It is clear that Couples are first and foremost, friends. Totally at ease with one another the interview is constantly punctuated with outbursts of laughter from the group. Conor Collingwood as the frontman, Jaime Bravo on lead guitar, Tamsin Wickins on rhythm guitar, Millie Ritchie on bass guitar and Henry Yeoman on the drums constitute the five bill band making Post Punk, Alternative, Grunge oriented music from Camden, London. The energy this band radiates is infectious whether they’re sat on the sofa in the Green Room in front of the Benumu team, or wreaking havoc on stage with their wild performing prowess.
If you had to liken each band member to an animal, what animal would they be?
(Conor) Jaime’s a panda. (Henry) Conor’s a sperm whale (Millie) Henry’s a sloth – a sad one. (Conor) Tamsin’s a Jack Russell (Jaime) Millie’s a sea cucumber- all laughs – (Conor) Can I get a retake on the sperm whale please?
Do you find yourself worrying about stage persona?
(Conor) Me and Tamsin have got a strange thing. We really love doing the whole fucking jumping around thing and being a bit silly with it. Jaime just concentrates and sweats – big laughs – Henry obviously just concentrates on drumming – (Tamsin) So he can’t really jump about. We did ask but I mean, it’s almost impossible (Conor) yeah we asked if he could fit a jitterbug in there or something, you know, really get the crowd going and Millie’s just like Robert Palmer ‘Addicted to Love’; you know just in the background doing their thing. (Millie) Yeah I don’t really do anything particularly exciting.
Is there any particular crowd you like? What do you like and dislike from a crowd?
(Tamsin) We had one gig once where – to be fair they were our mates – but everyone got on stage. Yeah, all our mates came on stage at the Good Ship and they ended up ripping my chords out my pedal board which was really nice. (Conor) It was a good, organic moment but we were all like it’s our last song we want it to sound good!
A lot of artists have a problem with their audiences having their phones out – do you care?
(Tamsin) I really like watching it back. (Conor) The only time I ever have a problem is when they catch me at a fucking bad angle – which is most of the time because we’re on a raised stage and it’s double chins central.
What is the most interesting crowd comment you’ve ever received?
(Jaime) You wanker. (Henry) ‘Get your tits out!’ directed towards Conor. (Conor) That’s not very nice. Actually, – gestures towards door – can we please get him out of the room? – met by great laughter from the band – (Millie) I don’t know really, you get a lot of bog standard comments (Conor) Actually, you know what I don’t like is when you come out and other bands are like ‘Hey man, you played great!’ and I know full well they were up in the Green Room. (Edd from Pink Cigar passingly interjects) You not doing that right now? (Conor) Yes, and when they come up I’m gonna go ‘Hey, great show… Who’s your manager?’
Who do you take your artistic inspiration from?
(Millie) Oh all sorts. It’s a mishmash of everyone’s inspirations. (Conor) I am absolutely in love with Jarvis Cocker – to the point I might fucking cry. We met him once and he was a lovely, lovely dude. (Millie) I really like 60s psychedelia – I mean that doesn’t really get a look in but – (Conor interjects) – Nah, there’s the occasional thing (Millie) Occasionally, yeah.
Do you have any new music in the pipeline?
(Conor) Right, we’ve got a whole new set coming up. We’ve decided that because we’ve got a bit of time off and we’re all gonna be in London this month we’re gonna do at least 2/3 hour rehearsals a week. Hopefully by the end of the month we’re gonna have a full new set. Yeah, because we’re pretty bored. There are songs in our current set that we played on our first ever show. (Tamsin) When we were like 16. (Conor) We cannot be fucked with that anymore. We seemed to be quite unprolific for about a year and a bit now. So when a song comes, the two songs we’ve written this year – Rip Em Up and The Party Line – have been introduced into our current set. We’ve been doing it every now and then while rehearsing the set for the next show, so that rather than rehearsing the set for the show and then spending that half an hour on writing we’ve decided to take the next month and just do writing, writing, writing. Hopefully we’ll have a full new set by the next time we play.
The hands behind the rhythm guitar (Photography: Elizabeth Alster)
What’s your dream venue to play at?
(All) Glastonbury (Jaime) Been there, done that (Conor) Have you fuck! (Tamsin) So I’ve been going to Glastonbury since I was like 12, so that’s a massive thing for me. We all went together when we’d just finished our A-Levels and it was the best weekend ever – the group nods in agreement.
Can you explain the origin of the name ‘Couples’?
(Conor) Shut up. The reason we called it Couples is because we thought ‘Ah you know what will be fun?’Answering questions like this all the fucking time which we’ve got no fucking answer to!’ (Millie) Well, we do have an answer for it, it’s just not a very good one. (Conor) We were on holiday and we got told that we weren’t allowed to be called Roya because it’s a fucking woman. We were called Roya after our mate and because we thought it was a pretty sweet name and turns out it means ‘dream’ in Persian. Then this woman messaged our Soundcloud and was like ‘Oi! I’m gonna sue you if you don’t change your name because I’m getting big in France’ – unlikely, since she had about four followers. But we were too young to call her bluff, and it probably needed changing anyway. We might change it again – (Millie interjects) – No we won’t! (Conor) Do you reckon we’re stuck with Couples now? I mean now we’ve actually got a couple in Millie and Jaime. But, it’s funny because for the last couple of years that we’ve been playing shows people ask me and Tamsin if we’re going out or if we’re brother and sister. So we decided that each time someone asks us we’d say a completely different thing, like in the White Stripes when she kept saying they were married and he insisted they were brother and sister. We have a lot of fun with that.
Finally, where do you hope to see the London music scene heading?
(Jaime) Our way.