“I’m done with d*ckheads trying to sell me rainbows and unicorns.”
© Trust a Fox Photography
It’s a Baltic winter’s night in Manchester, with not a lot of people on the streets considering it’s 6PM on Friday of the working week. It seems as if refuge has been quickly sought out by well-weathered Mancunians who are piled into the Northern Quarter bars & pubs that offer warmth & atmosphere, usually at the cost of an Open Wallet Surgery IPA.
Such establishment is the historic Night & Day cafe, that is still closed to punters whilst David Scott AKA ARGH KiD & band complete their soundcheck on stage. It’s been a busy year for them since forming as a band in late 2018, which saw them sell out every headline show in 2019 – as well as the release of 2 singles & an EP. Despite their busy schedule, however, they are more than happy to take the time to talk.
Dave introduces the rest of the band as they briefly nip in and out during the interview: Ian Barber on bass, Hayley Youell on vocals & Jim Adnitt on drums, described as “Like Wu-Tang Clan!” – they are prepared but relaxed ahead of their final headline show of the year.
© Trust a Fox Photography
I wanted to start by talking about your songwriting process – is it a case of you and the band creatively working together on ideas, or do you write the songs yourself?
Initially, it’d start with poems, but I’ve always written them to a melody so I know how I wanted things to sound. I’ve got quite an eclectic taste in music, so I’d find samples from stuff like Ethiopian jazz & old school hip-hop that we really like the sound of, and we’d organically work together to put our own spin on it. As it’s moved forward, we’ll just jam the ideas out. There’s a track we’re working on at the moment, and I said to Jim (Drums) “can you just play 150 bpm” and it wasn’t quite right, because I can hear the songs in my head – I know it sounds bat shit crazy! – But we eventually got what we wanted and then I hummed a bassline to Ian (Bass) asking if he could do something like that, and then it was like Peter Hook was in the fucking room. It was exactly how I wanted it to be, and it grew from there. But really there hasn’t been one set way in which we’ve written the songs, which I quite like because if you’ve got multiple ways of coming at it then I think that your content grows quicker than it does if you’re sat down concentrating on one chord or whatever.
You mentioned your eclectic taste in music, which really shows on your recent EP ‘Derelict Dreams’ as it goes from jazz hip-hop to almost post-punk. Is it intentional for you to do something completely different each time?
Because I come at it with the lyrics first, which I think is quite a rarity as I think most bands start with a melody – I try to create the sound that would suit the story of the song. For example ‘Beige Boy’ is quite Sigur Ros influenced and contemplative. ‘Reunion’ is about a father that abandoned you so it had to be that (Dave clicks his hands angrily) sort of thing. With ‘Tearaways’ I grew up on 90’s hip-hop so it is the soundtrack to my youth. I’ve never been one to try and fit into a box, I try to work where every song is a story. I’m trying to get away from that slightly to be a bit more abstract. But at the moment it’s basically to create a backdrop to the stories.
‘Reunion’ is my favourite song of yours, with the bassline acting as the pulse, what’s the story behind it?
Ian: It’s somewhere between Roots Manuva & The Fall.
Dave: The bassline was inspired by my cousin who passed away recently, he was a music archive producer for the BBC. His music knowledge was unbelievable, and he found this bassline that was originally used on Dr Who & ‘Witness’ by Roots Manuva and said “you should do something with this.” and so we did.
I came across your music via Twitter, where you are very active. How much do you think that it has contributed to your career?
I would quite simply not have a career if it wasn’t for Twitter. Because the poetry circle is so saturated and there are gigs every night of the week; how do you become a name in that sort of thing? I never got into twitter with that ambition, it just came hand in hand. The pseudonym ‘ARGH KiD’ was my handle from open mic nights, because ‘David Scott’ doesn’t really stand out does it? So I started using ‘ARGH KiD’ which has been a bit of a gift and a curse. It’s great for marketing & branding because it stands out, but sometimes people think we might be an Oasis parody. I like to disappoint them when they expect four lads in parkas – I like parkas as much as the next Mancunian – but we’re far from playing that kind of stuff.
This next question is quite a big one: Who would you say is your most influential lyricist?
You can have two.
Ok. I think purely because I like the structure of inner rhymes as well as having something to say, that Eminem is a huge influence. I think that his music has fallen off a little bit, but to keep it going for 20 years, especially with the content that he was writing about, that’s always been an influence. And a little bit closer to home I’d have to say Morrissey pre-dickhead years.
He’s always been a dickhead!
Yeah, but he wasn’t always a racist dickhead! You can get by with certain levels of it. That track we just sound-checked, “Dickhead DNA” there’s a third verse where I was like “can I go at Morrissey? Is it possible to do that?” So yeah, both of them. Ask me in a few weeks though, it’ll change every time.
What are your plans for the near future?
We’re going out on tour in Jan/Feb around the UK all the way down to Cornwall. The band is getting bigger with a brass section and violinist playing tonight – it’s come together like fucking Voltron in The Transformers but that’s because they’re the right fit personally and professionally. We can go up to a seven-piece or down to me and a DJ, but that’s because we’re all playing from the same page; all love the tunes and having a laugh with it and that’s what I mean about labels – it has to be the right one. When I first started I was approached by some and thought that was it, the be-all and end-all… and it really isn’t. Fingers were burnt, lessons were learnt. I know what I want from a label and what I am able to do independently. I’m talking to a few but I’m becoming more precious and less trusting as the momentum builds – I’ve poured so much into this I can’t allow it to be dealt with by the wrong hands. I’m done with dickheads trying to sell me rainbows and unicorns.
So you recently became a presenter with BBC Radio Manchester, how is that going?
I’m loving it. I never expected myself to want a radio show – I don’t choose the music, it’s just BBC playlists – but it’s nice that they recognised me and wanted me on. It came about after the Manchester International Festival in the summer; they saw me play and then invited me in to ask if I wanted the radio show. And I tried to be quite cool with it, but inside I was like “fucking yeah, damn right!” We’re 7 or 8 shows in now, but I have to drive the desk as well and it’s like Star Trek. It’s hard to do whilst talking at the same time. But yeah, I’m enjoying it.
Argh Kid tour January/February 2020…