Image Gaëlle Beri
Don’t cobble yourself over the head if you haven’t heard of The Bohicas – they are indeed ‘new’ in the sense that they’ve just made their proper debut to the world with their album The Making Of, released last August. Signed to Domino Records (Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Real Estate), the foursome plays the sort of no-nonsense rock’n’roll with snappy lyrics and potent, effective melodies to bop your head to. JUICE had a quick chat with guitarist Dominic John to speak about their debut album – which tended towards the band’s cinematic tendencies in their songwriting, music videos, and personal interests.
Listening to the band’s music, it will conjure up a few vivid imagery; the songs are quite cinematic. Is that a subconscious effort to have an image in mind when writing a song?
I think there’s always a love of things that are quite static and instantaneous with lyrics when Dom[inic McGuinness] (frontman) is working on the tracks and that lends towards a cinematic feeling. But musically, I think it can take you to a different place and having the lyrics like that, it sets a scene. With ‘XXX’, we wanted it to be a soundtrack to a [movie] and decided to do it like that. Some songs are quite ambiguous in a way, it’s not so clear; it can mean different things to different people, so that’s why. You can take whatever you want from it, really.
Since The Bohicas are a touring band, do you think the band’s music videos are capable of channelling the band’s raw, high energy to listeners?
Yeah, that’s the plan really with the videos – to tell what we’re about. We did a video for ‘Where You At’, which is a performance video, and that’s us trying to show how we’re like live in the best way; without recording a live audio. So, it’s a difficult thing to do. You’d have to have a great director who knows what they are doing, so we try to work with good directors. For that video, we worked with Chris Turner who goes by the name of Favourite Colour: Black, which was great. He had a specific vision for the video; the concept was really simple, very quick pace, just like the song. A lot of high energy and quick cuts. It was really fun making the video, actually. Sometimes, making videos can be tedious (laughs) but with our videos, we try to keep it fun. Fun for us at least, so whatever you see will be fun.
Do you guys contribute ideas for your music videos?
Yeah, it’s important. It’s like the visual side of the band. From the start, we’ve always been very hands on, like I designed the logo and Dom did some illustrations for the artwork for ‘Crush Me’ from the EP and the wasp [from the ‘Swarm’ single cover]. We all try to keep it in the same voice, as it were. If we don’t have a concept for the video, we meet with the director and have a talk with them about what they think of the song. It’s always nice to have some fresh ears and eyes on what we do because they might see it in different ways.
How did you guys come to shape the band’s sound from so many influences, such as The Strokes to a bit of blues music?
When we started we knew what we didn’t want to do, so at the start, it’s just realising and agreeing on what not to do. Then you start getting better at instruments and playing live shows, we don’t really think about that. It’s four of us in a room and we know exactly what we like to hear. That’s why for the album, we didn’t want to go into the studio and go crazy with the effects, and we just want to keep to just what we like. The less sounds we have, the better I think. That’s the best effects in all of that—more immediate, I think, y’know?
What were some of the things that you guys avoided when making the album?
Just certain things like the drums sounding crisp and having like a dry room sound for the drums. Instead of having the drums sound like they are in an echo chamber (laughs) or a stadium, just try to make it a small room sound, the guitars as well. Not too many effects, just simple. Simplicity is key, really.
Now that the band is touring a lot, do you find that it has opened up your perspective in the songwriting process? Because before, we read that Dominic was writing in his parents’ basement and just feeling stuck in a place?
I think so. When you’re touring, you definitely learn from different things and experiences along the way. At the moment, I don’t know how I’m taking this in but I guess when we sit down and write more songs, what we’re learning along the way will come into that—not exactly sure how that is going to happen. But I guess our live show has evolved from when we started because we know what we like to do, so we focus on that and we’re excited for that.
Were you all particular inspired by Essex at all? It had quite a thriving pub scene in the ‘70s right?
Not really. I’m from East London, Brendan is from East London, Ady is from South London, and Dom lives on the border of London and Essex, but he doesn’t stay on the Essex side. But me, Brendan, and Dom went to school together pretty much on where the three of us live and that of course, was just on the border of London and Essex. But I don’t know. Most of the songs seem to live in their own world (laughs), it’s a lot of fantasy and tales and yeah, I don’t know. Maybe to the outside, maybe we might sound very English, I don’t know. I never really thought about that actually (laughs).
Are you happy with the album? Do you think it’s an accurate representation of the band?
Definitely at this stage, yeah. It’s quite honest to what we’re about. It’s a good introduction of what we’re about as a band. I’m a music fan first, I listen to a lot of music, I have a large library and the album lives and sits quite well among the albums that I love and it’s great that we’ve now made an album that I enjoy and not just throw away and try to be equipped for the next one. I’m really happy of what we’ve done.
Dominic (McGuiness) referred to the band’s music as something Marv from Sin City would listen to. Do you guys derive a lot of inspiration from pulpy cinema or literature and such?
Yeah! We’re massive fans of film. I watch a lot of films. In fact, couple of years ago, I’ve been writing down all the films that I’ve watched — 1300-something… that I can remember (laughs). Yeah, massive fan of films. So, I guess we pull inspiration from loads of different things and present it in our way, really.
Alright, that’s it from us. Thank you very much, Dominic!
Thank you very much, nice speaking to you.
The Bohicas’ The Making Of is out now via Domino Records.