London duo Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr are back with a second Thumpers album, 'Whipped & Glazed' - it's a record partly born from anxiety and the fallout from a poorly handled break up.
Hey Marcus, how's it going?
We've just ended about five months of super intense work getting the record finished and everything else (artwork, photos, videos, etc. ahh!) so having a brief moment of switching off now we've told everyone about the record. Today’s been alright, but the heat in London is intense, and everyone’s a bit fight-y.
So what’ve you guys been up to since your debut, apart from recording new music?
Can’t speak for all of that time, but one thing was I made a big fuss of moving one mile down the road in London. In my defence, though, I had lived in Bethnal Green for ten years, and holy shit has it changed in that time. Sometimes it’s easy to feel very left behind by that. How arrogant, in a way! Like everything is a personal vendetta. Anyway, since we turned the anxiety about that into the inspiration for ‘Boundary Loves’ it all worked out okay. I mean, obviously, this record has taken a long time to get realised, and we did a lot of soul-searching after 'Galore' before we really made headway with what we wanted to do with it. We felt a bit conflicted with how things turned out on that run, so we had to make quite a few changes and make some big decisions to get where we are today.
Your new album’s called ‘Whipped & Glazed’, which sounds a bit rude. What does it mean?
Yeah, I guess we hope it does sound rude. If it seems like it’s a bit about food, a bit about sex and a bit about some very uneven and unstable relationships, then that feeling is pretty on the money.
The press release we have sat here says you guys are returning with “a darker worldview” - is the album a bit sad too?
The overall change from what we’ve done before is probably that this album is more self-aware. We let our insecurities take over after touring the first album - I think a lot of musicians do - and that could have crushed us. Instead, we used them and worked them into what we were writing. In fact, we let being bothered by various anxieties become amusing and sad at the same time. Having a meltdown because you don’t know why you can’t stop following your ex-girlfriend on her ice cream date with her new boyfriend? Funny/sad. Being in awe of gargantuan men and also finding them ridiculous? Similar. An outlook like that picked us up when we needed it most.
Is ‘Gargantua’, your comeback track from last year on the record? Why was that one chosen to lead with?
I think it probably set out the furthest point on this new record from our previous sound, which is what we wanted. It’s more stripped back and darker in tone. But some of the pop elements are still there from the music we’d made before. And the rhythms are still driving it all. We wanted to shock you.
You’ve said ‘Gargantua’ is about hypermasculinity, and second new track ‘Boundary Loves’ is about other male insecurities - is gender of particular interest to you?
Our thinking about it for this album came from an accusation during a break-up - “you’re such a man.” And that was a painful surprise. It wasn’t exactly a stereotype I thought I fit and I guess the resulting theme on the album was exploring what that person could’ve meant by that. I mean, is it all bad?! I hope not. But the insult still stings because this is a fucked up, unequal world when it comes to gender and I don’t want to be any part of that. So the words come from a self-flagellating place for sure, even the ones which seem more light-hearted have their demons. It’s not the only focus of the album, but it was definitely a new question to address.
In what ways do you think ‘Whipped & Glazed’ is a step up from your debut?
Well, first of all, it’s more direct - lyrically yeah, but also in terms of sounds. We wanted to make this an album that had one eye on how we would play it live, and we knew from the beginning we wanted to focus on drums, samples and guitar more as a core starting point. For better or worse, that means there’s no hiding here, and so far that’s made for wilder gigs, no question, because there’s no choice but to channel the songs somewhere. The instrument parts can’t be played without conviction because they wouldn’t work that way. Similarly, with the words - they want a reaction.
How would you like the album to make listeners feel?
Enjoyably conflicted. I think that’s where we finally got to. Being torn is a feeling that anyone can recognise. It’s a painful place to be sometimes, but when you’re not alone in it, then it's something that's greater to share and maybe even wallow in.
What else have you got going on this year? Can we expect lots of touring?
Finishing more music... lots of shows, yes... reconnecting with everyone too. We’ve got a lot of the world to reintroduce ourselves to.
Taken from the August issue of Dork - order a copy below. Thumpers' album 'Whipped & Glazed' is out 1st September.