Squid’s Anton Pearson on Touring: “It’s been a crazy few months!” (2/9 at UT)

Today Brighton post-punk outfit Squid released standalone single “Fugue (Bin Song),” the follow-up to their second full-length, O Monolith, which dropped last June on Warp and which prompted Stereogum...

Today Brighton post-punk outfit Squid released standalone single “Fugue (Bin Song),” the follow-up to their second full-length, O Monolith, which dropped last June on Warp and which prompted Stereogum to say, “Squid turn dance-rock inside out until you can’t really dance to it anymore.  The arty, explosive O Monolith will still send your body into strange contortions …it’s an experience.”  The song has been in the band’s live repertoire for years now and was recorded with longtime collaborator Dan Carey – who produced both of the group’s LPs – during the sessions for the sophomore album.

Squid are currently preparing for their biggest US headlining tour yet, which kicks off next Friday and will include a stop at Union Transfer the following Friday, February 9th.  They’ll be accompanied by Matador Records indie pop duo Water From Your Eyes, who will provide support on all dates.  And earlier this week I got a chance to chat with Squid guitarist Anton Pearson via Zoom, who told me about the band’s time on the road since last fall and what you can expect of their show at Union Transfer.

Izzy Cihak: O Monolith has been out for more than half a year now.  Have you had any favorite reactions to it, whether things that have been written about it, things that fans have told you, or just reactions the music’s gotten from live audiences?

Anton Pearson: I think taking it live always has the funnest reactions.  It’s been nice audiences.  We’ve been lucky to kind of be all over the world with it.  One of the things that’s quite fun about Squid music is that the sets are really varied, so that means we get really, really different audience reactions.  We can play two nights in a row and have totally different audiences, which is quite fun.

Izzy: You have played a ton of shows since the album dropped.  Have you had any particular favorite shows in that period of time?  Any that stood out, for whatever reason?

Anton: Yeah, I mean, loads!  We’ve been touring pretty hard since September.  We had some really cool shows in Europe in September.  We had a great one in Paris, a really nice one in northern France, which is where I lived for a little time, so I had lots of friends who turned up there, so that was great.  We had never really done headlining shows in Spain before, so that was a really nice experience.  One of the funnest shows was Milan, in Italy; that was great.  We’ve just been in Asia last month; we had some really good shows in Tokyo and Kyoto.  It’s been a crazy few months!

Izzy: You play a pretty wide variety of settings, from some fairly intimate places to some pretty massive places and festivals.  So, I’m curious, do you have a particular favorite setting to play, or do you like having such a variety?

Anton: I think we definitely like the variety.  We prefer playing places where we can see you all, like a sense of community.  We like meeting the people that are putting on the show, we like meeting people from the local area.  We like things less when it feels a bit corporate or a bit faceless.  That doesn’t mean that we prefer festivals, or outdoors or indoors; it’s kind of like anywhere where it feels like an important part of the culture there.  But we do like variety in terms of performance environments.

Izzy: Because you have been on the road for so long, have you seen any bands in that time that you especially enjoyed, whether it be a band that you brought along or someone you just caught at a festival or some larger bill?

Anton: We’ve had some great support.  We went on tour with Blue Bendy for the UK tour in October, and they were great, a very nice group of guys.  And we had Naima Bock on tour with us in September.

Izzy: Oh, I dig her!  I saw her like a year ago.

Anton: Yeah, she’s amazing!  It was the first time we’ve had someone from another band in the van with us, and we didn’t really know her that well before we started, so we were a bit like, “Ohhh, what’s it gonna be like?” but it was really, really nice.  She’s a good van friend!

Izzy: Have you developed any particularly significant touring rituals, whether places you make a point to stop, or things you do when you’re in the van to pass the time?

Anton: I think “rituals” would be overstating it [laughs], but we like going swimming.  So if there’s a lake or something we can swim in between places, we try and do that if we’ve got any time…  I don’t know, we’re a quite boring band [laughs].  If there’s somewhere nice to eat, we do that.  Sometimes we go for walks, if we’re traveling through somewhere beautiful.  But it just depends on the time.  Usually when we go on tour, we’re not making much money, so we have to kind of bunch everything in, doing shows every night and driving in the morning and stuff.  It’s the only way we can come home with a bit of cash afterwards.

Izzy: You’re about to kick off a US headlining tour that has you playing the biggest shows and venues you’ve ever headlined in the states.  Are there any cities or venues you’re especially excited about?

Anton: There’s a few where we haven’t played shows before, so they’re gonna be interesting.  We’ve never played Dallas and Nashville and Atlanta and a few others.  We’re looking forward to Philadelphia, looking forward to New York…  We had a really nice time in Chicago the last time we were there.  It was one of the only places where we had a couple of days off, so we got to know it a bit more than other places, so we’re looking forward to going back there.  I think we’re finishing in LA, so it’s gonna be a really cold tour until right at the end, so I think that’ll be nice!

Izzy: What can be expected of the live show when you play Union Transfer next month, which I’m realizing is more than five times the size of the venue you played the last time you were in Philadelphia, Johnny Brenda’s?

Anton: Well, hopefully people have got some tickets [laughs]…  We’ve been rehearsing really hard for this tour, so we’ve integrated some things that people have never heard before, which is cool.  We’ve got some kind of long, improvised sections, and then people will hear most of the tracks from O Monolith, and few from earlier on in our career, as well.  It’s kind of a bit of a new set, because we started touring – like I said – in September, and we’ve been going pretty hard since then, so it’s a bit nice for us to kind of rethink things and freshen things up and get some brand-new ideas in there.

Izzy: On a related note, do you have a particular favorite album track at the moment, whether one that you’ve really been enjoying playing live or that might signify where your future sounds might be headed?

Anton: I think we all really enjoy “Undergrowth.”  It’s kind of different.  It’s got a really different tempo to what we normally play, so that’s quite a nice welcome change in the set.  Also, we’ve been playing it for a really long time.  We usually do it after we’ve played something quite challenging or quite loose, and then when that comes on we all feel suddenly very confident again.  I’m enjoying playing [“If You Had Seen the Bull’s Swimming Attempts You Would Have Stayed Away”] as well.  I get to make a really loud, screeching sound right at the start, which is quite fun.

Izzy: You’re touring with Water From Your Eyes, who I also totally love.  How did you get hooked up with them, and what do you think about their music?

Anton: We’ve been big fans of their music ever since that album came out; that’s an amazing album.  We were really lucky that they said, “Yes,” to doing it!  It’s too late now, they can’t pull out [laughs]!  Basically, we were looking for someone to support us, and we suggested them to our managers, and they got in touch with them and they said, “Yes,” and it was simple as that.  It’s really important to us to play with people that we really like, and we quite like playing with other bands or acts that have a slightly different setup to us.  It’s kind of like a nice variety for the audience.  We’re not really bothered about trying to find a band that sounds like a different version of us, or sounds really similar, or whatever.  And I think they’re a nice contrast.  It should be a cool evening for the audiences that come on this run.

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for the band, after this US tour?  How are you hoping and planning to spend the remainder of 2024?

Anton: We’ve got like a month off after it, which is really nice.  It’s the first time we’ve had a month off for ages, so that’s gonna be really nice [laughs].  We’ve just got loads of gigs after that, lots of which haven’t been announced yet.  But we’re gonna be going to parts of the world we haven’t been to before and we’re doing some festivals this summer.  And then things should be a little bit more quiet in the autumn.  We’re still writing music and coming out with new things.  So, yeah, it’s pretty busy…

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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.