Ask any of Barnsley’s many post-gig, indie club DJs and every one of them will tell you that their job isn’t a particularly difficult one; line up an extensive selection of Oasis, Stone Roses, etc., fuck off to a takeaway until 2AM and return a conquering hero. Happy Days. However, just beneath the surface of the town’s 90s addicted ‘off yer tits’ culture lie scattered pockets of musicians and gig goers who never really had their arses tickled by Noel’s Scrabble-spillage lyrics or Liam’s ‘I swear, you clap’ stage persona. Among this more introspective underbelly are the really rather wonderful Aztec Doll.
Formed by Roxanna Mitchell (vocals and guitars) and Lee Garforth (bass) in 2012, Aztec Doll have been described on various platforms as ‘Siouxsie plays Soft Cell’ and ‘lyrical lonerism’, giving you an idea of the dark-veiled, goth infused, post-punk niche they’ve crafted. In the comparatively short amount of time since their first rehearsal they’ve supported alternative luminaries like Allusondrugs, Bleech and Nine Black Alps, and have even trod the same festival boards as The Fall. This March they release their third EP and, given the outstanding reception of their previous recordings (the 2013 debut ‘Endlessly’ and ‘Bowdlerise’ from 2014), both band and fans are sweaty-palmed to hear the results.
In an attempt to make the new EP sound more personal and idiosyncratic than it’s predecessors (and in the DIY tradition becoming ever more prevalent in Barnsley’s alternative music community), they decided to record and mix everything themselves from the ground up. I interviewed Roxanna, Lee and Hayley Youell (keys/vocals) in February to check on their progress. It all began on a rather droll, self deprecating note…
Lee: Yeah, I feel like we should have done more in the time we’ve been going…
Don’t feel you have to apologise!
Lee: Well, we’ve been together, now, for as long as The Smiths were and they changed the world. We’ve released two EPs… Ha ha! I think we’re definitely still developing.
Q. So, the new EP’s been a long time coming?
Roxanna: Yeah, we’ve been working on it since last March and it should be out by the end of this March.
Lee: We’ve gone a bit DIY with it.
Q. Have you got your own studio?
Lee: I’ve got microphones, but everything’s done… in the box.
Excellent phrase. I shall cite that.
Lee: Ha ha! It’s what all the big producers are doing…
Roxanna: It’s only the mastering that we’re not doing ourselves.
Q. Who’ll be doing that?
Lee: He’s based in Leeds’ He used to be the singer in Forward Russia! and he’s mastered quite a few recordings by local bands; Black Lamps, The Exhibition and a few others.
Q. Why the decision to do it yourselves? Was it financial?
Roxanna: Not really financial. The first one sounded really good, the vocals especially, but we wanted a little more control over the final product this time.
Q. Will there be a launch gig for the EP?
Lee: Not really, but we’re doing gigs around it. We’ve tried to book a lot more, but you know what promoters are like. Especially in Leeds…
The new recording, ‘Aztec Doll’ is released on March 28th and will be available through the band’s Soundcloud (soundcloud.com/Aztec-Doll). Until then, you can monitor their progress with stalker-like vigilance at facebook.com/aztecdoll and @AztecDollUK. With that said, I can’t recommend enough seeing them live, and you can do just that on April 2nd at The Parish in Huddersfield, April 15th at The Mulberry Tavern in Sheffield and April 29th at Barnsley’s Rock and Blues Centre.