‘IT’S STRANGE and wonderful to be able to travel the world and perform to people,’ says Eagulls vocalist George Mitchell (center), seen here with the rest of the band. “I should be used to it, but I don’t think you can get used to it unless you have a big head.’ .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It’s not quite the same as calling your band The Beetles, but picking the moniker the Eagulls does take a fair dose of both irreverence and chutzpa. And the young rockers from Leeds who chose to bastardize the classic laid back California rock group’s name possess those qualities in spades, as evidenced from the rabid reaction in indie rock circles to their first two albums.
“It was just a ridiculous joke that got out of hand,” chuckled George Mitchell, the band’s vocalist, dismissing the notion that the name was a brazen challenge to the older generation to make way for the upstarts.
Called a sparkling sonic blend of British antecedents like The Smiths and The Stone Roses, with a little Cure and New Order thrown in for good measure, the five-member Eagulls took flight in 2010. After a few indie singles and Eps, they released their self-named debut album in 2014, which garnered rave reviews for its raw energy and tunefulness – and Mitchell’s intense, brooding delivery – and landed the band on Late Night with David Letterman
and on tour with Franz Ferdinand.
Last year’s follow-up Ullages (an anagram of Eagulls) saw the band slowing the torrid tempos and adding more finesse and nuance to their swirl of sound.
“We had quite a lot of time between the records and were able to sit back and reflect on what we wanted to do,” Mitchell said recently from his home in Leeds. “I feel like we were able to include more craftsmanship and not sort of shout out some really heavy, fast music.
“We didn’t deliberately try to change our sound or make a different album than the first one, that’s just how it naturally happened. A lot of it is just growing up and the desire to change.”
The result has received mixed reviews. The Guardian
bigger and more expansive, but bemoaned the lack of urgency and the “moments on the edge of hysteria... Instead, Eagulls have plunged headlong into the 80s angst-rock of the Cure... guitars are drenched in reverb, basslines are played in eighth-notes and keys are mostly minor, while singer George Mitchell has perfected his Robert Smith whine.”Drowned in Sound
also cited the ’80s influence on the band, writing that “whether deliberate or otherwise, The Smiths and particularly Johnny Marr’s distinctive twang clearly played a part in inspiring the deft collages and textures that punctuate Ullages from start to finish.” Their review also referred to Mitchell’s introspective lyrics pointing to an identity crisis, a notion that he dismissed.
“I don’t sit down and write lyrics with any intention,” he said. “It’s not about my personal feelings or life’s path... I just try to avoid clichés.”
Onstage, the Eagulls’ electric delivery is devoid of clichés and bursting with the punk energy that has won them a cult legion of fans. The band will be unleashing that verve for the first time in Israel on February 13 at the Barby Club. As opposed to most acts from Europe or the US who add an Israeli date onto an existing tour, the Eagulls are coming to Tel Aviv directly from Leeds as a one-off show.
“We spent most of last year on tour, so we’re only doing a couple shows now,” said Mitchell. “We played in France this week, and then we’re doing the show in Tel Aviv. That’s all we have scheduled. We want to take some time to start writing some more songs.”
Despite the multitude of shows the band has played, Mitchell said that having an audience wasn’t anything that he or his band mates were ready to take for granted.
“It’s strange and wonderful to be able to travel the world and perform to people,” he said. “I should be used to it, but I don’t think you can get used to it unless you have a big head. I still can’t get around the idea of being asked to travel halfway around the world because people like our music. It’s a big honor.”