It gets to a point where certain songs feel like sacred cows that you’re not allowed to get rid of.
The Cribs never drop their standards, be it in their heated and relentless live shows or streamlined albums, it’s always something very special. We catch up with Gary Jarman before their show at O2 Academy Bristol. “We’re going to have to do some climbing to find a quiet spot”, he tells me as we jump off the stage and climb over the barrier. We assume a natural spot by the bar, where we hear only a distant rumble of the bass being tuned-up.
How’s your summer been so far?
In a nut-shell it’s been kind of stop and start. We played a load of major festivals over here and because of that we couldn’t do any touring. So we’ve been really looking forward to getting on a full headline tour like this. In a sense we’ve had a lot of pent-up energy. Just before this we did three weeks in the US and that was fun because it was hard-core touring. We’ve been waiting for this one though.
The Glastonbury show felt like a real turning point with the chaotic end…
This is going to sound really reductive, but we don’t do encores so we’ve always had to find a way to end the set without people expecting more. I think that the best way to do that is by putting everything into your last song, that’s why our gear always used to end up getting smashed. We try not to get too caught up in that destructive side of things though because it becomes expected and a bit cliché. That just used to happen was because we wanted to bring the set to a natural conclusion and that just seemed like a really extreme way of doing it.
Are you spontaneous in terms of the setlist choices as well?
On this tour we’ve been really changing the setlist up a lot, so this is a tour for the fans really. It’s about trying to surprise people a little bit.
‘Be Safe’ was really beautiful moment at The Fleece last time..
We’re at a point where we have to leave certain material out of our shows. After six albums it’s difficult for us to decide, it gets to a point where certain songs feel like sacred cows that you’re not allowed to get rid of. We have to make a conscious decision that anything is on the chopping block. We started playing ‘Be Safe’ as a special occasion, we had to get the video from Lee Ranaldo to make it flow, we didn’t want to feel like we were doing it a disservice. I think outdoors at a festival mainstage in the sunlight doesn’t do it justice so we took a decision to drop it. It’s back on this tour though, we’ve stopped doing it with the video though because people have seen it loads.
It’s a really amazing live song so I’m glad you’re playing it tonight…
It’s a funny song because when we first wrote it, we thought people would like it or they wouldn’t. We felt like we were going out on a limb with that one, we didn’t really have it finished and the guitar part is a continuous riff so it’s almost a bit droney. It’s almost morphed into one of the hits though…
New material fits really well alongside those classics like ‘We Share The Same Skies’…
Yes, that’s a song which is on the setlist sometimes, it’s currently just flipping in and out. We tried to be more dynamic with this new album so I think it comes off well. It’s really just what we feel like at the moment, we haven’t being playing songs like ‘Glitters Like Gold’ or ‘Another Number’. If you play those songs every night then there’s not much diversity. I don’t like it being pre-determined, The element of surprise if really important for us so we’ve been quite ruthless with regards to what we cut.
Do you feel like you’re at a point in your career where people care more about the more obscure stuff?
Yeah we’re lucky that we have people who care about the band. A lot of those people are more passionate about the rarities than they are the singles. I understand that, because they’ve heard the singles so many times, maybe you hold things a little more dear if less people associate it with the band. I was like that when I was growing up, I always really cherished the out-takes of my favourite bands. I don’t want to be in a band who gets up and plays the same stuff every night, I would like to surprise people a little more. The other night we weren’t going to play ‘Another Number’ but people were singing the riff so we had to play it. That meant we had to knock a B-side off which was probably a bummer for some people.
Didn’t you do a democratic voting setlist one time?
We did a show in London where we allowed the audience to choose the setlist and 20,000 people voted for it which is ridiculous anyway. It was fun, but we looked at the tally at the end it was just the same shit we always play anyway. It seemed like such a wasted opportunity. So we went and did this fan show and it was the same as every other night.
Is it hard to keep your finger on the pulse on the UK music scene living in the USA?
It’s much better for me, I try to be less aware. Obviously we really love the bands we have on the road with us, that’s one of the best things about touring. When I first moved to America it was 2007 and that was when bands were most exposed in the press. For me to move away at that point and reject the situation of it was really good. It was hard not to be acutely aware of what everyone else was up to and that had a detrimental effect on how I went about things. It’s hard to separate yourself from other bands if you’re seeing all of the press, I was somewhere where that didn’t matter.
The Wytches who are supporting tonight are a pretty wired opener…
We’re lucky on this tour because we’ve just finished with PAWS and Pulled Apart By Horses. They played really intense sets so it made the gigs really fun because everyone was really primed. We’re starting with The Wytches tonight, we’ve played with them before and it’s just great value for people coming to see the bands.
A publication which has heavily supported you over the years is NME, what do you think of that going free?
I think it’s a necessary thing. As much as I like things to be established, I have very traditional values and it’s great to have these arbiters. I’ve always been the sort of person who reads magazines frequently. I remember thinking before that if they went free and had a niche issue for each city it would really work. When people were first putting out NME back in the day, that was a big thing, they had a gig guide which was a big incentive for people to pick it up. It would give them that position as tastemakers again. People will religiously pick them up then because it gives them an idea of what’s going on.
So what does the future hold for you guys?
Well our focus is fully on the tour for the moment. After that Ryan has to go back to America to do a few things, we’ve had some arena tour support offers for January but that’s not confirmed yet. Hopefully we’ll do that and I’m also hoping to get another record out next year as early as we can. We have a big event of our own planned for next summer, there’s a few things going on but it’s all tentative at the moment. I’m looking forward to recording again. We’ve got four songs recorded but we’re aiming for a ten track album or something like that. There’s stuff going on, but we’re taking things kind of casual now otherwise you can get to the point where you don’t have time to think about anything else. We’re separating it all to keep it fresh for ourselves.
Check out ‘Be Safe’ right here: