10 for 2011 Interview: Daniel Land and the Modern Painters

By on Tuesday, 21st December 2010 at 2:00 pm

I sent some questions over to Daniel Land, the man at the helm of Daniel Land and the Modern Painters, the band you voted #9 on our 10 for 2011 poll. Have a read on how this band that makes ‘serious music’ can be quite silly collecting location names that sound funny, amongst other things…

Congratulations on finishing #9 in our 10 of 2011 poll of bands to watch next year. Unfortunately, we don’t have a trophy or anything to give you, but please know that it was the faithful readers of TGTF that voted to give you your place on this list. Although we risk sounding like the reporters on the red carpet at the BAFTAs, we want to know, how do you feel about this achievement?

It’s an honour, it really is. We’d like to thank our parents, our music teachers, our first pets, God, etc, etc…hahaha. Seriously, thanks so much to the readers for voting for us, we never expected to be nominated as a ‘Band to Watch’ or anything like that. It’s great.

Tell us a little about yourselves – how long have you been together, how you guys got together as a band?

We are Daniel Land, Graeme Meikle, Oisin Scarlett, Andrew Galpin and Jason Magee. We’ve been together as a band for about 3 years, but we have been making music separately or in pairs for about twice as long as that. The band really came together in 2007 after witnessing an amazing DJ set by (German musician/producer) Ulrich Schnauss at the Big Chill. Hearing him playing all this amazing new music that was guitar-based but very ambient was really inspiring and gave us a bit of a kick up the backside to get a proper band together. I think we released our first EP only 6 weeks after that – it was all very exciting.

You call Manchester home…what advantages are there from being from such a venerated place for music? What disadvantages are there?
The funny thing about this band is that none of us are really from Manchester. We met at University here, but we’re all from different places around the England, Ireland and Scotland. Manchester’s a great place to live and work in, and one of the great advantages of the place is the thriving independent music scene here, which is really open to new ideas and experimentation. On the down side, I think one of the disadvantages is all the cultural baggage from the Factory and Madchester years, which seems like ancient history to most musicians living here now. It can be a bit irksome to be compared to that. The Factory and Madchester stuff is really respected still, but I think people are generally more concerned with what’s happening now.

What singers and/or bands do you consider your greatest influences?
Personally I’d say The Blue Nile, Brian Eno, and Cocteau Twins, but there are five of us in the band and we all like different stuff. The other guys would probably throw onto the list things like Yo La Tengo, Spiritualized, Radiohead, the Smiths and so on. I guess like most musicians, we have pretty large music collections and wide ranges of stuff we’re in to, which is really healthy for the band I think.

Tell us about your 2010. What was the best moment of the year for you as a band? What moment would you like to forget?
Well, our debut album came out right at the end of 2009 so after releasing and touring that, the majority of 2010 has seemed very quiet! It was a good year, but 2011 is going to be a lot busier I think; we’ve been picking up attention and plaudits, and we have our second album coming out, on a proper label this time (rather than self-released), and we have big hopes for it. That said, I think that one of the highlights of 2010 for us was getting to share a stage with Robin Guthrie at a special event curated by the label Club AC30; that was really a rite of passage in a lot of ways, because myself and Oisin are massive Cocteau Twins and Robin Guthrie fans. It was a great night. Also, we really enjoyed getting invited to play at the Gold Coast Festival in Devon; we played there in the height of summer, right on the beach in glorious sunshine and with the ocean next to the stage. That was amazing. As for the low points… Well, that would involve naming and shaming a promoter who really messed us around, so in the interests of professionalism, maybe we shouldn’t say? Hahaha.

What’s something about your band that most people do not know or would not guess?
That’s a tough question. I guess one of the oddest things about the band is the fact that, even though our music is very serious and melancholy, we’re not necessarily very serious and melancholy people. We really like to laugh a lot on stage, to share jokes with the audience, and keep the mood quite upbeat. And with our album we tried to show a sense of humour by throwing in a few in-jokes on the cover (such as Ulrich Schnauss’s credit for Katzenklavier, and the bogus credit of ‘Mustafa Tart: Triangle’). We generally find some pretty funny and nerdy ways to keep ourselves amused on tour as well; for instance, by finding the most hilarious British place names (Blubberhouses, Muff, Shatton, etc.) and collecting them… We even joked about publishing a book of these, as a tour souvenir, but that’s probably an idea to leave well alone…

Name something you’d like to do in 2011 that you have never done before.
I’d like to play in the United States. We’ve never played there, or visited there, but we seem to have lots of fans over there that are desperate for us to come and play. Unfortunately we don’t have a U.S. label, so the economics of the situation prevent us from playing over there. But we’d really love to if the opportunity arose, even if it was just a handful of dates on the East Coast or something.

How are you planning to spend your holidays this year?
I think we’ll all scatter to our different parts of the country, to spend some time with our friends and families. Personally, I’m going to be turning 30 while I’m home for Christmas, and I plan to mark that occasion by ignoring it and shutting myself away to mix some music by my ambient side-project, hahaha. Whatever we all get up to, I’m sure there’ll be a fair amount of drinking involved…

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