Holly Alder sits down with Squid’s guitarist Anton Pearson ahead of their European and US tour.
Following their second studio album release, O Monolith in June of this year, Brighton based post-punk band Squid hit the road for their lengthy European and US tour at the beginning of September 2023. With two Irish dates coming up on the 24th and 25th of October in Belfast’s Mandela Hall and Dublin’s iconic Vicar Street venue, it seemed only right to follow up with a pre-tour interview with the guitarist, Anton Pearson, the day before he set off on tour.
Pearson opens the conversation by avidly telling me he is heading off on tour the next day and in true rock star fashion, is currently washing his trainers in his washing machine in preparation for the shows. The mundane ritual of machine washing your trainers due to the temperamental Irish and British weather gradually bleeds into Pearson’s love for the guitar: “I’ve been playing guitar since around the age of nine and completed my guitar lessons when I was 18 before attending university to study music.”
“I’ve been playing guitar since around the age of nine and completed my guitar lessons when I was 18 before attending university to study music.”
Pearson continues by telling me how he met the rest of the band, at university in Brighton, where he still resides today. “I met the others at university, and we began playing together. We just started by playing little shows to our friends in small venues, and things just slowly got more and more serious,” he explains. He elaborates that the band's first ever tour was with the Swedish punk band Viagra Boys, which immediately piques my attention, being a long time fan, and Pearson concludes that they’re the “greatest guys in the world.”
The seaside town of Brighton where the band started out has a rich and vast live music scene, so it only felt natural to ask about the music Pearson was surrounded by while he was attending university there. “There’s lots of small venues. We started off playing in The Verdict which is a sort of jazz venue, so I think it’s a really good place for bands looking to get started. There’s not too much pressure”. He continues about when the band were in university, 90% of the audience were friends and people they knew. “Gradually, fewer and fewer people we knew started showing up and luckily, more and more strangers took their places.” We found ourselves at the inevitable discussion of their release, O Monolith.
“I think that we developed a lot as musicians between the two albums,” referencing the band’s first studio album, Bright Green Fields. “We learned to condense our ideas a lot more. With the first album, there was a sort of first album pressure. We were really keen to cram absolutely every element of ourselves into Bright Green Fields, we were forgetting that we will probably have long music careers and produce multiple albums.” He continues by explaining that “we just got better at playing our instruments together. We were really pleased with how O Monolith turned out.”
We were really keen to cram absolutely every element of ourselves into Bright Green Fields, we were forgetting that we will probably have long music careers and produce multiple albums.”
‘Devil’s Den’ on O Monolith was inspired by folklore and mythology, due to the places the band were staying when they wrote the album. But the project the band completed with poet and comedian, Tim Key was an incredibly interesting point to query about, “I love Tim Key. I really love his poetry and a lot of things that he's been involved with,” Pearson smiles. “When we were first sorting out stuff for the album, such as inserts and non-musical things, we were inspired to put a story inside the album.” He continues by explaining that the band got in contact with author Paul Ewen to write something for the insert for their album, “He’s a really amazing writer.” The story that Ewen wrote is now a little booklet that you can find inside the physical copy of O Monolith, which is a charming feature of the album. This progressed onto the band teaming up with poet and comedian Tim Key to read the story that Ewen wrote for the insert, which was then recorded for a YouTube audio. “I ended up writing the music for the project that Tim reads over,” Pearson explains. The unique aspect of the album that is just one of the many that ultimately separates them from other bands and artists within their genre.
After having released their first album within lockdown, I wanted to know how it may have affected their musicianship, having a lot of time to practice without an audience and to write. “The first album was created during lockdown one, and lockdown one was the longest time we went without seeing each other, which was really strange. All of our gigs were getting cancelled, and after we released the album, we still weren’t allowed to do proper gigs.” He continues by telling me about how some of the tracks on O Monolith came to be by playing their socially distanced, seated gigs, by just jamming together and forming songs. “Both albums have relationships with lockdown in different ways,” he finishes.
We find ourselves returning to the tour rapidly approaching, and Pearson discusses the differences between playing UK, Irish and American shows. He explains how the American shows are slightly more tame, due to the fact that the British and Irish gigs are always a bit rowdy, which only adds to the fun. “The American gigs are really nice, they’re polite,” he laughs, although he does add that he has no preference in playing any country or place in particular and enjoys US, UK and Irish shows equally for different reasons.
He explains how the American shows are slightly more tame, due to the fact that the British and Irish gigs are always a bit rowdy, which only adds to the fun.
Tickets for Squid’s upcoming dates are available on Ticketmaster now.