Sheffield based Creatures Of Habit are a new duo hoping to bring some much needed lightness to current times. Debut album ‘Drawn In Embers’ has just been released, and we spoke to Joel and Alex about the recording of the album, and what to expect when you check the band out.
DGM: What are the origins of the band, and how long have you been playing together?
Joel: We actually grew up on the same road as each other, so now we’re almost like brothers! We’ve been in two bands before this; one was a heavy alt rock band and the other was a dark electronic experimental band. It’s been nice to play different sounds, and to finally arrive at where we are now.
DGM: What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe yourselves?
Joel: We set ourselves a goal with this album, which was to write an uplifting summer record. So far this year has been pretty awful and chaotic, so we wanted to make something that we’d love listening to. It’s all about reconnecting with nature and remembering past summers with friends.
DGM: Debut album ‘Drawn In Embers’ has just been released; how long had the songs been brewing for? And what was the biggest challenge of recording an album in lockdown?
Alex: Some songs have actually been around for ten years. They never really suited the other bands, but the riff and structure of ‘No Time Left’ were from a song I wrote for my second band.
Joel: Similarly, the riff for ‘Calling All The Righteous Souls’ was something I came up with in about 2008, but I was never able to make it work for the other two bands. The slide guitar really suited the sound of this album though.
Alex: We didn’t really experience any challenges recording this album, as it’s the way we’ve always done it. Initially, we work apart on our own songs, and then send them to each other to add our own little bits.
DGM: There’s a great balance to the album; uptempo moments such as ‘No Time Left’, ‘The Night Begins For Us All’ and ‘Pale Shores’; funkier tracks like ‘Better Days’, and then more mellow tracks like ‘Roots’ and ‘Solstice’. Did the running order give you any headaches?
Joel: Not really. Once ‘No Time Left’ had been recorded we knew it had to open the album; the same way that when ‘Solstice’ was finished we knew we wanted it as a close.
Alex: The album itself tells a story in a way. The opening track is almost about leaving the past where it belongs, and then track two is about new beginnings and appreciating what’s around you.
DGM: What are the lyrical themes behind the album?
Joel: I wanted to keep the whole album uplifting, so the main themes are nature, summer and love. I had found it difficult to write about happy subjects in previous bands, so with this one I literally figured I’d describe my trips to the woods and ocean, and I wouldn’t go far wrong.
DGM: How did it feel releasing your debut album? Were there any nerves?
Alex: There weren’t any nerves, because we think this is the best work we’ve done, so we were happy to put it out the moment it was finished.
Joel: I was excited to put it out, but the cynic in me was also a little despondent of the fact that if it’s not promoted in exactly the right way on social media, then it’s forgotten about pretty fast these days. With that in mind, we wrote this album mainly for ourselves, and so nerves didn’t really come in to play.
DGM: The artwork surrounding the album is incredible; the cover artwork and the promo poster are especially stunning. Who created them, and what were the ideas behind them?
Joel: The cover and the poster were both drawn by Nicole Ramsden (Instagram Username: bonesandbotanics). We wanted to go with a more retro feel as a homage to 70’s rock and roll covers, and let the imagery bring through the themes of nature that are on the album.
DGM: ‘Drawn In Embers’ is very song-driven; who would you class as an underrated songwriter?
Alex: Julia Cumming from Sunflower Bean. I saw them live supporting Wolf Alice in 2017, and I don’t think they get the recognition they deserve.
Joel: I loved a band called Arcane Roots who sadly split up a couple of years ago. They had some amazing songs, and I think about 15 years ago they would have been enormous.
DGM: In your opinion, what makes a song memorable?
Joel: For me, it’s usually the ones that have a huge riff at some point that I can imagine myself playing. The drop in ‘Particle’ by Marmozets for example. Any song that has that moment where you can picture being at the gig, bouncing up and down, does it for me.
Alex: For me it’s uplifting songs with downbeat lyrics like ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ by The Smiths. I think those types of songs are more relatable, and that gives them more playability to me.
DGM: What band out there at the moment do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?
Alex: Probably Wolf Alice. Several of their songs have that 90s shoe gaze sound that we’ve gone for on ‘Pale Shores’ and ‘Beginnings’.
Joel: I think we’d be a great warm-up band for Greta Van Fleet. They’re really driving that 70s sound, which we have a bit of in ‘No Time Left’.
DGM: The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent. In what ways do you feel a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?
Joel: I don’t follow chart music as closely as I used to, but occasionally some of the artists I’ve heard seem to blend in to the next band. Usually in singing style, I’m not sure who I’m listening to. I think for a band to break through now, they need to try and follow something that isn’t popular. One will come along eventually with a brand new sound, and they’ll be huge. The problem with that though, is suddenly the charts could be filled with the new sound too!
DGM: Who do you feel will be the next band to break out?
Joel: Not long ago I found a band called Black Pumas that I hadn’t heard much about. They were nominated for Best New Artist recently, but I feel that in the next couple of years everyone will have heard of them.
Alex: DMA’s. They’ve had a few albums out already, but I don’t feel like they’ve achieved their full potential yet.
DGM: What are your first musical memories? And what was the light bulb moment that made you go “I want to do that!”
Joel: My mum has a huge record collection with everything from AC/DC to Enya, and my cousins have been in several bands for as long as I can remember. But it was watching The White Stripes that first made me pick up a guitar.
Alex: For me, hearing ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ by Green Day for the first time. I asked my dad to teach me how to play it on guitar.
DGM: What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
Alex: Twin Atlantic at Sheffield Leadmill back in March. A week later and every venue closed their doors due to the lock down.
Joel: I saw Jamie Cullum at the Sheffield City Hall the same week. It was a fantastic gig, but there was an uneasy feeling in the air, where nobody knew what was coming.
DGM: What current issue are you particularly passionate about?
Joel: I heard today that Sheffield Arena and City Hall are both in danger of not reopening due to everything that’s going on. If that happens, then I worry what the future will be for live music in our city. I worry it would have a knock-on effect for theatres and tourism here.
DGM: What is the album that you have in your collection or Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
Alex: Chvrches. I’m mainly into indie rock anthems and bands, whereas Chvrches are an electronic dance band
Joel: I’ve mentioned her already, but I have several Enya albums in my playlist. I think people would assume I only listen to alt rock music, but my mum certainly had an influence because of the songs that I grew up with. The fact I’m obsessed with Lord of the Rings helps as well!
DGM: What are your plans for the remainder of 2020?
Joel: I’m reluctant to make any concrete plans, because you don’t know if we’ll have to cancel them again within a couple of months. We’ll promote this album for a while yet, and we’ve got a few more music video ideas up our sleeves.
Alex: I’ve increased the amount of walking I’ve been doing this year, and I’m not stopping now. I’m hoping to do Ben Nevis in the next few months.
DGM: How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
CoH: We’re all over the place really. We’re on all the main channels, so people can listen to us in whatever format suits them!