Presenting… Presents for Sally

There are few sounds that I’m confident I’ll never tire of… And the morbid pissiness of post-punk, the hazy hipness of shoegaze, and sunshiney abandon of ’90 alt rock...

There are few sounds that I’m confident I’ll never tire of… And the morbid pissiness of post-punk, the hazy hipness of shoegaze, and sunshiney abandon of ’90 alt rock all fall into that category… They also all seem to fall into the competencies of UK trio Presents for Sally… The band has been playing together since 2009 and putting out short releases since 2012, in addition to one LP, but they’re still yet to release what they consider to be their “proper” debut album.  That will come to fruition next month (September 11th), when Saint Marie Records puts out their 11-song-effort Colours & Changes.  I recently caught up with Matt Etherton, one-third of Presents for Sally, who introduced me to the band and their history.

Izzy Cihak: You’ve been at it as a band for more than half a decade now, but there’s still relatively little info available about you, especially in the states.  Is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about you as a band and your process of writing and recording together, or just your mission or aim as artists, or is it all in the music?

Matt Etherton: It’s a strange question as I guess at the end of the day it is all about the music and that’s how it should be. We have grown from simply recording some songs at home and releasing them ourselves to selling records and CDs around the world. Obviously the internet helps with that as it’s so much easier to reach people these days but there’s something about hearing a song on late night radio, tracking down the 7″, and enjoying it for years without knowing much or anything about who has done it or where it has come from. There have been singles from the states I have bought, again from hearing them on late night radio, and still listen to now and know nothing about the band. There’s a lot of “style over substance” these days, where it’s all about how people look and what they do/say rather than how they sound so, to me, if people are talking about that rather than the music, then it doesn’t say too much about what they are doing. As far as our process of writing and recording, we literally all just love music and love experimenting with sounds and pushing what we do. The fact that other people seem to love it as well is a great feeling.

Izzy: What have been some of the highlights of Presents for Sally, since you got together in 2009?  Have you had any favorite reactions to your work or had any experiences that were especially exciting for you?

Matt: Do you know what? One of the greatest feelings was the day when we had our debut 7″ single delivered. Actually looking at the sleeve we had done, the labels, and record itself was so exciting! We were literally making it all up as we went along with regards to promo for it, but we actually got it played on mainstream radio, Radio 1, over here, so hearing your song being played back at you like that again was a top moment. We have been lucky in the fact that the majority of reviews/reactions etc. have always been very positive.

Izzy: You’re about to release your second album, Colours & Changes.  How do you feel like it compares to your debut?

Matt: I think this album feels more of an album than the first one did. Basically we were so excited about the single and the gigs we were doing when we first started that we kinda forgot to do an album and a year had passed before it came out. Also A Touch Of Joy… seems more like a compilation album that a “proper” album to me. There are two or three songs on there that were written as we didn’t have enough songs for an album and the rest were songs that had been written over quite a long period of time, but I can’t knock it as it’s where we were at the time. Plus without it we might not be having the opportunity to have album number two coming out and there’s some songs on it that I am really proud of.

Izzy: What would you consider to be the most significant influences behind Colours & Changes?

Matt: Musically, we all listen to such different stuff and I think that shows a lot more on this album than the last. All of us have had quite a few things happen and change in our lives as well, so I think that must make some sort of impact, even if it’s not a conscious thought at the time. I write all the songs and sometimes the songs seem to just almost write themselves. You get half-way through a new song and, in my head, I already know what I want it to do next, but there are also times where an idea is recorded and it might be left for a few months, then when you go back to it, it takes on a whole new persona as you are in a different headspace to when you first started it, but somehow (eventually) all these things click and you finish with a new, exciting song.

Izzy: I really, really love “Anything Anymore,” which sort of makes me think of what Liz Phair’s lo-fi singer/songwriter aesthetic would have sounded like, had it emerged in Manchester in the late ’70s.  How did that particular track come about?

Matt: If I think about it, “Anything Anymore” is the oldest song on the album. It came out as our second single a while back but has been mixed slightly differently for the album and the mastering is better, too. That song though, the music was written quite a while before any vocals were added but we all pretty much knew in our heads how the vocals would sound. I don’t know why it took so long, I don’t know why everything takes so long in this band but it seems that’s just the way it is [laughs]. Anna did the vocals pretty much in one take so all in all the whole actual recording process probably took about a day, if you take out the 10 months or so in the middle where nothing happened!

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you?  How do you hope and plan to spend the remainder of 2015 and the first bit of 2016?  Anything you’re especially excited about?

Matt: Well the album is out in September and we have been rehearsing for a few shows to promote it, I’m not exactly sure of where and when yet, but it’s been a while since we have played, so it’ll be good to get out there and see some familiar faces and hopefully a few new ones as well. There are also ideas which have been recorded and will be finished in the next month or two, although in Presents for Sally years that usually means a year or two [laughs].

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.