Eagulls are angry. After controversial Halloween costumes, anti-establishment lyrics, and one particularly pissed off letter, it’s quite clear this Leeds native quintet are not just another skinny jeans donning, mop topped indie boy band here to talk about chasing girls and fucking around. They’re punk, in every natural sense of the word, right down to frontman George Mitchell’s initial interview mumble, later converted into a John Lydon-esque insightful commentary. Two weeks after the release of their self-titled debut album, we talk about the record, punk, Mitchell’s list of annoying stuff, and people who dress as smurfs (unsurprisingly, the last two are not mutually exclusive).
The origin of Eagulls is simple. “It derives from feelings about everyday life.” But for Mitchell, daily thoughts extend further than how many sugars to add to his tea. Top track ‘Yellow Eyes’ is “about [his] views on institution and religion. I think a lot of other people share my views.” But true to form, “It’s quite a brash sort of sounding song.”
Eagulls have been celebrated for their no-nonsense, hard, guitar driven music, whilst maintaining listenability. Music journos have labelled it “melodic punk”, much to the easily fired chagrin of the frontman, who dislikes the term.
Following the success of all-female punkers Savages and garage rock duo Drenge, Eagulls have released their debut into the perfect environment of a punk comeback. But unsurprisingly, Mitchell disagrees. “I don’t think it ever ever went away. It’s just one of those things where people are only allowed to hear what they’re given. The music industry might let punk disappear off the radar a bit, and even now, it’s not trendy and it’s not cool, but I think people see its importance a lot more.”
Mitchell believes the reason for punk’s importance has changed. “It’s more like a format for creativity. I think people will say that punk is the inspiration of writing or making art. When it came out in ’76 it was a lot more important because it was a bigger shock.”
“But nowadays I could walk into the shopping centre and set myself on fire, and it wouldn’t really disturb too many people. They would forget about it in about a week anyway.” I ask about Mitchell’s morbid assumption. “Back then, if you did something memorable then people would remember it, but I honestly think now that there’s nothing that can stand out anymore. Modern day living’s a lot faster paced. That’s why people keep, not regurgitating genres, but taking inspiration from them, and using them as a tool for their voice.” And this is no less true for Eagulls. “I love all kinds of music. I listen to all sorts of music; I don’t just listen to and get inspired by punk. I take more inspiration from everyday life; seeing things and hearing things, but we use the punk sound as a channel for it to come out.”
Last year, Mitchell revealed to the world that music is not his only outlet for self expression. An open letter was posted on the band’s blog, dissing “beach bands sucking each other’s dicks,” who “become known to the music industry heads due to the fact you are girls or have girls in your band.” Those were some of the nicer quotes. Despite now making it a closed letter, Mitchell appears to have no regrets about voicing his opinions on the music industry over blogspot. “Every day I write something, either weird, witty or truthful. And that day I had a little bit more time than usual, so I decided to take a picture of [the letter] and put it online. A lot of people took a lot of interest, which was very strange. The strangest part is the way others gained attention from it, for their own music blogs and things like that.”
And he’s still as annoyed. “That was about a year ago, so there’s now probably more stuff that annoys me just as much. Everyday something aggravates me; and I just add it onto the list. That list is probably huge now. I don’t know where it is, I should have kept it; framed it and given it to someone.”
That’s not the only bit of attention from controversy the band have attracted in recent times. In 2012, they dressed as Peter Sutcliffe and his victims for a Halloween performance. “We all think that when you dress up for Halloween, it should be scary, it should be grim.” But why such a shock factor? “Who doesn’t dress to shock for Halloween? There are a lot of people in Leeds everyday who dress as smurfs. All they do is just drink alcohol and follow the Lad Bible. They’re just as bad as Peter Sutcliffe in my eyes. I despise those people. They have such a great opportunity in life to do well; they’re at university and should be studying, doing things they can gain from in life, and yet they just paint themselves blue and decide to drink and be vile towards women. They’re idiots basically.” Charming.
They may be difficult to please, but if you put the time into their punk rock, it will pay off. So don’t dress as a smurf, don’t be in a beach band (especially if you’re a girl), and if Eagulls decide to set themselves on fire in your local shopping centre, don’t blink.