INTERVIEW: We chat to UK jangle-pop trio Sandra’s Wedding
Please tell us about the process of writing and recording the album. Joe: The album was in the works even as we finished the first album. A couple of the tracks, 'Can't Look at You for Crying' and 'Lip Service' were on the radar in 2017. To dip a toe in the water with the studio, we recorded an EP there which became ‘Good Morning, Bad Blood’ - we enjoyed that experience, so we decided to go back and record the album at Element, based in Hull. When we got the ball rolling on the album properly we started with ‘Villain of The Piece’ as it was relatively simple with the drum loop and one acoustic guitar, although in typical Sandra fashion by the end it was very rich with a lot of textures on there. We were writing as we recorded from then on with sessions when we could fit them in. It wasn't the most productive (and definitely not the cheapest) way to work but we made good progress until the main producer Pat had the cheek to sire a daughter in the middle of 2019 and we lost a few months to that. We still haven't forgiven him, we might one day... Then once we got back in after that break it became a bit more 'urgent' shall we say. Not because we had a deadline but because I just feel like things get stale if they're left too long; it was becoming a bit of an albatross around our neck and we were getting lost in different mixes of tracks, trying a synthesiser here, a bassoon there, a full gospel choir slapped on for good measure. I ended up with the pointless demand that it had to be released before my 30th birthday. We managed to do that... And then concern began to grow about a respiratory virus spreading across the globe.
What’s a typical studio day like for you guys?
Joe: We always try and be well organised with exactly what we are going to get done in a day. I feel like we are quite good at staying focussed and not suffering too much from 'red light fever' so sessions are normally fruitful in terms of seeing a decent amount of progress. On 'Frame Yourself’ we worked in a very methodical way of tracking the drums and building the track up from there through bass, guitars, any other dubs and then vocals. Luke is a safe pair of hands when it comes to nailing the take so he spent a long period of time waiting for things to be wrapped up on ‘Frame Yourself’. Jonny did 95% of his parts for the album on his own, not because we hate him, but because he lives a bit further away so it was just how things came to be - he always knows exactly what tone and feeling he wants from the guitars so he gets very invested in that. I (Joe) probably spend most of my time on vocals and finalising lyrics; no matter how long you're in a band there will never be a first take of a vocal that isn't met with a dejected mutter of, "I can't sound like that. No human can sound that terrible... Is there some weird effect on that making it sound awful?" Alas, it is but my own voice and you have to learn to just distance yourself from the desire to make every track an instrumental.
Jonny: It's a strange experience for me - I probably prefer the studio to playing live, because there is something about the thrill of the chase just before you finish a song. It's just energy and potential before it's a finished, tangible thing, and I like that feeling. I love layering up guitar parts and just watching it take shape, each part or dub completing the song a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, which can be a bit time consuming. Fortunately, our producer Pat had the patience of a saint and indulged me when I said "Can we just do one more guitar overdub please Pat?" for the hundredth time in the day.
Where did the name for the band come from?
Joe: There isn't an interesting story, sadly. I remember crossing a road in Leeds (East Parade Zebra Crossing) and the name "The Band From Sandra's Wedding" popping into my head, which was the name we used briefly at the very start but was quickly trimmed down. Band names are infuriating, I must have come up with hundreds over the years, they crop up when you least expect them and somehow Sandra's Wedding stuck.
Jonny: I usually just tell a little white lie when people ask and say we played at a wedding for someone called Sandra.
There must have been a stand-out gig you've played right? Where was it?
Joe: The last one we did which was a hometown thing right before Lockdown was a good gig. We got a decent crowd in and it felt like 2020 just might be the year we broke America.
Jonny: That was a good one. I quite like the unusual ones. We've played a few in-stores on Record Store Day and that's quite funny being so close to everyone in a weird setting. I spent most of the time trying not to get distracted eyeing up what records I wanted to buy after we finished playing.
What’s the first record you each bought? Joe: The first single was 'It Doesn't Matter' by The Rock feat. Wyclef Jean and the first album was 'UK Number 1s of The 70s.' I wish I was joking.
Jonny: Weirdly I bought that single too! The first album I bought was Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'By The Way.' I still love it today - I'm pretty obsessed with John Frusciante's guitar playing.
Luke: Pretty sure the first single was 'Witch Doctor’ by The Cartoons, and the first album I remember pulling at my mum's sleeve for down that aisle in Tesco was 'Just Enough Education To Perform' by the Stereophonics. Must've still been in primary school.
We can hear The Smiths influences; we’re guessing you’re big fans of theirs right? Jonny: Discovering The Smiths for me was probably the only reason I picked up a guitar in the first place, so from my end that probably comes through on my part. I spent all my formative years on the instrument trying to learn all their songs, so I think in that weird embryonic way a jangly style is my default way of approaching the guitar. I was also really into early R.E.M., The Byrds, The Pernice Brothers and bands with that classic twelve string Rickenbacker sound. I think that style of playing seems to work and has its' place on the songs that Joe writes and I think it's a good fit for where we're at now, although I hope we'd never pigeon hole ourselves to one sound.
If you had to describe your music in 3 words what would they be?
Luke: 'Nostalgia-tinged pop' maybe?
Joe: ‘Pop-tinged nostalgia.’
What’s the song ‘Lip Service’ off the album about?
Joe: ‘Lip Service' is about desperate men trying to convince women they're worth their time on dating apps/social media etc. I had a rough sketch of a few lyrics but it got sucked into that world after I found the @byefelipe and @beammeupsoftboi accounts on Instagram. Some of the stuff on there is... Absurd. It's not us as a band being bitter about women perennially rejecting our advances on Hinge or Tinder; more an examination of the minefield people have to negotiate to find love now.
What circumstances or events make you write songs? Joe: It's hard to put a finger on it... I mainly work backwards from a title. I heard a quote somewhere - I don't know who said it or when but it's a quote I relate with which is; "Finding a good title is hard, the rest is homework." I couldn't ever wish to say that any better. When you get a good title in your head it can very, very quickly spawn ideas for verses, bridges, what you're trying to say in a song, the emotion, nice imagery etc. It can spiral quickly. There are rare times when songs fall out almost fully finished in 5/10 minutes without much coaxing. Those are rarities but it's a thrill when it happens. I had one today funnily enough, it must have been the universe knowing I was going to be doing this interview. Everyone has their own idiosyncratic way of working.
Have you learned anything about yourself and/or others during this ongoing world pandemic? Anything positive? Joe: I've learned that finding out an asteroid was going to collide with earth à la Deep Impact would mean that people would panic buy toilet roll and pasta. Humans can be both truly inspiring and truly baffling in equal measure. We remotely recorded a lockdown album called ‘Banana Bread' which is available on all good streaming services, in the first lockdown which was nice. Taylor Swift might have slightly outdone us on that score in terms of production levels but... It was a nice thing to stay sane.
We urge you to download ‘Frame Yourself’ via Bandcamp HERE as it’s awesome, end of.
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Watch the video for ‘Lip Service’ here: