Right between an extended tour through the United States and their upcoming tour all over Austria, charming Elizabeth Morris of London-based band Allo Darlin' found time to answer some questions, especially about fame and their new album Europe. An appetizer for next week's concerts in Graz, Steyr, Wien and Innsbruck!
fm5: You have probably already told the story of how your band got its name too often. Could you tell me instead, what importance do you see in giving a band a certain name?
Elizabeth Morris: Well, our name really is a very silly name, and I didn’t think it would last for as long as it has! It was really a joke name, but once you get beyond a certain point your name kind of sticks. Actually I think it works pretty well for us because it makes us very “googleable”. I have some friends in a band called The School and that’s a pretty difficult name to google. Also it is good to have a name that starts with the letter A, because it looks like you’re headlining when bands are listed alphabetically!
Really I don’t think band names matter that much, once people hear your music they will just accept your name for what it is. It’s getting harder to come up with new names though, perhaps in the future all bands will have names like &*$11 or something.
Your recent album is titled Europe. What’s behind this name, which image of Europe do you want to create?
I wrote the song "Europe" before we went on a big trip around the continent last year. The song was written in response to the fact that my UK visa was running out and I wasn’t sure if I would have to move back to Australia. Then we went on this big European tour, and it was a complete disaster but really wonderful at the same time. The song seemed to predict what happened to us, and it made me really happy to sing it. Then I realised all my songs were kind of dealing with this idea of home and travelling, so it seemed to make sense to extend the concept to “Europe” to the album. Really, it has nothing at all to do with the continent, and more to do with my own personal political problems.
Could you describe the difference between your first album and your follow-up?
The first album was written and recorded very quickly, and we had only been a band for a couple of months when we made it. Then we toured a lot, and really became a band after the album was made. The second album was made when we really knew what kind of band we were. We took a lot longer recording it and I took a much longer time writing the songs. The first album is very carefree whereas the second album deals with more personal problems. I think the second album is much better but the first album has some really fun songs on it.
What’s your intention in writing songs? Is it to get along with the own life, is it to give people the chance to identify and what would you do if you didn’t write songs? Where would your energy go to?
I am happiest when I have written a song that I really like. I am also at my grumpiest when I haven’t written a good song or I am struggling with writing one. So really my intention is to make myself feel better, but I have always wanted to write songs that people can identify with and that will hopefully make them feel good too. If I didn’t write songs I’d probably cook all the time. Really I love cooking!
Your music sounds as light-hearted as anything could be, your performances are really cheerful – but of course even you have bad days I guess. What makes you angry most? And how difficult is it to play your music when you’re actually in a bad mood?
I guess politics make me pretty angry, and rudeness. I very rarely play a gig in a bad mood, although sometimes I can get cross if there are drunk people talking really loud down the front when we are playing. I guess that’s when we pull out the rockier numbers! You just try to play for yourself to make yourself feel better and ignore the rude people. Sometimes those shows are the best ones!
As you used to live in Australia, how inspiring are the magnificent Go-Betweens for Australian songwriters and pop musicians, who don’t want to become the second AC/DC?
Well actually I’m an AC/DC fan, but obviously they’re not an influence! I find it strange in some ways that people in Europe and America get the Go-Betweens the way they do, because to me they sound so Queenslander-y. It’s really nice that those images and songs translate the way they do. I think they are very influential not just for Australian musicians, but for songwriters everywhere. They really were a wonderful band.
At the time you are something like everybody’s darling. Would you name us some of your darlings, of your influences, maybe bands, nobody knows but everybody should?
Well that’s very nice. We have just toured America with the Wave Pictures. I first heard them about 6 years ago playing a concert in an ukulele shop and they absolutely floored me. I was such a big fan of David’s songs, and really the reason we recorded our first album at Soup studios was because that was where they recorded Instant Coffee Baby. Touring with them was very inspiring and I am still such a big fan. They are one of my most favourite ever bands and I think everybody should know about them.
You’re not a fan of fame. How do you deal with the side effects of Allo Darling’s success?
Haha – I wouldn’t mind having some side effects of success! Really only nice things happen, like people send us lovely fan mail sometimes. We are still very much like doing things ourselves, like selling our own merch at shows for example. I think we’re very lucky to be at this nice stage where we can play shows to several hundred people, but still run everything ourselves and do it our own way. Once you get past that, so many people have to get involved to keep the whole thing running, and I guess I’d find that stressful. We’re really a very lucky band.
Thanks for your time and have a nice time in Austria!
Thanks a lot!
01.06. - Cuntra, Graz
02.06. - Röda, Steyr
03.06. - rhiz, Wien
04.06. - Weekender, Innsbruck