So, on Saturday at around 3pm, my friend and I stumble out of Notting Hill Gate tube station, looking for [what turned out to be] the rather elusive Notting Hill Arts Club. After searching for forty minutes, I received a text from Scott McEwan of The Candle Thieves; informing me they had broken down on the M25 and might not be able to make it at all – a rather bad start to the day!
However, despite the initial problems, all turned out well. The RAC rescued The Candle Thieves, and the venue [which we'd walked past dozens of times] opened it's doors as if to say sarcastically “Yes, I'm here – you haven't looked foolish trying to find me at all,”.
So finally, at around 4:45pm, we were inside walking down the stairs which had been described to us by every Londoner we'd asked for directions.
The Candle Thieves pegged it in to play their set, starting at 5:45pm, just a little later than they'd originally planned; but what their transport had lacked in time keeping, Scott McEwan and Glockenshiels made up for in enthusiasm, fun and talent.
The instruments the Peterborough two-piece used are some of the most original I've ever seen on a stage; two glockenspiels, a harmonica, perfectly timed party poppers and a toy piano. Don't knock it until you've tried it, The Candle Thieves expertly blend these sounds into their own perfect brand of melodic pop music.
They started their set with what I believe to be a crowd favourite, 'Sharks and Bears', each respective animal represented onstage - a cuddly bear sporting a Candle Thieves shirt and a blow up shark; not blown up fully due to the breakdown, but represented passionately by a dolphin down front that I later discovered had been a gift.
A round of in-time clapping got the crowd involved during 'The Sunshine Song' [check out the official music video here], and a bubble machine took us back to the good old care-free days of childhood as they wrapped up their set with 'We're All Gonna Die (Have Fun)'.
After the set the three of us [Scott McEwan, Glockenshiels and myself] emerged from the venue to conduct the interview [...in a Tex-Mex!] that goes as follows;
First of all, you're coming to the end of your 'live in your garden' tour, how did that compare to 'live in your living room', what are the ideas for the future?
Scott; [Live in your living room] was so nice, you play a gig and then sit down and have dinner with everyone. The garden thing didn't vary too much from the living room. I guess the only risk was the weather. It was really good though, one of the best tours we've done, by far.
Glock; We got lucky. Even when it rained it was nice, everyone could huddle together.
Scott; We're trying to think of what we could do next – live in your basement...
Glock; Live in your toilet...
Scott; Live at your Bar Mitzvah...
You seem quite outdoors-y; playing gigs outside and giving away seeds with your EP...
Scott; We always try and think of different ways to do gigs. When you think about the places it's really cool – we played an ice cream shop the other week. Any places that are different we can do, we really like to.
Glock; If you're gonna compare them, like today – we got lost, we broke down, we parked round the corner and carried all our gear, we had to set everything up onstage, we're sweaty, it's hot and we couldn't play for very long...and then you can play a garden gig. You get there, you even get a hug on arrival, set up your own gear, you sound good, you get fed...
Do you prefer to play intimate venues?
Glock; Yeah, I do. Even going to watch smaller gigs is just a nicer atmosphere.
Scott; Like today, we didn't know anything about the venue. It seemed like a rock venue, a rock club almost. I felt so bad when we piled in, it's kind of hard playing gigs like that – we had to cut a bunch of songs tonight as well; 'The State That I'm In', 'Breathing', 'Stars' and a couple of new ones.
Earlier this year you signed to Alcopop Records; what's that been like especially recording and releasing the EP?
Glock; Alcopop are really up for things like the seeds. They're on board for thinking outside the box.
Scott; [The EP], it's kind of like an introduction – it's only four songs. It would be hard to judge all sides of the band from four songs. People have been really nice about it so far, we've just been really lucky. But we're looking forward to the album, definitely.
Tracks like 'The State That I'm In' are heavily influenced by The Eels, are there any other notable influences on the new record, 'Sunshine & Other Misfortunes'?
Scott; We were talking about it the other day, saying how mine and his musical interests are so different to each others. He's into a lot of older stuff, like Dylan, and I'm a lot more into newer stuff.
Glock; I don't think what you listen to is necessarily what your music is going to sound like. What we were listening to yesterday doesn't mean we're gonna be popping out some country and western!
'The Sunshine Song' was on MySpace drama 'Freak', what was that like?
Scott; It was really cool; we were in the studio that day and I was on MySpace, there was a link to it where there was some borderline young girl getting changed to our song.
Glock; It really caught the essence of it. That's what we were thinking when we were recording...
Scott; Cool, but a bit weird.
Onstage you had party-poppers, a bear and a shark [for the song 'Sharks And Bears'], where did the additional dolphin emerge from? Who's ideas were the props?
Scott; The dolphin! We got given that, we were playing someone's garden. People sort of brought their own silly props – that was one they told us to take. It's weird though, we don't really see them as gimick-y, it's just fun really. We don't sit at home and think 'right, what other stuff can we put on?'
I found your track 'Pull Back The Moon' on MusicGlue - that's a free download – as an artist, what's your opinion on illegal downloading?
Scott; I'll leave this to you.
Glock; Yeah, we were talking about this on the way here as well. It's a tricky one, I find it hard to care because we want to make a living but we didn't get into music for the money. I kind of like to stay out of it as best as possible.
Scott; It's something that's inevitable. I think it's up to bands and labels to make releases more worthwhile physically, just adding little cool things. It's hard, if there's an album that's fifteen quid in HMV, you're kind of stunned.
I'm sure if you enjoy making music you just stay in it, despite the monetary issues.
Scott; We've had so long without any money at all that it's almost not even a debate for us.
Glock; It is hard, making music, it puts your life on hold. I'd have moved out by now and been a bit more comfortable. Instead, we choose to do this and live at home. It's not being a martyr, but it costs a lot.
So how much did it cost to go and make the EP?
Glock; Around a grand and a half. It's not a lot, but when you keep doing that, with the drives and the places to stay and food it adds up.
Scott; We're really happy though. We're having a good time.
Would you ever pull a Radiohead and get fans to pay what they think the CD is worth?
Glock; I still think that's a good idea. But I know someone that paid a penny for it!
Up until this point, the conversation was interview oriented – after, not so much, and I shan't bore you with the details here! Just know that The Candle Thieves are two talented musicians who want to steal your hearts with bubbles, bears and most importantly their utopian live sets! 8/10
Catch The Candle Thieves at the following shows;
5th November – 93 Ft East, London
20th November – The Voodoo Lounge, Stamford
3rd December – The Met Lounge, Peterborough
Find more information on their MySpace and more photos from the show here.
Previous Posts On The Candle Thieves:
My September Hot Picks
Can You Catch The Candle Thieves? Upcoming Tour Dates