Premiere: Octopuses – "Not The Bees" EP

Octopuses saving bees? All will become clear once you listen to this neo-psychedelic-pop-rock band from Brighton.

Following from their debut album Yes Please, dynamic Brighton band Octopuses is back with their newest EP titled “Not The Bees”, premiering right here on Wonderland. Understandably their favourite track from the EP, the band recently released the video for their “Not The Bees” single on the 12th September. The clip sees them dressed as bees (duh) admidst bright cartoony backdrops, reminding us of good old Saturday morning cartoons. Seems cheerful enough right? Wrong. Behind the buzzy (pun intended) melody and catchy chorus, the band send about a very serious message. Words flash on the screen warning us about the importance of bees in our eco system and how their numbers are rapidly declining by the minute. They rightfully remind us just how crucial bees are for providing us with a variety of fruit and veg, and share some tips on what we can do to help, like recycling and planting all the plants! Their song has had a great response, trending on Twitter and being shared on social media by important do-gooders like Caroline Lucas, Rosario Dawson and Sussex Wildlife Trust, to name a few. If you like your pop stories served with a moral, Octopuses are the band for you.

On a more light-hearted note, you can definitely expect the same cheery, unintentionally 80s, pop infused sound from the rest of their energetic EP, set to release on the 30th September. The self-described neo-psychedelic-pop-rock group takes the time to chat with us about Octopi, neurotransmitters and rapping. Intrigued? You should be.

How would you describe your sound to us?

I’d say “neo psychedelic pop rock” covers about 90% of it. I think there’s also elements of Britpop and post-punk too. I sometimes have to simplify it down to “indie” when people ask me in real life.

What’s the story behind the name Octopuses? We love it!

The name originated in late-2012 due to myself thinking that “Octopi” was the correct pluralisation of “Octopus” and that “Octopuses” was a made-up nonsense word. The band was in its infancy and we thought that ‘Octopuses’ would make a good name for that reason. However, it later turned out that it was me who was wrong and that “Octopuses” was a much, much, more commonly accepted plural. However, the name stuck and we like it (particularly as it comes with its own ironic story as a bonus).

There’s a sort of 80s vibe to this EP, would you say that you’re influenced by the decade? What are your main musical influences?

Everyone in the band was born during the 80s (ranging from 1981 to 1987) and so I guess it must have rubbed off on us. I’m not sure if the 80s vibe is intentional though – it’s probably got a lot to do with Adam Bell’s Yamaha keyboard. I can’t remember much of the 80s really… I grew up in the 1990s so I think the first bands I can remember liking were Blur and Oasis (yes, both of them, it was possible at the time if you were nine years old) and my favourite CD was a Sound of the Seventies compilation.. It might be different for the more senior members of the band though. I do know that Adam has always been very into the La’s and the Stone Roses because I’ve seen the posters he has of them.

I’d say that some of our shared influences include Weezer (our first gig was at a Weezer tribute night), The Flaming Lips, Super Furry Animals, Pixies, Pulp, Pavement, They Might Be Giants, Tame Impala, Mac DeMarco and Apples in Stereo. Rob Grice wears a Slint t-shirt an awful lot, so I’ll throw them in too. It’s tricky to say as the whole band have rather diffuse tastes in music. I myself like a lot of hardcore punk but that doesn’t really find its way into the band’s sound (I think most other members are very glad about this).

What kind of songs can we expect from your “Not The Bees” EP?

In addition to the eponymous “Not The Bees” there’s also tracks about longing for a neurotransmitter, the downfall of a King (possibly a metaphor), and contrasting (positive/negative) psychological responses towards feeling in love. A real emotional roller coaster!

What’s your favourite track off of the EP and why?

My favourite track off of the EP is “Not The Bees” itself. I know this is a lame answer but it’s true… My second favourite is The King’s Lament. There’s just something about it.

How would you say this EP differs from your debut album, Yes Please?

It’s more concise, and a little more “twee” in my opinion. I think the latter is because it includes many of the first songs we wrote, although they’ve since been refined closer to our current style. They’re all songs I’m very fond of!

Your style of singing comes across as quite conversational/fast talking – would you agree or are we completely off? How would you describe your singing style?

Nope, I think that’s right. I initially rapped many of my vocal parts, but in my own voice, so it kind of ended up sounding quite “talky”. I’ve heard a bizarre range of comparisons in terms of my style and voice, including Stephen Malkmus, Mark E. Smith, Ian Curtis, Jez from Peep Show and Ed Miliband… I guess it’s possible to sound a bit like all of them… I don’t do much “proper” singing (I’ve not got a very wide vocal range) but Adam and Alan Odgers provide that in spades! I think the combination of different vocal styles works well. Rob sings a lot of the backing vocals and the other Grice (Alan) is a very able singer but is too busy playing the drums.

Your lyrics are quite cheeky and fun, how do you go about writing lyrics and music?

Thanks, the cheekiness and fun-ness are intentional, I think… When we practice the vocals are often improvised on the spot (we tend to jam). We usually then go away and work on the lyrics for our respective vocal parts, although sometimes they’re left as they are.

Which artist/s would be your dream collaborator?

Personally speaking, probably Jarvis Cocker. Maybe Henry Rollins (for the lols).

If your music was the soundtrack of a movie, what kind of movie would it be?

I’d guess probably a comedy-drama with an indie-laden soundtrack. Possibly about a stoner. As this is imaginary I should think of something more aspirational but nothing else comes to mind right now.

Got any exciting plans for the future?

We’re in the process of recording a second album right as we speak. There’s also a UK tour-shaped glint in our eyes..

Mariah Rosslee
Premiere: Octopuses - "Not The Bees" EP

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