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Switches comes to Seattle in support of The Bravery, Jan 25!
by Dagmar Patterson
01.23.08

Switches came through Seattle last August and spent some time before their show talking with me about their formation, being a rock band, and what it’s like touring the States for the first time. I really love this band and their show was an inspiration of classic rock and synth. I regret having to edit the interview as the three band members I talked with were all very clever, and all around charming. Those members were: Ollie Thomas (guitar & vocals) Thomas Kirkpatrick (keys & vocals – now switched to bass) and Matt Bishop (guitar and lead vocals).

You can catch them on tour with the Bravery from Jan. 16 – Feb. 22. They hit Seattle January 25th at Neumo’s.
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Q: You met in college?

MB: At university. I sent out university emails to students to form a band, but we didn’t do much playing at first – just hanging out really. 

Q: What were you studying?

MB: I was studying a degree in music. It was the only thing I was good at, so . . . I swear, at university, as long as you’re there and attend class you’ll come out with a degree.

Q: So Ollie, you play guitar – lead guitar and then Matt plays rhythm?

OT: I do a bit of both.

MB: Onstage Ollie predominantly plays lead – I just play the odd bit. I think the best bits.

OT: That’s a joke!

MB: When you’re singing it’s hard to play lead. On the record I’d say Ollie played more lead than me again but you can never tell for sure who’s doing what. Before Ollie joined the band I used to play all the guitar parts myself but Ollie helped me out in that sense and plays most of the tricky bits.

Q: You’re London-based now?

MB: But being here in America it feels like a bit of a lie saying we’re London-based when we’re here all the time.

Q: I love the song “Message from Yuz” –

MB: That’s one of our more simple songs - It’s one big fat dirty riff isn’t it?

Q: I really love the song the “Need to be Needed.”

MB: Someone in England said it sounded like Mika on helium. I like Mika but I wouldn’t say we’re anything like him. We’re a rock band.

Q: Where did the title of the album come from? [The British version of their debut album is called
Heart Tuned To D.E.A.D.].

MB: The American release is going to be called
Lay Down the Law. People were having trouble pronouncing and reading it [the British version] so we thought, we’ve got a different label in the States, why don’t we just call it Lay Down the Law? It’s a big, bold statement.

OT: It’s more to the point.

MB: It [the British version] was named after a song I had written. You get sick and tired of telling people what it means.

Q: I understand that. Is that song going to be a B-Side?

MB: We might stick it on a later album. It’s not really a normal song. It starts with a telephone conversation between me and a female. It sounds a bit like Queen – if they only had a piano player and nothing else.

Q: I love Queen – are you into them?

MB: Just today Thom was teaching me how to play “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the piano. I was going to teach him how to play “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” from
A Night at the Opera but . . . Massive Queen fan, but only recently. Through my life I’ve enjoyed their Greatest Hits I and II to a lesser extent. There’s nothing weak on it – unlike their albums.

Q: Why Switches?

MB: Why not? It’s because we kept changing our name all the time. For about a year we played gigs at like hotels and stuff experimenting with different names, and that’s where we came up with Switches. It also makes it interesting cause if we live up to our name we’ll continue to evolve into a different band on every album.

Q: The bio on your site describes you as compulsive weirdos. Thom included probably?

MB: Well, when the bio was written Thom was a twinkle in my eye.  We’re not normal guys – not the average rock and roll band who like to drugs and fuck around. We’re not particularly cool. We just like doing what we do. We have strange habits.

Q: What kind of strange habits?

MB:  When I go to bed at night I have to make sure all the light switches are off.

OT: That’s obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t it?

Q: So you’ll turn something off and then check it again?

MB: Then turn it back on and turn it off again.

Q: What have some of your touring highlights and lowlights been?

MB: All bands go through gigs when there’s no one there – it’s just one man and his dog. Really recently we played Fuji Rock Festival and the album’s been out there for a few months – it’s ticking along quite nicely. We had a massive fucking audience there to see us. Everyone was excited to see us – it was a live wire performance. It was the first time that I ever felt like a rock star actually. America’s a highlight.

Q: I read you toured with Louis XIV.

MB: Louis XIV is one of my favorite current bands. They’ve got such great sounds. Jason [Hill] is a fantastic producer. I just got the new Killers album and they’re on the credits for doing backing vocals on a couple of tracks. Louis XIV and the Rakes, that was our first tour ever. A good thousand people plus, per night. It was going in at the deep end really.

Q: Who’s the one who likes 10cc?

MB:  They’re one of my favorite bands from the 70s. The bands I like from the 70s are all bands that my dad had in his record collection. 10cc were one of these bands I’d listen to and think, this is fucked up. And as you get older and your brain develops you realize that it’s really fucking good. And you feel smug by listening to them. I used to walk around with these shocking hangovers and listen to
How Dare You on my walkman and feel really smug. Elitist. I love that band – the first four albums. It went downhill after that.

Q: I just never hear about them and I love them too.

MB: I did my degree dissertation on the fact that one of the most important bands of the 70s is ignored by the musical fraternity.

Q: Did you really?

MB: Yes, I did. Swear to god, got a 2.2.2.

Q: What is that?

MB: C. I was always a C student.

OT: Had the skills, but just lazy -

MB: I spent most of my effort into other things – some writing, drinking.

Q: What have you been getting up to while on tour?

MB: Cheating on our girlfriends.

OT: That’s a joke.

MB: To be fair we’ve played some great gigs, we’ve been sitting in a van most of the time.

TK: We spent a good week or two in New York, went to a few parties.

MB: We went to a Daft Punk party in Chicago. You know Perez Hilton, the blogger? We went to his party.

Q: Did you see him?

MB: No, I don’t really know what he looks like. Someone said he’s got blue hair and changes it everyday. I’d like to thank him for the drinks.

Q: Do you ever argue about who is going to sing what on a song?

OT: No, we argue about more mundane things.

Q: Like what?

OT: We don’t communicate with each other well enough to argue. It’s more just awkwardness and uncomfortable silences in the van.

More on Switches:
www.switchesmusic.co.uk / www.myspace.com/weareswitches.