Image Provided by Memphia Music PR and Management
On the 11th of February, Bristol-based three-piece Krooked Tongue unleashed their riotous debut EP, No Vacancy Hotel, after a string of promising singles. It’s an EP that’s full of snarling guitars and slamming drums, a crescendo of sound that the band have been building up to since 2019.
It’s rare to find a recently-formed band with such a strong grasp on their idiosyncratic sound, but they’re clearly not ones to brag about it. As we speak, the band’s vocalist and bassist, Oli Rainsford, is always friendly and down-to-earth, and sounds much more expressive than his straight-faced Zoom profile photo lets on. We talk about Krooked Tongue’s past, present, and future—a future which the band and their fans are understandably optimistic about.
First of all, I’d like to ask: how did the three of you come together and form Krooked Tongue?
We met at BIMM Bristol, which is a music university. I was doing a songwriting course, Dan [Smith] was doing guitar, and Harry [Pritchard] was doing drums. We were looking to make the same sort of music, so we started meeting up and rehearsing, and it went from there.
How long has ‘No Vacancy Hotel’ been in production? Was there something in particular that inspired it?
We started recording around last summer. ‘Vampyre’ was the first song that we did, and that was around July. Then ‘Swarm’ came out in September. It’s been a pretty fast turnaround on all of it, really. We hadn’t put [an EP] out before, so we were kind of just dying to get something out: a whole body of work that someone can physically have, like as a CD. We had preorder bundles with a CD, t-shirt, and a few other things like soap—sort of like a hotel gift-basket. The whole concept just kind of fell into place.
What’s the idea behind the title, ‘No Vacancy Hotel’?
That song [‘No Vacancy Hotel’] felt like the title track, so it felt right to make that the title of the EP. The lyrics were basically a story I made up after watching too many neon-glazed American films. They’re about a guy who wants to be himself, so he goes to secret parties at motels on the side of the highway somewhere. He’s battling his normal life as a suit, and where he wants to be, away from the normality of it all.
I like that! Are there any films in particular that have inspired you?
‘Mandy’ with Nicholas Cage is one. There’s loads of neon lighting, and that was how I was seeing the concept [for the EP] in my head; I thought to myself that this was how it was supposed to look. That’s why the album artwork has those kinds of colours in it as well.
How did you approach the writing of ‘No Vacancy Hotel’?
I’m always writing lyrics; there are all sorts of ideas you can pull out of there if you ever need them. But starting from scratch, I always start with the music first. I’ll finish a song and take it to the others in a rehearsal, and then we’ll flesh out the ideas together. That part is collaborative, but the first part, writing the song, is quite personal.
It’s not on the EP, but in ‘Different Breed’, you say that ‘the focus should be on better things, like / feeding the mouths of the poor / stopping the nuclear war’, and so on. Would you say that politics is something you’re particularly interested in using your music to engage with?
Not particularly, actually. ‘Swarm’ is sort of the same, though; I think it’s more to do with power in general and how it can be abused, and how people can just keep falling for it, especially at the minute. I think people see the government as if you can always trust them, but you really can’t, and they’ve proven that over the years. Those songs sort of reflect that.
Do you have a favourite song from the EP?
I think we’ve all got different favourites, especially when we’re playing them live. Dan loves ‘Freaky Love’ because of the guitar parts that he plays—they’re on the offbeat, they’re fun, and they’re the kind of signature tone that he has. And Harry loves ‘Vampyre’ because he gets to smash the drums as hard as possible, and he’s got some really sick fills that he puts in there. Mine is probably ‘Swarm’; lyrically, that’s one of my favourite songs I’ve written.
Talking about the EP, you’ve said that your ‘newer songs somehow seem to reflect [your] identity as [you]’ve become more accustomed to finding [your] sound’. Have you always known that you wanted to end up with this sound, or did you arrive at your current style more unintentionally?
I think it was an accident. We try to emulate the bands that we love, like Highly Suspect and Cleopatrick. But we also write our songs a certain way, and Dan’s guitar tones are so much his sound, that our sound also started to become something of its own, something quite different. It’s difficult to describe what kind of music we do, because we don’t really sound like a lot of other bands, but we also do. For example, we sound like Royal Blood, but we don’t really sound like Royal Blood, if you know what I mean.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
There are loads. One is Joe Talbot from IDLES. I’d love for him to come and do some of his shouting at the end of a song.
What else do you think could be next for you as a band?
We want to do an album, but it probably won’t be until next year. This year, we’ll just keep doing gigs with bands we like. We want to play for the bands, but also for their audiences. It’s just good to be able to tour and do gigs with our music again.
Finally, is there anything you’d like to tell our readers about Krooked Tongue?
Whether you like it or you don’t, you can take what you want from our music—as long as you’re taking something from it.
Edited by Josh Aberman, Music Editor