Fresh from a change in name, Manchester’s rising gloomy psychedelia outfit Separator, formerly known as Alex Rave and The Sceptical are a band bubbling below the Northern scene’s hectic surface.
Following the release of their EP back in May, the band took some time out of the misery of COVID and recorded a six track live session at Manchester’s own YES Basement - which is available to stream in full now.
In order to learn more about the band and how they’re tackling the Manchester scene, we fired frontman Alex some questions.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and how long you’ve been making music for?
Except for two of us, we all come from different parts of the country and met through moving to Manchester a few years ago. We kinda came to know each other through uni, mutual interests, and nights out. It was around March time last year when we decided to start making music together (or at least trying to).
At what point in your life did you decide to make a career out of your music, and what influenced that decision?
I wouldn’t say we’ve got a career out of it quite yet, but it’d certainly be nice! As teenagers playing in bands, the buzz was gripping, even if the music we were playing wasn’t. Some of us have had a real interest in music early on, Connor for example having played guitar since he was eight. Moving from smaller home towns or cities to Manchester was quite humbling, and generally that tends to inspire you to strive for more - we love how exciting and varied the music coming out of Manchester at the moment is.
What is the main source of influence for your songwriting?
Going to gigs is a huge source of influence for us. When enjoying a set, you try to figure out what it is that they’re doing that works so well, whether that’s through the melodies or even just the band’s energy. Characters in books, films, TV etc. also play a role in guiding the eventual direction of a song, as a kind of visual or imaginative aid.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself through making music?
I’m a bit of a drama queen. Not that all music should be sad, but with writing music comes the opportunity to be brutally honest with both yourself and other people. Therefore, I’ve realised that it's my escapism in a way, an opportunity to say the things that I probably wouldn’t dare actually say to people.
What is something you wish you’d known when you first got into the music industry?
Just how hot the competition is. Your first few gigs feel massive for you until you realise that you’re one of about twenty bands playing that night in the Northern Quarter (Manchester) alone. That’s definitely a good thing though. You never really get complacent because the sheer number of artists doing well keeps you aspiring to work your way up.
Who are some of your favourite upcoming artists from Manchester?
Some great bands/artists emerging out of Manchester at the moment, some of which already feel like household names. The likes of Document, The Goa Express, Julia Bardo, Loose Articles, Farfisa and Ballamona stand out particularly for us.
What would your dream tour & rider look like?
A tour-bus the size of a lorry escorting us around Europe to a string of city shows supporting Radiohead, driven and navigated by Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves. We’re slightly late for soundcheck every night because they keep pulling over to argue about petrol stations, but Thom (Yorke) just smiles and says “I can’t stay mad at you” every time.
If you could have any director/filmmaker film a Separator music video, who would you choose?
If there really was no limits, that’d be some discussion we’d have. All of us share a similar taste in films to some extent, so a compromise would happen eventually. Denis Villeneuve, Roger Deakins and a shed load of neon lights doesn’t sound like a bad idea though.
What’s the bucket list goal for you as a band?
It’s always been an ambition of mine to headline a gig at Leadmill, Sheffield, having grown up in Doncaster and hearing about the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Pulp making a name for themselves down the road.
Seems axiomatic in terms of musical aspirations but it would be pretty magical seeing our name on a Glastonbury poster. The Friday night headline slot on the Pyramid Stage would be great, but we’re not too fussy...
(Photo Credit: Carolina Sepúlveda)