United Fruit formed back when MySpace was a thing, released their debut album Fault Lines back in 2011, and have been well known to a fervent throng of fans in their native Scotland ever since.
But their Smashing Pumpkins-indebted alt.rock might not be familiar to all, and with the band gearing up to release sophomore record Eternal Return this weekend (May 13), Alex Nelson sat down with bassist Marco Panogopoulos to talk DIY tours, playing to your own ideals, and being “very very f*cking loud”:
Hi Marco! Just as a brief introduction, what’s the story behind the band? How did you all come to be United Fruit?
“We all met at a party that one of our mutual friends was throwing. I’d met Iskander and Stuart before and I was friends with the guy who was hosting the party, so we got chatting and we discovered – as you do over various alcoholic beverages – that our love of specific bands was very similar.
“Normally a lot of these kinds of conversations don’t hold any weight, but we ended up getting in touch with each other through MySpace at the time – that’s how long ago it was – and we booked a jam.
“From then we just started writing tunes, and before we knew it we had enough content for an album and an EP.
“After that we practised for about 10 months, and we just kept on refining, and trying to hone our sound so there was continuity; it wasn’t all just like a bunch of different types of tracks mushed together.
“Then we booked our first gig at Bar Bloc in Glasgow, and we’ve been playing ever since!”
For anyone who’s never heard the band, how would you describe yourselves and why should people check you out?
“A lot of people say we’re quite similar to Sonic Youth; that kind of angular and discordant sort of stuff, but we’ve got a lot more of a solid pop structure too.
“Before [new album] Eternal Return the songs were more linear and would just progress on to different parts. Now we try to be a bit more clever with it and keep the songs a little bit more well rounded and keep a continuity going within the songs.
“Smashing Pumpkins are a good comparison – that kind of decent solid groove and a thick, heavy sound, but one that’s not quite metal if you know what I mean; it’s heavy but in a more alternative way.
“We tend to have a bit more of a sonic similarity to other bands like …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Hot Snakes, that kind of thing.
“So it’s quite punky but a little bit more colourful and not as dark as punk music. If you’re a fan of intense, high-beat or up-tempo kind of music with a good energy to it, then I think we’d be a perfect choice if you’re going on a drive somewhere.”
Your new album Eternal Return comes out this week (May 13). What can people expect from it and how is it different to the first release you put out?
“The first release we put out was very much down the kind of nasty, discordant and angular route. With this record we wanted it to be almost like we were honing the sound and stopping it from going as crazy as it did on the first record, and directing it and diverting it in a specific direction.
“I feel like we still have those nasty, discordant elements, but they’re draped in a different type of colour in the music; it’s more juxtaposed in a more intelligent kind of way to the unhinged ferocity of the first album. We wanted it to be a little bit more interesting; pointed in a specific direction as opposed to just spraying in every direction.”
It’s been quite a while since your first album Fault Lines. Was there a conscious decision to take things slower on this next one?
“It wasn’t really a conscious effort because we wanted to release something quite quickly after the first album but with money and time and things we never got much of an opportunity.
“We spent a lot of time touring in Europe and booking tours ourselves and doing it very DIY. So I think we leaned in that direction but didn’t really focus too much on the recording aspect of it.
“We actually recorded [Eternal Return] about a year and a half ago, so we’ve been sitting on it a little while, just because we’re not an incredibly well known band so we thought it’s not going to make any difference if we just sit on the recordings a wee while and we have a little bit of content to release when the opportunity’s right.
“Then our team started to grow; we got booking agents, management and things like that and it started to feel more like the right time to release the record.
“Even though there were no labels that were necessarily interested, in a way we were OK with that, because it gave us full creative control and meant we could really work for our own ideals.”
You’ve got a small Scottish tour coming up. What can people expect from the live shows?
“A lot of energy: one thing that we’re told a lot is that we have a very energetic live show with lots of passion. Blood, sweat and tears so to speak!
“You can expect it to be very very f**king loud as well to be honest; we’ve been told that in the past too – we don’t notice it anymore because our ears are shot.
“But yeah you can expect a loud, ferocious and energetic live show.”
With regards to the future, what can we expect from United Fruit?
“We’ve got stuff planned for the next record already; we’ve got about three or four songs we’ve been working on and we’re planning on demoing it just after the summer and hopefully getting a new release out by the end of the year.
“Maybe an EP, maybe an album – not sure but we’ve got quite a lot of content we’ve been working on for a while so I think we’ll be releasing it in quite quick succession.
“It won’t be as long as wait as the first two…
Eternal Return is released May 13. United Fruit play the following dates:
May 12: Tunnels, Aberdeen
May 14: St Luke’s, Glasgow
May 15: Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh