Brothers in Arms
On Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever, the Cribs — a toe-tapping, holler-along trio from Wakefield (you’ve never heard of it for a reason), U.K. — meld their small-town influences and punk-rock heart with pop sensibilities. Aided by Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, who produced their third release (first stateside), the result is an indie gem in which the band has cheeky fun with hometown references and makes sport of such subjects as love, partying and the cult of celebrity.
The band, comprising the Jarman brothers — twins Gary (bass and vocals) and Ryan (guitar and vocals) and younger bro Ross (drums) — has been busy with a summer-festival schedule that began with Coachella, where, according to Gary, whom we reached by phone in Ireland the day before the band would play the Oxygen festival, “there were annoying celebrities hanging around backstage and riding around in their golf buggies.”
Apparently the Cribs have some issues with fame: For example, their track “Moving Pictures” laments “fakes, liars and stars of moving pictures/What’s the difference?” They are always careful to separate themselves from what they see as a misguided path taken by fellow musicians who make rock stardom top priority.
“A lot of supposed indie bands in the U.K. are trying to invest in the trends and what’s popular to become famous. That’s never been a goal for us,” says Jarman. “Fame is just a byproduct of good music. The two things go hand in hand, but it’s not what we’re looking for and never what we expected.”
Besides, Jarman says that because the band is a family affair, there’s little chance any of them would get away with developing a big head. “None of us have an ego problem. You can never act like a rock star, because one of your brothers would cut you down straight away.”
Despite their modest ambitions, even a short stint of small-venue shows surrounding the big stage appearance in Indio last May didn’t go completely unnoticed. Thanks to an avid online following, infectious melodies and charming lyrics, the reception given the Cribs made them feel like genuine rock stars.
“We were really surprised how well the tour went, because we hadn’t released an album in America. The fans were so cool, way better than we imagined,” says Jarman. “It was more organic, more DIY. It’s just important to build on good grass-roots values.”
The band’s current American tour will give them a chance to build their fan base from the ground up. In Britain they’re popular enough to sell out larger venues, but here in the States they’re banking on Men’s Needs . . .to give them a foothold as they work for recognition. But rather than viewing the journey through the small-club circuit as the plight of struggling artists, they’re looking forward to intimate crowds.
“When we first came out with the record in the U.K., we did strings of small shows, but after a while it got a bit out of hand. Now in America, we can do small shows again the way things were,” Jarman says.
They should enjoy the relative anonymity while they can; their catchy tunes are likely to land friendly on American ears, and then there’s a spot on this summer’s Lollapalooza bill awaiting them. In the meantime, catch them up close and personal — the way they like it.
The Cribs play the Troubadour, Tues., July 24.
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