by Joanna Orland & Isla MC

I first fell in love with the Guillemots when I heard their beautiful, epic ‘Made Up Love Song 43’. It’s the line ‘I can’t believe you care’ that gets me every time. Anyway, we met up with Fyfe and Arista from the band after their set at Guilfest. A blazing hot Sunday, Fyfe performed in an English dandy-style tweed suit and still appeared to be melting from the inside out an hour later. In fact, he apologised for being not as articulate as he might be on any other day. He was with it enough to tinkle away on his guitar throughout our chat, in a most relaxing and debonair fashion.

Considering that their debut album ‘Through the Windowpane’ came out little over a week ago, the Guillemots have already created quite a splash, with rave reviews and a nomination for this year’s Mercury Music Prize. The band puts on a fantastic live show with loads of energy and little quirks, such as the use of a typewriter as an instrument! ‘It makes a good noise!’ says Fyfe. They have a great band dynamic going on, with lots of grinning and chatting with each other – ‘We love each other!’ says Arista, only slightly ironically, while Fyfe puts it down to the fact that they adore what they do, ‘whether we’re playing sad songs or happy songs…we’re doing it out of total love and necessity. We’d all go mad if we weren’t’.

The Guillemots came together in the random way that people do. And while there are four core members, the band ‘will keep expanding in different ways, and shrinking again, you know….bleurgh (random accidental burping noise that Fyfe described as a mouth fart)’. On the day we saw them they had a saxophone player and a clarinet as additions to the line-up; friends who make the sound a bit bigger and add an extra something to the music.

We asked Fyfe and Arista what is was like playing South by Southwest. A pretty big deal, no? ‘I thought it was horrible!’ says Arista. ‘Actually, yeah, it was horrible’ agrees Fyfe. ‘One of the worst things I’ve ever done in my whole life!’ exclaims Arista. Eventually Fyfe clarified that it wasn’t strictly because of South by Southwest, but because it was their first tour in America, their first live show over there, and everything went wrong! They missed a connecting flight so had to drive for five hours, ‘in a tiny, horrible, sweaty van’, arriving with only five minutes to soundcheck, and a broken keyboard. ‘But we think we were well received!’ says Fyfe optimistically.

How did the Guillemots come to make the music that they make? ‘I think we all wanted to make music no one else was making. I have days when I want to listen to something but nothing I put on is right. If there’s not a gap that makes you want to make that music, because no one else is, then there’s almost no point in doing it’ says Fyfe. Sage advice that some of the more derivative bands around at the moment could do with taking! ‘I think what we’re doing is kind of in its own little space, in it’s own way, but I guess everyone feels like that when they’re making music’ he concludes.

Oh and in case anyone was wondering whether Fyfe Dangerfield is his real name – well, he claims it is! Fyfe Anthony Dangerfield Hutchins to be precise (Dangerfield is his mum’s maiden name). ‘Everyone thinks we make up wacky names but we’re just using what we have’. And yes, they are named after the type of bird. Fyfe used to be something of a birdwatcher in his early years, apparently!

So, one word to sum the Guillemots up? ‘Bleurgh. Vomit’ says Fyfe. ‘Happy sun love vomit with chocolate sauce’ says Arista (we got the impression they weren’t taking this too seriously). ‘No. Water. Because you need it’ says Fyfe. ‘Actually I haven’t got a clue’.

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