A South Carolina four-piece are set to knock us for a loop with their up­com­ing first album. The Films tell Tony Clay­ton-Lea about the in­spi­ra­tion to be had from dead coun­try mu­si­cians – and glam rock

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

HAK­ING some head ac­tion in your gen­eral di­rec­tion are The Films. Haven’t heard of them? You will when their de­but album, Don’t Dance Rat­tlesnake!!, is re­leased next year. If go­ing through MyS­pace pages is any in­di­ca­tion of what hap­pens to the new breed of rock act that chooses to ped­dle its wares and high­light the num­ber of its friends on the Web, then you’d have to give The Films not just thumb­sup but two help­ing hands.

The four-piece from Charleston, South Carolina cer­tainly fit the cur­rent profile for con­tender sta­tus: they’re young, they look like mod­els fresh from the pages of the latest Vik­tor& Rolf cat­a­logue, they have a fire in their col­lec­tive gut, and they rock like mam­myfeck­ers.

The band mem­bers didn’t meet in the usual way. No shared school mem­o­ries for them, nor the pun­gent aroma of sweat in fam­ily garages. “We lived in dif­fer­ent places be­fore we all met up with each other,” says singer/gui­tarist Michael Trent, “but we formed in Charleston. We were all in crap jobs be­fore the band. One guy worked at a Chi­nese food cart in the ghetto in the city. He served up Chi­nese food and babysat at the same time, so you could say we’re pretty much pleased to be talk­ing to you from Europe.”

The Films (who also fea­ture drum­mer Adam Blake, bassist Jake Sin­clair and gui­tarist/key­boardist Kenny Har­ris) are em­brac­ing Europe like thou­sands of other bands be­fore them. Play­ing gigs across Ger­many, Hol­land, Eng­land and Ire­land (reach­ing Dublin on De­cem­ber 13th), they ad­mit to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some­thing of a cul­ture clash. It’s not that they are loath to re­turn to South Carolina – “It’s beau­ti­ful there,” says Michael. “The mu­sic scene is re­ally good, and we have a lot of friends, all

Sof whom have been very help­ful.” It’s just that their hearts melted when they walked in to one or two of Am­s­ter­dam’s “cof­fee” shops only to dis­cover that there was more than a Frap­puchino and dough­nut on the menu. “Yes,” says Kenny Har­ris, with more than a hint of side­plate rel­ish. “That was un­ex­pected, but it’s amaz­ing how quickly you get used to the dif­fer­ent cul­tures that life ex­poses you to.”

Life for The Films wasn’t al­ways so egal­i­tar­ian; when they left their re­spec­tive high schools in 2003 and met each other through the open-minded net­work of the Charleston mu­sic scene, they had lit­tle idea that within a few years they­would have signed to a ma­jor la­bel, recorded a de­but album and em­barked on a tour­ing sched­ule that would bring them face to face with white line fever, dou­ble yel­low line fines and dodgy break­fasts in bud­get ho­tels. It’s all part of the ex­pe­ri­ence and the jour­ney, they say.

Michael re­calls the early days of the band in and around Charleston: tour­ing South Carolina, mooching around the many small towns for a bar gig, re­ceiv­ing curt nods from bar own­ers and short shrift from au­di­ences. It’s grist to the mill for any young work­ing band, he con­tends, pay­ing the dues, build­ing up a fan­base, get­ting the mu­sic heard, try­ing to cadge a lift on the high­way to fame.

“It was easy get­ting out of Charleston,” says Michael. “Ev­ery­thing moves slowly down there and we were ready for a change of pace. We were bored, any­way, so we were only too happy to move out. We had an idea of what we wanted to sound like. We had a bunch of songs, and ar­ranged them a cer­tain way – some­thing like a cross be­tween The Bea­tles’ White Album and glam rock. As the years have gone by we’ve pro­gressed from sound­ing like a cross be­tween Abbey Road and punk rock.”

That’s only half the story, how­ever. Judg­ing by what you hear on Don’t Dance Rat­tlesnake!!, The Films can ex­pect to be loosely brack­eted in with the fol­low­ing: Gram Par­sons, Blur, Kinks, Hank Wil­liams, Rolling Stones, Elvises Pres­ley and Costello, and T Rex. It amounts to noth­ing less than a party go­ing on in your head just be­fore ev­ery­one gets drunk. Michael claims the em­pha­sis is on writ­ing songs, but he also hits the nail on the head when he says that the band play “loud rock’n’roll.” We can’t ar­gue with that.

The past three years have seen The Films make in­evitable changes to their out­put; they main­tain they are less in thrall to ’70s mu­sic and more in tune with dead coun­try mu­si­cians. And glam rock. That sounds just about right – Gram and Hank mix­ing it with Ziggy and Jeep­ster.

“Hey, we haven’t been to Ire­land be­fore,” shouts Kenny Har­ris, cut­ting across any themed ques­tions we may have wanted to ask about the con­nec­tions be­tween coun­try mu­sic and glam rock. “We have friends that have been there, though. My im­pres­sions are that it’s a green place, with won­der­ful beer, and a bar or two. Is that right?”

Cut­ting back in, Michael talks about how he and the band trea­sure their new­found free­dom to fol­low their dreams. But there’s al­ways a down­side; that old devil called work, for one.

“With the level we’re at now there are a lot more things that have to be done. There’s free­dom, yes, but there’s al­ways that itch, the am­bi­tion, to get to the next level. Like any band worth their salt, you al­ways want to be mov­ing for­ward. But in terms of free­dom, we love this life.”

Kenny cuts across Michael’s reverie. “My im­pres­sions,” he says again, this time slightly louder, “are that Ire­land is a green place, with fan­tas­tic beer, and a bar or four. Is that right?”

A rowdy lot? Just you wait and see.

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