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The A-Z of Go:Audio

(Interview With James Matthews, October 12, 2009)

By Shari Black Velvet

On November 26th 2009, Go: Audio put the 'brake brakes' on their career. Although it was Thanksgiving in the US it was a sad day over in the UK as Britain's best pop/punk/rock band officially called it day. It was just six weeks earlier that things had all seemed so wonderful with the band playing an amazing headline tour of the UK, ending at the revered Shepherd's Bush Empire in London where even Kelly Jones of Stereophonics and Stuart Cable (ex-Stereophonics) were present. Black Velvet was at the Birmingham Academy 2 show a little earlier in the tour and caught up with frontman James Matthews before the gig for an A-Z style interview. Since the band members are now branching out and off into different directions, read on to either reminisce about the good ol' Go:Audio days or find out what you missed. Obviously a couple of the questions are now 'out of date' since the band are no more - hence putting the interview on the website and not printing it in the printed magazine. But anyway, read below and then if you don't already have it, go and pick up a copy of 'Made Up Stories', the band's full-length album - it is Black Velvet's most listened to album of the year. While it's incredibly sad that the band have split, we can at least still listen to their album. Good luck to the boys with their future musical endeavours.






Black Velvet: What does your album ‘Made Up Stories’ mean to you?
James Matthews: It means a lot. It was a long time in coming out and it got quite frustrating at times. It’s something we’re really proud of and it’s just a collection of songs that span a period of about 3-4 years, writing them. And then to finally get it out there was really wicked and now it’s really paying off and kids are singing all the words back. I think this is the first tour we’ve done where our album is out legally in the shops because it leaked and a lot of kids were illegally downloading it. So this is the first time it’s been officially out and the tours have been amazing so far.

BV: What battles have you had, been through and overcome? And do you have many internal band battles?
JM: We don’t really fall out as a band. I think we all annoy each other at times but I think every band does that anyway. We all get on really well, like brothers in a way. Personally I think labels are a big battle, music piracy, people downloading it illegally, that’s a battle. But at the same time if kids weren’t able to do that we wouldn’t have been able to play as many big shows as we have already, so it sort of cuts both ways. Kids think you’ve got loads of money because you play in a band but it’s not true. Labels are frustrating. We’re unsigned still and we’re selling out stupid sized shows and it’s really frustrating for a band like us because we don’t seem to get noticed that much – the kids do but the labels don’t really. They’re a bit deaf.

BV: What’s the aim of your live show? What’s your mission when you step onstage?
JM: Our mission is to make everyone have a good time and leave at the end of the night with a smile and say the concert was probably the best concert they’ve ever been to. We like to put on an energetic show. We’ve been fortunate that the kids we always play to are pretty receptive to jumping around and going crazy. For everyone to leave with a smile on their face and go away and listen to our songs and come back for our next tour.

BV: What are Go:Audio’s mosted devoted fans like?
JM: We’ve got quite a few. The more hardcore fans call themselves The Go:Crew. They seem to come to more or less every show. They’re pretty awesome and have been there since the start. They were our first ever street teams. Before we had a release out or songs on the music channels they were there, and it’s nice. They’ve been there all the time. You do get a few crazy odd ones though! There’s one girl who just comes and lies through her teeth about everything. Other girls come and say ‘Is it true she’s your sister? Is it true she’s done things to Josh?’ and I’m like ‘No, that’s not true at all!’ So she’s pretty funny. I’ve heard off other bands that she comes to their shows and lies as well. But a lot of them are pretty awesome and they bring weird presents to you like pineapples. I once said in an interview that I liked cheese strings and then I got a barrage of cheese strings given to me, which was nice. This tour I’ve said I like Midget Gems and no-one’s bought me any so I’m pretty frustrated about that. They’re little hard sweets by Lions – that’s the brand!

BV: If you could educate fans in any way what would you most like to teach them?
JM: I would teach them to support Aston Villa football club because it’s the best team in the world! And probably after I read these leaflets you gave me I’ll teach them to be vegan. That’s what I’ll do.

BV: How supportive are your families and how was family life when you got into music?
JM: Wicked. My dad was in bands. He was in the same one for 30 years in Birmingham doing all the clubs and stuff. They had quite a following and got on TV and stuff. He’s always encouraged me to do what I want to do. My mom, she’s not musical at all. But I’m quite lucky in that they support me in all that I do. And I’ve got a sister who sings as well, so yeah, it’s all good. They couldn’t be more supportive. They’re more pushy than me. They go on MySpace every day 
and go ‘I’ve seen this and seen that’ and I’m like ‘alright!’ But when I go on tour and then go home, because I’ve sort of lived with the band for a month, I want to get away from it for at least a few days, do you know what I mean? See my mates and go to the pub and do normal things and I’ve got my parents saying ‘tell me about the tour!’ and I’m like ‘Oh, I’ve just come off it, can I have a break!?’ But they’re fine, they’re coming tonight actually.

BV: Has there been much growth in the band?
JM: Josh’s beard, yeah! Actually we all said at the start of the tour, let’s grow stubble and not shave and everyone started to get itchy and shaved it off. Yeah, I think definitely musically. ‘Made Up Stories’ we did write it maybe three years ago and we wrote a lot of songs between then and it was a big struggle to try and get it out there. We finally did that and yeah, we’ve definitely come on, I think we’ve matured. I don’t know if you’ve checked the new songs out on the MySpace – ‘Lies’ and ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ are songs we’re really proud of, so yeah, definitely, I think we’ve definitely matured.

BV: Who are your heroes and how have they inspired you?
JM: When I was growing up it used to be Noel Gallagher. I used to think he was a bit of a genius, but I seem to have gone off Oasis quite a lot. They’ve lost it, I think – in more ways than one. And also it was Britney Spears – because I used to fancy the hell out of her and she inspired me to be in a band! I thought ‘I might meet her one day!’

BV: Which song is the most important to Go:Audio?
JM: I think it has to be ‘Made Up Stories’. We wrote ‘She Left Me’ and ‘Made Up Stories’ in a period of four days. We were living in a house in Brixton, getting drunk most nights and we were just jamming in the kitchen and I think there was a lot of pressure at the time to write a first single and write a really defining song. It was something that we didn’t think was that great at the time. We just wrote it and then were like ‘ok’ and we showed it to the label and they were like ‘that’s the best song you’ve ever written’ and from then on we always look back, and I think if we’d never have written that song we wouldn’t have gotten as far as we have. I think it’s sort of like our little angel – do you know what I mean? It’s got us where we are and obviously we’re really thankful for that.

BV: Who’s the joker in the band and how important is it to have fun?
JM: Andy’s the biggest joker in the band. He’s always being silly. Zack used to be the joker. He used to be the funniest – but obviously he’s not around anymore. Andy’s the joker in the band but he’s not particularly funny, he just likes to think he is. Yeah, it’s wicked. I think you need that on tour, especially pretty long tours where you’re going to get a bit bored and a bit tired sometimes. You’ll always look back at videos from tour where they’re the best times. Even when you’re on tour you sometimes don’t realise it because you just go from one thing to the other and are always pretty busy. When you get off tour and you’re home for a day you’re bored and you want to go back again and you look at the videos and are like ‘ah, that was amazing!’

BV: What is something that the band has and has had for a while that you always want to keep?
JM: Kids at our shows! We just want to keep doing that. Obviously we want people to keep coming to allow us to keep doing what we are doing because we love it, really.

BV: You released ‘Made Up Stories’ on Rubix Records. What are your views on labels after what happened with Sony?
JM: We’re obviously selling out all these shows and we still didn’t really have a label. We thought ‘screw it, we’ll just set our own label up and put it out ourselves’ which we did. It did well under the circumstances. It was just frustrating that a lot of kids already had it as it’d been leaked. We added a couple more songs on there like ‘This Isn’t Hollywood’ and ‘Drive To The City’. It was a real relief to finally get it out there after so long because we’d all had our hopes up to releasing it previously and it didn’t happen and then it was like ‘will it ever get released?’ But finally it was so it was pretty good. It’s really frustrating for us because in our eyes we’re doing pretty good. Other people who could probably put 
it up a level maybe, seem a bit ignorant to it. But as long as the kids keep coming, that’s all we do it for really.

BV: Have you made any mistakes career wise?
JM: Yeah, I wanted to play for Aston Villa and I didn’t make it! That’s a bit of a mistake. Nah, there’s nothing else I’d rather do. I can’t do anything else. I worked for my dad for a bit, he’s got his own construction company but I hate getting my hands dirty if I’m honest, so… that was never a thing, and because he was always in bands I used to always play with him when he used to play the clubs and I always wanted to do it. I make mistakes onstage all the time – 
forgetting lyrics and falling over and whatever.

BV: Tell us about getting Nick Tsang in as the new member – and what’s it like having a new member in the band?
JM: Nick’s not that new because we all knew Nick anyway. I know he’s been in a few other bands. When Zack broke his leg before Nick stepped in initially for just like a month. Zack’s operation and injury was a bit more serious than we all thought so Nick ended up being in the band for more or less the whole of the ‘Made Up Stories’ campaign and ‘She Left Me’. So he’s more or less always been a part of the band anyway and then Zack came back, and then Zack, he’s always had a sort of business side to him and a business head and he wanted to do that. He got offered this position and he started to do it as well as the band and he just said ‘I really want to do this’ so we were like ‘that’s fine, do what you 
want to do, we can get Nick back’. It’s fine, he’s slotted in good. Last night at the venue he put his phone number up in the window of the dressing room and you can see it as you’re walking through the queue and he was having hundreds of phone calls and texts! Zack is a bit strait laced whereas Nick isn’t so it’s brought more of a dimension to the band actually.

BV: What’s your outlook and frame of mind for the band at the moment?
JM: Brilliant. Obviously there have been times when it’s been pretty low, when we thought ‘how can we continue?’ but we always seem to pull through in some way and yeah, something always happens, I don’t know what it is. We just always come out the other end ok. Touch wood it will continue.

BV: How important is promotion to you and what sort of ways of promoting the band work best?
JM: It’s very important. It used to be MySpace that was the most important but I think MySpace has deteriorated quite a lot. It’s all about Facebook, but… we still go on all of them, Bebo and all of that, but we’ve noticed that MySpace is nowhere as near as popular as it used to be. But yeah, promotion is very important. Without promotion no-one will know about you. You can be the best band in the world but if no-one knows about you no-one’s going to buy it. It’s very, very important I think.

BV: When the band eventually calls it quits how will you want to be remembered?
JM: As the best band ever in the world.

BV: How do you feel when you’re recording in the studio and how did Josh get into producing?
JM: It’s one of the most fun times about being in a band I think, being experimental. When we recorded the album we did it for three months in a barn in East Sussex and we just drank beer for three months and recorded in the Summer and it was just the best time of my life. It was really, really good. I know Josh’s favourite part of being in a band is recording as he’s quite creative and he likes that side of things, whereas mine is probably being on the road and touring and playing to loads of people. It is probably the joint top thing about being in a band, recording. Josh is one of those people who is 
good at everything with music. He’s got a genuine interest in learning things and all the people we meet and the producers we work with I think they inspire him and he looks up to them and wants to be like that. But he’s got his own laptop with a program on and he’s just really good at doing it now, so all the new stuff on MySpace we produced ourselves and it’s really, really good.

BV: How hard or easy is songwriting?
JM: Sometimes it’s really, really easy and sometimes it’s very frustrating. Sometimes we’ll go months without writing anything and nothing really comes and then we’ll have a spurt of maybe writing five or six songs in a month. But it’s really weird, you can have times where, if I’m in the mood I can nail really good lyrics and it sounds amazing and then other times I can be there wanting to write a really good song but nothing comes into my head. So yeah, it’s both frustrating and easy. Obviously we want to expand from ‘Made Up Stories’. We’ve always wanted to progress. But at the same time we wanted to do something that is radio-friendly as well. ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ is more mature, more Killers-y maybe, which is where we see ourselves at the moment. We don’t sit there and think ‘let’s do it in this direction’, we just write what’s in our head at this point in our lives, and at that point it was those.

T – TV
BV: How did you feel when you saw your videos on TV and which TV show would you most like to be on?
JM: It was surreal. I never had Sky at home so I’d get people saying ‘I just saw you on Kerrang!’ and I was like ‘ah right, ok’. I’ve seen it a few times. I remember being in a bar and it came on and it was embarrassing. ‘There’s me!’ but it’s really nice. I’d like to be on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. That’s pretty good. There’s not a lot of TV shows for bands nowadays. There used to be loads of TV shows but there’s not any more. It’s all about the internet. That’s a lot of bands in our position’s Achilles heel, if you know what I mean.

BV: What would your utopia be?
JM: It would be to be a really successful band. To just be able to do it as a job and continue to do that. Aston Villa would be the best team in the world and all the stuff that’s going on in the world to stop, it’s all pointless.

BV: Tell us about your videos and which you most enjoyed making.
JM: Our first video was for a song called ‘Woodchuck’. I don’t like that video. It was a while ago and I don’t like it that much. ‘Made Up Stories’ I really like, even though when we spoke to the directors about how it was going to be... when you’re writing a song you always have this vision of the scenario of what’s going on and I always imagine that to be the video and when I went into the meeting with the directors and they had this layout of what was going on, I didn’t throw my toys out of the pram but I was like ‘I don’t see that, I don’t really get it’ and then everyone sort of convinced me and it was a bit late to cancel it. I think it was about a night before the video. I went there and did it and it all worked out well and I think it looks really good. The wardrobe scene’s pretty cool. ‘She Left Me’ was really fun although we got on set at something like 10 in the morning and didn’t start filming until 7. And then ‘Drive To The City’ – yeah, that was pretty cool. We got one of our friends who’s a director to do that and that was pretty good actually. I actually like doing videos. I know a few of the band members find it a bit tiring, I quite like it.
BV: Is there anything you’d like to do in a video but haven’t?
JM: Kiss a girl. But pretty much all the songs we’ve written about have all been about being cheated on.
BV: Would you be embarrassed?
JM: Yeah, I would actually. I think in the last video the director was like ‘are you alright to kiss her?’ and I was all like ‘Nah, nah, I’m alright, thanks’ and she was like ‘Nah, nah’. But I’d like to do all kinds of crazy stuff. If it was high budget I’d like to drive Ferraris around Monaco, like a James Bond theme, that would be good.

BV: What do you most worry about in relation to the band?
JM: Getting to venues on time ‘cause our tour manager’s lazy! Nah, he’s not, he’s awesome! I don’t worry about a lot. I think whatever will be will be, and it’s fine, we’re all enjoying it, it’s cool.

BV: What can we expect from Go:Audio in the future?
JM: After this tour we’re going to go and continue writing and recording and then record the new album and I think we’re going to arrange another tour for March time. So, pretty busy and again, pressure to write new songs, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

BV: What memory would you most like to relive from the years you’ve had as a band?
JM: Signing a record deal, that was pretty good, and then headlining Birmingham Academy 1 in April when all my friends and family were there. A lot of my friends didn’t really know what scale my band was at, and then they came. I remember it being a wicked gig. When you have gigs I sometimes look back and go ‘I wish I’d done that, I messed up a bit on that bit’ and I remember leaving and being totally satisfied with everything, the way it went. So that day was pretty good.

BV: What’s been the most exhausting experience that you’ve had? Has there been a time where you’ve been really wiped out due to a specific musical workload and how did you feel?
JM: Yeah, the most zonked I’ve been was when we played Download Festival in 2008 and straight afterwards we had to leave and drive all the way to Yeovil to play another show. That was pretty intense as we’d shot the ‘She Left Me’ music video the day before and as everyone knows music video shoots are long days.

Visit www.myspace.com/goaudioband for more info.




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