Æ: Aglet Eaters

In Reverie: A Week with the Microdance

Posted in Discover, Feature by R on November 5, 2013

TMD/MTD

‘I’m in the best fucking band in London.’


Alex Keevill and I have known each other as physical beings for all of five minutes. We’re at King’s Cross Station where I’ve just come in on a train from Brussels for the last leg of my holiday. When my original plans for accommodation fell through, Alex offered me a roof, bed and kettle for my week in London.
He’s not being ironic when he makes the announcement. Alex genuinely believes that the Microdance are the best fucking band in London. Me, I refuse to give him the satisfaction of acknowledging anyone in this strange new town knows the Microdance at all.

We’ve ditched my stuff at the flat and found ourselves in a bar in Dalston on my first afternoon in the city. The girl behind the counter appears to be mildly hysterical and I can’t understand why. She bursts into giggles every time she looks at Alex.
It all started when she asked him: ‘Aren’t you…?’
‘Aren’t I what…?’ he asked back.
I didn’t hear her speak after that. All I saw were smiles and uncontrollable giggling.
‘What’s all that about?’ I ask him.
‘She knows me from the Microdance.’
‘So?’
‘So I’m Alex Keevill of the fucking Microdance!’
‘…so?’
‘So I bet she’ll give me a blowjob.’
‘I’ll go wait by the door.’

—-

TMD’s fifth EP – Yo Yo @ 26 – released this May to a daft amount of online publicity. It could be something to do with In At The Eye Records (their label – always useful to have one of those), or it could be something to do with how music blogs the world over seem to have the mad hots for them; this one wants to be them.

‘Yo Yo @ 26’ – the A-side – is a brazenly good track that, for its obvious brilliance, I very, very reluctantly love. Less song and more sonic tasting platter, it positively bursts with (a selection of…) disarming hooks. Good luck choosing a favourite moment.

My heart, however, is set on the B-side – ‘Devour’ is the warmest, fuzziest, breathiest, and possibly darkest, track they have. All introspection, acceptance, angst, and a little bit of sadness – I probably find myself in it.

—-

errybody look down

‘What you hear of us online is not wholly representative of the power of this band. Of course there’s enough there to get a feel for us but the recordings are all compromised for a variety of reasons. But I think time is the biggest one. We’re recording seven minute songs with dual guitars (and the rest!), synths and vocal harmonies in six hours! I’m by no means a natural singer; kind of like Deftones’ Chino isn’t. The difference being that he gets a month to do his vocals, I get an hour! That is also indicative of how the industry is changing. We’ll get there though’

—-

A couple of days later I’m sat on the floor surrounded by five pairs of legs at the Microdance’s rehearsal space on the north end of Brick Lane. Alex doesn’t allow me to melt into the wall, so I take a spot by Gavin’s feet, mesmerised by his pedal board. They do two run-throughs of the set they’ll be playing at the end of the week, cutting off ‘Devour’s feet so it can segue into ‘Goodbye Lily Laser’. The two blend flawlessly, but I’m not too happy about my pet being mistreated. Lily Laser then morphs into the noise fest that will close the set – a nameless monster affectionately called ‘Death Jam’.

I play them a video recording of their ‘performance’. Gavin says something about not realising they were that loud. It’s nonsense. Nothing’s loud to willing ears.

—-

‘I never played you my old bedroom recordings.’

We’re back home and Alex is mucking about with his laptop. He plays a track studded with the natural fuzz of isolation and echoes. It’s layered and textured and lonesome, with a burst of stark guitar. Before I can get a word out:

‘How great is that, eh? I wrote that when I was 22.’
‘It’s great.’ I parrot.
‘It’s that guitar, right? I mean just listen to it!’
He replays the solo. Then he tempers his statement.
‘I don’t play guitar as well as I used to, though. I haven’t played the guitar well for years now.’

Self-deprecation isn’t any more credible than self-aggrandisation. At the rehearsal I’d sat bewitched by song after seamless song punctuated by Alex calling himself and everyone else out on inaudible errors. Right now, he appears to be nothing but entirely honest and all I can do is wonder what ‘well’ sounds like.

There are more demos – demos that have been lying in wait for years. Demos that were recorded yesterday. ‘I wrote a new song!’ he declares every other day, and he plays it on the electric with elation so palpable it makes the room a little bit warmer. It’s always exceptional and it’s always frustrating because he already knows.

—-

‘It changed my life,’ he’s explaining the story behind his side project. ‘my own ideas of self-worth. Before it happened, I thought I was god. After, it was endless days of anxiety, self-doubt and fear.
‘Affirmative meditation has really helped me out. It’s basically just me reminding myself what an awesome bastard I am.’
‘That’s better than having drugs do it for you,’ I concede, understanding the philosophy behind the mantra.
‘It’s the reason I created Captain Keevill and his Darkest Horses. The songs that came out of it were too dark for the Microdance.’

It’s true. While The Microdance aren’t quite the shimmery twee-pop the name might lead you to expect, their songs are extroverted, audacious and sticky – the life of any party. CK + HDH would falter in a crowd but radiate eloquence when left alone. They’re not too keen on being at the party.

—-

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London is really tough on a band like us. On our day we give people no chance but to succumb, we overwhelm them and thankfully that is more regular now! But if we’re 20% off our game or the sound in the venue is not up to it, trying to convey this art, which is perhaps a little more complex and profound than what people are used to, can be very difficult – it gets lost on a lot of people. It’s not easy being in a band whose music is about flourishes of spirit and unexpected turns when the appreciation of music these days is largely based on expectation.

—-

We’re at the King’s Head Theatre where Adam Spreadbury-Maher has put together a spectacular production of A Tale of Two Cities. ‘Yo Yo @ 26’ and ‘We Are Made of Evil Things’ fill the room at curtain call. Alex introduces me to Carla – his friend and cousin – who asks me how I’m finding London.

‘It’s like any other city…’ I begin, tactlessly.
She’s not having it. She tells me there’s no other place like it in the world. She explains its culture and personality. She tells me London is beautiful.

Cities are never beautiful, but I don’t say that out loud. Cities are, by their very nature, ugly – loaded with crime, deceit, addiction, xenophobia and violence. Some cities are just better at putting up a front than others. London, I have no doubt, is as ugly as any other city in the world.
But I remedy my mistake and truthfully say I’ve loved everyone I’ve met.

—-

It’s my last evening in London. Bridget‘s come over with her pup, Eugene. Bridget is ex-Microdance and currently the other half of Captain Keevill and his Darkest Horses. We turn the lights down and they start to play. Eugene has sprawled himself across my lap, his head buried between my legs. I like to believe he senses my melancholy, though it’s more likely he’s found a willing slave to scratch his head. Bridget blows him kisses mid-song. The moon is full, and the sky uncharacteristically cloudless.

I think about what Carla said the night before and I find myself believing it.

In this moment – in tremolo evenings and lamplight – London is beautiful.

I think about what Alex said on my very first day, and, incredibly, I can believe that too.

The Microdance are the best fucking band in London.

—-

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