Songwriting duo James Madden and Ryan Murphy have been making guitar pop together for the best part of a decade, previously as one half of the popular Hooton Tennis Club (currently on indefinite hiatus), and now as the wry, socially observant Seatbelts.
The birth of Seatbelts can be traced back to late 2017, when songs they were writing together started to take on a different, more experimental form. Not feeling that they were very well suited to their old band, they formed a new band through which to channel them.
Joining forces with Abi Woods (keys, vocals) and Alex Quinn (drums), they released their Kurt Vonnegut-inspired debut EP Songs For Vonnegut last summer. Wasting very little time, they followed it up with another EP this past April in the form of the excellent Please Slow Down.
In the sixth of our series of interviews with the Future Yard line-up, we spoke to Seatbelts about their music and their upcoming appearance at the festival.
For someone who may never have come across your work before, how would you describe your music? And if you could recommend them one of your songs, which one would that be?
Seatbelts make song-driven, melodic music. Full of surprises, with sounds that bring about a post-punk party atmosphere, and lyrics to get you thinking. A combination of singers create unpredictable vocal lines delivered with verve and belief. With this being said, we would recommend you start by listening to ‘Spanish Songs’ from our most recent EP Please Slow Down.
Who or what have been the biggest influences on your sound?
Casio, Parr Street, Scotland, heartbreak, Europe, vogue, SEX & sensitivity, cowbells, Postcard Records, Godard, capitalism.
How well do you know Birkenhead and wider Wirral area?
We played and made a bootleg recording at Fresh Goods Studio in 2018. Some of us of nearly from the Wirral. One of us works at the pierhead and looks at Birkenhead everyday. It’s said to be the Brooklyn to our New York.
What’s your favourite festival memory, either as a performer or as a fan?
A double rainbow appeared over the mountain stage at Green Man whilst Connnan Mockasin was swooning the crowd. Also, a sing-along to ‘Shipbuilding’ at the Glastonbury Stone Circle one sunrise.
Apart from yourselves, who would you recommend people go see at Future Yard?
Bill Ryder-Jones, Audiobooks, SPQR, Strawberry Guy, and Bill Nickson.
Why should festival goers take time out to come and see you play? What can they expect from your performance at Future Yard?
We haven’t all been together since we travelled to the highlands in July, one of our members went off-grid to go and explore the Hebrides. We don’t know where they are or if they are alive, so we hope that when we play Future Yard our performance will have all the elements of a joyous reunion. Come along and find out if we got it together.
Seatbelts will be performing at Future Yard on Saturday 25th August in Birkenhead Town Hall at 19:15.
For more details about the festival, including how to purchase weekend and day tickets, head over to FutureYard.org