Tom hanging out with Bill Murray backstage. “Aww Bill man” he says, “yeah, he’s sound.” But he’s more keen to share another chance celebrity encounter he had back home in the UK. “I met that woman off Emmerdale once, she used to be on Byker Grove, and I was like ‘You were on Byker Grove, weren’t you?’ and she were like ‘Yeah, I’m on Emmerdale now though’ and I went ‘Oh right … so what’s Byker like?’”
So what else happens when you let a bunch of rowdy youngsters loose in NYC? “Henry got on top of the penthouse in Manhattan and he was hanging right off the top of the building”, laughs Mark. “I wish he wouldn’t do things like that.” “Aww, come on, it’s just fun innit?” adds George, before Mark interjects. “He’ll die one day though.” “At least I’ll die having fun!” yelps the sticksman, only for Tom to pipe up. “What, and the rest of us have nightmares for the rest of our lives of him falling, like that bit off Die Hard?” Eagulls are a bunch of mates, they’re like any other bunch of mates, but somehow they’ve managed to make it out of their hometowns and landed up on prime time US television. Whatever it is that’s brought them there, they’re taking it in their stride. Nothing’s changed. Still the same lads. Still the same humour. Henry pauses a moment, considering himself plummeting to oblivion. “Get a drum machine?”