So we’ve heard all about Dirty Pretty Things and Babyshambles…but ever wonder what became of the 4th member of The Libertines, John Hassal? Well wonder no longer, because he’s back, with a band who are building up quite a reputation for themselves, Yeti.
With an EP in the shops now, it seems the quiet Libertine has been biding his time with good reason, and the unhurried result of months of hard work is warm, timeless and intelligent, the kind of tracks you can listen to again and again as they creep under your skin.
Together with Andrew Deian, Graham Blacow, Brendan Kersey and Mark ‘Harmony’ Williams, Yeti are proving that it’s always the quiet one you have to watch. Guitarist Mark ‘Harmony’ Williams took some time out to chat to Dee Massey about the album, the band and what happens when you go through a black hole.
Well firstly congratulations on your EP, which is out today.
Why thank you..is it out today?
It is indeed apparently!
Wow..I guess I should really go and buy a copy then!
You probably should! Anyway, let’s go right back to the beginning. Obviously John was in a band before (The Libertines) but how did you guys all get together, what’s your background?
Well, I first met Graham backstage at another gig, a Johnny Coppin gig..we got very very drunk and I ended up crashing at his place and we’ve known each other since then. Brendan and Andy came through John, and I knew John because I knew Carl [Barat from The Libertines/Dirty Pretty Things].
And am I right in thinking you also write for TV and films?
Vaguely…actually I got sacked recently from the TV thing [laughs]
It’s ok..well I didn’t really get sacked..but they stopped answering my emails so I get the feeling I’m not wanted anymore. I was writing something for Talkback about hit and run, featuring Nigel Harman, him off Eastenders, but they’ve gone cold. But I’ve got a film on the go..
So where does your love really lie – music or writing for TV?
I think it lies in writing in general, I like writing and performing. I mean, I was an actor before and I started writing plays and acting in the plays I’d written because..I’m that much of an egomaniac! I went to college with Carl’s sister, and met Carl through that, and then obviously met John, and when things were a bit all up in the air he chatted to be about being in a band, and I’d already suing anyway, so I figured yeah, I’ll be in a band, why not! Something to tell the grandkids!
So do you take control of the song writing in Yeti?
If someone’s singing it, then they wrote it basically – the tune and the lyrics. Of course, everyone writes their own part, as it were – because I haven’t got the first clue how to play bass but thankfully Brendan’s an amazing bassist so already writes me wonderful bass lines which Midnight Flight would suffer greatly without, for instance, because it’s purely bass led.
Your press blurb cites The Beatles and The Velvet Underground as the band’s main influences? Who are your personal ones?
The Orange Organics I’d have to say.
What kind of stuff are you listening to at the moment?
Ooh well I’ll tell you what I got the other day..I got a pile of CDs..hang on…Right, I got The Essential Dolly Parton..
Nothing wrong with Dolly! I even saw her live a few years ago!
[laughs] Really? Ha! I thought I’d better swat up on my country, since we play country. I got myself a three pack of Johnny Cash, which is cool. And I also got in the three for £15 thingy Love da Capo, I got Forever Changes as I’ve always wanted to own it, Blondie’s Greatest Hits and…Dolittle, by The Pixies.
Going for the classics then…
Well yeah, my music collection is sorely lacking in anything decent, so I figured I’d better know something about music if I’m proclaiming to do it.
You should’ve bought your own EP too.
Yeah but..I haven’t actually left the house yet.
Fair enough! Right, you recorded your album with Craig Silvey, ( The Magic Numbers/The Longcut/The Coral) what is it about Craig that made you choose him?
He’s a comic genius. He and Rich Wilkinson are a great double act that just keep you entertained! You’re supposed to be recording, and I like to join in and we kinda just had too much fun.
I heard it was pretty laid back in there?
Yeah [laughs] we didn’t necessarily get that much done in a day, we were too busy joshing around, and recording things we oughtn’t be recording, songs that were never ever going to appear on the album and other silly things.
So with that in mind, do you prefer being in the studio with them or touring?
I like both in equal measure. You can’t beat a live audience, but then again, you can’t always make the sound you want to make with bad equipment, so I kinda like to listen to music on CDs instead of standing in front of a huge PA making me deaf.
Ha..true..you know you’re getting old when you think that!
[laughs] Well it’s true!
You’ve just done your first headline tour of the US. What was your most memorable date out there?
Las Vegas – it was weird, a really strange evening. Whilst we were doing the gig there was a gentleman photographing nude women on a sofa behind the audence.
I would imagine you guys quite enjoyed that show!
Well I couldn’t really see this afterwards [sighs]..but I guess it would have been quite off putting.
So how did you find the US fans in comparison to the brits?
Right. Ok..so if you had to banish one member of the tour bus from the er..bus..who would be it be?
It would have to be Brendan. Because he smokes..and I just quit a month ago, and every time he lights up I just want a cigarette.
So apart from not smoking – what’s your personal goal for the next year?
My goal is to learn to like myself! I was informed that I don’t like myself very much so I’m going to learn to like me.I don’t know how I’m going to like me..but I’ll have a go. Have you got any suggestions?
I find alcohol helps.
Ah but you see it doesn’t.
Well gin’s a downer, but I find JD or even vodka makes me like pretty much everyone.
Oooh…well I’ve a lot of vodka martinis recently…but I’ve been drinking lots of alcohol to cheer myself up and then I don’t actually remember ..I keep waking up in the morning and thinking ‘how did I get here’ and hoping I didn’t say anything out of place to anyone. But apparently I’ve been on top form!
Always good to hear! Right. NME described ‘Never Lose your Sense of Wonder’as ‘gently quarried piece of heaven’ – what would YOUR idea of heaven be?
[laughs] Well not Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder’! [laughs] Erm..blimey..fucking hell. What a question. Not having to think anymore…..and not having a poorly knee! Being a cat maybe. So long as it’s a well looked after cat…I wouldn’t want to be a cat on the streets of Baghdad.
No. I can imagine that would suck.
Ok. Answer me this..when do fish sleep?
When do fish sleep? I don’t think they do, do they?
I don’t know! Can you cry underwater?
Of course you can!
If you went through a black hole..what would you find?
You would find…um…I’ve not been through one! I imagine it’s probably a link to a parallel universe so you’d find a different version of your self who was..better. Or worse…or blonde.
What question would you most like to be asked in an interview?
It depends on the interviewer..
What are your three essentials for going on tour?
An orange, a toothbrush and….a credit card.
Very good. And this is a hard one. If an unstoppable object hit an immovable object..what would happen?
An unstoppable object hit an immovable object….. unstoppable object hit an immovable object?
Sorry..you got some random questions!
No no..it’s fine..hang on. [pauses]. The unstoppable object would go back the other way!
What’s your best hangover cure?
No! Not excellent..but it is the best hangover cure.
And lastly, a source of mine has asked to me to ask you about ‘The Chamber’. Would you like to elaborate?
[laughs a lot] He wouldn’t elaborate? [laughs]. Well..I can’t believe him…well when we were recording I was playing acoustic guitar so I wasn’t allowed in the room with anyone else, so I have my own special chamber in which I was banished. And there’s…well there’s more to the story but I don’t think it’s er….appropriate.[laughs]
And anything you’d like to say to readers of Crossfire?
No. [laughs]. No ..tell them to…[pause]..I want to tell them something useful. I should be full of gems, I didn’t drink today and I’m less compos mentis because of it [laughs]. It’s not going to happen….um…no. You could tell them….that [long pause]…they should read the Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy. At least that’s going to improve their life!
Thank you and goodnight!
For more information on the awesome Yeti check out www.yetiintelligence.com You can see Yeti on their forthcoming tour at the following dates: 4th December – Manchester / 5th December – Liverpool / 6th December – Cardiff / 8th December – Birmingham / 15th December – Camden, London.