Proto Idiot have been peddling their own cheeky mash-up of ‘60s garage and ‘70s glam for almost a decade. Originally a solo project from The Hipshakes guitarist Andrew Anderson, Manchester’s latterday answer to The Kinks and The Softboys are now a trio. Now with drummer Callum Trent D’Arley and bassist Michael Floyd Seal in tow, they’ve just released the album ‘For Dummies’ and are about to hit the road with ‘60s legends Love.
Anderson tells us about the new LP, performing as a pirate at a child’s party, which band member dribbles in his sleep, and finding inspiration in ‘The Simpsons’.
Everyone always says their latest album is their best. So why is ‘For Dummies’ your best album?
Before this LP the band was a one-man project. Now we have three of the greatest minds in music history on the case. As Lou Reed and Metallica proved, supergroups are always great.
How would you compare ‘For Dummies’ to your previous work?
It has more dynamic range, better vocals, and lyrics with more than one syllable per word. It is still cruddy, though.
What one song on ‘For Dummies’ best sums up what the band’s about?
‘Real Boy’. It combines pop, punk, and questioning/yearning lyrics. A friend of mine always used to write songs with lyrics-as-questions and I’ve ripped that idea off ever since. It also has a certain innocence and honesty. I’ve seen people say we’re very self aware, which could sound like we’re not serious… but the feelings are definitely authentic, silly or otherwise.
‘I’ll Never Know’ is the second Proto Idiot track inspired by the TV series ‘Porridge’. In what way?
“I’m on the lam, I’m on the stretch, I’m deforming and soon there will be nothing left” was about the bit where they run away from the prison. I really like ‘Porridge’.
Have any other TV shows inspired your songs?
We watch a lot of ‘The Simpsons’ circa 1990 to 1999. I’m sure that it filters into our sound and aesthetic, but it would probably take someone outside the band to point out exactly how – and I’m sure everyone has better things to do with their time than analyse that.
Are the songs as fun to write, record, and perform as they sound? Or does it take a lot of work to make things sound so effortless?
I think if we’re not having fun then it wouldn’t sound fun. We don’t practice very much and we change songs quite quickly – things don’t tend to stay in the set for very long… and when we have to play ones people know – like ‘Real Boy’, for example – we end up resenting the songs pretty quickly. The fact that both Mike and Callum are amazing musicians makes it all much easier, and means I can piss around and make mistakes.
What does Proto Idiot let you do that you can’t in your other bands?
Proto Idiot lets me play stupid stuff for fun, without worrying that it might be more comic than cool.
What do you each bring to the band – personality wise and musically?
Callum brings funny voices and an editor’s eye for musical simplicity. Mike brings handsomeness and actual honest-to-god musical talent. I bring silliness in all dimensions.
Who is the biggest idiot in the band?
Who is the bigger idiot – the idiot that creates the idiot band or the idiots that join an idiot band? It’s an eternal question that can’t be answered here… Having said that, the real answer is Callum because he dribbles on himself when he sleeps – see our Instagram for proof.
In the video for ‘Better Version’ you dress up as a cowboy, pirate, and spaceman. How did you decide who wore what?
Mike basically wore what he wears in everyday life – he’s an urban cowboy. I recently performed at a children’s party as a pirate, so that took care of itself. And Callum likes being urinated on, so his waterproof suit made perfect sense.
You’re touring with Love later this month. Do you have a favourite Love song?
Our fave is ‘My Flash On You’ which we will be covering on the trip.