The Enemy

The Enemy set the record straight about white jeans, politics and music, and the tribute to their mates that is 'It's Not Ok'.

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Posted 13th January 2007 in Features & Reviews, The Enemy | By Caroline Charles
The Enemy

In the middle of a heavy duty recording session, lead singer and guitarist of Coventry based rock and roll newbies The Enemy, Tom Clarke, takes some time out to speak to Clickmusic after only forming in March 2006. He sets the record straight about white jeans, politics and music, and confirms that whatever people say they are, they've only just realised.

So Tom, you're speaking to us from recording studios in Brixton, how is the album coming along?
Tom: We're about half way through our debut album, we're just getting the songs down now, and we've got about 20 tracks to choose from at the moment so we'll record the lot and then choose the ones we like.

I understand you've been working with Owen Morris too
Tom: Yeah Owen has done our next single. He's a quality bloke - mental. Proper rock and roll.

You've had a mammoth amount of hype surrounding you at the turn of the New Year, so what does this year have in store for you?
Tom: 2007 is really about going out there and showing people who we are - there are still a lot of people who don't know us and we've got everything prove. 2006 was good and we got our name about a bit!

You have got a support slot coming up for the NME Awards Tour.
Tom: We're doing a bit with Kasabian yeah! We supported them in Leeds last year and they're quality lads and they've shown quite a bit of faith in us from early on which is always good!

Have they given you any advice about your tour? (which starts on 23rd January in Cardiff)
Tom: Not really, we've been on tour with The Futureheads and The Paddingtons so we know what the craic is!

So have there been any surprises for you in doing your first album or being on tour - has anything shocked you about the industry?
Tom: Not really, it's pretty much as you dream about it as a little boy. It's like going out, having a mad party and playing a gig every night to a bunch of people who make a load of noise at you - it's mint!

You got signed pretty quickly after forming - it must have been a dream come true for you!
Tom: It was quick! Our feet haven't really touched the ground, we've just been whisked off and it's been absolutely mad and you don't have time to sit down and go "fucking hell, what is all this?" You're just on it all the time! I'm sure when we do get to sit down and look at this last year it'll look mint but we haven't had a chance!

What kind of music did you grow up with?
Tom: The first band that really got me into music was The Rolling Stones and after that I discovered The Who, who are probably my favourite band, then Oasis came and saved music for a few albums, and I got bang into The Verve , but there's been no one apart from Kasabian in the last 10 years who are actually doing anything good.

What's the best gig you've ever been too?
Tom: It's hard to say when I enjoy our gigs far more than going to watch anyone else but I suppose I would. I have always wanted to see Oasis live but never had the chance yet but Kasabian were a class act to watch at Leeds. I got my little brothers up to watch it from the balcony and it was a quality place to play.

Has your image changed since you have been signed - are we still seeing and hearing the same band that formed last year?
Tom: Yes I'm still wearing the same Adidas Gazelles! They're the best trainers in the world. Andy on the other hand has had the same pair of Adidas Gazelles for years and never buys any new ones. But its not about what you wear, I don't know how many times people hear that before they believe it but there's plenty of good looking boys in bands wearing trendy white jeans and shoes that would have your eye out, and there's just no point – they look like girls. Just write some songs - get out of Topman right now, get back to the rehearsal room and write some songs!

That is a great message to the indie world Tom! So is this the original line-up of The Enemy and how did it all come together?
Tom: Yeah we're all best mates! Me and Liam had a knock about before and couldn't really start a decent band and I was still working out how to write songs at that point. Then we realised Andy, who's our best mate, could play bass and we were like "are you any good?", he said "I'm alright" and so we went "yep you'll do". So we wrote a song with him and recorded it, and that went out on a single on Stiff - that was the demo of '40 Days, 40 Nights' that went out as a single.

'It's Not Ok' is coming out on the 12th February.
Tom: Yeah I'm dead excited about it! It's really a tribute to our mates – it's written about and inspired by them and the sort of shit that's going on in their lives at the moment and the shit that was happening in ours. You kind of forget how lucky you are to be out of it, even if it's just for five minutes, but it won't JUST be five minutes for us.

It has quite an anthemic chorus and the song obviously comes from the heart – is that something you believe in when song writing?
Tom: Yeah well you've just got to write bangers and anthems and it's about getting the balance right between the two. You've got to have the bangers to get them [the audience] dancing and the anthems to get them waving their pints in the air. It's quite simple chemistry really! We've got a lot of singles to come off the album and we're just trying to work out which ones we want to release. There are some obvious ones, but we've got some dark horses. Something you don't see so often in bands is people who can actually play their instruments quite well, and we're all pretty good so it's nice to pick up an acoustic and then show that you can also thrash out something on an electric.

Are there any instruments that you can play that we won't hear you play on the album?
Tom: I'm playing a bit of violin but that's on the album! Piano might come on the album. Who knows, we may get a banjo in for a hidden track you never know!

The tour starts in January - that's a bit mad after being together for one year getting your own UK tour! What's on your rider?
Tom: Irn bru in glass bottles that you can your 20p back on, plain sandwiches for Andy cos he's a fussy eater and he always ends up picking cucumber out.

Hang on, how plain are we looking at?
Tom: Literally just tuna mayonnaise on white bread is all he can stomach. Fair play to him! We're sick of watching him pick his sandwiches apart before he eats them. Becks is the only other demand. As long as we've got pop and beer for afterwards that's all we need.

A lot has been made of the Midlands scene at the moment with bands such as yourselves and Envy & Other Sins, The Twang and Ripchord getting a lot of exposure…how much has the uprising helped you at the moment?
Tom: We're sort of out of that really. We've been in the NME standing next to a bunch of bands from the Midlands that it's been made out we know, but we don't really. There's no kind of tight scene and we're just doing our own thing. I know there's a couple of them doing well but I haven't really listened to them so I don't want to judge them at this point, but it stands a chance there's some decent bands in the Midlands cos every one has been driving past it to get to Manchester, which is a shame.

So perhaps some festivals coming up this year - out of the lot of them which would be your favourite to play at?
Tom: Definitely Glastonbury - once you've done Glastonbury then your mum knows you're not just arsing about in a band. Once she's seen me on TV on BBC then she might take me a bit more seriously!

The band's roots are very much in working class heritage, how does that background affect the way you conduct yourself and the way you write?
Tom: It affects you without you being able to control it when you write. I don't care what any one says but when you write it's about what is going on in your head and in front of you. If you wake up in a bleak city in the morning and you look out then that's what you write about. Sadly, it is often mistaken for being political but its not - that's society, 'cos as far as I'm concerned politics has no place in music. It's the wrong media to bring politics in to. Of course it influences song writing when you've grown up around aggro - it's a bit hard to let the aggro leave you. It's not something that you can consciously put into a song; it just makes its way in there. I'll be honest and say that I didn't even realise all this stuff was in our songs until people pointed it out. People say "that's an angry song" and we're like, well its just a song we wrote!

So how long are you in the studio now?
Tom: Pretty much until the tour starts.

Or until they kick you out?
Tom: Na we're being good... [laughs]