I caught up with Bristol band Phoxjaw’s Danny Garland and Alex Share on the beautifully sunny Thursday of 2000trees festival. We talked about their new EP A Playground for Sad Adults, partying on a boat with James Blunt, and of course, cereal.
It’s only the very start, but how is Trees going so far?
Danny: It’s a great festival with great people. We played here last year, and it was absolutely incredible and this year was amazing again. And we get treated really well. It’s a really lovely group of people. The people that come here just seem to be really down to earth; there’s no nob heads, there’s just nice people.
Alex: I feel like it’s people here that love music that also wanna get fucked up, rather than people that wanna get fucked up and they also kinda like music. People here are music first but wanna party.
Danny: And you make friends. You walk around, and you meet so many interesting people. And it’s a lovely location.
Alex: It’s been really good weather; it’s been chill.
What was the highlight of your set?
Danny: I really enjoyed playing through that Ampeg today, that was really fun. It was really heavy. The bass was really heavy, and everyone was vibing, and it was just a really nice moment to play some of the new songs on a big stage; as the EP’s not been out very long, just to see people respond to the new stuff as well.
Alex: Yeah, we even had people cheering.
Danny: People proper singing along. Really singing along; really into what we do, and yeah, it was lush.
Would you describe Trees as ‘A Playground for Sad Adults’?
Danny: No. I’d describe it as a… a farmland! For lovely… luscions.
That’s a very Bristol description.
Alex: I think everyone works hard and pays bills, and everyone struggles a bit, and I think when you’re at a festival, it’s nice; everyone’s doing what they’re meant to be doing in this life and socialising and experiencing things.
Danny: It’s a time for us to celebrate what we do, and we get to play this gig in front of a fucking big crowd, and we get to actually really hang out; it’s like our time where we celebrate. Last year was very much that and this year is very much that. We’ve played now as well, which is the good bit; we can now unleash…
Yeah, you can party now the work’s over!
Danny: It’s a lovely thing because we work so hard, we really do. We don’t stop with this band, and this is like us going on vacation but with all of us together in a little campsite, and we get drunk together, and we get to celebrate the hard work we’ve been doing, and it’s lovely that we get to do that at Trees.
Talking of hard work, tell me all about A Playground for Sad Adults, from writing to recording, to release.
Danny: A Playground for Sad Adults is a record that was done in a time where we were shifting lineups; new people were coming into the band, and there’s some new songs that are a very, very different direction to anything we’ve ever done, like ‘Bodies in the Walls’, and it shows a very different angle of Phoxjaw, and where Phoxjaw intends to go, and opens up the way we intend to present music. It’s also a very dark record. It’s very dark, and it’s got an energy to it. I love the artwork – the artwork is stunning. Kieran, our drummer, did the artwork. I had the concept, and I said, “look, this is what it’s gotta be”, and he did it better than I could have even… I couldn’t have done it that good.
Alex: It works on so many levels, the cover. Like with the plastic in the water. And I’ve only been realising this over the past few days. The plastic in the water; the polluting of the planet; human excess; the weird nature of humanity. I feel like I’m really happy with this piece. I only joined the writing process [once] a lot of the basic songs were done; I added my flourish, definitely a lot more for the new album, but I joined this band because the way these guys write, I fully relate to. I don’t know any other writers that do the things that I do with music. The pop sensibility with this sound over the top. I wouldn’t have wanted to join any other band, and it’s worked out better than we thought.
Danny: It has. Since he’s been a part of this project, it’s lifted us in a massive way. He’s an amazing guitar player and an amazing vocalist, but also an incredible musician and artist, and he gets exactly what this band’s about, and he knows exactly what we’ve gotta do. You’ll hear a lot more of Alex on the album. Don’t get me wrong, he fucking shines a lot on this record, but I think the album is when you’re gonna hear Alex at his finest.
Alex: The new songs – I’m loving them. You’ve gotta write music you love.
Danny: He’s got a great voice. He sounds like David Bowie. He’s fucking great, I love it, man.
Alex: Thanks, dude.
Out of all the hard work you’ve put into it, which element of the whole thing would you say you’re proudest of?
Alex: For me, I think the whole turnaround. I joined this band; then we had this label interest; we had all these tours come up; then it was like, “Right, we’ve gotta get this EP out.” And I think seeing five focused dudes, heads down- nothing else mattered besides this record. I think it’s a bit of an open answer, but I think the whole record. I was just really impressed with how we turned it around. And Josh, our guitarist, he produces the records; he records them; we did everything. This was completely self-produced.
Danny: Everything’s fell in place very naturally, but it’s almost hard to- I’ve been playing in bands for years, and so have Alex, Josh, and Kieran. We’ve all got to this point where we’re all in the same place; we’re all on the same page; we’re playing well together, and we’re just really enjoying what we do. We all work very hard as well; we all have jobs; we’re all working-class people, but we get to go and do this, and it’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, and it makes me very happy.
Alex: It almost feels like the universe has lined everything up, but the universe doesn’t do that because there’s terrible things that happen in the world. But I have that feeling of, shit, ok, this thing that means so much to me; that I think about all the time; for all of us, it’s happening.
You’re attracting good things to yourself.
Alex: Yeah, I think so. I think you’re right, definitely.
Danny: You’re one of them.
That is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.
Alex: Totally! You’re listening; I just feel really comfortable with this interview, definitely. You’re doing a great job, keep it up.
Danny: We’ve had some proper strange interviews in the past.
Can I hear some stories?
Danny: We met up with this guy in Bristol, and it was in one of the big parks by Thekla, and we were like half an hour late, me and Josh, because the bus came in late, but our old keys player was there. And we turned up, and he was like, “Just so you know, if this was the BBC, I’d have left.” And he was just really pissy and really funny, and he didn’t wanna be there, and it was just weird.
Alex: “You’re the first band that’s been late for anything, ever. I did not expect a band to be late.”
Said no one, ever!
Alex: “That really organised, conservative musician writes loads of good stuff.”
I’m sure maybe James Blunt might be on time.
Alex: Yeah, he would’ve been there 10 minutes before! “I’ve brought some crumpets and a rifle; it’s got no bullets but you can have a look.”
Danny: James Blunt’s on a boat with a load of girls, fucking drinking wine and having king prawns on a barbecue, that’s what he’s doing. I’ve seen what he’s been up to; he’s a bad boy, James Blunt. He sings songs about love, but I’ll tell you what, behind the scenes…
He’s not as innocent as he looks.
Alex: You’re beautiful…
Danny: When you’re in chains in my bedroom…
Alex: And I put on the army outfit.
Danny: I’d go on his boat.
Alex: I’d be like, “James, you’re beautiful.”
I feel like someone does need to tell him he’s beautiful. Just to pay it back, you know.
Alex: Jumped off a fucking cliff, didn’t he?
Danny: Did he?
Alex: In his music video. Folded all his clothes up and he jumped in the sea.
When I was a kid, that music video made me really sad.
Alex: It’s weird, man.
Danny: I’ve got a feeling he’s doing a noise record or something next. I reckon he’s gonna come out with something real weird. He’s there with his headphones on. And every now and then he just drops in a vocal sample [of], “you’re beautiful.”
Alex: “You’re not beautiful”, and just drops the mic.
Last question. Normal Weetos with chocolate milk, or chocolate Weetos with normal milk?
Alex: This is one for Kieran.
Danny: Kieran [doing another interview on a different table], we’ve got a cereal question, can you quickly answer this?
Alex: He’s a cereal… murderer.
Danny: He’s a guy that eats cereal a lot; he’s got a cereal bowl tattooed.
Alex: Kieran Gallop, drummer extraordinaire.
Kieran: What’s this?
Danny: It’s a cereal-aimed question.
Normal Weetos with chocolate milk, or chocolate Weetos with normal milk?
Kieran: Chocolate Weetos with normal milk.
Alex: Yeah, I’d agree with that.
Kieran: You want the milk to go chocolatey as you’re going.
Alex: I agree, it gets better. I’m with that.
Danny: You want the milkiness of normal milk. Chocolate milk is just too much.
Alex: I feel like we’re the ambassadors of cereal, but he’s the president.
Danny: I’m not an ambassador of cereal. I used to be when I was- ask me when I was 12; I would have told you everything.
Alex: Mate, drink and food together – yes please, man.
Kieran: And you can have it any time of the day.
It’s also breakfast and dessert.
Kieran: Chocolate Shreddies are the best.
Danny: We need to make our own Phoxjaw cereal.
Alex: That would be amazing! Phox-o’s!
Danny: Phox-o’s! Imagine that. Please can we make this happen?
Alex: What do they taste like?
Kieran: Just like, strong aniseed [laughter].
Danny: Vegan, nice, tasty, fucking…
Alex: No, not strong aniseed.
Please actually do this.
Danny: We’ve got a hot sauce coming out soon!
Danny: It’s called A Palate for Sad Adults. And it’s honestly – I’m not just saying this because it’s our sauce – but it is fucking delicious. It’s so good.
I’m a big fan of hot sauce.
Danny: The guy who makes it- it’s the Chilli Shop in Leeds. This guy loves chilli; he knows everything about chilli.
Alex: Dan stumbled across it. The poor guy gave up a lot for his chilli. He told us, “I used to do other things besides the chilli, but now my life is chilli.” Bless him. He was so lovely, and he brought us into the shop, and he printed us out a chilli bottle with Phoxjaw on it; gave us all this chilli…
Danny: He was absolutely lovely. Shout out to the Chilli Shop in Leeds!
Listen to Phoxjaw’s latest single, ‘Monday Man’ below. Catch them at Kerrang! Radio Fresh Blood Live (free show) in London on August 29th, and Burn it Down Festival on August 31st.