You’ll be glad to ear that throughout my entire interview with Matt Bishop, lead singer of another potential ‘next big thing’ band, Switches, I managed to completely avoid asking the seemingly inevitable question; what turns them on?
When I speak to Matt he is sitting in his little recording space in his London flat, recording a cover of Beck’s ‘Sexx Laws’, sounding enthusiastic and excited about the release of his band’s debut album, ‘Heart Tuned To D.E.A.D’. “I was worried it wasn’t going to turn out how I hoped, but it did, so that’s really nice,” he explains. “We worked with a few producers and then decided to approach Rob Schnapf who had worked with The Vines. I really liked what he had done with their album and also what he had done with Elliot Smith and Beck. I thought he’d be a really good choice.” A transatlantic journey was thus in store for Matt and his fellow band mates, Ollie, Max and Jimmy but, as Matt points out, it was “hardly a hardship to record in LA”.
“I was worried it wasn’t going to turn out how I hoped, but it did, so that’s really nice”
The resulting album is a stomping, romping tune-filled barrage of big choruses, clichéd lyrics and jump-up-and-down floor fillers, epitomised by recent single ‘Lay Down The Law’. Clearly influenced by Blur’s big albums from their Britpop height, ‘Heart Tuned To D.E.A.D’ unashamedly takes a big Glam Rock nod at the 70s as well. “Oh yeah,” agrees Matt, “Glam-Rock, Bowie, T Rex, New-Wave, they’ve all been a huge influence on this album and the first album I bought for myself was ‘The Great Escape’ so that makes sense. There’s a big Weezer influence in there as well.” And it’s all very clear on the record, making Switches’ debut an easy, potentially very radio friendly listen.
However, for anyone who enjoys the melodies and sing-a-long choruses Matt has clearly mastered, it is easy to suggest that they might be hoping for a little bit more from the band in the future. Thankfully, Matt understands this need for musical progression. “What we’ll try to do in years to come is kind of move away from those influences but that’s the stuff I’ve always loved so I wanted to keep it like ‘here’s where we start’. We can move anywhere now. It’s important for bands to have an identity to start with and then move out. That’s what Bowie did. ‘Ziggy Stardust’ is just well crafted pop but it was after that he went weird.”
Switches formed at university in Guildford when Matt sent an intranet email to the entire university asking if anyone wanted to be in his band and after a number of replies from un-Bowie like “freaks and weirdos” Switches were sparked into life. However, it’s only since he graduated in 2004 that the band have started taking it seriously, perhaps inspired by Matt’s uninspiring post-grad job at an “undisclosed bank dealing with credit card caller issues.” As Matt says: “It’s worth giving it a crack. Do your shitty bar job and follow your dream at the same time. It sometimes becomes reality.” And if those inspiring words don’t turn you on, you’re clearly a eunuch.