Looking back at 2014… with Magpies and Vagabonds

It’s been a big year for Birmingham’s Magpies and Vagabonds! They released their amazing EP Giver earlier in the year, and have just followed it up with new single “Start of a Century”. Dan (vocals/guitar) told us all about his year…

How was 2014 for you?

I felt myself grow noticeably older and more out of touch this year. I spent a lot of time cleaning surfaces and worrying about getting good mileage out of my car. Musically I ebbed and flowed – we released an EP and a self-produced single. I finally worked out how to produce! Well, kinda.

What was the best/most memorable show you played?

It’s a toss-up between our show at the Flapper in Birmingham (when we released “Giver”) and when we played with the Ordinary Boys in London. The former was a stress fest, the support bands dropped out and the promoter didn’t show up until two hours after doors… it was an enjoyable clusterfuck and I blew my voice out covering The Clash. So it goes.

Playing with The Ordinary Boys was just great – it was our first time playing a real sold-out show in central London (hilarious compared to our previous ventures to London when we played to about five distant silhouettes and a sound guy). We stepped out after our set to cool down but then couldn’t get back inside the venue, it was so rammed. I had to watch the Ordinary Boys over an ocean of sweaty gig-goers as I loitered around the toilets like a creep. I mean that’s what I usually do at gigs anyway, but it’s meant to be optional, you know? I should have kicked up a fuss, got all “nobody puts baby in a corner/toilet” on everyone’s butts.

What was the best show you went to?

I go to fewer shows these days. I live in Stratford on Avon, it’s a far cry from when I lived in a real city like Leeds or Toronto, we don’t have real gigs here. Having said that, I’ve seen some amazing bands this year – Drew (guitar) and I saw Quicksand in Camden, then we had band outings to see The Hold Steady and The Gaslight Anthem in Birmingham. They were both phenomenal.

I used to do live sound for bands, and every now and then I get pulled out of retirement by friends to help them out. I was lucky enough to do ¡forward, russia! at Live at Leeds at the start of the year, which was incredible. And at the end of October I did sound for Thumpers, who were supporting Klaxons around the UK. Seeing Klaxons on their farewell tour was just beautiful. They’ve been wrongly overhyped and underappreciated throughout their career, they were genuinely brilliant on that tour and I don’t think people have registered what a sad loss the Klaxons split actually is. The last adventurous British indie band apart from Foals. Compare Myths of the Near Future to the output of their current equivalents – it shits on the 1975, Bastille, all of it. I’m sorry to see Klaxons go.

What are some of your favourite releases of this year?

As usual, mine are really really obvious. Thumpers’ debut album (Galore) was a huge release for me, but the follow-up EP of collabs last month was even more rad. “Devotee” with Jena Malone floors me, and when they did that on tour with Frances singing Jena’s parts… fucking astounding.

Apart from Thumpers’ output, the Gaslight Anthem record was a big part of my year. It’s so weird for them, it has this rad 1980s vibe to it which I really like. St. Vincent’s album is beyond brilliant, everyone should own that. Death From Above 1979 released an album which isn’t quite as good as their first but still shits all over every other bass-and-drums two piece on the planet (cough, Royal Blood, cough).

Weirdly, the biggest record of my year was probably the re-issue of Spiderland by Slint. It was a record I’d heard of for over ten years but had somehow never heard, and I decided it was definitely time to get on board. I got immersed in it for about a month, had it on constantly in the car, on my iPod, my home stereo, everywhere. Every journey became a surreal Slintian nightmare, I felt pretty haunted by it for a while. I’m still too terrified to watch the documentary DVD in case Slint come out of my TV screen and drown me.

What are you excited for in 2015?

My ear is so far from the ground (figuratively speaking), I don’t even know what’s happening next year… The new Avengers movie, maybe? The Death From Above 1979 tour should be cool, hopefully I’ll get to see them play in Birmingham. I need a new computer, maybe I could get one of those next year. Faith No More will probably release an album, which will be fun.

How many people have answered this question by saying “hoverboards”? Well, I’ll say this straight up, I am not looking forward to fucking hoverboards. I can’t even approach a regular skateboard without shattering my elbow, I don’t see why I’d want to be on something equally as unpredictable and injury-inducing but which FLOATS IN THE SKY. That’s an extra level of dangerous bullshit that my calcium-deficient bones are not ready for.

I feel like the planet – the UK, in particular – has spent the whole of this year fucked off its tits on weird substances that I don’t know anything about. I mean, I can’t wait for that part where everyone wakes up in 2015 with a crippling hangover and goes “oh god, what did I do last year…? Oh my god, UKIP?! That’s a thing now?!! Fuuuuck, I’m so sorry!! Wait, didn’t we… We let Bring Me The Horizon headline Wembley, didn’t we?!! Oh my sweet jesus, what were we thinking?! And… TOPKNOTS?!?! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!” and so on. 2015 will be known as “the year of the delayed shame”, I feel.

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