Thread Pulls interview

by Daniel McAuley

Dispensing with guitarists and lead singers altogether, Thread Pulls are a rogue rhythm section
who specialise in hypnotic beats and twisting, droning melodies. Somehow mixing Eastern-tinged
trumpet loops with what could nearly be described as disco drums, Gavin Duffy [bass, vocals,
trumpet] and Peter Maybury [drums, synths] explore what happens when music isn’t saturated with
big, brash noise and where they can get into minute detail about the sounds they’re tinkering with.
This is music that twirls you into a stupor and then drops you down, only for you to discover that
you’ve been drooling on yourself. I talked with Peter right before their show in Amsterdam.

Your new album is called New Thoughts, why the title? Would that imply that it’s a departure
from previous songs?

Yeah, I guess. It comes from the lyrics of one of the tracks and it seemed to fit well with the record,
I suppose. Thread Pulls was originally a three piece and I was playing bass and synths and Gavin was
playing guitars and vocals and then the drummer left and I went back to the drums, which was the
instrument I used to play anyway. Then Gavin moved to the bass and started playing trumpet and
experimenting with adding trumpet loops in with the vocals and I added some synth sounds and so
the new sound came out of the necessity actually because we were two instead of three I suppose.

How long have the songs on the album been in gestation?

The material on the album came from playing songs live in 2008/2009 and then we recorded most
of it in five days last October and then spent five months in down time working on the mixes and
y’know, pushing the sound of the record as far as we could.

Where did you record it and who produced it?

We recorded it just in our rehearsal space. Set up the stuff as per normal and there’s a good friend
of mine, Stephen Quinn, who used to make electronic music as Iquinn, he also has a mastering
studio called Analog Heart and he has a really special talent, great pair of ears and some great
microphones. He just set up a whole load of mics around the room and we recorded everything and
then did some vocal overdubs and trumpet parts.

Considering you’re essentially just a rhythm section how would you typically construct a song?
I’d imagine it’d be limiting in a lot of respects but also perhaps easier. Would that be the case?

Well, it’s a lot easier to organise rehearsals. In terms of writing we just set up the gear and play,
really. But having such a reduced line-up, the biggest benefit is that it makes you think about every
sound you make from the very start. When the drummer left and we set up again we thought okay,
we’ll rearrange the songs and start from there, but of course there was much more involved than
that. One of the first things I realised was that, with that kind of reduced line-up, cymbals make
loads of noise and they fill up the space really fast, so I said okay, I’ll get rid of those and that was
the process and it just means you’re much more conscious about every note and every sound and
you have loads of space to work with so it’s a very nice sonic space to work with. Gavin might start
playing something on the trumpet or maybe I’d play something on the drums, then he plays along,
he might make a loop on the trumpet and then maybe I’d try something on a synthesizer. It’s all very
spontaneous. Usually we’d hit on an idea, record it very roughly, come back to it a week later if it’s
worth it and play it out a few more times and the structure comes pretty fast. It’s all pretty easy and

Your sound is very rhythmically based, would there be any drummers for you who had an
influence on that?

He’s not very fashionable, but his name is Bill Bruford. He was in a load of bands that people don’t
like. He was in Yes and King Crimson. You would need a lot of patience to listen to a lot of that
music, but I think he was very influential on me in the sense that he had a very radical approach to
drumming. Several times in his career he just completely reinvented the kit he was using and in a
similar way, he was always about paring back the sound he was playing and was about playing less
rather than more and that was in a genre where people were playing more rather than less and I
found that very interesting. It was more his approach than anything else.

What’s been your favourite gig?

Well, at the moment, last night was my favourite gig. We played in this place which was a squat,
it’s called Poortgbouw in Rotterdam. It’s this amazing building that spanned a bridge and was three
or four storeys high and about thirty people live there; it’s kind of a commune really. There’s just a
really nice venue there and we just had a really fantastic show. Just from a musical point of view, I
think that was a real stand-out.

Thread Pulls’ album New Thoughts is out. Go get it at Osaka Recordings. Daniel McAuley plays in sonic confusion-mongers Cloud Castle Lake.