1. When did the Embrooks form originally and why reform now?
We met in the summer of 1995, when Mole’s group at the time, The Mystreated, played with the group Alessandro was playing then, Head & the Hares, at the Italian beat festival in Castel San Giovanni (Piacenza). In September of the same year, Alessandro moved to London to study and stayed in touch. Mole and Lois first created The Lyds (Lois on drums, Merv on guitar and Mole on bass and vocals), they released one single as Lyds then Merv left and Alessandro was invited to join. The group really began to exist at the end of 1996 and lasted until the summer of 2005 (our last show was in Liverpool as part of The International Pop Overthrow festival). The main reason for reforming is the fact that, after almost 10 years of retirement, Lois and Alessandro re-started actively playing music (with Thee Jezebels and Merry-Men, respectively), before that it would have been a struggle to even think of getting us together in a practice room. Other factors are the fact that concrete offers came along to play at Festivals in the UK and Europe and possibly (this might sound silly) the fact that Alessandro recently bought a 1964 Vox AC30 amp and did not know who to use it with (laugh).
2. What influences do the band members have in common?
The aggressive pop (Easybeats, The Who, The Small Faces, Move, The Yardbirds), the freakbeat/psych bands (Eyes, Creation, Game, Smoke, Open Mind, The Koobas, anything on the Rubble compilation series), the rock of the late 60s early 70s (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath), classic pop (the Beatles, Zombies, Left Banke), the US garage rock (Love, 13th Floor Elevators) but also lots of European and Australian beat. Many different things as you can see!
3. Are there any other bands you’d recommend from your area? Why?
Because of recent involvement of Mole in the Medway Scene, we have to mention Galileo 7 and Graham Day and the Forefathers. We also like bands based where Alessandro currently resides (London) as the Magnetic Mind and See See/Hanging Stars among those with a more authentic 60s sound and Pacers for their 60s influenced but less nostalgic approach (Alex, the singer, has a brilliant voice!) and Little Barrie and Cat Black in the 70s rock/Stones/Flaming Groovies department. We are looking forward to share the stage with some of these over some of the future New Untouchables events.
4. What’s the 60’s/underground scene like where you’re from?
There was a prolific scene in the 80s garage revival period mainly gravitating around the figures of Martin Ratcliffe, Tim Ray and Mole (Mystreated, Stewed). These bands subsequently gave birth or support to other combos that are still active today such as Higher State, Paul Messis and, of course, us.
5. How would you describe the style you play?
We started off by being a group inspired by USA “moody teen-punk” as of bands sounding like those included in the New England Teen Scene or Crude PA compilations. That period is reflected in our early 45s and our first LP, Separations. However, we have agreed not to include any of this material in our current live shows. Over the years we have gradually evolved into a more Euro-beat and British sound taking most of the inspiration from UK freakbeat and psych. Our latest LP Yellow Glass Perspections (YGP) could be described as “Mod Psych” and this is more or less the style that we are currently playing digging a lot from Our New Day, YGP and slightly earlier Toe-Rag sessions.
6. What are your live shows like?
Extremely loud! We also aim at keeping the energy high and especially to have fun on stage. There is nothing worse than seeing people not enjoying what they do.
7. What are your main influences in music? Who do/would you play covers by? And who do you despise?
We mentioned all our main influences above. Mole had roots also in the punk/post punk sound from the 70s and Alessandro is recently digging a lot the modern ‘psych’ bands from California (White Fence, Ty Seagall, Oh Sees) and Australia/USA (King Gizzard, Nightbeats, Heaters) although we still pretty much sound the same as we ever did. We are still performing most of the covers that we used to play in the early 2000s, personal favorites are ‘Dawn breaks through’ by the Barrier and ‘Francis’ by Gary Walker and the Rain as our versions have been often indicated to be superior(!?) to the originals. The latter is also our only song to be present in Spotify. We are not into ‘posers’ and people who are not genuinely passionate about what they do.
8. What are your main influences outside of music?
Alessandro digs cinema a lot, especially Italian movies from the most prolific era of the 60s and 70s (‘commedia all’Italiana’ and giallo/horror especially, which has implicit links to music via soundtracks Goblin and more recently Calibro 35).
9. Who writes your songs and what subjects do you deal with?
Historically Mole and Alessandro wrote the original material separately or in collaboration and this is what still currently happens. Initial ideas from the writers are brought to the practice room and finalized as an Embrooks product altogether. Alessandro’s songs are typically autobiographical and related to heart-breaking love stories and daily life. Mole writing is a little more eclectic ranging from autobiographical experiences to more fictional/poetic material such as ‘Emilia Burrows’.
10. What’s your favorite Embrooks song? What’s your favourite song by another artist?
Emilia Burrows, Standing Upside Down and Helen are possibly our top three songs. Helen never came out as a 45, which is probably our biggest regret. One of the aims of us reforming is to try to go back in the studio to rectify this. The list of favorite songs by other artists would be rather long….we all probably agree that ‘You’re gonna miss me’ by 13th Elevators is one of the top tune ever written!
11. What has been the biggest challenge to date?
The USA tours in the 2000s were fun but also a bit of a challenge. The worst show we ever did was definitely one given in November 2000 in Iowa City. No one had come to the concert, the hall was empty and there were only us and our first parts! This city was a University town full of students and stupid farmers who have absolutely no interest in rock! The next day we had to reach New York after an almost 24 hour drive during which we were also stopped by the police for speeding on the highway and risked to be taken to the police station had not we paid the speeding fee on the spot!
12. How often do you Rehearse? Play Live? Record? Anything interesting coming up?
Currently we are trying to practice twice a month, or at least monthly. After our first reunion show on Dec 31st 2015 as part of Hipsville NYE extravaganza, we have been committed to a number of festivals in the UK and Europe in 2016. We are planning to re-record Helen for a brand new 45 backed by a new original this summer. We are looking forward to do as much as possible in the near future. There are already offers to do more shows in 2017.
13. What do you think of the music coverage in the media?
We tend to avoid mainstream publications, some have become even worse than they ever were (e.g. the new free version of NME, ouch!). There are a number of old and new mags targeted to a more niche audience whose coverage is excellent and some available in the main shops. Flashback is probably the most interesting one, not proposing features of acts already largely covered in the past. We also rate Ugly Things and Shinding! Mole was a contributor for the latter.
14. Do you rate any current mainstream or underground bands?
We look with interest to the ‘new psychedelic’ scene which includes a lot of different styles some of them which we would not personally classify as ‘psych’. There are definitely interesting bands playing at those festivals. Besides those mentioned above, other often neglected bands from the UK are Clinic and Archie Bronson Outfit for example. Their approach is modern but 60s influences are undeniable and they seem genuinely into what they are doing.
15. Who/Where would you most like to record with and why?
Most of our recordings were done at Toe-Rag studios in Hackney engineered and produced by Liam Watson, famous for his work with numerous 60s sounding recording over the past 20 years as well as the Grammy awarded work with Jack White on the album Elephant in 2004 as Best Alternative Music Album (White Stripes). More recently Mole has started his own recording studio (originally in a basement in Sandgate more recently in Hastings and now in his own living room) producing excellent material mostly featured in his own successful ‘State Records’ label. This will be also the home of next Embrooks recording session.
16. What should we expect from you in the future? What are your plans and ambitions? What interesting gig dates have you got coming up?
We’d like to promote the new 45 and get as much exposure as possible. We still have some of our historical fans following us around but most of the ‘new generations’ have not heard or seen us live so the challenge is to try to impress them as well as retaining the old ones. As mentioned we are have interesting offers to play other festivals and mod-rallies across Europe and we hope to build on those and possibly attract attention even outside the usual niche of 60s aficionados.
Mole (Bass and vocals)
Lois Tozer (drums)
Alessandro Cozzi-Lepri (guitar and vocals)
Separations… (Dig the Fuzz; Dyonisus) 1999
Our New Day (Voxx) 2000
Yellow Glass Perspections (Munster) 2004
Singles and EP
The Embrooks EP (Sympathy for the Records) 1998
But I Didn’t Know Him/Fight Fire (Dig the Fuzz) 1998
More Than Ever/You Can Be My Baby (Guerssen) 1999
If You Let Me Go EP (Max Picou) 2000
Jack/Dawn Breaks Through (Circle) 2000
Back in My Mind/The Time Was Wrong (Butterfly) 2002
45 & High Times (Munster CD) 2005
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