YORK alt-rockers Bull close out their breakthrough year with a new digital EP.
Out now on EMI Records in conjunction with York label Young Thugs, it combines the new title track with Bull’s three 2020 singles: the fuzz-rocking Disco Living, the noisy pop of Bonzo Please and the summer high of Green.
Billed as a “brilliant slice of indie maximalism”, Love Goo hooks sweet pop melodies onto a ramshackle jangle rock template, with spritely xaphoon lines (a kind of pocket saxophone), tin whistle and piano to the fore.
“It’s a song about getting along with people,” explains wry-humoured Bull songwriter and singer Tom Beer. “It looks at my relationship with my family as well as my own feelings of ‘sticky love goo’, when thinking about people in my life and from my childhood.
“It’s about the difference between people, universal truth, gender fluidity, peace and love, understanding and all of that stuff.”
Tom penned Love Goo in 2018. “It’s one of my more recent songs on our upcoming album, in fact it’s the newest one on there. Out of the 13 songs, it’s the freshest,” he says. “It was written before all of what’s gone on this year but that now adds to it.
“It’s probably the happiest song I’ve ever written and I’m so happy to have written it. It’s both a reminder of why I wrote it, to make myself a better person and to be positive, and it’s nostalgic too, reflecting on people in my life and people I love.
“One of the reasons it sounds so good and comes across so well is that we recorded it maybe only a month after I wrote it.”
Contributing to Loo Goo’s happy disposition is the xaphoon, the aforementioned pocket saxophone. “It was ‘advertised’ to me on Facebook thanks to the wonders of algorithms; I showed it to [lead guitarist] Dan Lucas’s dad, Ross, who very kindly bought it for me for Christmas,” recalls Tom.
“We’d never thought of using it on any other song – though there may be a toot on Bonzo Please – but it suited Love Goo.”
Bull have made not one, but two videos to accompany Love Goo. “We started off making one video after our bassist, Kai West, bought a VHS camera for £6. It came with all the tape, so we thought, ‘we’ve got everything we need, let’s film while we’re on tour’,” says Tom, as they headed off to Amsterdam for shows with Dutch group Canshaker Pi.
“Kai’s idea was to take lots of two-second clips, tiny little snippets of whatever we were doing, for a song with a ‘Jing Jing’ rhythm to it. It’s simple but effective in what it does, showing us knocking about on tour, starting with getting on a train at York station, taking a ferry from Newcastle, playing the Dutch shows and coming back for our UK tour, playing Bristol and Manchester in the days when we could tour.”
Love Goo video number two has just been recorded, filmed against a blue screen backdrop, in the manner of Curtis Mayfield’s Seventies’ shows “before they were going to add all the hippy stuff”. “Keeping it on the blue screen, it looks like we’re floating in this crazy space,” says Tom.
The Love Goo EP closes a year when Bull became the first York band to sign to a major record label since Nineties’ chart regulars Shed Seven. “2020 has been a mixed bag, but I think I can say it’s been a good year for us, in as far as how well it could have gone under the circumstances,” says Tom.
“We’ve done a lot of good things; we’ve finished our album; we’ve just done our live-streamed Christmas gig, the Snow Global Tour show we filmed at Reel Recording Studio in Elvington.
“We’ve made lots of videos; we’ve designed the album sleeve – and we’ve written lots of songs, progressing towards the next album.
“In a normal year, we’d have had the usual stresses of touring, though the other side has been great, but of course I’ve missed touring, seeing people, as everyone has, but it could have been worse.”
Looking ahead, the album is scheduled for March release and a tour is booked in for April for Beer, Lucas, West and drummer Tom Gabbatiss. “We’ve decided to go ahead, even if the gigs have to be socially distanced. We’ll be headlining at The Crescent [in York] and we’re going to play Leeds Brudenell Social Club, which is a dream come for me. It’s my favourite venue,” says Tom.
His wish for next year will strike a chord with everyone as the pandemic refuses to back down. “I just kinda hope that the vaccine really gets going and everyone gets it and we can all start moving on again,” he says.
Copyright of The Press, York