The Big Moon launch their new album, Walking Like We Do, with intimate gig at Southsea's Pie and Vinyl
When one of your heroes comes knocking, asking if you’d like to support them on tour, you don’t usually say no.
And that was exactly the situation The Big Moon found themselves in when alt-rock legends Pixies invited them on tour last autumn, including a date at London’s Alexandra Palace.
‘That was incredible,’ says bassist Celia Archer. ‘We got an email from their management asking if we’d like to support them and it was like: “Yes, yes!” Whatever else I was doing, I would cancel it.
‘To get to see them play every night was amazing, a total dream come true.
‘It's cool that they chose us out of all the other options they could have, it was a complete honour.’
The indie-rock four-piece are out in the big venues again later this month, supporting Bombay Bicycle Club.
But before then, they are doing a run of their own rather more intimate in-store gigs to plug new album Walking Like We Do, which was released on Friday.
The follow-up to 2017’s Mercury Prize-nominated Love In The 4th Dimension, it sees the band embrace a wider sonic palette, and a more outward-looking worldview.
‘We’re really looking forward to the in-stores, the Pixies tour was September, and apart from one little London show, we haven’t played live this whole time where we’ve been working on promoting the album – it’s been a lot of the other side of being in a band, like putting yourself out on the internet or across the airwaves.
‘It will be quite nice once the album’s actually out and in record shops where people can actually buy it, and we can talk to the people and get that immediate feedback, which is the best part of doing it, before we go out again with Bombay Bicycle Club.’
The band has already played a handful of the new songs out on the road, with Pixies and at some summer festivals, which Celia describes as being ‘exciting, challenging, daunting.
‘But these songs, we really love them and we’re proud of them and we want to be getting them out there and giving them their time to shine.’
The way the songs have been written this time around speaks to a band with more experience under their collective belts.
‘With the last album, we toured the songs for so long before we recorded them, that it was very much like capturing our live sound, whereas this time around it was more of a studio record, so it was thinking about how it would sound as a record first, and then translating into how we would play it live.’
With 4th Dimension receiving such critical acclaim – the album found its way onto several end of year best of lists, as well as the Mercury nomination – did the band feel any pressure with the follow-up?
‘Juliette [Jackson, frontwoman and principal songwriter] doesn't want to think about what people might feel about what she's doing, because otherwise she wouldn’t be able to write anything!
‘I think in the process of writing this album, she realised that whatever we made it would be a Big Moon song.’
Celia tells how the first attempts to write new material came out sounding very similar to 4th Dimension, so Juliette began experimenting – writing on piano instead of guitar, or writing from different points of view, for example, ‘putting little obstacles in the way.’
Celia adds: ‘It was putting more faith in the songs, because when you're working out stuff for live and you’re in the rehearsal room, it's easy just to put on all the pedals and hit all the cymbals and play really fast, and it's going be really fun because you know that's what people respond to more immediately.
‘But on this one we wanted to go: “Hey, maybe less is more… Maybe you can have a bit more depth to the sound”.
‘Just because something's worked before, you shouldn't be keeping yourself in that box to try and keep people interested.
’As the songwriter, she needs to write about the way she’s feeling and the things that make most sense to her at the time.
‘And whatever comes out of that will hopefully connect with some people!’
The band are no strangers to sending themselves up in their videos (just check out the video for early single Nothing Without You and its rhythmic gym routine), and in the clip for new single Take a Piece they have embraced their inner-’90s boyband.
‘When we made Nothing Without You, we were just starting out and you don’t think about the fact that people might actually see it.
‘It’s slightly different making a video like that now, when some people are definitely going to see it.
‘It was us going: “Right, we wrote a pop song, let’s deal with that by making the boyband video of our dreams”. It’s obviously a huge influence on our music and personalities and style,’ Celia notes with a wry laugh.
‘We made it with a really lovely director and a lovely team and we had a great time pretending we were East17.’
THE BIG MOON
Pie & Vinyl, Southsea
Monday, January 13