AOTW ITOLDYOUIWOULDEATYOU (The VH Interview)

We caught up with Joey Itoldyouiwouldeatyou’s main vocalist and often lyricist to talk music, pronouns and life. Itoldyouiwouldeatyou’s debut album Oh Dearism comes out on Friday 16th November via Failure By Design and Alcopop! so it’s probably a good time to get to know them:

Hi Joey, How are you doing?
Oh goodness I’m very good thank you! Sat in a coffee shop in New Cross trying to catch up on All The Things I Haven’t Done.

What are your preferred pronouns?
Thank you for asking! I prefer they/them pronouns in general cos it’s a bit more accurate about who I am, but I’m relatively flexible so don’t worry if you slip up! We’re in this together innit.

How important is it for others to embed this question into meeting people?
I think it’s really important and I have so much respect for the people I know who are able to ask every time. I’m trying to get better with that but I have a lot of inbuilt self-loathing so I often get nervous that people will think I’m a weirdo when I ask. I’m getting better at that though. I think especially in interviews and in relatively public forums it’s important too, because it begins to normalise respecting your interlocuter’s basic right to self-identification.

Tell me about Itoldyouiwouldeatyou?
We’re a band! There are lots of us! It takes ages to get stuff done but when it does we are, in general, stoked on it. Not sure what genre we fall into but there’s for sure emo, post-rock, math-rock and ‘indie’ in there.

How has your 2018 been?
It’s been a bit of a slog to be honest but I’m happy with what we’ve done. We’ve spent most of the year writing, recording and trying to work out how the business end of things fits with our goals as a group. We’re finally getting to a point where we seem to have a bit of a system for putting out records and playing shows as a seven-person monster band. It’s still not easy but we kind of know how it works now. I say that now, in a year I’ll probably laugh at that. Essentially it’s been a year of hard work and we’re really hoping it pays off and lots of new people get to hear our music who might need it.

What does the end of 2018 have in store for you?
We’re putting out a fucking album aren’t we! It’s called Oh Dearism. Produced by Bob Cooper and us, mastered by Tom Langrish and released by Alcopop! Records and Failure By Design Records. It’s nine tracks of me ranting about how sad I am and how scared I am of the government.

You have a single out (it’s also on the album) can you tell me about it?
Sure! It’s called Gold Rush and it takes the form of me begging my generation to break the social contract cos we never signed it and its parameters were never clarified. On top of that I firmly believe that there is no separation between the personal and the political, so whenever I’m talking about politics, I am also trying to explain how it interacts with whatever’s happening with me – whether that be love, sex or depression.

Is there even more new music in the pipeline?
Yes!! After Oh Dearism’s out we’re gonna get studio time as soon as possible. I’m listening to a new demo right now. It’s very good.

How hard is it to write so openly?
It’s funny cos while I do get that I write in quite an emotionally specific way I’m always worried that I overcomplicate things. For me I’m always trying to talk about my most embarrassing feelings and get them out in the open cos once they are it kind of feels like I can let them go, a little. I remember Max Bemis from Say Anything saying his best material starts with him literally writing down what feelings he’s most embarrassed of. Then he makes lyrics out of what that brings up for him, emotionally. I try to do that with varying degrees of success.

Does the world around you influence your lyrics?
For sure! I really think it’s all connected and even my most ‘high concept’ lyrics are still essentially about how it feels to wake up in the morning and be me. I honestly think it’s all totally connected from my body all the way up to the British legislative process.

Where do you take musical influence?
Lyrically I’m always influenced by whatever I’m reading at the time. Right now that means I’m writing a lot about European economics as I work through all the Yiannis Varoufakis books I can get my hands on. Musically we’re all over the place. I just wanna be Kate Bush tbh, but there’s a lot in there, from Glassjaw to Slint to Keane.

Is it hard writing songs with so many musicians who have played/still play in other acts?
I mean I’m one of the worst for playing in too many bands to handle. At this point while I’m only officially in itoldyouiwouldeatyou I dep on drums and bass for a few mates’ bands and I’m working on a solo record. Sean has just finished a solo record and plays drums in at least two other bands and counting. Josh has another project and Holly is currently one of my favourite live artists under the name NALA.
Somehow everyone seems to juggle it pretty well. Lex has Yr Poetry (another of my favourite live bands at the moment) which means he’s often running about with that stuff, but when he can’t do it we have our friend Mousa jump in on guitar and he’s great. Honestly I have no idea how we do it, but I can say I’m lucky to play with a group of people who are above all else committed to making the best music possible and having it heard by as many people who need it as possible.

The bands musicianship is expansive, how hard is it to find a balance amongst all the building sounds?
That problem normally manifests when Bob gets all the tracks through to mix and it like ‘ok this is great, thanks but what the fuck am I supposed to prioritise here? What’s the lead line? Joey vocal, Holly vocal, the synth?’ So essentially we take it track by track but I trust Bob to make it all fit. The new record had a lot of challenges with sections with four or five vocals all on top of each other while the rest of the band are going hard too but I gotta say our dear old Cob Booper smashed it.

Who would you recommend listening to at the moment?
Idles, badgirl$, flirting., Socket, Denzel Washington, Chance The Rapper, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Loathe, The Fever 333.

Do you have creative outlets outside of music?
I’ve started writing more poetry recently but my laptop had a meltdown and I lost a lot of work. So right now I’m trying to get together enough for an anthology and until then you’ll probably see bits and pieces pop up in zines here and there.

Where can we hear more or buy some records?
You can do both at our bandcamp!! itoldyouiwouldeatyou.bandcamp.com

Photo: Vicki Bailey