Grasscut is a Brighton-based experimental electro-pop band. Formed by Andrew Phillips and Marcus O’Dair in 2009, the band has gone on to achieve widespread critical acclaim following the release of 2010’s 1 Inch: ½ Mile. Overwhelmingly creative, emotionally intense and highly original, Grasscut offers a new and exciting experience. We caught up with Andrew just as their second album is due for release. For more visit www.grasscutmusic.com.
Your sound is unique with an intelligent blend of electro-experimentation and underground pop. How was Grasscut originally formed?
Thank you! Marcus and I were both in another band a few years ago. I’d been putting together some experimental bits and pieces inspired by shopping centres, local museums and snippets of phone-recorded conversation on my laptop. During a UK tour I played these to Marcus and we got excited, and I think felt we were onto something.
The release of 1 Inch: ½ Mile saw you develop a distinctive style; can you tell me more about this?
We wanted 1 Inch: ½ Mile to be challenging, angular and emotionally raw. A lot of the songs on the album flit between urban and pastoral, so it was important to us that the end product communicated a sense of mental shift, like a film edit. And the interplay between classical music through samples and electronic textures felt right for the things we were talking about.
For Unearth you have expanded your line-up to include three more members. Can you elaborate on this decision?
The writing and producing of Unearth was much more affected by the idea of playing live. The new songs are mostly stories, and to tell these in the way we want we need to connect with an audience intimately. The dynamics and textures are so much richer with live drums, violin and viola, as well as three part vocal harmonies, and the electronic elements play a subtler role, serving the mood. But despite your best intentions you never really know how a band is going to be until you’re all in a room and hit the first note. The first song we played together was Reservoir, and it felt absolutely amazing.
Grasscut is an artistic band with an underground ethos. Can you tell me about your various influences?
I’ve worked as a film and TV composer for a number of years so films are hugely influential: A Canterbury Tale, La Jetée, Night of the Hunter, A Cottage on Dartmoor and The Conversation. Marcus is also a writer – we both studied English Literature, so we’re pretty word-centred. He’s writing Robert Wyatt’s biography at the moment; I’m a lifelong Wyatt fan, so a Canterbury-scene late 1960s jazz-tinged English experimentalism hovers around! We also both love the Beach Boys, Charles Mingus, King Crimson, early Eno, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, Debussy, Gavin Bryars and Radiohead. Poets like Basil Bunting, George Oppen, Ezra Pound and TS Eliot have had a big influence on me. And prose writers like Hawthorne, WG Sebald, Robert MacFarlane and Roger Deakin.
With the new album out, what are you most looking forward to?
We’re just looking forward to playing more – we’re just loving playing in this band and bringing the album(s) to life.