NAS 10 Questions with Engines Made From Soup
This time, we get to know Engines Made From Soup, a three-piece band currently based in London, UK, with musicial Influences such as Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen, David Bowie, The
Smiths and lan McNabb, amongst others, ‘The Soups’ have played gigs across Britain, including playing at the Cavern Club on Mathew Street, Liverpool.
Gareth Cross 'Crossy' - Lead Vocals
Gareth Evans 'Evo' - Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Stephen Spencer 'Ste'- Guitars
The track "The Lemming Trail" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.
Link To New Artist Spotlight Playlists:
1. Tell us a little about where you are from and what you are currently doing.
We are three-piece band originally from Merseyside UK, but now live across the country in London, Cheshire and Fife. I (Crossy) met Ste at Boy Scouts in Toll Bar, St Helens and went to school with Evo in Prescot, Liverpool. We built on the success of our school band ‘Jaded Edge’, reforming in 1993 as ‘Engines Made From Soup’ (the name coming from a chapter title in one of my Dad’s computing books). For seven years, or so, we played gigs across Britain, including playing at the Louisiana, Bristol and the Cavern Club on Mathew Street, Liverpool in 2000. After a 20-year hiatus we started recording again with our 2020 album ‘Again’, three single releases in 2021 and our current single ‘The Lemming Trail’ which precedes the release of our next album ‘Contact’, due to be released later this year. Once ‘Contact’ is finalised and released, we’re committed to putting a live set together. If there’s NAS artists out there without a support act for any dates from Spring 2023, and you like our stuff and would like us to support, then please get in touch …
2. What inspired you to start playing and making music?
Well, we’ll have to go back a long, long way when I was living in Liverpool L14 with my Mum, Dad and two brothers. For me as lead singer it was all about performing and, being a scouser (Liverpudlian), I wasn’t shy about performing musically. I got a red Fidelity record player for my seventh birthday in December 1972, I used to play Marc Bolan, Suzi Quattro, David Bowie and (now disgraced and convicted) Gary Glitter records and sing along and perform as if I was them. I even had a full glitter-suit at one point. Glam rock was great wasn’t it? At one point I wanted to be Alvin Stardust. I absolutely loved the songs and rich sounds those artists and bands like The Sweet, Slade and Mud made with their groundbreaking producers like Toni Visconti, Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. From then on I could always sing and act; my two great hobby passions. I have sung in choirs and musicals and performed in plays many times. I guess it’s the limelight …
𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?
Growing up through teenage years and early adulthood, the North West of England UK was treated to three of the most amazing and influential music ‘scenes’ that arguably shaped a lot of the pop, rock and indie bands over the past 30 years or so. Firstly, there was the Liverpool scene of the late 1970’s with it’s epicentre ‘Eric’s’ club on Mathew Street. I was insanely jealous of older friends who could get in to witness the birth of Liverpool bands The Teardrop Explodes, OMD and Echo and the Bunnymen. And, when I heard stories of The Clash, Talking Heads and Ramones visiting to play … Next came Sheffield (loosely North West!). The British Electric Foundation introduced us to the very best ‘synth pop’ in the early 1980’s; Heaven 17, Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and The Thompson Twins shape our music more than we give credit. Lastly, but probably most influential was Manchester when Ste and I could ‘live’ this scene as we both attended university there in the mid 1980’s. We were awed by Joy Division’s transformation into New Order, The Smiths, James, Charlatans, Stone Roses, Chameleons …. We were lucky to spend many nights at gigs at The Haçienda on Whitworth Street West and The International on Anson Road (opening gig REM in summer 1985 -truly awe inspiring). Of lead singers themselves, I am most influenced by guys from those ‘scenes’; Julian Cope, Ian McCulloch, Ian McNabb,Phil Oakey, Tim Booth and Morrissey. Heroes all.
4. What are your goals in the music industry?
Our goal is to enjoy producing new music and the collaborative process between great friends. We want to play live again but that’s not so straightforward as we live in separate parts of the UK. Beyond that, we’re excited to release our songs to a worldwide audience. We believe in our songs. We’re convinced that we stand up well against commercially successful artists, with our own unique indie-pop sound. However, we’re realists and know that we are a small fish in a sea of millions of small fish with a small number of larger ‘creatures’ that hog all the attention. We’re thrilled whenever anyone gets their attention diverted to listen to us and get positively recognised.
5. Tell us about your creative process when you make new music.
One of us takes the initial lead on each song. It could be as simple as a bassline groove from Ste, a short melody idea from me or a complete mini song from Evo. We then share our ideas with each other and we start to layer things up and firm up the structure. We constantly discuss the progression of each song. We trust each other and are critical with each other. Personally, I’ve never worked with anyone who I trust detail with more than these guys. If it ain’t quite right, we’ll let each other know until it is. Digital studio recording helps enormously. We can leave time between recording sessions to reflect and discuss and then easily edit. The days of studio master tapes are thankfully in Room 101. I generally take a lead in the final mixing and mastering, consulting with the guys as I go, so each song is a very collaborative production.
6. What is your all-time favorite song?
‘How Soon Is Now?’ by The Smiths does something really rare for me; I find both the production and the songwriting mind blowing. Listening to it for the first time, very loud in The Cellar Club at the University of Manchester, the sound and production of Johnny Marr’s guitar mesmerised me. That alone was immense but the songwriting is genius; Morrissey and Marr at their best. Morrissey’s lyrics of a shy, awkward and frustrated nightlife goer, returning home without the love and affection they crave, is a masterpiece. At seven minutes, this song leaves you wanting more (how many songs could do that?) as you travel along the walk home with Morrissey from the city centre nightclub, lamenting, but then moving on to whistling, gives hope that love will be found next time around …
7. What is the best advice or council you have either given or received in terms of music?
Mixing sound for live shows at different venues when gigging is often overlooked, especially when you do everything yourself. We’ve certainly never had the luxury of a professional touring crew but I once learnt a valuable from old schoolmate and ex roadie, now manager, of Echo & the Bunnymen, ‘Peasy’. After one of our gigs we thought went really well, Peasy’s feedback was all about why we hadn’t hit the mark. ‘That snare drum has to crack my eardrum and that bass drum hammer my chest’. I’ve born that in mind ever since.
8. Proudest accomplishment?
No doubt being father of two wonderful girls, now 23 and 20, and my 26-year marriage to my darling wife. I’m also extremely proud of my 32-year career in UK state education leadership. Musically, we’ve not been ‘Top of the Pops’ but we were once featured on BBC television in a regional ‘magazine’ broadcast featuring young Liverpool acts in the dying throes of the Liverpool music scene in the early 1980’s. Then, as ‘Jaded Edge’, we had won the Liverpool heat of the UK Battle of the (school) Bands. Looking back we might have gone on to achieve much more but university beckoned and all apart from the legend Andy Laidlaw (no longer in the band) lost nerve and went away to study. Our latest single release ‘The Lemming Trail’ references this time for me. Listeners will all have their own interpretation of a time they were stuck, blindly following a path they could’ve altered, but for me it was my university course of study I stuck with because I wanted to make my parents proud. That didn’t work out that well. I wish I’d written the song way back then; ‘I’ve got to get off before I go off the rail. Get off, get off, get off. Ooh, ooh, yeah!’
9. What is something about you that might surprise someone who knows you the best?
I’m a pretty open person and have had quite a conventional life. I don’t have any big secrets to unveil to the world. Musically, though I have broadened my outlook over the years and it’s not just brand new indie alternative pop that can wow me. Recently I have surprised myself by my reaction to listening to new music or at a concert. I don’t think many people know about my attraction to Country music has fuelled a desire to go to and spend time in Nashville. Chris Stapleton’s album ‘Starting Over’ is now a secret favourite and one of my top ten live moments is secretly enjoying Kris Kristofferson‘s band in Hyde Park, London a few years ago; what an incredible and infectious vibe they delivered that put a smile on each face of the thousands watching. Any tips for a plan to visit Nashville would be much appreciated!
𝟭0. Tell us about your highest and lowest points in music so far.
Let’s start with the lows; undoubtedly the periods of time when all the great people and friends, with whom we have played in the band, either left of their own volition, never reformed with us or were unceremoniously ‘kicked out’ in the global interests of rock ‘n’ roll. This is a great question as we get the chance to mention, remember and thank them all. Lee Corless was the founding member, and guitarist, and didn’t really deserve his fate, although Val Dutton knew double the number of chords and could play bar chords. Val is still a very special friend indeed, but if it wasn’t for the amazing basement rehearsal space at her parents house, she would have been toast a lot earlier to make way for Ste, our outstanding current guitarist. Phil on keys did no wrong, neither did Jane on sax but four of us were regrettably exclusive. That fourth member was Andy Laidlaw; an original member of the band and our chief creative in the days of the school band, with whom we lost touch after university days. The biggest highs are mostly associated with audience reaction, sometimes on our recorded work but mainly at gigs where we seem to take our audience with us. Three shows are prominent; a wedding booking in Wigan, our Cavern Club gig and a scorcher of a night at the Louisiana, Bristol. However, the ultimate thrill for me was playing our November 2020 album again on Apple Music and Spotify for the first time, and realising people on the other side of the world were doing the same - mind blowing!
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