BBG Presents: The Crookes

1 February 2016

In the 'glamorous' Tottenham Hale, a windy, dark, and rather depressing aura creeps into the atmosphere. It is not everyday a photographer climbs up rickety ladders to capture shots of The Crookes from different angles, but we knew the risks were worth it. We met The Crookes previously in 2011, when they appeared and provided the soundtrack to Burberry's Serpentine Party video. Fast forward to this day, it's nice to see that they've maintained their mischevious charm, bright personalities and manners from our first encounter.

For those who aren't familiar, The Crookes are a four piece indie-rock band from Sheffield, consisting of Daniel Hopewell (Guitar), George Waite (Lead vocals/Bass Guitar), Tom Dakin (Guitar) and Adam Crofts (Drummer). Each member truly holds their own version of that well put together look, and genuinely care for each other like brothers.

This time the boys were photographed by Sophie Mayanne, as their warm conversations heated up the cold atmosphere. We got to 'waste more time with the band' by chatting about the process of creating music, their upcoming UK tour in February supported by Misty Miller, and how the journey started from the beginning to their new record, 'Lucky Ones,'. Josh Tuckley styled the boys with a mix of casual and quirky pieces from the easy-going feel of Farah's jackets, to the bold prints of McQ. There were lots of giggles and mischief along the way, so it's safe to say everyone enjoyed being on set on a day that will be imprinted in our memory for a while.

From Left to Right: Daniel wears Shirt by CARHARTT, Jacket by FARAH, Jeans by NUDIE. Tom wears Shirt by CREEP, Jacket by FARAH, Jeans by NUDIE. George wears Jumper by APC X LOUIS W, Jeans by WON HUNDRED, T-Shirt by APC. Adam wears Jacket by APC, Shirt by WON HUNDRED.

How are you? Having fun shooting?
George: Great thank you. We’re having loads of fun, trying on loads of expensive clothes, it’s brilliant.

Which item of clothing was your favourite?
Adam: I tried the Jay Z socks, he’s got a sock brand and I’m quite into it.
Tom: Apparently he threw a whole sock party last week!

How did you form the band?
George: We just started a band to impress girls, it only worked occasionally. We didn’t have any aspirations, just found it really cool. It wasn’t intentional to make it ‘big', all we wanted was to play in pubs and be happy. We started off playing a pub in Sheffield to about 15 people, as you do. Then a few weeks later our song played on a BBC Radio 1 show. From that point on, we realized we could be a proper band.

What was it like hearing yourselves on Radio 1?
George: Surreal. I remember on our way home from rehearsing, we waited in our drummer’s batted old Ford Mondeo in silence for half an hour in Broomhill until our song finally came on. That crazy feeling never leaves you, hearing our songs play anywhere still feels absolutely insane.

From Left to Right : Adam wears Jacket by WON HUNDRED, Shirt by FARAH. Tom wears Shirt by FARAH. George wears Shirt by MCQ, Jeans by HAWKSMILL. Daniel wears Jacket by APC, Shirt by COTTWEILLER, Jeans by NUDIE.

What was the process of creating your album?
George: Everything we do starts with a unique feeling. The past months felt particular good, because we finished recording whilst managing to indulge a bit. We didn’t play our songs to anyone, because playing live gets instant reactions. To hear our music on the radio and and to think that what we've created in a small room is 'making it’ outside is extremely thrilling.
What is it like knowing that people connect to your music on a personal level?
George: Surprisingly people are genuinely nice to us and I don’t think we get trolls. We have also responded to some of our fans online to engage with them more.
What is it like to work together?
George: It gets quite nerve wracking, because we do things quite separately. There are very few occasions where we sit down in the same room and make something from scratch all together. Daniel writes the lyrics, and Tom and I come up with melodies independently. Only once an idea is halfway there, will we come together. It’s always that point where we ring the others up to come listen to what we have, in which it becomes the scariest thing. You might have been writing for a month and think it’s the greatest thing, but as soon as you play it to someone else, they may think it’s not that great. Feels like a hammer blower, you just fight back the tears basically. Ultimately we do it all individually and hope that when we all come together there is something in there that we all get along with. It also reflects the mentality of the band, because when we were boys we were always like that. I really care about what these three think, as long as I impress them, I’m happy - even if the rest of the world thinks it’s crap.
How do you deal with disagreements during the song-writing process?
George: Unfailing politeness, lots of euphemisms and things like that.
Daniel: It’s kind of an unfounded worry that someone might say it’s shit, but the worst is when you can tell somebody is just trying to be really nice, but actually think the song is a bag of spanners.
George: Yeah, just people that are passive aggressive people that are just sort of like rendering up again.
Daniel: It’s the silence that you feel the most. When you finish the last chord, and see that everyone is avoiding eye contact.
How would you describe your genre of music?
George: Someone described it the other day as almost pop. I liked that, it’s one of my favourite descriptions. We always value melody more than anything. At the same time, we try and say something intelligent in our songs. That sets a different tone for pop music. I think pop gets a bad name, because the songs that are popular and successful are often simplistic. Especially the mainstream radio always playing ‘dumbed down’ songs. We don't subscribe to that aspect of it, instead we subscribe to that melodic quality of pop music, especially the old pop music.
Definitely. Do you feel that when you’re writing a song there has to be an underlying message?
George: No not really, I’ve never got to a point where I feel like want to say something. I write it like it is, and it’s never intentional to get a message across.
Daniel: Sometimes it happens I guess! We did a song recently with a girl called 'Misty Miller', which was probably the first time I felt like there needed to be a strong message. Normally I’m writing for George singing from a male perspective, so I include a lot of soft, emotional lyrics and be quite open I suppose. With Misty, I wanted to write something empowering that was nothing too courteous. I knew I needed to do more when I was working with Misty, so there were definitely a few times I thought about getting a point across. The verse that I wrote was originally written for George, but when Misty sang it, it sounded so wrong. I’m used to writing for George’s voice so I knew what sound was right for him, but I couldn’t do that for Misty. I tried not to give her a different voice I suppose, but essentially I just wanted her to be her own.

Left: George wears Shirt by MCQ.
Right: Socks by STANCE.

From Left to Right : Tom wears Shirt by FARAH. Adam wears Shirt by FARAH. George wears Jumper by APC X LOUIS W. Daniel wears Shirt by CARHARTT.

What is the inspiration behind ‘I Wanna Waste My Time On You’?
Daniel: The B Side of this single was born from the song 'St Valentine,' which was made 2 or 3 years ago. It never came out, but the lyrics were always really good. I’ve got a huge shoe box of unfinished ideas that never made it, and on a green cardboard, there were a couple of lyrics from 'St Valentine' that stood out. 'I Wanna Waste My Time On You’ was the third line out of this song, which jumped off the page for me - I wanted it to be in the chorus. One of the things we wanted on this record was to have bold choruses, engaging our audience immediately. It’s not a love song, for me it’s more about wasting time being in the band and having fun - that wasting time can be a good thing.
What kind of music did you guys listen to as teens?
Adam: All sorts, I went through a massive pop-punk phase when I was 12, and I still love it.
Tom: Everything, just good music, you know?
Daniel: I listened to my dad’s record collection growing up, so I was discovering musicians like The Beatles. Massive, classic British songwriting filtered into classic melodies were what I listened to growing up.
So you’re influenced by those types of music?
Daniel: I believe so. You have no choice to what music your parents listen to, so it could go really wrong and you might get Celine Dion (she’s got some good tracks). But wherever you go as a kid, the music surrounding you is when the journey starts.
What were you all like as teenagers?
Adam: Moody. I was a goth. Listened to Bauhaus and Johnny Rotten. As a goth I still listened to my parents’ Fleetwood Mac records though.
George: I went to my first gig at around 12 years old, since then I just really wanted to be in a band.
Daniel: The thing about being a band is to try and suspend any sort of adulthood almost. So I think I still like everything that I listened to when I was 16 or 17. When I was that age, I had really long hair, went to loads of gigs every week and religiously reading NME.
How has that influenced the way you are now?
Daniel: I’m still quite inferior in certain situations like I get into my shell a bit, not because I’m shy, but because I don’t feel the need to compete for attention. I know it can come across as quite rude and moody, but I’m not like that at all.
What is it like on tour?
Adam: It’s surprising there aren’t more fights. We’ve got along really well considering how much we’ve toured, even though we didn’t do so much this year.
Daniel: It’s actually his first time on tour with us.
Adam: Touring is great. The band I was in before got to play with The Crookes a few times, so I got to know them really well.
Do you have any funny stories to share?
Tom: We spend a lot of time in our pants together. George and I do a bit of sleep walking, which is really shit.
Daniel: He was basically hunting like he was in the safari like a proper caveman. It was fucking weird and very bizarre. George sets up pillow shrines as well.
George: I was with our old drummer and we had to share beds a lot since the budgets were really tight. One evening in the middle of the night I was asleep the whole time and unknowingly took pillows from the bottom of his side of the bed and was completely nude next to it, with his pillow. It was as if I was cursing the pillow. The door opened and Tom was watching in on the whole thing. It’s like he wakes up in a different bed all the time.
Tom: I remember being really drunk in Holland once and going to the toilet, but for some reason I couldn’t even switch on the lights. It felt like I was in there for hours, such a scary experience. I was so pissed.
Any wild nights out stories?
Daniel: Sometimes when we have the hotel near the venue, we’ll seize the opportunity to do so. Most of the time we go in, set up, and play our music.
George: There was one time in Italy on a night out, 6 of us randomly got a lift from this guy we never met in his tiny car, and he decided to drive on the pavement in Milan to pass by the red lights.
What are the best and worst parts of being in a band?
George: The best parts include playing live. Winning over a crowd live is the best feeling for me.
Adam: Playing my drums.
Tom: Getting an honourable mention for writing the song and finally getting it to sound good.
Daniel: Getting paid to travel the world, there aren’t many other jobs like this. The worst part is shifting gear and packing up.
Lastly, what music are you listening to at the moment?
Tom: There are some new bands in Sheffield that are really good. Laurel Canyons from Doncaster supported us on our last UK tour, they’re very atmospheric and dramatic.
Adam: We went to see Father John Misty. It was amazing, his old stuff is just great.

Tour dates for The Crookes can be found here.


Interview by India Opie Meres.
Words by Nicole Chui.

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