Focussing Up: Clash Meets Mealtime

Focussing Up: Clash Meets Mealtime

Uncovering the truth behind the Manchester alt-pop collective...

Aptly describing themselves as abrasive alternative synth-pop, Mealtime’s select few infectious releases in 2019 caused an undeniable stir, and as their first year as a band brought considerable success, they are not prepared to slow down momentum.

In a flurry of inside jokes and laughter, the Manchester six-piece don’t cease from rinsing each other throughout their interview. They are acutely self-aware, don’t take themselves too seriously, (except when working on music), and this balance seems to help them thrive.

“We’ve all been working really hard these past few months to iron out the creases, we want to be focused up.”

Clash caught up with the band ahead of their London show at Scala to talk about everything from their self-imposed pre-gig drinking ban to Robbie Williams bathroom shrines.

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The self-titled Mike Skinner and/or Aston Merrygold of the group, vocalist Sam, seems to be at the heart of this drinking ban. How come you’re all not drinking tonight?

Sam: We just wanna try it!

Georgia: No - its actually because Sam got extremely drunk at our last gig, met a few people and had mayo all over his hands from the burger that he’d been eating and knocked Keaton’s girlfriend’s burger off the table and upset her.

Keaton: We were livid.

Sam: I went to shake someone’s hand with mayo all over me.

Georgia: That’s why we are taking a stance.

Keaton: On a serious note we’ve all worked really hard and we wanted to step back and actually hear the live show.

In terms of your roles in the band, they don’t seem super fixed. Do you all switch around or is it pretty set in stone?

Sam: It’s egalitarian, we’re all swapping around constantly. It feels strange saying that I’m the guy who does this etc. Georgia: It does rotate, and anyone who comes to see us live will see us swapping around.

Harry: It all depends song to song - it depends who wins the fight really.

Is that the same in your kind of creative process - because there’s so many of you, how do you decide when something is finalised?

Sam: Oh yeah, every song ends in a scram.

Keaton: We usually start out with one or two of us sort of lounging about coming up with an idea then that will get brought to the rest of the group and then we will all stick our 10 pence in.

Georgia: We are all consulted and we all wanna put our own stamp on it.

Sam: If it gets through six people… it’s probably - well we think its really good. Keaton: If it gets past five people, then one doesn’t like it, that’s when shit hits the fan. We’ve never released or finished something that we all haven’t been really happy with. Its a bit of a shouting contest but we like to think we balance each other out.

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What is on the cards for 2020 Mealtime?

Sam: Keep rehearsing, keep writing, and just having fun with it really. We will take it week by week. The day it stops being a good time we’ll pack it in.

Harry: Our plan is to release a more significant body of work in 2020.

Sam: We’ve got an album worth of material written easy peasy.

Georgia: The plan’s not 100% set in stone as to how we are gonna go about it but there will be more videos and releases.

Speaking of videos, tell us about the video for your single 'Sublime'.

Harry: Georgia had the idea which kind of just went all the way. Sam: We went to an off-license - Zaf’s GoLocal in Ancoats - it was perfect. Massive Rolex clock, Grey Goose slushies in a tango ice blast machine. Hopefully, they’ll see this shout out and give us some for free - Grey Goose slushies for life.

Georgia: We had to wait until it was shut to film so it was late at night.

Keaton: We did all the shooting in one long day so all the bedroom shots were first in the studio and then the limo picked us up and took us to Zafs. Then we got Tony on board, the star of the video. It all came together nicely.

Does 'Sublime' set the scene for an aesthetic that your rolling with now?

Georgia: For the moment yeah right now its the vibe, we always want to roll with a concept that is somewhat creative, a little bit fun and ironic. Sam: I’m sure there will be something else exciting us in two years.

Keaton: It just depends on the song really, and how we portray each tune.

What were your musical influences like growing up? Do you feel that these have come together and contributed to the Mealtime sound as a whole?

Keaton: This is where we differ but to a certain degree, we all connect and enjoy nostalgia. I Loved Shane Ward: I’ve been going back to his biggest hits and been enjoying the hell out of them. He was Britain’s answer to Justin Timberlake, and he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it.

Andy: Tears For Fears, The Beatles, Nick Kershaw.

Will: Sam and I had an emo phase, and we got really excited when MCR got back together.

Sam: MCR is deeply embedded in my musical DNA. I’m not embarrassed, I’m proud of it. I’ve embarrassed myself much more than this.

Georgia: Gwen Stefani. 'Love. Angel. Music. Baby.' was THE album for me growing up.

Harry: For me it was David Guetta. Also massive shoutout to Timberland, every time.

If you were feeling the pressure to put on a tune to impress the masses what would you choose?

Georgia: We wouldn’t try to impress, we would just put on 'The Way I Are' by Timberland, and that’s it.

Keaton: If you put all of us together, right in the middle of that, is the Sugarbabes and Gary Numan collab version of 'Freak Like Me'.

Georgia: Genius mashup. 

Sam: THAT’S MEALTIME.

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Words: Megan Warrender

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