Interviews

This Is… No Small Peril

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To celebrate post #100 on We Close Tonight I decided it would be fitting to go out and get the blog’s first exclusive interview. To celebrate this milestone I caught up with one of London’s hottest prospects No Small Peril to learn a bit more about them. The 5 piece band have just released their debut track ‘Clown Song‘ and they’ve been kind enough to give me the EXCLUSIVE (too much?) for the track’s live video. You can check out the video about half-way through the interview but rather than just skipping to that point, why not educate yourself in world of No Small Peril? Here’s what happened when I caught up with Sam Zeiher (Vocals) and Dom Saul (Keyboards) on a glorious roof terrace in Shoreditch;

First things first, how did you come up with the name No Small Peril?

Sam: That was me. It’s a line from Peter Pan, very strange but it’s one of my favourite books from when I was a kid. It’s about saying everything matters in life, the little things you do actually might have a big impact later on so you should pay attention to them.

And you managed to coerce the rest of the band into it?

Dom: We really liked it! It rings.

Sam: It’s quite… I think when you hear it you’re not quite sure what kind of music it’s going to be and I kind of like that, even though these days you’re “supposed to” have a really obvious name. I like to think people will actually have to listen before they make their mind up!

It could be a metal band or anything, small maybe not but peril is a great word to strike fear into people!

Sam: No! Don’t say that! We’re not a metal band!

So how would you describe your sound?

Sam: That’s a good question…

Dom: Alternative pop-rock?

Is there anyone who you’d say is a definite influence on your sound?

Dom: I think Feist for your songwriting.

Sam: Yeah, I love her and her band.

Dom: Thing is we don’t have one sound that’s like anyone else because Sam writes the songs and she’ll be very influenced by something but then our bassist will come in with a bassline that will completely change her song. Different people bring different things.

Sam: We all like really different kinds of music so I think together it makes a unique sound, hopefully.

So Sam, you write most of the music then? Or do you just come in with a rough idea of what you’re thinking?

Sam: Usually I write the lyrics, always, then I come up with chords and things and then bring it to the band and we all arrange it together. They might change the chords and a few bits from there.

You’d never come with a complete song then? Do you prefer to let people add their own take to it?

Dom: You have done but we’ll always change it!

Sam: It’s never good enough for them! [Laughs]

Dom: I think we had a period of 6-8 months when we just exclusively worked on Sam’s songs in the studio and completely changed them, even the ones we’d done as a band before to arrive at the sound we liked.

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How did the band first get together?

Sam: We met at uni, we met 3 or 4 years ago now, but we were just really playing around and it wasn’t a band yet. At first we started off with me as a solo artist and then I asked them if they wanted to play. Then just through playing around we decided ‘maybe we should make this more of a collective project’. 

Dom: Then I joined…

Sam: He wasn’t in the band yet, there were no keyboards.

Did you feel like something was missing and then along came Dom?

Sam: Exactly! We needed that more melodic…

Dom: I’m very commercial as well, I’m the most commercially minded.

Sam: He brings the pop side.

Is that with synth sounds that you’ll hear all over the place in pop?

Dom: Not even, just arguing really… I just play piano, I don’t really do synth sounds. I don’t really play keyboards I just play piano, if that makes sense. When we’re doing these arrangements I just bring it back to pop. We’re so different with all the ideas that we have, sometimes you need someone to just go ‘who’s actually going to listen to this on the radio?’ That’s my job!

Almost a manager’s position then?

Dom: Yeah, but I’m crap at that. Musically maybe.

Perhaps more of a musical director then, working out who the target audience are going to be and what you should be aiming for.

Dom: Yeah, I guess that’s what I’ve done before.

Sam: As we’ve progressed… When we started the sound was a bit more folk-y and then, as we’ve kept on playing, the song writing has evolved and it’s gone to a more band-y sound.

As opposed to a singer and a backing band vibe?

Sam: Exactly, yeah. I think now we’re really happy with the current sound and we’ve found what we wanted to.

Have you played a fair few gigs already?

Sam: Not that much. We’ve done quite a bit in London – Concrete Space, The Macbeth… Stuff like that. We did this showcase for Gibson guitar studios and then a showcase for Sony last year.

There are some big names sniffing around then? Sony isn’t a bad company to have interested…

Sam: I suppose, it was quite cool. We met an A&R and talked about where we were heading and things like that. It was really good to get an exterior opinion.

Where do you think you are heading?

Sam: Millionaires! I don’t know really. I think more gigging, we want to try and do some festivals and things like that, and we’ve got this one song – Clown Song – with 2 other songs so we’ve got an EP which we’re releasing in the Autumn I think with the other songs and hopefully gig as much as possible. Getting to meet new people who like our music and try to gig not just in London.

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You’ve just released your first song, what’s the story behind Clown Song and what are you trying to say with it?

Dom: Well I couldn’t tell you the meaning behind it because it’s part of Sam’s cryptic brain. It’s a secret, it’s always secret. The sound is more rocky than the other 2 on the EP, that’s for sure, but it’s still very pop. It’s listenable, it’s heavy in places but the verses are quite light-hearted. It’s quite a fun song.

Sam: Personally I love Queens Of The Stone Age, I just love everything about them, and I think it has influences from them with the guitar sound but the direction of it brings it back to more intimate…

Dom: It’s very much based on imagery isn’t it? You can hear a circus in it kind of

So will you be releasing an alternative version with seals honking horns in the background?

Dom: Not quite, it’s more like the percussion and the rhythm, some of the ways I hook up with Matt on the drums sound kind of like a fairground or circus theme. It’s a bit fucked up really. [Laughs]

What made you decide to release this one ahead of the other two songs from the EP?

Sam: Interesting question… I think that the 3 songs are quite different so if you hear just Clown Song you might have a different idea of the band and our music. People need to be in touch and listen to the two others. The other songs we have; one of them is more like a ballad, not really a ballad but more downbeat.

Dom: It’s more epically heartbroken! 

Sam: I don’t think that was the correct song to release first. We wanted to grab people’s attention with the first song.

Without breaking their hearts.

Sam: Yeah, I think Clown Song does that quite well. Hopefully.

Dom I hear you play the clarinet as well?

Dom: Yes that’s me.

How does that then come into the sound?

Dom: Well I actually used to be a classical clarinetist, that’s what I was going to do with my life. Then I decided I didn’t want to do that any more but I had a £2,000 clarinet hiding under my bed that my dad had bought me so I thought I’d better get some use of out it and when we were doing Clown Song it just kind of seemed like a good fit. We wanted an instrument that was something you wouldn’t hear on a pop song.

Something to make it stand out.

Dom: Exactly, there haven’t been clarinets apart from like Bjork and Acker Bilk in the last 50 years so it’s quite different.

I wouldn’t have described your sound as anything like Acker Bilk…

Dom: Yeah, in terms of instruments it’s just quite nice.

Sam: It was actually a very last minute addition but when we were working on it in the studio trying different parts, we got that and we were all like ‘Yes!’

It felt like the final piece?

Sam: Definitely.

Dom We spoke to the producer and he asked what other instruments we could play to see what we could put in.

Where was it all recorded?

Sam: We recorded with Coen Dingemans who is an amazing producer in Palm Studios. He did everything from mixing to mastering and helping us with the arrangements.

Dom: We knew him before so we trusted him.

Sam: Yeah, we met him at uni and he’s got his own studio. He’s done lots of cool stuff, he’s actually done the mastering for Paul McCartney’s live tour.

Dom: He had to master all of that.

Sam: He was really great to work with, very open to give us ideas but not control. We had the basic control but he gave us a few suggestions which were really good.

Dom: He challenged us but he didn’t over-step the mark.

Sam I know you also do some fashion bits and pieces, do you wear your stuff on stage?

Sam: I never thought about that… I’ve dressed in charity shop clothes since I was about 13, I’ve always loved just going in thrift shops and looking for stuff that I know no-one else I know has and I’m always proud that I’ve found this one thing. Recently I’ve started collecting, I have so many clothes, I’ve started buying stuff that isn’t for me but I think it would suit someone else. I’m selling stuff online, I’ve got a little online boutique. A lot of the outfits are what I wear on stage but I wear them in general really.

Dom: Every day is a stage!

Sam: It’s representative of my style I guess.

What have you got coming up in the next few months?

Sam: We’re planning gigs now but we haven’t got anything set but we’ve got this video coming out, the live video of Clown Song. It’s a live version which is a bit different from the recorded one so it’s interesting to see how we do it live. We’ve also got a secret cover that we’ve done.

Which you’ve told me about but I’ll keep quiet!

Sam: [Into the mic] It’s for YOU listener! It’s not a song you’d expect us to cover at all I think and we do a really different version of it so I’m really excited for people to hear that. There will be gigs in the next few months.

Dom: We’ve been burrowed in a little hole doing our music for so long to get it just perfect. Now we’re ready to rip the lid off.

midFinal question for you guys, who is your least favourite cartoon character?

Sam: Least favourite? This might take a few minutes…

Dom: I know who mine is! It’s Muttley from Dick Dastardly. When I was little I used to watch Wacky Races and I had a right thing for Penelope Pitstop.

I think every young boy did…

Dom: Which is weird because I turned out gay… Whenever she crashed Muttley would just laugh and I would be like ‘you bitch! That’s why I don’t like him. That’s a good question!

I’ve had some very strange answers to it before…

Sam: I’ve got one. Do you remember the Lion King? Do you remember crying at the Lion King? I cried desperately. The king’s brother, Scar, [getting agitated] he was so mean!

Dom: That is so obvious, classic villain.

Sam: He made me cry so much when I was a kid that I was traumatised by his evilness. I still have emotional scars from that. I had to watch it the other day with a little girl that I babysit and I was nearly crying watching it.

Dom: Having said that, Whoopi Goldberg as a sidekick is awesome!

Sam: There are probably other cartoons that I hate but that one is still sensitive.

Have you got anything else you want to plug?

Dom: Listen to the single!

Sam: LISTEN TO CLOWN SONG! It’s a shame we don’t have any gigs booked yet.

Dom: Listen out for the cover because that’s going to be a really interesting thing. Zoo Orchestra right?

Sam: Yes, I forgot to say that we recorded the live cover at Zoo Orchestra. They’re an up and coming music/film production studio in Waterloo. They’re really cool and they do an online channel for up and coming bands so we did 2 videos with them and they were really great to work with!

Clown Song is out now, you can listen to it below. Keep up to date with No Small Peril through their Official WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

Ciaran Steward

https://soundcloud.com/nosmallperil/clown-song

Just a little addition, for anyone that’s made it this far, I wanted to say thank you for everyone who has visited this blog. For something that began as just a way of putting my writing together for potential employers I honestly had no idea that this is where the site would sit right now. I have an inbox full of music submissions and I’ve been getting so many more views than I had ever expected. I genuinely love what I’m doing and it’s great to hear all this undiscovered music. I’m thrilled to be able to do this, alongside my job, as it’s something I’m incredibly passionate about and have a lifelong love for. I’m now potentially taking on another writer to make sure there’s plenty of content and I’m always happy for other people to write on the site so if you’re interested please give me a shout. Because this isn’t about me, it’s about the music. Everything is about the music.

So please keep sending me your music, reading the reviews and giving me your feedback, I fucking love it.

Cheers,

Ciarán

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