Formed back in early 2002 in Wakefield‚ The Cribs‚ twin brothers Gary and Ryan and younger sibling Ross first came to light with their debut release ‘You & I’ , a split single with Jen Schande on the Leeds based indie Squirrel Records. Following their signing to Wichita Recordings in 2003, they enlisted the help of their friend Chicago singer/avant-garde musician Bobby Conn, to record demos for their eponymous debut, subsequently spending a week ensconced in London’s Toe Rag studio capturing the endearing energy of their live shows.
Never ones to sit back‚ ‘The New Fellas’ followed in 2005, an altogether more vitriolic affair. Produced by Edwyn Collins, the album broke new ground for the band providing them with several Top 40 singles including ‘Hey Scenesters’ ‚ a dig at the indie scene of the time and further backed with the chart success of the singles ‘Mirror Kissers’ and ‘Martell’. The Cribs have continually enjoyed the patronage of their contemporaries and 2006 saw Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos take on the producer role. ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ saw a no less passionate band but Kapranos managed to harness their anger and song writing prowess whilst not losing any of their inherent beauty resulting in the bands major mainstream breakthrough, reaching Number 13 in the charts upon release in 2007. Featuring a contribution from Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo the record cemented the band’s position of as one of Britain’s biggest cult bands.
2007 also saw Gary relocate to Portland, OR where upon a chance meeting with Johnny Marr resulted in the ex-Smith joining The Cribs in 2008 and work started in earnest on the band’s fourth album. ‘Ignore The Ignorant’ released in September 2009 became their first Top Ten album, garnered support from hitherto uncharted waters and saw the band extend their fanbase across the world and continued the band’s ever increasing upward trajectory.
Writing for 'In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull' began in November of 2010 when the band were on an unofficial break. Gary had set up a home studio in Portland and Ryan came out to visit during this period. "It was the best time" says Gary "just hanging out and messing around with different pieces of gear, spending all day making noises, chasing tangents - just like when we first started." The brothers would take road trips throughout the Pacific North West, staying in seedy motels along the way, playing music and talking through the night. “We just started to write fragments of songs” says Ryan. “We didn’t know what we were going to use them for but we built a sketch book with our ideas which were coming thick and fast” Gary adds "I think that was just the right start really, re-connecting in the way we used to do things, in these little bolt-holes away from everything else that we had going on at the time.”
Next the group hooked up with Steve Albini at his E.A.R. studio in Chicago and Dave Fridmann at Tarbox Road Studios in New York State. “We wanted to work with Steve Albini on our first record,” explains Ryan, “but we were unsigned when we started making it and we went into Toe Rag to record as it was really cheap and we liked the studio ethos. Then with each record after we always said, ‘we’ll get Steve next time’ and we never got around to it. Somewhere down the line you end up deviating from your original vision of what the band is, and that’s why when Johnny left and it went back to it being just the three of us it felt like it did when we first got together and Steve was the obvious choice for us to work with.”
Four songs were put down in three days with Albini, although only one, the punky, abrasive ‘Chi-Town’ about a girl Ryan was going to marry before the band took off, made the cut. The band hope to return to E.A.R. to complete further sessions for their next record, which will include the as yet unissued remaining tracks. “We didn’t want to break them up really” says Gary, “but release them in one go”.
“Steve’s a really good engineer” says Ryan. “He’s very quick, and on the first day he asked, “How do you want to do this?” and we told him we want to do it all live, no overdubs just guitar, bass, drums, and then on ‘Chi-Town’ I was putting a piano down at the end of the song and he said ‘Just so you know, if you put this down the album isn’t going to be all live. I don’t have a problem with doing it but you might have a problem with doing it because you told me you wanted a live record’. So you think about these things. And he doesn’t give any opinion on the music, he records without prejudice, he just records what you do, and for me that’s perfect.”
‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’ is out now through Wichita Recordings