Gary Jarman of The Cribs: ‘We’ve had such an odd story – it’s like a movie in some ways’

The Cribs
The Cribs
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When Gary Jarman, bassist and singer for The Cribs, talks to The Guide about their upcoming UK tour, he’s still clearly buzzing from his recent experiences on the road.

Thirteen years and six albums into their careers, his enthusiasm and love of what he’s doing continues to shine through.

The indie-rock trio released sixth album For All My Sisters earlier this year, and it became their third consecutive album to hit the top 10. The UK tour to promote it kicked off in Newcastle on Monday – they return to the Pyramids in Southsea on October 30.

Speaking from a hotel room in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, Gary’s telling us about their recent gig where they were joined on stage by Lee Ranaldo of alternative music icons Sonic Youth, and then afterwards he got to meet a member of one of his favourite bands.

‘We played in Montreal the other night, and Lee was in town,’ he recalls. ‘We did a track with him back in 2007 called Be Safe, one of our most popular songs live, but we’ve only ever had the chance to play it live with him twice, once in New York, and then the other night, it was so great– a real treat for the fans, they were really psyched.

‘It was one of the best live moments we’ve had, and when you’re this long into your career you don’t expect to have... it’s just nice when you have moments like that.

When you’re in a band with your brothers, you can’t be egotistical, it keeps you grounded

Gary Jarman, The Cribs

With the band hanging out backstage post-gig, in walks Lori Barbero of recently- reformed punks Babes in Toyland.

‘She came into the dressing room and said she’d been at the show.

‘I haven’t had the chance to see them live since they reformed so it was surreal.

‘Because I was such a fan, it’s kind of geeky, but we had loads to talk about and we hung out for a few hours and then gave her a ride back to her hotel. It was cool.’

Apart from a notable period when former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr joined the band, The Cribs have remained twins Gary and Ryan on guitar and their younger brother Ryan on drums. And the trio have a strong work ethic – which, aside from the music, appears to be what attracted Marr to join the group for three years.

‘When I look back at stuff we’ve done, I feel like as a band we’ve had a really strange story,’ says Gary.

‘Starting out the way we did – we were just brothers who played in town and we built the band up by going out and gigging in the van, we worked really hard and ended up having top 10 records which we didn’t really expect, signing for Warner Brothers out in America, then Johnny joined, we worked with Lee, I think it’s such an odd story.

‘When I think and look back on it, it seems like a movie in some ways.

‘Our success was so incremental and gradual, we never really had any of those “wow” moments, and we did build it up over a long time.

‘We’ve never been the band that got a load of support from the radio or anything like that. I feel like we’re always a bit overlooked.

‘I think critically we’re pretty well respected, but I think there were always other bands chosen above us for whatever reasons. Maybe we’re not as commercially viable in some people’s eyes, but we always felt like we had to fight for our position a little bit, but in other ways that gives me a lot more pride in what we’ve achieved.’

Maintaining a connection with their public is important to the brothers and when they’re on tour they’ll often be found loading their own gear in and out.

‘When Johnny joined us, to others it was this unexpected thing. To us, we would obviously never have expected this when we started the band.

‘We grew up listening to The Smiths, but the best thing for me and what mattered most was that Johnny understood our ethic and was fully on board with that.

‘We forged a really strong friendship based on that. That’s why I’m really proud, looking back.’

While other bands featuring siblings, such as Oasis or The Kinks, have been infamously combustible, the Jarmans have managed to make it work, although Gary now lives in Portland, Oregon, Ryan is in New York city and Ross remains back at home in Wakefield.

‘We were so intertwined growing up and then being in the band together, I think it’s healthier for us like this.

‘I do think it has an effect on our songwriting, but the UK is where we do the most stuff, where we do most of our touring. Ross’s house is still the base of the band, he has a rehearsal space in his garage and it’s still pretty much Cribs HQ.’

And does he think that all being family has helped or hindered them?

‘I think it’s a double-edged sword – you understand each other really well. I want what’s best for those guys as much as I want what’s best for me, and I think they feel the same way too.

‘You want the band to succeed for everyone’s sake. When everything’s going well, you can enjoy it through those guys too – everyone’s happy, and that’s nice, but I think the reason some bands with siblings struggle is that when the chips are down, the stresses are felt by everyone as well.

‘And brothers really know how to push each other’s buttons and know when to leave each other alone.

‘But we empathise with each other. That’s something that’s important in any band, and I like to think if I was in a band with people who weren’t my brothers I’d still be sensitive to everyone else’s experience. When you’re in a band with your brothers, you can’t be egotistical, it keeps you grounded.’

Gary on...

...being part of the Weezer cruise

I thought it was going to be weird, I imagined it would be like Spring Break on a boat. You’d think it would be really decadent, but it was actually very communal.

...Ric Ocasek producing For All Our Sisters

The Cars were fundamentally this pretty weird new wave band who had enormous pop hits. So we had this instinct that he’d be a great producer for us and that proved to be true.

...returning to the Pyramids

I love it man. It’s got that big leisure centre feel. You don’t come across that much any more with all the academies or theatres. It feels like a throwback to the ’70s or ’80s.

The Cribs play at The Pyramids Centre on Friday, October 30, doors 7.30pm.

Support comes from Esper Scout and The Wytches.

Tickets £19.75.

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