In 2010, Allo Darlin’ transcended the indiepop scene and, in their self-titled LP, released one of the debuts of the year. Full of heartfelt lyrics on love, loss and life, magical melodies and whimsical instrumentation flourishes, it proved that fun and emotional weight aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Having spent the latter part of 2011 in the studio working on album number two, the forthcoming Europe, Allo Darlin’ are now ready for their comeback. But before the wheels of the promotional train get fully rolling, frontwoman Elizabeth Morris found time to talk to No Ripcord’s Joe Rivers about album plans, the perils of being an up and coming band in the 21st Century, and what happens when you have a difference of opinion with a journalist on Twitter
It’s been 18 months since the first album was released, what have you and the band been up to in the meantime?
It feels like such a long time! We’ve toured in America four times and around Europe twice. We travelled about 12,000 miles on the second trip, which in its own way very much shaped this new album. Plus, lots of shows in London and around the UK, some festivals like Indietracks and End of the Road, and making a new album!
How are preparations for the new album coming along? It’s got a release date; does that mean all the songs are now in the bag?
Oh yes, all the songs are done, we’re finalising the artwork as we speak and then it’s off to the manufacturers. This last weekend we’ve been recording some covers for a bonus disc, which has been loads of fun.
What can people expect from the new album? Do you feel it’s a progression from the first record?
It’s very much a progression in terms of effort and sound – the first album was written very quickly and recorded even faster and we’d only been a band for a couple of months. I feel like my songwriting has come along quite a bit, and as a band we know much more what we’re about now. We listen to each other and play off each other quite a lot.
I think Europe is more of an album to listen to in one go than our first record; the songs are interconnected. We also took a lot longer to record it, and we were more considered about things. Basically we took our time about it trying to get it right!
Are you looking forward to going out on tour?
Always! For me, playing the songs to people is the whole point. We all get a kick out of playing live and I think we’re getting better at it all the time. We love it.
On the first album, many of the lyrics paint you as an old-fashioned romantic. Do you think that’s a fair assessment and are you attracted to the idea of nostalgia?
I am certainly a romantic, although I find it hard to think of many songwriters who aren’t. Certainly all my favourite ones are, like Jonathan Richman or Lou Reed or Cole Porter. Even if you’re writing about politics or ideals, those are big romantic topics! Well, my idea of romance anyway. All the songwriters I’m friends with are big romantic suckers.
There’s also a recurring lyrical theme about job dissatisfaction and lack of money – is that something that chimes with your own experiences?
Is there? I can only think of two songs that mention lack of money, Silver Dollars and Europe, but maybe there are more I’m forgetting. Well the answer is, ‘yes’. These days if you choose to be a musician in an indie band, you are choosing a life where money is scarce. But you know, we could stop if it got too hard, so I try not to complain about it. We get to do some pretty amazing things and we’re grateful for those.
Do all the members of Allo Darlin’ have other jobs to make ends meet? If so, is it frustrating that you can’t put all the time into the band that you’d like?
Yes, we all have jobs to pay the bills. Obviously they can’t be proper jobs – not many employers are happy for their employees to be on tour three months a year, so we get what work we can.
Last week, you became embroiled in a minor Twitter argument with journalist Simon Price over his use of the term, ‘twee’. You called the word “misogynist and homophobic” – what makes you think that when it’s a word often used to describe a particular kind of music?
To be clear about it, I certainly wasn’t calling this Simon Price guy homophobic or a misogynist. I wanted to ask our Twitter followers what they thought about the word twee, because most bands in our indie pop scene are called it, even bands that are clearly rocking like Shrag or The Wave Pictures. There’s something unpleasant about it, and it goes back to the days of The Pastels being called ‘limp-wristed’ by the mainstream British press. I think when people use the word ‘twee’, what they’re actually referring to is that they think this kind of music isn’t macho. Somewhere along the line the idea came along that bands had to have this kind of swagger. I mean The Stones are a great band, but ultimately bands that are influenced by The Velvet Underground are more interesting than bands influenced by The Stones!
So, would you prefer not to be labelled twee by writers and journalists?
Well, yes, of course. It’s such an overused word, it’s lazy to use it and it puts people off unfairly. Most of the time I think it’s a sign of bad writing.
What are your hopes and dreams for Allo Darlin’ in 2012?
You know, I don’t really have hopes and dreams for us this year. I kind of feel like where we are is beyond what I ever imagined. I hope people like the new album, I hope we play some great shows and with some other great bands. I hope we keep getting better. That’s it, I think!