The Cribs have been an omnipresent not just throughout my adolescence and ascendance into adulthood, but for people like me spanning generations. It’s now 15 years since their debut The New Fellas was released, but unlike a lot of the bands that they were unfairly grouped with when they first appeared, Wakefield’s Jarman brothers are seven records deep and are riding higher than ever having recently headlined the First Direct Arena in a Leeds homecoming.
The Cribs, having earned themselves an almost cult like following, are currently enjoying a well-earned rest and taking some time off for the first time in what feels like forever. Far Out had the opportunity to enjoy a rare chat with the youngest of the three brothers, drummer Ross, who gave us the low-down on what’s going on right now in the wonderful world of The Cribs.
The three-piece haven’t played live in almost twelve months, an unheard statement by their standards, but Jarman explained what’s exactly been going on: “The band’s been on hiatus, we’ve just had a lot of stuff to sort out, like historic stuff, but it’s been nice having a year off since the band started we haven’t really had time off we’ve always been playing festivals.”
The drummer continued in his trademark Yorkshire twang with brutal honesty: “We’ve had a lot of offers from festivals this year that have been hard to turn down, but I feel like if you’re a band whose just around all the time doing festivals—and the same one—even to us it’s boring, so it must be boring for everyone else. We just needed to disappear for while so it never feels like a job or anything. That’s the thing y’know, just having some time at home and wanting to go out and gig because you feel the urge to do it rather than you have to do it. It’s different but I think it’s healthy for us y’know.”
It’s been two years since the band released their most recent album, the aptly titled 24/7 Rockstar Shit, which was recorded with Nirvana producer and poker player extraordinaire Steve Albini in New York in just one week. Jarman said that despite his reputation, Albini is someone who they found as one of the easiest people the band have ever worked with.
The sticksman pin-pointed just why the two click just so well: “If you want the Steve Albini sound or Steve Albini treatment then you’ve got to get into his way of working, then it works super easy and it did. He was probably one of the easiest people we’ve worked with really and he likes root beer and we like root beer too, so…”
Jarman pointed out: “I know that there’s a lot of other bands that want to go in [the studio] with Steve and work with him over a longer period of time but he’s not interested in that, if the band doesn’t sound good live he’s not interested in working with them. I know he’s got a reputation for being a prickly character but if you get on board with his way of working then it’s a really easy process.”
Steve Albini isn’t the only illustrious figure the band have worked with in their career so far, but there was one collaboration that I had a thirst to discover more about and that was with the legendary Lee Ranaldo. The Sonic Youth man performed a piece of his poetry on the track ‘Be Safe’ from the Wakefield band’s acclaimed third record and soon became a fan favourite.
“We found out around The New Fellas that Lee liked it and that was the record before the one we made with Lee,” The Yorkshireman detailed exclusively to Far Out, providing the full back-story to that beautiful piece of music and how it all came about. “Our manager knew him really well and we were actually doing some tracks in New York for the record and Lee was in town nearby, so basically we just threw it out there so Gary had a specific idea because he likes spoken word and Lee’s poetry books and thought that would work really well over the top so we did that and he came down. We all ordered bagels and I accidentally ate Lee’s bagel and felt bad about that.” he half joked.
That wasn’t a one off collaboration, however, with Ranaldo making a 14-hour round-trip trip on Ryanair to re-unite with the band at their historic show at Leeds Arena, which Jarman appreciated: “Since then, we’ve just stayed in touch, and we’re not ruling out working with Lee at any point in the future too because that was a good time. He flew over to do the show which was really fun because we never performed the song we did with him live. That was really cool, we booked his flight and he stayed over for the night then just went back and basically just come on for one song.”
Making records with rock royalty such as Lee Ranaldo, Steve Albini and Johnny Marr is one thing that the drummer gets joy from. Trying to delve a little deeper into his own life, moving away slightly from rock stars, our conversation takes an interesting off-piste turn as Jarman slips into his side passion of astronomy. Speaking about the subject with adoration throughout, Jarman admitting to me that he could talk about it all day and how it nearly got him arrested: “I’m on a hobby level but I think with being in a band you need something else, you find a lot of musicians have weird interests,” he said with renewed vigour.
He then told Far Out all about the dark side of astronomy, saying: “Funny story actually, this winter I was out and got into an incident with the Police and someone thought I was doing something bad with my telescope,” he began in his ever charming sense of calm when beginning a story. “As I was set up in a park, somebody called the Police. But by the end they joined in and were looking through the telescope and then the guy who originally called the Police came out with cups of tea. So it was me, with two police offers, drinking these cups of tea in this really dark park in Wakefield.”
Jarman’s love of astronomy couldn’t be anymore convenient with a brand-new festival coming to his hometown beginning this weekend, an event which blends music and astronomy together, The Race For Space. Celebrating 50 years since the moon landing, the festival will see Public Service Broadcasting perform on September 6th and Ross will be getting behind the decks on August 24th alongside Blur’s Dave Rowntree in the city’s re-furbished Market Hall.
This opportunity to be involved was one Jarman just couldn’t resist for obvious reasons, as he explains: “I reckon I’d have been there anyway, it’s literally down my street in two ways with it being down my street with it being Wakefield and it being exactly what I’m into.”
He may have swapped the drum kit for a laptop recently but don’t expect to see him far away from the live stage for much longer, hinting at new music saying: “We’ve got some really exciting stuff planned that I’m not allowed to mention just yet but it’s exciting.”
Jarman also gave hope for Cribs fans at another one of their fabled massive gigs in Leeds next year as we reminisced on their huge outdoor show which I witnessed at Millenium Square in 2016, saying: “It definitely felt like an occasion more than anything else, I dunno why it just had a good feel to it, I’m hoping we’ll get round to do something similar like next year or something, it depends where we end up.”
After more than 15 years in the game, speaking with a re-invigorated Jarman left me as a Cribs fan feeling excited about what the future holds for the group who it sounds like having a bit of time to re-group has bolstered their passion and like next year could be the band’s biggest to date.
Find tickets for the The Race For Space Festival, here.