The Cribs

By • Jan 1st, 2010 • Category: Featured articles, Interviews

cribsMusic long has been a family affair for The Cribs’ Gary Jarman. It might be a tired cliché, but some things become common rhetoric because of their truthfulness. As the 29-year-old bassist/vocalist for the English ensemble, Jarman has built his lad rocking life around the things most important to him: music and his loved ones. Joined by his twin brother Ryan and their younger sibling Ross, the eldest Jarman has pieced together a grassroots campaign that has seen critical and commercial increases with each Cribs release since their 2004 debut.

And on the band’s fourth LP, this year’s Ignore the Ignorant, the Jarman kin added a fourth full-time member in the form of iconic Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr – a man old enough to be their father. When Chicago Innerview tracked down Gary Jarman, he was relaxing in his adopted home of Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Quasi/Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks bassist Joanna Bolme, a woman 12 years his senior. Discussing his brothers, both of whom still live in England, Jarman mused over the band’s ever changing dynamics.

Chicago Innerview: How has your move to the U.S. changed the songwriting process?
Gary Jarman:
It’s changed it quite a lot. Before we lived in the same house and we would tour together and then come home and live together. So we obviously talked a lot…In the early days, I loved that communal atmosphere. But I moved [to Portland] before [2007’s Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever], and found it to be a good thing. I couldn’t imagine doing things the old ways. Now we all come up with our own ideas and we get together for a couple intense weeks in a residential studio. It’s really exciting to see what people have been working on by themselves.

Chicago Innerview: What was the writing like when you lived together?
Gary Jarman:
We’d just get together and play. We’d never write separately. Back in the old days, it was so much fun because we had an old mill that we put a studio in. We’d stay there and just get up and start playing and record straight from there. It was very spontaneous and off the cuff. Now, we can see each person’s input and their different personalities come through a little bit.

CI: What is coming out in your brothers that you didn’t see before?
Well, on the [2007] record, Ryan was still just an angry punk rocker and my songs were a little bit more subdued. So the punk stuff was obviously his writing. On this new album, we’re pulling things together a little more – like we’re all in the same direction.

CI: How has the addition of Johnny Marr changed the band’s dynamic?
It’s difficult in hindsight, but I can’t remember how I felt at the time. He started playing with us two years ago, but this album is the first with him as a member. It was such a gradual process, I can’t remember any moments where it felt weird. The Cribs were in a much different place when he joined the band.

CI: How?
I had just moved to the U.S. and fitting someone else in the band was easier because we all were spacing ourselves out. It was like working with someone for the first time because with brothers, you just feel like you always have facilitated each other.

CI: How has he helped the band’s dynamic?
: He’s helped us to get our heads around a lot of stuff. Growing up with a punk ethos, I felt really conflicted when our music started to get licensed to major labels. I grew up so cynical against that stuff. But because he had success in the pop charts before, he opened up our eyes to getting in and trying to fix things from the inside. As a band, we spent a lot of time kicking against that conventional channel.

CI: How did it feel to have a top 10 album this year?
I had conflicting feelings. For so long we fought against the music industry – signing first to an indie label and just playing for the fans. But then after four albums, we found ourselves in the top 10 and it was a perverse pleasure because we didn’t think we belonged. Our album came out on the same week as The Beatles reissues, and we outsold all of them but two. They had a huge promotional campaign and we didn’t.

CI: Outselling The Beatles is nice.
In England, our band has success. Not other places. That’s one thing I hate about a lot of bands in England. They get a little success back home and then they get a sense of entitlement. They come to America and turn into prima donnas. It’s like, ‘you’re playing in a shitty 200-person club that isn’t sold out. You don’t need to stay in a five-star hotel.’ I just don’t understand how some success does that to people. There’s no room for prima donnas in punk rock. I’m just fine with sleeping on a floor. That sort of stuff doesn’t matter. Comforts are nice, but they aren’t important. It seems like it’s usually the crew that needs all the creature comforts anyway, and I don’t want to go broke just because the crew wants to tour in luxury.

Chicago Innerview, January 2010

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