Male Bonding

UK guitar popsters don't mind when people say their sound isn't British

MALE BONDING with LOVE INKS, NEON WINDBREAKER and HUDDLE at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Friday (September 2), 9 pm. $10.50-$12. HS, RT, SS and at KOPS RECORDS (229 Queen West), 6 pm. Free. See listing.

When a British band is described by its local press as having an “American sound,” that’s usually code for “too abrasive and loud.”

East London fuzz-pop foursome Male Bonding get that all the time. They use a thick wall of distorted guitar that, as frontman John Webb says, is considered decidedly un-British.

“We hear it a lot because we play guitar music that doesn’t sound like the Smiths or twee pop,” he says while on the job at Rough Trade’s record shop. “We did an interview a few weeks back and the guy said he couldn’t find anything British about us.

“I dunno. It’s strange, because you never consciously think about writing songs in a certain way. I suppose ours are a reflection of what we listened to as we grew up.”

Furthering the case for their Americanism is the fact that they’re the first Brit band in 10 years to have an album deal with Sub Pop, home to fuzzy 90s American alt-rock.

What started as a discussion about distributing their self-released split 7-inch with Graffiti Island, Old Blood and Rapid Youth turned into a dream deal for the fledgling then three-piece.

“No one offered to put our stuff out, so we did it ourselves. Then [Sub Pop’s] Sue [Busch] asked if we had any plans to re-press in America. We got talking, and within a couple of weeks we’d signed a contract. It’s pretty amazing.”

Last year’s Nothing Hurts debut established long-time friends Webb, bassist Kevin Hendrick and drummer Robin Christian as a sparse, hard-driving trio with melodic baritone vocals that bring Lou Barlow to mind.

On their new album, Endless Now, the guitars are pushed even further to the forefront, so those “American sound” references are unlikely to abate. Plus, they’ve added a new axeman, Edmontonian Nathan Hewitt.

“The new album has a lot of guitar parts, so we thought it would be best to get another member. We needed to fill out the sound a bit – thicken and tighten it.”

Interview Clip

Male Bonding’s John Webb discusses the short time span his group spent recording their new album at Woodstock’s Dreamland Studios.

Download associated audio clip.

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