Sheffield’s ace indie-pop trio Standard Fare last graced Manchester in April shortly after the launch of their highly recommended debut album. “The Noyelle Beat” is thirteen tracks of spiky guitar pop which dials down the tweeness of some of their contemporaries and ups the edgy drama as it picks over the complications, uncertainties and hang-ups surrounding modern-day relationships.
And this October they are back not once but twice. They are playing The Castle on 15 October alongside Windmill, Plank!, Working For A Nuclear Free City and Beat The Radar as part of the Akoustik Anarkhy vs Melodic Records showcase for In The City. But first – and THIS Friday – Standard Fare play Kraak Gallery in the Northern Quarter as part of the launch of new night Mashed Potato supporting Brighton’s Shrag.
As a prelude to these two trips over Snake Pass, I asked them a few questions about song-writing, dancing and art.
None of you are originally from Sheffield - how did you meet and end up making music there?
Dan: We originally met when we all lived in the Peak District.
Emma: I moved to York and Dan and Andy still lived in Buxton (Andy did move to Sheffield to study Graphic Art and Design though). Sheffield was in the middle and made great sense geographically and it's also a city home to a lot of our favourite friends, bands, labels, venues, promoters.
Does being a three piece make song-writing and decision-making easier? Or is it a limitation in anyway?
Emma: We've been together for 5 years or so now so we know each other pretty well and so although we're still evolving we have a good basis for communication and decision making. I think we all like the roles we have musically in writing the songs. We're looking to add some more instruments maybe to the next album but as it's always only three of us in the practice room the songs will always be based around our prinicipal instruments.
Dan: Yeah we normally have quite a few different ideas, it'd get a bit confusing if there were any more of us suggesting things.
The details in songs like 'Philadelphia' appear specific and autobiographical. Has writing about friendships and relationships led to any friction or embarrassing incidents or is it all sufficiently fictionalised?
Emma: It's not particularly fictionalised, I'm not very imaginative lyrically. Generally most of the songs on the last album were written about people I'm not in touch with anymore so that's not been a problem. I think (and hope) that some things I've said in my songs have touched the people they're about. ‘Wrong Kind of Trouble’ was written about a friend and I think she was surprised about how much I'd noticed and thought about what was going on for her.
"Always going to come a time when we should just go dancing". What are your favourite dancing songs?
Emma: Ah so many! Um I wrote that when I was listening to all kinds of music. When one goes out dancing it is more often than not 90s dance music which is fun but probably wouldn't be my choice? We normally just stick weekend morning mixes on so Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Joan Baez, Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Richard Hawley....
Dan: I think ska music has to be my dancing weakness, and the faster more modern ska like Reel Big Fish just gets me going every time.
"This wonderful life I've been given" What are the ingredients for a wonderful life as far as Standard Fare are concerned?
Emma: Ah good question! Family, friends, enough money to not worry about food or rent too much, sport, music, a job you mostly enjoy and even more importantly doesn't mind you leaving early a lot.
Where are you up to with plans for album number two?
Emma: We've recorded the first few songs including the first single which we're gonna release in December and we're gonna be recording lots more over the next few months and then hopefully release the album sometime next year.
You're playing this week in an art gallery. What would be the ideal piece of art for Standard Fare to perform in front of?
Emma: Something made by someone we really liked that's probably not too offensive but still interesting.
Andy: My all time favourite artist is Joan Miró, it'd be a great privilege to perform in front of a piece of his work. Not all that sure if it describes our music but its great art to look at.
Mashed Potato launches at Kraak, Stevenson Square (behind Hula) in Manchester’s Northern Quarter on Friday 1st October with Pull Yourself Together DJs as well as the two bands. Doors 9pm “‘til proper late” and admission is just £5.
Standard Fare The Noyelle Beat [BUY]