Field Music: A case of sibling revelry

After splitting to concentrate on solo projects, Field Music have returned, and with a better sound than ever, says Nick Hasted

'If you're a bunch of white guys with guitars and drums, you get trapped as an indie band," Field Music's Peter Brewis declares. "That's when you question what you're doing. Are you actually in the same league as Bloc Party, and Kasabian, and Franz Ferdinand? Because if I am, then we're losing. And I want to take me ball back. Because I don't play that game. I thought I was in the league of Randy Newman and Todd Rundgren and the Band and Television and Wire and Peter Gabriel. Basically, the records I had. Naively, I assumed I was the same, and I'm not. It's a different game now."

Sunderland brothers Peter and David Brewis have been disappointed by the British music scene since the fractured pop of their self-titled 2005 debut as Field Music, made with Duke Ellington in mind, saw them lumped with friends the Futureheads and Maxïmo Park as Indie's north-east branch. The band's second album, 2007's Tones of Town, was followed by a seemingly permanent split. But Peter's album The Week That Was and David's as School of Language, Sea from Shore (both 2008), proved to be high-grade fuel for a triumphant new double-album return, Field Music (Measure). Cascading over its 20 tracks from Prince-style funk to bucolic folk and choppy, ecstatic rock, it promotes them into the ambitious musical premiership occupied by Americans such as Grizzly Bear and Vampire Weekend. "We went away and made different records to show we think about things differently from a lot of what's going on," David explains. "We made our own world."

Sitting gulping dinner before their first London gig together in nearly three years, Peter admits he felt "incredibly lonely" making music apart. He bows to David in conversation. The latter admits he's "not musically, but in terms of logistics, quite controlling. When Andy [Moore, Field Music's ex-keyboardist] was there, we had to have a democracy. Now we can live in our own binary fascist state!"

In truth, fascism, and the violent rivalry usual in British rock siblings from Ray and Dave Davies to the Gallaghers, couldn't be further from the Brewises' hearts. Consideration, home and hard work fill their lyrics and conversation. "I don't know about you," David muses to Peter, "but I value being nice much more than music. I could give up music if that's what it took for me to be a good person, and have a good, happy life."

"You have to try and be... communal," David perseveres, "and, if you are to do something, go through it without destroying things. Our parents are quite strongly principled. Dad's not as socialist as Mum, he's more pragmatic. We've slogged to make five albums, we haven't wasted time, and that comes from our backgrounds."

Perhaps rock's biggest sea change over the past 20 years, its abandonment of the social revolutionary agenda which made it seem so vital from Elvis through to punk's anti-Thatcher offspring, is present in the Brewises' more realistic ideals. While American peers such as Grizzly Bear make music about nothing but its own beauty, Field Music take a stand against corporate culture in the independence, honesty and ambition of the way they work.

"I'm certainly very wary of anyone doing music very successfully claiming for it any sort of larger social good," David considers. "Because most of the music you hear that claims to have those kinds of aspirations is trite. And it's not going to change anyone's mind. Bono probably does more to change people's minds by being very, very famous and doing lots of campaigning. U2's music isn't a force for social change. We follow principles in how we go about making music, that conform to how I want to be as a person. We really try not to bullshit anyone. And we really try not to be wasteful. I feel that about debt. The music industry is proliferated on bands getting money up front, then being under the cosh." Field Music have instead made every aspect of their records themselves, from recording to videos, in the co-operative Eight Music studio they co-founded with the Futureheads.

Field Music (Measure) is a culmination of their efforts to date. Peter was listening to the stately atmospheric pop of the Blue Nile, Talk Talk and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and Lou Ferrari's environmental tape-collages; David obsessed over Bowie's Scary Monsters, Led Zeppelin and Richard Thompson. The new record restates the ambitions with which they began. "The first album had an experimental idea behind it," David recalls. "To do something with a very limited palette, and all the weirdness is either going to be in the songs themselves, or the arrangements. And I forgot that's the reason I wanted to make records. With this album, we haven't expanded our sonic palette much, because the previous albums were so dense with ideas. You can't lie and say, 'I'm only influenced by myself.' With us, it's, 'The way Prince approaches rhythm on those albums – that's good, I want to do something like that.' And obviously we miss. Because we're just two blokes from Sunderland. But that's what the Beatles were doing – failing to make "Drive My Car" sound like Stax. We're embracing what recorded music can be. Which is collage."

'Field Music (Measure)' is out now on Memphis Industries

Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments