The phone answers and I’m greeted by some tuneless honking, then a female voice: “Urgh, all this spit from this trumpet has just gone all over my face.” It’s a suggestive image impossible not to snigger at, just as another male voice does on the other end of the line. “Sorry,” says she, “we’re just testing out this trumpet and haven’t really got the hang of it yet.”
Coves are John Ridgard and Becks Wood, a two piece act who spin a mean line in anthemic winter rock, twining Portishead atmospherics with Lykke Li lyrical tone and drive. They’ve been whipping up a storm round the blogs and ‘zines recently, with a sold-out show at the Sebright Arms very much announcing their arrival on the radar. So what’s it like being back in their hometown of Leamington Spa after this? “Well,” says Becks, “it’s okay but it’s a really small town so we stick out a bit. There isn’t much of a music scene really, other than the Assembly, where we both work.”
John is deputy manager at the 1000-strong venue, with Becks working on the box office. Pressed on her work ethic, a po-faced John claims that she has “the worst customer service skills ever known to mankind,” and that he spends most of his time “dealing with complaints from people who have been served by Beck.” For her part, she claims that he is “a really lazy boss that moans all the time.” She softens this by saying that he does at least spend most of his time fetching her cups of tea.
Their constant bickering is rather sweet, though don’t take it as an indicator of sexual tension: They’re just good mates, honest guv. It turns out Becks has just come out of a 5 year relationship, as revealed when I (in relation to their song ‘Fall Out Of Love’) ask her if she has ever fallen out of love: “Well, yes, last Friday actually, when I got dumped.” Ah. “It’s fine,” she says noting the muffled splutters as I try desperately to remove foot from mouth, “we’re just going to make an album of teary ballads now, aren’t we John?”
John is reluctant to commit either way so I ask them about their cover of Chris Izaak’s ‘Wicked Game', which got them to the top of the UK Hype Machine chart. What cover would they consider as a follow-up? “I thought of one last night,” says he, “I can’t remember. S Club? No…wait…” As in Reach? “No, that’s not a ballad, probably not S Club actually.” I suggest ‘Never Had A Dream Come True,’ which sets Becks off in the background as she belts out the chorus. “Erm,” mumbles John, “I think not.” What about ‘Died In Your Arms Tonight?’ “Yes!” Shouts Becks, before we change tack to stop her going off again, and I ask if there is more creativity to be found being in love or out of love.
“Definitely out,” says Becks, “when we started the band I had just had a bit of a break-up with the same guy, and I wrote 4 cracking songs. Then we got back together and it was a lot harder. With the recent goings on I reckon we should get in the studio as quick as possible to capitalise.”
As well as coverage from the hipster brigade, Coves also got picked up by Zane Lowe and praised to high heaven on his show. What’s it like having their music played on Radio 1? “Obviously it’s brilliant,” says Becks, “and a massive deal. But I listened to it and it didn’t sound like me, like us. I don’t know, maybe it hasn’t sunk in yet.” John picks up the baton: “We genuinely just started making music because we wanted to, there was no thought given to making a career out of it or anything. I’ve been in bands before and had basically given up on the idea of being in a band. This was all about just going in the studio and having fun. We’re just glad people like it.”
So far, so nice. They are playing the Fred Perry Subsonic Live gig at Highbury Garage on the 21st, supporting none other electro quirk demi-God Tom Vek, which they are both suitably pleased about. His comeback single last year was called ‘A Chore.’ Is there any part of their musical lives they consider a chore?
“Hangin’ around with him,” says Becks, as expected referring to John. “Travelling around with her,” says John, “doing everything to keep her happy.” What does that entail? “Codeine, normally,” he says with a laugh. “Well I’ve got a really bad back anyway,” protests Beck, “and when I have to drive back from a gig I’m in a mood anyway because I haven’t been able to drink. And he’s just drunk in the back going ‘blah blah blah.’ As I have told him many times in this situation, the best thing is just to shut up and roll me a cigarette.”
Once again, don’t be fooled by the petty arguments- it’s all laced with a lot of affection that stands them in good stead for the many hours on the road ahead: “We also keep some jelly snakes from Marks’ in the glove box,” says John, “and a tin of those powdered sweets. Get yourself a man-size box of tissues and a couple of big pillows and you’re well and truly travelling, Coves style.”
The Fred Perry Subsonic Live gig takes place on 21st November @Highbury Garage. Read all about it here
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