Interview: A Conversation with Kagoule

“The influences we started the band with are so close to all our hearts that I don’t think we’ll ever lose them”

With two years separating Kagoule’s last full UK tour and this one, it’s no surprise that bassist Lucy Hatter is over the moon. “I forgot how much I love playing live!” she laughs in our Wednesday evening chat, right before the three are due to walk onstage at Oxford’s The Cellar. “We’re all really excited because we’ve got so much new material to play! If you see me offstage and I look really moody, I promise I’m not actually being rude. I just have one of those resting bitch faces!”

In the time between 2015’s debut Urth was released, the Nottingham trio have exploded – swapping tiny East Midlands venues for some of the country’s major festivals almost immediately since they shot on the scene. But despite their rapid rise to fame, Hatter’s adamant that nothing’s changed on the inside: “We still practice in the same place. We still like each other! We haven’t fallen out yet, which is nice! I think our songwriting’s matured since Urth, which is what you expect when you get older and play more gigs. I’d say we’ve got a little bit better in the two years!”

Famed for their frantic onstage energy – and joined by Glasgow’s raucous Catholic Action – Kagoule promise that this tour will be a hectic one. But Hatter explains that it’s not all just rock ‘n’ roll. “We went round the shops today to buy loads of little things we forgot to pack. I got some throat sweets and a notebook – tour essentials!” she grins. “If we’re in a nice city that has history, we like to see the sights. But that’s usually a rare luxury! The only part we usually see is the inside of the venue and a restaurant. We get a little bit stir crazy sitting inside the van all day, so we love a good wander around”.

The trio’s return to the scene is spearheaded by latest single ‘Monsieur Automaton’ – four minutes of thrashing, meticulous mayhem produced by Hookworms’ MJ. “He’s really nice” Hatter gushes, praising both the musician and his recently renovated Suburban Home Studio. “He’s ‘no bullshit’ kind of guy. He won’t let you fuck about – which is perfect for me, as I have a habit of getting distracted while recording”.

Spoon’s Jim Eno stepped in the mix the track – a move that Hatter’s particularly proud of. “I’m a huge Spoon fan, so I was super excited about that! Cai [Burns – vocals/guitar] was chatting to him about the mixes, so I didn’t get to fangirl. It’s definitely my favourite thing we’ve ever written. Jim knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s a genius. It only took him two days to get it sound perfect”.

Aside from Spoon and Catholic Action, there’s also a whole host of acts that Hatter’s loving at the moment.  “There’s a Nottingham band called Do Nothing who are amazing! They’ve not released anything yet, but I’ve heard some of their tracks and they’re absolutely incredible” she enthuses. “I love Willie J Healey. His new album is so amazing – I’ve been listening to it constantly on repeat. I’m really into Her’s from Liverpool at the moment, too. They’re lovely guys who make lovely music, We listen to lots of different bands now – but I think we always return to our roots when we’re writing a new song”.

Aside from the music, something that Kagoule are particularly noted for is their artwork. Vast, intriguing and at times desolate, their album and single covers are all thanks to drummer Lawrence English’s distinctive style. “He’s done it all since the band started” Hatter explains. “He’s got a huge portfolio that he works on all the time, and we all look through it and choose the single artworks. All the merch designs come from that portfolio, too. It makes the process feel a lot more organic, and it’s so nice keeping it all within the band and not having to rely on a third party. Lawrence has saved us so much money over the years!”

Although their current tour and recent singles might raise speculation, Hatter is quick to confirm that album two is a little way off just yet. “Next year! That’s all we know so far” she shares. “Obviously it’s a long process writing, recording and releasing an album – and one that’s never as quick as you hope it’s going to be. But it’ll definitely be out at some point next year”.

So before Kagoule’s sophomore release, the trio are planning to take some time off for the rest of 2017.We’re all going to be doing our own thing. Cai’s off to Australia, I’m off to America, Lawrence is doing… something!” Hatter laughs. “The end of the tour takes us into mid-to-late November, and then it’s Christmas. The music industry tends to come to a complete standstill in December, so I think we’re going to come back and hit it hard in January, ready for the New Year”. Expect fucking huge things from this trio after the holidays – because it’ll be worth the wait.