Interview: Scrounge on Lockdown, New Songs & Playing SXSW

South London duo Scrounge performed one of the highlights of our online SXSW 2021 experience with their set for the Fierce Panda / End of The Trail showcase, and their recent single ‘Leaking Drains’ has been one of our favourite tunes of the year so far. We caught up with Lucy and Luke at the end of the festival to see how they’d found the online experience and what the rest of the year has in store for them.

So yeah, South by South West 2021 in a slightly bizarre way. How has it been for you?

Lucy: Yeah, good I think for us it’s a bit surreal being in the UK when it would have been so good to have been there and to actually have gone to America for it. But it was cool to kind of get a taster of it, as much as we only saw a tiny side of it, and loved flicking through the channels to see what was on at different times.

Luke: Yeah, good. Weird. I really enjoyed it though. The thing that made me laugh was when they announced the line up and it was like us and George Bush. Yeah, supporting a war criminal, brilliant.

But yeah, playing SXSW, it’s a real bucket list thing to have done.

Have you managed to catch anything interesting amongst it all. Other than George W. Bush of course.

Lucy: Yeah, I watched some of the Korean stuff because I’m obsessed with Black Pink. I find them the most intriguing thing in the world and I kind of wanted to see the avant-garde Korean stuff they’re putting out especially on South by South West ’cause I’m used to hearing about the pop machine that goes behind it. So to see things it’s like “I don’t know if it’s like staged or not.” But maybe in my brain seeing it a bit less staged, a bit more I guess meaningful in a way, it was quite interesting to see what that was like. It was really great

So I guess first of all, how did this opportunity to play come about?

Lucy: We were really lucky ’cause our label Fierce Panda were putting together a showcase with End of the Trail and we were asked very kind to do it with a few other Fierce Panda bands.

Luke: Yeah, it was a mix of Fierce Panda and End of the Trail stuff. Kelly, who runs End of the Trail, he’s been staged there few years in a row. So yeah, because we put that new tune out a couple of weeks ago (‘Leaky Drains’) we’ve been talking to the label quite a lot. And then they were like “Oh, we’ve got a slot here if you want to do it.” So it was very simple, but it was cool. 

It was filmed at the the 606 Club in Chelsea, which was like the opposite of any kind of venue that we would normally be playing. It’s a very kind of genteel jazz club, with like, glowing quotes from Jamie Cullum on all their promo and stuff. Very different kind of environment for us but it was good. It was really nice, everyone was very accommodating and it was a really smooth process.

Yeah, I guess it’s a bit of an odd environment in the way that you’re obviously playing to an empty venue, but also you’ve got like 12 minutes to show half of the world’s music industry what it is that you’re about.

Luke: Yeah, we didn’t really know how it was going to work so we sort of had a little peek behind the curtain. We did get a few takes of each song to make sure it was right, but we’d prepared to belt it out in 10 minutes as well. We took multiple guitars and things to be able to just keep swapping over and not have to break, so yeah, it was it was quite a short, sharp kind of thing.

Lucy: Yeah, like we always do.

What was the aim of being there, what are you hoping might come out of it?

Lucy: I think for us we’re so excited about getting back to gigging again and it would be good to be able to go and see different parts of the country or, who knows, the world. We got a glimpse of it last year, at the start of it we went on a mini tour, but it would be good to have that opportunity again because people seem to be booking things up at the moment with the hope that it will happen if this road map goes ahead. But we’re just like… I don’t know. I think for us, we just really want to get back out there and meet people because we didn’t really get the chance to fully do that last year – it got cut short like I’m sure it did for everyone.

Luke: Yeah, it was a bit of a shame. We definitely started off the year really busy doing loads of really fun stuff and it was like, “oh, this year is going to be good,” you know, we had a lot of stuff booked in, the shows were getting busier and stuff, but yeah, then it all happened.

Not that there’s a real grand plan, but I suppose after getting out of this South by South West thing it would be good to see if that helps us hit the ground running a little bit. You know, a bit of a springboard for when we can go back out there.

So on that note in terms of looking to the future, I don’t know if it’s too soon to know, but what sort of reaction have you had from the showcase?

Lucy: We had quite a good reaction at the time of it. There are a few people that got in touch and said really kind things.

It’s nice that people have now got a solid video of us to see live I guess ‘casue we do so many shows and we’ve got so many YouTube recordings of us that we’ve not made ourselves, but it’s nice to have something proper ’cause people can actually come look it and be like “We’ll book them.” We’ve booked something out of it already. I think, right Luke?  Which is good. I don’t even know if we’re allowed to say what that is, but we’ve maybe booked a festival out of it, I think, which will be good.

Luke: Yeah, that’s kind of exactly what we were after really. It would just be nice to be able to pick up almost where we left off before the pandemic. You know, ’cause it felt like the right things were starting to happen and then it just stopped. But yeah, hopefully this will be a good way of restarting things a little bit.

Lucy: Maybe we should start naming things that we’ve booked but like not actually booked, then people have to give it to us so like Wembley – we’ve booked Wembley, we’ve booked Glastonbury – like all these things. Maybe they’ll have to book us now that we’ve said it live to you.

All the people who’ve read Joyzine phoning up Wembley Stadium saying, “Yeah I was reliably informed that Scrounge were going to be headlining this summer, where’s my ticket?”

Lucy: Yeah yeah, the O2 – our 10 year reunion that’s coming up.

You had the new single out quite recently  through Fierce Panda as well –  Is there much either already recorded and ready to go or planned for the next few months as things start to open up?

Luke: Yeah, we’ve got quite a lot of stuff in the in the bag. Quite a lot of music we’ve recorded and just needs to be mastered or very slightly polished up and then it’s ready to go so. We’ve not really planned out what we’re going to do with it yet. But that will come out at some point. That’s about as far as we’ve planned it.

Lucy: We went away and recorded; like ‘Leaking Drains’ was recorded a year ago in February, and then we didn’t see the right time to release it last year, ’cause there was just no way we could go and support it, because so much of what we do is live. So then when things started to briefly opened up in August we started recording more new stuff locally and then have been doing bits on top of it. But we’ve ended up with some really good stuff and hopefully that will see the light soon.

Luke: We had a session on the hottest day of last year. When we played by far the heaviest and most demanding song that we’ve done, and I must have just sweated out most of my body fluids, it was fucking disgusting. It was about 34 degrees outside and it was absolutely horrible.

Lucy: The air conditioning just didn’t do anything either.

Luke: We couldn’t have it on because it was really loud.

With everything that’s been going a lot of bands I’ve spoken to said they had stuff ready to go when everything locked down but since then, having had all the time that everybody’s had, they’ve written new stuff and they’ve sort of moved on from what they’d done before. Have you found yourselves in a similar position, or have you still been working on that stuff that was there before and building it up?

Luke: All this stuff that we recorded for what will probably be like next EP or whatever, that’s all just been written and being locked down we’ve not played any of that live or anything. We played a couple of songs at The Windmill on a very restricted capacity show just before Christmas. We tried out a couple of tunes there. But other than that it’s all completely new. We’d had ‘Leaking Drains’ for quite a while before that, that was one we’d had in the set for a bit.

I always feel that by the time we put something out, it sounds like a bit of a shitty thing to say really, but you often have slightly moved on from stuff because it takes that long to get through the process, like do all the recording around work and stuff, and when you’re not in the position to just write something, get it down and put it out as some people are, stuff can often feel like it’s a little bit old. But I don’t really feel like that ’cause as much as anything we’ve not gigged these songs, that’s how we normally end up getting really used to them, you know. It feels really exciting that we’ve got them.

Lucy: It’s cool ’cause for us in lockdown we’ve had infinite time to work on things – obviously we have to find time to get in the studio and stuff, but we’re in a position where we’ve got these new tunes and when we go back to gigging again we’ll have to rework our set and probably rework a little bit of our live set-up too just to try and get the best out of all the stuff that we’ve done, and we’ve not been in that position ever before, really, because we just had one EP to work with and a few other songs. So now we’ve got a bank of songs – it’s kind of exciting to have to go back to the drawing board and be like, well, we’ve got to do this, this and this.

I think the one thing we found out from our gig in December was that people actually liked us (laughs).I know that sounds really silly, but that was just like, there were none of our mates at that gig, it sold out with people that just liked our stuff, which is really funny. I mean, you sort of forget ’cause you’re just sat at home looking at your walls all the time. So it was really cool to see that. So it’s like, actually we’ve got to go and do a really good job now. We’ve got to try our best.

Luke: I think with this, because on the recordings there’s a little bit more going on on them as well, not like full Be Here Now layers and layers of guitars or anything, but there’s some weird percussion on one of the tunes, and that sort of thing, so I think we will have to kind of reverse engineer how we’re going to do it from the finished product and just work out, “right, okay, this needs to have some kind of impact here or it will just sound so completely different to the record”. We’ve not had that challenge before and I think it will be quite nice thing to do.

‘Leaking Drains’ is out now on Fierce Panda Records as a digital download and on all the usual streaming platforms.

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Interview by Paul Maps

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