April 28, 2020
Tune-In Tuesdays #67: Neuromantics on “Crimes of Passion”
Neuromantics gaze down from a balcony in London, United KingdomSource: Neuromantics
London-based alternative rock band Neuromantics is tethered together by their deep, heartfelt connection to their craft and their connections to each other as individuals.
Following the release of their debut album, “Crimes of Passion,” we spoke to vocalist Daniel Pye, guitarist Andrew Gambell, and bassist Danny Timóteo to learn more about Neuromantics’ emotive debut, their history as bandmates, and what the future holds for the group.
Tell us a little about Neuromantics
Daniel: We’re a band [laughs], obviously. We play alternative rock music and we’re based in London.
We formed a few years ago by chance. I met Andrew years ago while we were both backpacking through Europe. He was in the same hostel as me in Budapest and he had a guitar, that was cool.
We just started talking and we spent some time hanging out in the city, kept in touch. Then, Andrew ended up in Sydney[,Australia] while I was in Sydney, which is my home town, and I had a potential music project. I reached out, asked him if he wanted to be involved, and he said yes.
We got working with a few other people and pieced together an EP. That was pre-dating Neuromantics, but that was our first musical foret together.
I ended up moving to London, which is where Andrew’s from originally, but he did spend a lot of time growing up in Australia, as well.
After reaching out again, we decided to start doing music together on a more coordinated bases.
Then the drummer, Ed, he’s from Latvia. I’d met him in Latvia before moving to London – I was volunteering there for a month and he was working at the place I was volunteering.
We kept in touch, as well. He’s a great drummer and he was in London, so I asked him if he was involved in starting up something and he said yes.
The three of us were playing, but we were missing some bass, so Andrew reached out to Danny. They worked together at the time and [Andrew] brought Danny along to the next practice.
I think we all gelled really well and we started playing music from there. That’s when the four of us had officially launched the band.
What inspired you to go backpacking through Europe?
Daniel: Just love traveling – Andrew, you’ve been there, and Danny you’ve been around the block, as well.
Andrew: We were quite young, we were maybe 19, 20. It’s just kind of the thing you do when you leave school and want to see the world, meet new people. That’s how things like this come about, y’know.
Where does the name “Neuromantics” come from?
Andrew: It comes from a William Gibson book called “Neuromancer,” which is a science fiction book from the 80s.
We don’t really write songs based on the book or anything like that, it’s just kind of a play on words from that book.
What would you say are your values and priorities as a band?
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Daniel: First and foremost, we’re all equals in the group, we’re all equally valuable and have an equal say. We really try to keep that as a core thing, so everyone brings ideas.
I think that’s an important part of us. We get along really well, and again, another first and foremost point is we’re friends. That’ll always be key to us.
It’s super important. I love playing music in general, but to be able to share that with friends is really nice and super important to us. I don’t think we’ve had any of those political issues or anything like that in a band – we haven’t had the juicy drama, but it’s better that way, to not have any of that, right?
What were your experiences with music prior to forming Neuromantics?
Andrew: I’ve been playing music since I was maybe seven or eight, when I got guitar lessons. Played in a lot of bands in high school, a lot of different instruments; I kinda switch from guitar to bass to drums for a couple of months.
In London, I was in a punk band for about three years until that fell apart.
Neuromantics is the only thing I’ve got goin’ at the moment. I’ve been in different bands with different styles and instruments for a really, really long time.
It’s good, I like a lot of genres and music, so it’s easy to fall in and do what needs to be done. That’s what I like to do – I’m not really a songwriter, I like to help people kind of get things out of their head and make a song together.
Daniel: When I was growing up, I didn’t play heaps of music as a little kid. I wasn’t there hitting pots and pans, all that kind of stuff. I wasn’t trying to be the drummer, learning the triangle, or anything like that [laughs].
But my dad played guitar, and I thought it was really cool. He showed me some tricks and I was really intrigued by it, so I asked if I could start learning the guitar.
I started getting some lessons with a guy that lived around the corner, an older guy, Don. He was a phenomenal player and I played a lot of blues and jazz while I was with him.
I also played in bands throughout high school and stuff. I didn’t sing back then, so I played more lead guitar [at that time].
I started songwriting towards my late-teens and I realized I wanted to perform the songs I was writing. I switched to more writing and singing as well then.
I was in a band in Australia, sort of like an indie rock band, we had a few line up changes and that fell apart. Then I was doing solo songwriter stuff before taking a break and ended up in Neuromantics. That’s the chronological order of things.
What’s a unique element that each band member brings to Neuromantics?
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Daniel: Ed’s got a really cool beard, wish you could see it [laughs].
No, everyone’s played in different musical projects before, and different styles, as Andrew’s pointed out. Everyone’s got a lot of different exposure.
When all of that pulls together, it makes for a very interesting blend.
Andrew: We all like different music. Like Danny, our bassist, he’s really into sort of hardcore punk and really fast stuff. The drummer, Ed, he plays a lot of Latvian folk music.
Me, I like a lot of stuff, but I like really weird, experimental stuff, as well.
With the four of us, it’s all kind of pulling each other in different directions and making it work at the same time. I think that’s the key to how we do our songs.
What have you learned from playing together as a band?
Daniel: We challenge each other and we like to experiment. Those different styles that we’ve been exposed to, we make it work and come together. I think that makes for an interesting songwriting process.
Sometimes I feel like we have different elements from different styles within the same songs sometimes.
There was one song – it’s not on this record, but a separate song we’ve been working on for the next record. When it was first crafted, the first half of the song sounded like this country-type thing, and the second half of the song was like this heavy rock element, it was really whacky.
It’s changed since then, it’s more on the heavy rock element side now, but playing together, we challenge each other as musicians. We try different things, we like to experiment, critique the songs. We want to try a different rhythm or tone here, we’ll add something here.
I think we’ve all become better musicians from playing together – at least, I certainly feel like I’ve improved. It’s always an evolving process, playing together, developing together.
Personally, I feel it stronger with some of the new tracks we’re working on than the first record because we’ve been playing together and we’ve developed. But we’re still gritting our teeth and finding our niche.
I think we can keep learning and keep getting better.
Your debut album, “Crimes of Passion,” is emotionally-charged with themes of “loss, fear of the unknown, finding one’s place in the world, self-discovery, risks, growth and setbacks, melancholy, new beginnings, your belief system, and more,” as the press release states. Could you tell us a little more about those themes and emotions throughout the album?
Daniel: The songs come from various points in time. I mean, there’s a song on the record called “Trapped.” That was initially written when I was 20 and I just turned 30 a week ago… I’m not one to celebrate getting older, but Andrew’s birthday was this week, as well. We’re in birthday fever, but it shows you how quickly time rolls.
But song was written when I was 20, I remember it. I was still in Australia at the time, I was at my parent’s place, and I was just sitting there, writing the song.
Other songs developed a lot later. “Rush” was the first song that I worked on while I was in London.
I was staying with a friend, just visiting. I had my guitar with me and I was sitting on his steps writing it. Different times.
“Chasing Eternity,” Ed initially wrote that and brought that.
Like I said, there were songs that were initially written, but the finished result went through a big process of evolution in terms of what everyone added to shape those songs.
As the music changed, so did the vibe of the music.
All those themes you mention, at a personal level, it relates to a lot of stuff I felt while writing at various stages in life.
The lyrics, as well, are left open for interpretation. At the end of the day, if someone connects to the music in their own way and it helps them out, for me that’s great. I can sit back and smile at that.
It’s not for me or anyone else to say, “Oh, this is exactly what the song means and this is how you should interpret it.” It means something to me, it could mean something completely different to you or to Andrew or someone else out there.
In some cases, it may indicate something clear, but it might not be that clear cut.
[Crimes of Passion] is just based on those experiences in life because it’s been written over a period of time and put on to this record.
What inspired you to compile all of those songs from over the year for this record?
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Daniel: Like I said, I started from writing songs in my late-teens, so there was a lot in the catalog.
You’re constantly changing as a musician and you’re learning new things, new techniques, you’re exposed to different genres – like, I love ethereal-type music, post-rock music, math rock, as well. Blues, jazz, and roots are at heart because that’s what I grew up playing, y’know.
[These songs] were there, they were sitting in this catalog. When the band started, the songs started to take a different direction because we had all four of us fleshing these out.
Everyone’s always brought things to the table, it’s been great. Not every song you write’s going to end up on a record, there’s a cut process, as well. As much as you’d like to record everything that’s been written, the record’s not 50 songs. It’s 10 to 12, or however many you want to put on there. It’s 11 in this case.
Could you tell us a little more about your new record, or is it all still on the down-low right now?
Andrew: We’re still in the writing process. What we’ve spoken about with each other is we want to make it more heavy and less acoustic-sounding, in a way. We want to take it on a darker, heavier tone.
The songwriting process hasn’t really changed. I think we’re all wanting to get away from that first album sound – we recorded it maybe two-years-ago now, so it’s like we’ve different gone passed all that stuff.
[The new record]’s still quite in the early stages. It’s a matter of writing a lot of stuff and cutting, like Daniel said.
We’re not really there yet – this whole coronavirus pandemic has made things a bit difficult, as well. Still, I think the next one’s going to be more interesting, at least for me.
Has social distancing affected your songwriting process, or are you able to still work it out digitally over video calls?
Danny: I think it influenced us to stop a little bit because we’re not together in the studio to work on new songs and material.
I speak for myself and I believe for the others, as well, but at home, we always can play, practice, and get new ideas to bring to the table.
When the coronavirus is over, we can get back together and work on songs, possibly with fresh ears, to get the most of it and have other types of ideas.
Overall, how do you guys hope to impact your audience?
Daniel: On that whole coronavirus point, one thing we would’ve like to have done is play some live shows. We had some lined up, but that got postponed until who-knows-when.
We love performing. Playing live is a great feeling and platform to share the music, as opposed to listening to it on the headset. You’ve got that intimate experience there, with the stage and the people. It would be great to be playing live.
In terms of impact, [we hope] people enjoy the music, connect with the music, and take something away from that. If we can build that rapport with listeners, that’s great. We want to keep bringing great music out to them and reach more people.
It’s a double-edged sword these days because it’s much easier to get the music out there with so many platforms. At the same time, with information and data, there’s so much music coming out globally all the time – which is great, it’s great to see new artists emerging – but it’s a challenge to get the music out there and heard, as well. We would like to reach more people.
What are your overall goals as musicians? What kind of impact do you hope to have on the industry?
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Andrew: We like to record a lot, a lot of our focus is on getting good records. Y’know, we all like albums.
In terms of the impact, we hope to have our albums recognized by the audience and critics, have positive feedback on the production and the songs.
Playing live is great and we like it, but when we talk about the future, we’re usually always talking about the next record and how we’re going to do it.
Danny: Playing live is amazing, of course, but as a band, I consider us very creative with a lot of songs that need to be worked on and shaped. I believe as soon as we finish the second record, there’ll be a lot of ideas and we’ll be super motivated to keep going, keep making new music.
Do you have any additional comments or final thoughts to share?
Daniel: Yeah, checkout the music.
Danny: Checkout the website [laughs].
Andrew: It’s all on Spotify, and Spotify’s kind of free, so get to it.
Give Neuromantics’ “Crimes of Passion” a listen on Spotify now!
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