Interview with Foreign Office

Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with Paul Cousins from the London based band Foreign Office for a quick chat about their latest double a-side single release and the recording of the ‘Leaving The House’ music video…

Cat On The Wall: There may be a few of our readers who have yet to discover the greatness of Foreign Office. How did the band come about? Why did you decide to call yourselves Foreign Office?

Paul Cousins: George and I met at college in Great Yarmouth, studying film and music respectively, and after playing together for a few years moved to London. Great Yarmouth is a place we hold dear, but felt like there was little opportunity to progress pursuing music there. There’s quite a tradition of soul music in East Anglia partly due to the number of airbases, which would often get U.S records before anywhere else in the U.K. That was definitely influential, along with the general sense of paranoia and faded glory to be found in a town like Yarmouth. Once in London we had a clear idea of putting together a band, and how we wanted it to sound. Here we met Jim (drums/vox) and Duncan (keys) and that’s really when everything fell into place for us musically. ‘Foreign Office’ was inspired by the idea of giving something already established an alternative identity. It also evokes traditional British imagery, which is representative of a lot of our influences.

COTW: Your debut single ‘Leaving The House/Voices’ was released on Monday, it’s a fabulous double a-side on Limited edition vinyl and digital. Why did you choose those particular tracks as your first release?

PC: When This Playground approached us about doing a single they were very keen to do a double a-side, an idea we liked as well. We had a number of tracks to choose from, but felt these two complemented each other most strongly. Lyrically there is a running theme across the single, one about schizophrenia, the other about agoraphobia, but the songs are quite different musically.

COTW: Who designed the artwork for the single? Do you have much involvement with that side of things? Is artistic image important to the band?

PC: We designed the artwork, something we were keen to have an involvement with. We considered work of other designers, but felt strongly about keeping the output of the band internal. Everything we’ve done so far has been from us or very close friends. We feel strongly about our artistic image, and comfortable having a D.I.Y ethic to our output.

COTW: What’s the story behind the ‘Leaving The House’ video? Who directed it?

PC: The video was done by a good friend of ours, Chris Tirrell, who is studying an MA in film. We had a lot of input, and were quite keen to step away from a broody, posey video. The world of indie certainly doesn’t need another one of those. Chris brought a lot of his influences to the table as did we, and I think we came out with something unique and watchable, a good accompaniment to the song. The lyrics are really bleak, and filming them literally would have not only been a bit obvious but more like an outtake from Trainspotting.

COTW: You’ve got a few live dates coming up. Can we expect a more wide scale tour? Do you enjoy performing live? Any memorable experiences so far?

PC: We love playing live and will continue to do so. Fundamentally we are a band and our songs are written largely in a band environment, so we try to make our live show fulfill the excitement of our recordings. We’ve recently played a great show for The Recommender in Brighton, and headlining White Heat a few weeks ago was also superb. We got a really positive response from that one.

COTW: Is there an album in the pipeline? Can you tell us anything about it yet?

PC: We have built up a collection of songs, the basis of what could make an exciting album, something we’d love to do. But obviously we’ve only just released our first single so that’s not really on our radar just yet.

COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?

PC: We plan to keep writing and playing live for the foreseeable future. We’re very keen on letting our sound develop and adding to our collection of songs. Experiencing new music, films, books, photography and meeting new people are all things from which we draw influence and enjoy doing, so that will certainly continue. A little nearer and more specifically, we have our single launch at The Stags Head in Dalston on April 15th, which will be a big free party to which EVERYONE is invited!


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