We spoke to Sad Boys Club upon the release of their new EP I’m Not Afraid of the Death (But I am Afraid of the Dying) to discuss punny football names and why 2022 is such an exciting year to be a Sad Boy.
Conjuring toe-tapping indie bangers is no new territory for Sad Boys Club, whose canon brings to mind the songwriting of Spector’s Fred Macpherson and The 1975’s inverted spin on melodic pop. This fresh collection of tracks, however, sees the quartet manipulating textures & moods with far more sophistication than ever before: most notably on the EP’s ambient intro ‘Green’ and the wistful title track.
I’m Not Afraid of the Death (But I am Afraid of the Dying) – the band’s third full release – isn’t all doom & gloom however. ‘White Heart Lane’ is a driving slice of radio-ready indie, adorned with piano chords and nostalgic nods Tottenham Hotspur’s [now demolished] home ground.
The London-based band, fronted by Jacob Wheldon, have a sizeable stack of shows coming up this year, including a rather tasty slot at The Great Escape in May, so let your friends know that 2022 is officially the year of the sad.
We love the spacious shoegaze elements on the new EP, what influences have informed this sound?
Jacob: Good morning RIOT Mag, thanks for having us. They are quite shoegaze-y aren’t they, I hadn’t actually thought about it that way but I think on tracks like ‘Green’ and ‘I’m Not Afraid of The Death…’ there’s definitely an element of that. Green in particular was developed over quite a long period of time so it’s hard to pinpoint where ideas came from. We were trying to create some new sense of dimension and texture to our palette – we’ve always been fans of MBV, Slowdive, Yo La Tengo, Ride, whatever else, so I think that makes sense… the more direct conversations I remember having or at least thinking about were surrounding film scores, some of the Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross stuff, Geoff Barrow, Ennio Morricone and Jon Brion. I was rewatching Lost in Translation about once a week for a long time. There was something cinematic, otherworldly, immersive we wanted to craft.
Focus single from the new EP ‘I’m Not Afraid of the Death (But I am Afraid of the Dying)’ showcases a bravely minimalist delivery which really punctuates the track’s vulnerability, who was on production duties?
Pedro: This song is to me a reinterpretation of Gilberto Gil’s “Não Tenho Medo Da Morte”. I’ve always wanted to try and bring my Brazilian heritage to the Sad Boys Club world, but I found myself mostly being frustrated about it sounding pastiche or not doing it justice. Given the original version is very minimalist in its arrangement, I thought it’d be a good exercise if I used Gil’s song as a building block. Instead of just learning the song and playing it myself, it felt like more of a collaborative effort if I looped his version and added layers to it. After a couple of tries, I sent a version to Jacob with absolutely no expectations whatsoever, but he seemed really receptive to the idea. I think we spent a total of 4 hours on this song from its conceptualisation to the final thing, which is completely new to us. To be honest, I think this is the least ‘produced’ thing we’ve ever done.
We’re looking forward to catching you guys at The Great Escape, who else are you hyped to see on the lineup?
Jacob: It’s one of the one’s I’m most excited about – I’ve been as a punter a few times before and generally think it’s best to go in having little idea what you’re looking for and you’ll probably stumble on a gem. I am really keen to see Indigo de Souza though, I’ve loved her last couple of records and not had a chance to see her yet. Think the boys are keen to see Soft Cult too.
We hear Jacob is topping the band’s Fantasy Football League. What shit, punny name have you given your team? And which player from your squad would be the best fit as an additional band member?
Jacob: haha I’m the only one who plays! I am doing well this season though, I’m (less than) quietly happy with where things are at, it’s just about managing the chip strategy well but not being too conservative from here and things should be in a good place come Gameweek 38. Team’s been called Sound of the Lloris for about 8 years now, my brother just started playing and has named his Here Comes the Sadio [an homage to SBC’s single ‘Here Comes the S.A.D’], which I was oddly flattered by. I just wildcarded so I’m getting a feel for the new blood, but I think there are a few options here – Raphinha or Coutinho could add to the pre-existing Brazilian contingent, we’re not afraid of a bit of flair, but it’s hard not to want Bukayo Saka. The antithetical Sad Boy. Not sure how he’d feel about us playing ‘White Hart Lane’.
What have Sad Boys Club got cooking up in 2022?
Jacob: We’re definitely cooking, I’m just not sure what the meal is yet. We’re just starting this weekend to begin the first writing sessions for what we think will be our debut album. That’s the plan at least, I’m not sure how far away that is to being realised, it might not be this year but in the mean time we’ve got a lot of touring to do including our own headline tour, which will be a first, that’s definitely a highlight for us, and then lots of festivals by the sound of things. rocking and rolling.
Sad Boys Club’s new EP, I’m Not Afraid of the Death (But I am Afraid of the Dying), is out now
photo credit: Niall Lea