This Is The Kit – Interview, April 2015

This Is The Kit is a arguable Britain’s best folk outfit. With every album, I am more amazed and mesmerising by their folk rock sound and the provoking nature of their songs. I was lucky to see their remarkable show at the Green Door Store for Brighton’s Willkommen Records, where they shared the stage with musical mate Rozi Plain. Just before that show I had a lovely conversation with Kate Staples, who project it is, to find out more about her and their newest album Bashed Out.

Where do you reside now?
I grew up in Winchester, but moved to Bristol. I then moved to Paris 9 years ago to have a look, and I am still having a look now. I have meet some great people there.
How did you get into music?
My family are into music, and I started learning songs, and then played them song. I then started writing songs, and performed the songs at open mic nights. If you have a group of friends that are all writing and playing, edging each other on, it helps.
What music where you brought up on?
A lot of Bob Dylan, a bit of Paul Simon in the car on holidays. My parents were into Folk as well as 60s music.
What was the first instrument you learnt to play?
I started with the guitar, learning a few chords when I was small. Then when I had my big teeth, I learnt how to play the trumpet – and I love to sing.
How do you write a song?
I start with an instrument, and then I will sing along to the music I’ve made. I either use the writing that has been building up separately to the music, or just write something that pops into my head which gets suggested by the melody or the chords.
What influences your song writing?
I get inspired when I am on tour. I think when you are traveling your brain goes into a certain mode, that combined with a lack of sleep, puts you in a different sort of consciousness. When I’m at home, and I am just doing admin or day to day life stuff and you are rushing around, I don’t get into that mind frame. When you are travelling, you are on the move all the time but also sat in a car, with a lot of time for your brain to work things over.
How do you find the recording process?
I really like it – especially when there is no deadline. It’s difficult when you have only a specific amount of time. I mostly record at home but occasionally, for a bit more focus and better quality equipment, will go to a studio.
Tell me a bit about you new album, Bashed Out?
I didn’t write it with anything in mind, but when you look back at it you can certainly see patterns that have formed subconsciously in my mind. There are a few apocalyptic references – mulling over the human condition and the need to keep going, being positive despite the tough times. We made it with Arron Dessner from The National. He came to a show we did a while ago and really liked it. He asked us if we would like him to work on a new album with us – we said YES, that would be really nice. It has been a very interesting journey. It been good to hand over the reins to someone else, and learn how to not be a control freak.
What is the story behind the album title?
It’s the name of the first track we released from it. The themes that are in that track are threaded throughout the whole album, so that was the umbrella song of the album – to be a bit stiller and quieter. It wasn’t that we bashed the album out, because we really didn’t, it took ages.
What has been a musical eye-opener for you?
The only thing, at the moment, that I want to listen to is Richard Dawson. What he does is so amazingly powerful and eloquent. Seeing him live is like being hit round the head with a cricket bat, in the best possible way. Every time I hear him play, he makes me want to practise the guitar.
What are your future plans?
We are doing some festivals in the UK in the summer. Then we will be touring again in autumn and playing Brighton on 24th November.