Americana-rock band Break Mirrors chat to Lucie Horton as they release their debut EP and look to life post-Goldsmiths.
‘No, not country, I think people get the wrong impression when you say country,’ says Tierney Beames, the guitarist and vocalist of Goldsmiths’ band Break Mirrors. ‘Maybe post-country?’ Shane Boothby, the bassist, says, but then the entire band burst out laughing. ‘Ok, Americana-influenced alternative-rock,’ Tomas Kaspar, the lap steel guitarist decides, and the rest of the band seem to nod in agreement. The Americana influence is certainly detectable; in ‘Reverie’ Amy Spencer’s deep, powerful voice is accompanied with the soft plucking of lap steel, smooth guitar and vocal harmonies. And when the bass and drums come in the sound is complete.
One of the reasons the group find it difficult to pinpoint a genre for their music is because they’ve only just started to create a body of work. ‘We’ve filled our paddling pool but we haven’t quite dived in yet,’ Tierney says poetically. And the band breaks into laughter again. In fact, the whole interview is filled with laughing and joking, and their closeness is evident. The songs sound like they took a long time to put together, and they did. The band are perfectionists; spending a year refining their EP.
But one of the reasons the EP has been so time-consuming is due to the band’s outside commitments, all of the members have other projects at Goldsmiths. The band members are on the Popular Music BA in their third year, with the exception of Shane who is studying Anthropology and Sociology. And they’re unanimously positive about their time at university and the course. ‘You get to understand why you’re doing something yourself, rather than just because you like it,’ Tierney says. ‘I look at it like I’m being paid by the government to make music,’ Max Woollett, the drummer, adds.
They draw parallels between their music and Kurt Vile, Phosphorescent and Feist. One of their most treasured artists is Blake Mills. So fond of him are they, that they named their band after his debut album. ‘We’re basically a tribute band,’ Max jokes.
The group knew each other long before they formed at Goldsmiths. Growing up in Stroud, the band has been making music together since their early teens, leaving a positive effect on their music. ‘The comfort of playing often and for a long time makes it easier to work things out,’ Tomas says. ‘Yeah, it has become quite intuitive for us,’ agrees Tierney.
The band formed organically out of Amy needing a backing band for her solo music, but although she still writes the songs, Amy believes it is a very collaborative process. ‘I bring a skeleton of a song and then we flesh it out together.’ Nervous to describe exactly what her songs are about, she tells me ‘it’s very close to home and personal. I can’t really go into much detail. I think I do a lot of retrospective writing, so it takes me a long time to write a song because I have to step away from a situation that I’m in to be able to write about it.’
Unsure of what the future holds, the band do have aspirations to make an album and tour. I ask them where they would like to tour and which label they’d most like to be signed to, but they seem hesitant to commit. ‘We know it’s early steps in the game for all that stuff to happen.’ Tomas says. At the moment they are focused on rehearsing; ‘It’s easy to go and play gigs, but I don’t think it’s necessary to do until you’ve got something you’re completely happy with,’ says Max.
Obviously not naïve, the prospect of ‘real life’ appears to be looming over them. Despite appreciating that the pressure of having to support oneself without a student loan might restrict the time they can commit to the band, they are determined to make it work.
‘There will be more!’ Amy says. With their unique and captivating sound and clear rapport, let’s hope that Break Mirrors can be added to the list of successful Goldsmiths alumni.