Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Being Buffalo interview

Being Buffalo tell Victoria Gottschalk that you can keep your sex, drugs and rock n roll, they just want some Galaxy chocolate and a cuddle:

"I didn’t get into music through ABBA!” exclaims Matt Child, while his musical ‘other half’ Thom George laughs next to him. “All I’m saying is they were part of my upbringing. Usually, whatever your parents listen to is what you tend to listen to.”

Described as “folk-driven pop, with an organic twist”, Being Buffalo are a two-piece band, based in London, formulated by Thom George and Matt Child. During live shows, Being Buffalo turn into a six-piece but Thom and Matt are the guys that ultimately make the magic. Their album Before We Fall Apart is available on their website (£5 for a digital album; I’d say that’s money well spent) and it’s safe to say that these boys know what they’re doing. Having produced a record that’s versatile, contemporary yet still the type of music mums will enjoy, Being Buffalo have been compared to the likes of Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran. “In some ways, we’re similar but then we’re nowhere near them in another way.” Matt states. Although it is obvious to see why these comparisons are made, it’s also fair to say that Being Buffalo are on a different level to the aforementioned musicians. With lyrics full of personal anecdotes that an audience are able to relate to, Being Buffalo play real, honest music that doesn’t just make you want to walk in the rain, but dance in it too.

“A lot of the songs on the album are quite autobiographical. It’s a bit Marmite-y because it could go two ways. It could either find someone who really connects with it, like 'Oh wow, I lost my granddad, I didn’t really know him that well,' or somebody else could be, like 'Why is this guy telling me about his granddad?'” Thom’s talking about Granddad John, and, with refreshingly honest lyrics, I can understand why he’s compared his songs to something you spread on toast. However, while personal lyrics are something Being Buffalo embrace, it’s not just the vulnerability of the songs that make Being Buffalo stand out from the crowd; it’s also their catchy melodies and fres ideas that make me want to shout about them from the rooftops.

It’s not false bravado with these guys: they don’t just play music; they know it too. “My taste is really varied,” says Matt when I quiz them both on what they listen to in their spare time. “I’m into jazz, gospel, American country rock like Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts and stuff like that. I’m more into some singer-songwriter stuff but then I’m also into some straight pop too. In my teens I was more about indie music and new bands, but when I got more serious about it, I started looking back before I was born and learning about Stevie Wonder and Carole King and people that have set where music is, and we’re kind of, hopefully, developing that a bit.”

Thom agrees with Matt on this one and believes musical influences are usually who you’re brought up listening to. “My parents were always big music fans. My Mum just used to play James Taylor on repeat, Joni Mitchell, Van Morisson. They helped me get into music. They bought me my first guitar when I was 11.” Between both boys is a shared love and passion for the band; both of them wanting to push Being Buffalo forward. Although they have different ideas as to how to do this, they always seem to meet in the middle. “We spend a lot of time with each other so all decisions are usually completely 50/50.” Matt’s in charge of music and Thom’s in charge of lyrics, although both tend to dabble in each other's responsibilities every so often. “For all my weaknesses that I have as a writer, Matt kind of fills in the gaps.”

“We’ve learnt to compromise because there have been so many times where I’m convinced of an idea in my head and then Thom’s said, 'No, I disagree.' So I learn to go, 'Okay, even though I know I’m right, I’m still going to listen to you,' and then you end up going, 'Maybe I agree with him.' So you learn to work together. There’s nothing on the album that makes me think, 'Oh, I wish I had my own way with that'.”

The album was recorded in Matt’s own ‘music room,’ as the boys call it, and I’m told that a lot of the songs didn’t really turn into something until after they had been recorded. “It was all trial and error, but we’re really happy with it. We spent an awful lot of time on really miniscule details, so there’s a lot of pride in this for us.”

Considering they’re a relatively new band, Being Buffalo have already laid a foundation upon which they’re hoping to expand. Having played venues such as The Bedford and The Cavern, they’ve started to get their name out there and, ideally, a bigger fan-base is what they’re after. “It sounds a bit corny, but every single person who ‘likes’ our Facebook page makes this better. It’s amazing and it means an awful lot to us because what we do is really personal and, in five years time, if we could have more people talking about us, sharing what we’re doing and, more importantly, getting involved with what we’re doing, that’d be great. I want to get to know the people who are behind those ‘likes’. That’s important to me.”

But for now, what are Being Buffalo’s plans? “We need to promote the album, get a few more things out there on the internet about us and ideally get some form of investment that enables us to tour a bit.” However, while they plan to hit the road, a spiral into rock n roll habits is definitely not on the cards. “We are just generally pursuers of old people’s habits” claims Matt, allowing Thom to elaborate. “I suppose the trendy answer would be, 'Oh, we love going out, getting drunk and sleeping with girls,' but no, I just like a nice game of Scrabble with some whiskey. Some Galaxy chocolate and a cuddle would be nice too.”

The lack of wild times assures me that Being Buffalo are definitely around to stay. It’s so uplifting to see a band fuelled only by their music and other musicians around them. “Inspiration for me is a guy called Matt Bellamy, although when you listen to Muse and then Being Buffalo, you’d never guess,” says Matt, while Thom states James Taylor and Mohammed Ali as his main inspirations. “Ali was my dad’s hero and I like the idea of standing up for what you believe in no matter what.”

My afternoon with Being Buffalo confirmed that while it’s obvious that both guys have heaps of ambition fuelled by a mutual passion for their music, they’re also really genuine, and it’s refreshing to talk to people who will admit that they sometimes take phone calls while they’re on the toilet and that their biggest vice is a nice sheepskin-lined slipper.

For more information on Being Buffalo, gig dates and general ramblings, here are the three most important websites you’ll need. They love talking so don’t hesitate to get in touch.   

Interview by Victoria Gottschalk

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