Interview: Cupids


cupids copyright bekka bee simpsonWords: Julia Grantham

Photos: Bekka Bee Simpson

Casually scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed one day, my attention was diverted away from my friends’ baby photos and teething updates by the breaking news that one of my favourite current bands Gramotones, had out-of-the-blue and seemingly overnight renamed themselves Cupids. Eager to find out more, I read through some of the fan reactions which were answered with the words: “We just didn’t feel that name represented us anymore”. I’d been avidly awaiting an announcement of a tour, or an album, anything, for some time; it didn’t seem possible that a band who had already toured with the likes of Paul Weller, recorded a song with Tim Burgess of The Charlatans and headlined a sell-out gig in Manchester hosted by XFM last year would disappear or fade away. But I wasn’t expecting this and the news simply wasn’t good enough for me; I needed to know more, so didn’t hesitate in contacting Elena at Popped Music to see if she would let me meet up with them and find out for myself. Evidently, she agreed!

The problem was that the band were frantically attending festivals up and down the country, diligently honouring all their dates as Gramotones, as well as recording new material and re-branding themselves Cupids. It wasn’t easy to pin them down. However, as fate or luck or chance would have it, this news broke not long before up-and-coming fellow Manchester band Blossoms, accelerated to dizzying heights of fame, signed to Virgin EMI and announced a full UK tour. I had wasted no time whatsoever getting tickets for The Brudenell Social Club show, and was ecstatic when it was later announced that Cupids were to support them on this date. Not only was I ridiculously happy to see two bands I love perform in my home town, but the perfect opportunity to interview the band had now miraculously landed at my feet and the date was set.

Being a huge fan I was really looking forward to catching up with them and hearing some new music, so after the gig, by the bar, we had a chat. Their website was launched at the same time as their reformation, a new song A Study in Extremes became available on their homepage and not long afterwards via Soundcloud came the single Money. A full-throttle, energetic, grunge-inspired track with more lyrics than you would think is possible to pack into such a short song. It is raucous, loud, but sung with humour, and is a real sign-of-the-times track all about being skint in these economically-challenged times. I hadn’t realised how important politics were to the band, but as Sid (singer, guitarist) explained to me: “Everyone round where we live is feeling really glum. And for us, with our music we just wanna make people happy, make it summer again,”. Ryan, the bassist in the band furthered Sid’s point: “Whenever The Conservatives are in power, that’s when it’s a shit time, and you get all the best songs written”. Both Sid and Ryan agreed that with Cupids, they wanted to recreate a time they remember in their own lives, such as with music like The Libertines, The Arctic Monkeys which brought about some really great music. “I’m old enough to remember when Oasis came out, and how good the times felt” Sid told me, and I think they just want to recreate that with their music. A refreshing and far cry, in my opinion, from those at that helm, in charge of the industry.

cupids copyright bekka bee simpsonWhen I asked them their opinions on groups like One Direction, they were quick to explain that “It’s not their fault they’re crap, they’re just lads that have had a load of money chucked at them”. (Jake) I did wonder if it annoyed them, being so passionate about their music and what they do, that other groups are enjoying such success but singing bland, insipid tunes. Turns out it does: “It’s the bands that represent us that bother me more, people in our position that are singing about absolutely nothing. We have so much to say with our music, we never shut-up!” Sid wasn’t being cocky when he said he wanted to reach as many people as possible, I think he just wants to spread the good feeling about. And I love this band for that. Listen to one of their songs, they have a lot of worthwhile things to say about life today, sung through brilliantly constructed lyrics, delivered in powerful, catchy tunes.

Perhaps up to now, if you haven’t heard of Cupids, heard a track, or maybe you never knew The Gramotones, it may sound as though I’m describing a very serious politically-motivated band. I think it would be fair to say that they take music seriously; it’s important to them, it’s what they do and they are proud of that and are keen to be heard, but essentially, they’re also just four down-to-earth friends, all from in or around the Oldham area of Greater Manchester, who are funny, friendly, witty and happy to have a laugh with me. They also wanted me to give a shout-out to ‘Ethan and The Reformation’, friends of theirs who are tipped to be the next band to watch. “You should go and see them, you’ll like them” Ryan told me, before Sid joked: “He’s very sexy!”

After reading all of this you might wonder why the name change? Plenty of bands change direction with their music, without changing names and I was itching to know why. Sid told me this: “We felt the name was getting a bit stale, we’d recorded a load of new songs that sounded completely different to what we’d ever done before and so this seemed like the right time to change”. James furthered this point: “It was the connotations to the old school; Gramotones seemed a bit too 60s/70s”. But again showing their humour, he went on to tell me: “We went a bit insane for a week, we had a bit of a mid-life crisis; got new jackets, new haircuts”. At the end of a week, it was out with one name and in with the new, “We feel like new humans” (Sid). So far, the reaction has been very positive for them, with the name, the songs, the tour and it’s great to see them being so well-received. I have high hopes for them, and asked them if they’d like to be a household name. As Sid put it: “I’d like everyone to hear us, why not?”. Sid wasn’t being cocky when he said he wanted to reach as many people as possible, I think he just wants to spread the good feeling about. And I love this band for that.


cupids copyright bekka bee simpsonWith thirty-six songs recorded at this point surely an album was due soon? Ryan corrected me; it now stands at thirty-eight! Despite how far they have come though and have all this music recorded and ready to go, they are not greedy; as Jake (singer, guitarist) told me: “We don’t feel we’re ready for an album yet, we will do at some point but we’d rather keep releasing it as small, digestible chunks. We’ve got a lot of tracks that would probably just be missed if we released an album, cos a lot of people just buy singles”. Very astute an interesting point. Sid went on to say: “The singles are there to make you dig deeper”, but as Jake added: “Not everyone does though, nowadays, so perhaps by just buying EP s, people can hear the more obscure stuff that we do”. Watch out folks, we may have nine EPs to contend with soon, but I wholeheartedly appreciate that, and hope to see a fully-stocked merchandise stand in due course. I’ll buy it all. I can afford it, especially if it’s going to be drip-fed slowly. No reason not too. The quality and intensity of the songs I witnessed being performed left me wanting more, that’s for sure. I hope they put one or two more Gramotones classics into the set soon, once they find their feet. Paul Weller himself was quoted in Mojo magazine as citing Daltry Street as one of his favourite songs of 2014, so go download that now, will you please? And if you’re left wanting more, don’t panic: Sid reassured me: “We don’t just want to waste our tunes, and when the time is right, it’ll all come out.” Exciting times.

And would Cupids like to be signed up to a major label tomorrow as their contemporaries Blossoms have just done? Jake explained “If you have the backing of a major label, you can put an album out then. Lots of people will buy it and listen to it. We don’t quite have that yet. I hope Blossoms do really well with it.” When asked if they were pleased to be touring with this band, Sid spoke very highly of them: “We’d been told they were really nice lads, and they are dead friendly. We’re really excited about this tour, it’s gonna do us the world of good”. In many ways, it sounds as though they may feel like this is a new beginning for them, but with everything they have achieved thus far, the new sound they have, their attitude and approach, I believe that their future is bright. They are playing to great sized audiences, care about their fans and the world around them not just their music and they are very keen to be heard. I have a lot of love for this band, their songs and it’s something I feel privileged to be a part of, but I don’t want to keep them to myself! I don’t think this is the last time you will be hearing about Cupids. Waste no more time, become a loyal fan today! You won’t regret it.


Listen to A Study In Extremes here:

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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