The Cellophane Flowers

The Cellophane Flowers fuse their diverse influences and different life experiences into uniquely quirky, melodic pop songs. They’re a truly international band, made up of an Italian, an Australian, an Englishman who has spent a large part of his life in Brazil, and another Englishman who’s lived all over England. They’ve been acclaimed by presenters such as Tom Robinson, and got themselves airplay on Radio 1, Radio 6 and plenty of American radio stations. With the release of their first album ‘Staring At The World’ imminent, we went to their rehearsal studio to talk about favourite kit, Manchester inspiration and hear previews of bewitching tracks such as Voices. The band is made up of singer and guitarist Fra, guitarist Ian, bass player Luca and drummer Nick, though there’s plenty of swapping that goes on.

Minor Fall Records

Psycho Pop

The Cellophane Flowers have been playing some exciting festivals, and recording with great producers too. Last year’s EP, If I Was A Girl, was recorded with Jarvis Cocker’s producer Oli Wright, and new album, ‘Staring At The World’, has been produced by Dave Allen, best known for his work with The Cure, Depeche Mode and The Charlatans.

The way we made the album is, quite a few songs we had ready, that we’d been playing for a while, and a lot of stuff we were writing during recording or just before, so that vibe comes through, and a lot of songs wouldn’t have sounded the way they were, so there’s a lot of dynamics, a lot of slower ballads and then a few big epic songs and then a nice couple of pop tunes. Everyone wanted it to be sort of pre-CD, under 45 minutes, I think it was under 40, keep it short, sharp. Lots of variety, it’s an album, lots more different ideas.

If you listen to all the tracks, once everyone hears it, there’s little bits of everything, because we all like different types of music, different genres individually and then when we sort of try and sneak in our little bits here and there, there’s, ooh, there’s a bit of ska in there, there’s a bit of goth in there, there’s a bit of punk or, you know, there’s all sorts of stuff in there. Not necessarily a whole song, but just instrumentation. Linda goes from reggae to Pixies, from verse to chorus. But it all works, because it’s us playing and there’s a theme carrying through, and there’s a feeling, and how we play all the songs as well.

Drummer Nick was the one who first made contact with Dave the producer, and the whole experience was really rewarding.

He came down to rehearsal, and straight away he wanted to work with us. We did lots and lots of demos and preparation, and lots and lots of recording, mixing, remixing, rerecording, mastering. It took over a year, we had two to three weeks worth of recording probably. He pushed each of us to play our instruments at their absolute limit, and he’d sometimes just say, that’s not good enough, try again, you weren’t sure what that meant but you just played it again, and you got better and better. Everything was played to a click and everything was very precise, but there was also a lot of room for you to be very creative as well.

Fra, singer and guitarist, is full of praise for the producer.

He’s a great guy, he really knows how to make the band work at its best, how to push in different ways on each of us. It’s really good.

The band describe the album as a real mixture of influences and dynamics.

Fra calls their sound psychopop, and her bandmates agree.

It’s basically pop, but if you hear us live it’s more rock, it’s very rhythm, melody based, big choruses, it’s got to be fun. The lyrics are depressing so it’s got to be fun. Got to cheer ourselves up somehow. Get lots of energy in there. And that’s psychopop.

That energy comes out in live performances, as well. As Ian says:

We try and move around a lot, we swap instruments around, bring out lots of toys. Sometimes we shout at each other. We just try and get some movement, get some energy, and I think that over the years our gigs have been getting more and more energetic, louder, we’re getting deafer so it’s definitely getting louder!

Swapping instruments can include them almost literally leaping over one another to swap bass and guitar. Keyboards, glockenspiel and chimes are also likely to feature in a live set. Nick is particularly keen on performing live.

I could play live every night and go on tour, that would be the way forward. We’ve done so many recordings, we’ve rehearsed for hours, and I think we are at our best when we’re playing live. We try to put on a good show. We’ve tried using TVs as well, with kind of old films and flickering screens, but unfortunately the Golf isn’t quite big enough to carry all the equipment and a whole bank of TVs. So we need a bigger van and more TVs, basically.

They recently played in Manchester, and Ian was able to fulfil a dream by jamming onstage with Inspiral Carpets. The Cellophane Flowers love Manchester’s vintage record shops, and The Chameleons and consider Pulp an inspiration.

They’ve put in the hard work, they’ve got the same sort of pop - slightly intelligent, dare I say it, but they’re trying to be a bit different, a bit quirky but very much pop based. They’ve done the rounds.

The Cellophane Flowers also feel that their own varied backgrounds feed into the type of music that they make.

We all grew up with different types of music. I’ll mention a band and it will be, who are you talking about? And vice versa, so we all have our little different pockets of music that we all grew up with, and try and teach each other, and some stuff we’ll all like and some stuff we’ll think is hideous.

They approach songwriting in a variety of ways. Fra explains:

We’ve got different ways of doing it. Some tracks, either me or Ian write at home, and then we come here (the rehearsal studio) and they change completely. Some songs come out of a jam, a drum and bass jam or just Ian coming up with a riff or just strumming a chord, so there’s different ways.

Nick feels this is a good thing.

I think that’s the way in which we’ve grown so well together, because we kind of know everyone’s different style, and we’re all working really well, and now that we jam, instantly, things start happening quite quickly. So more recording, hopefully, at some point.