The first time I saw Squid was part of an all dayer in support of Record Store Day (RSD) in 2016 at the Brighton Dome.
I had left the house early to interview people in the various queues about why they were out, what they were after, and other RSD related questions. After sheltering from the rain, and obtaining the few items I was after, I went to the Dome for a day of music.
The line-up consisted of the best 18 local bands at the time. Looking at the line-up now it is clear that 2016 was a strong year. Tigercub, Gang, Lucas and King, Normanton Street, Yumi and the Weather all appeared, but the band that left the biggest impression was a mid-carder called Squid.
At the time they had a neo-classical Portico Quartet vibe, but I was blown away by how tight, and free, they were. When I got home I immediately found them on Bandcamp, bought everything I could and liked their socials so I wouldn’t miss out. The next time I saw Squid I was shocked as they sounded like Spacemen 3 and the time after that there was a motorik vibe coming in.
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“The band started in late 2014 or early 2015. But Laurie was on a year abroad living in Copenhagen and he came back in 2016. Then he started playing with us. And that was kind of when it all started properly,” drummer Ollie Judge tells me. Judge explained that the band came together around early 2015 from just messing about on laptops and guitars and it just being really fun.
After talking to Judge for a few moments it’s impossible not to notice how modest and unimposing he is. Instead of letting the recent hype and touring get the better of him, Judge, and the rest of the band for that matter, have stayed grounded and are as excited to see where Squid ends up as we, the fans, are. And like their music this is refreshing.
Yes, the band is ambitious and confident in their ability and vision, but they aren’t arrogant or constantly name-dropping who they’ve played with, either.
After a few months of existence they released the ‘Live At The Verdict EP’. As the title suggests this is was a live recording of a gig at the Verdict in Brighton, but what wasn’t explained is that this was their first proper gig. The songs are in a neo-classical vein, but you can hear motifs of what is to come.
After some standalone singles, ‘Mothballs and Debauchery’ and ‘Perfect Teeth’, that started to hint at the changes to come, Squid released the ‘Lino’ 12” through Bear On A Bicycle. “I think we are in our last year at uni and we could use the studio as part of our course, so we just went in and recorded it just for like fun, really. Just see if we could actually record and produce our own music,” Judge says. “It took ages as we’re perfectionists. Five perfectionists like My Bloody Valentine, where we just go in and add another layer of cello, maybe another cornet…”
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Next comes the most important part in Squid’s career to date. After releasing ‘Terrestrial Changeover Blues (2007-2012)’ Judge sent Speedy Wunderground head Dan Carey an email. This mythic missive effectively asked Carey to make the band sound “less shit”.
Carey saw them and ‘The Dial’ was the 25th Speedy Wunderground 7”, sandwiched between black midi and Black Country, New Road. “It sounds really cheesy, but I think they just love music and putting out music,” Judge says of his producer of choice. “I think they know they're not gonna make any money from it. And they're not gonna make any money from it, but they don’t do it for that”.
Since ‘The Dial’ Carey has produced everything Squid has recorded at his Brixton base, including the incredibly danceable and the critically acclaimed ‘Town Centre’ EP.
When asked what’s next for the band Judge gets strangely quiet. This is either because he’s being cagey, doesn’t know yet himself, or doesn’t want to admit it out loud in case it doesn’t happen. After a pause he says: “We've got some writing time. In November and December, we're gonna try and write an album.”
When Judge says this you can tell he’s excited and also shocked. And again this is part of the band’s charm. They never expect to be in this position. A position where they are working with one of the most in demand producers in the world, who has worked with the likes of Kylie as well ask picking the best new bands for his 7” label.
“Anything I can think of is never in my life. I'd have been making an album and get released on the label and stuff like that, and then hopefully, we'll have an album next year. I think we're kind of looking forward to getting a big body of work together. And make it a bit more wacky. We’d love to work with Charlie XCX too”.
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And why not? Making album was the original pipe dream, so working with a forward thinking pop star isn’t that far removed when you consider that the band’s deep and varied roots?
“We haven't had to do anything that we don't want to get anything uncomfortable. It's just been easy, which is really organic and natural. And I think it's kind of definitely just choosing the right people to work with. And there hasn't been any pressure or anything. And that's been really nice.”
Squid’s story, so far, is a positive one and to quote Judge, organic and natural is a nice way to describe Squid’s rise from minimal neo-classicalists to wonky post-punk and from mid-card performers to headliners. It is a story of organic growth and progression, if you leave a band alone to develop and mutate as they want the music gets really interesting and exciting. It is also a tale of supporting your local scene as the next big thing could be lodged between some neo prog-punk and spoken word acts.
So get out there. Support your local scene as the next Squid might just be knocking about in a backroom of a pub, or mid-card on an all dayer, near you.
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Squid's 'Town Centre' EP is out now.
Words: Nick Roseblade
Photo Credit: Holly Whitaker
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