Take Turns are a band who like to talk at a mile a minute, speeding through topics at exhausting speed. When I catch up with them at the Library Pub in Leeds they are excitedly preparing for their Sold Out show supporting the Lovely Eggs at the Brudenell Social Club. Guitarist Luke Wheeler is absent due to work commitments, but singer Mark Wright, drummer James Aaron Grinion and bass player Rob Caschetto make up for it with lively chatter.
They formed the band in 2011 in the strangest of ways, meeting at Luke’s house while playing ‘Rock Band’. Mark explains, “There had been a previous incarnations of the band before with Luke, that fell apart and when we got you, (James), you sort of gelled us together. I said, ‘OK, if he can play the hardest song at Rock Band we’ll let him in!’ Good drummers are the hardest people to find and that was the thing that was ultimately holding us up from being an actual band”.
Take Turns fifth EP ‘Animal Fat’ was released in November last year on tape, marking their first physical release. Does this mean they are on the verge of releasing an album? Or do they prefer to release their music in bite size chunks? James breaks in first, “Before Mark starts talking. I actually really like releasing EPs”.
Marks counters, “But, we’re recording a full length LP with Greenmount in July or August. It will be all new songs, 10 or 11 totally unreleased songs. The last EP (Animal Fat) those songs were finished quite a long time before they were recorded and it took us a while to get them to the point of releasing them”.
James adds, “The first EPs I recorded at Leeds Met (now Leeds Beckett University). I recorded the drums and then months later we would record the other stuff. Marks pretty prolific too, I don’t know what else he does, but he writes all the time. I have a folder of about 56 songs somewhere”.
“We’ve thrown away more songs than we’ve recorded”, laughs Mark.
Take Turns’ song ‘Rare Earths’ recently featured on a sold-out compilation by Citrus City Records alongside ‘garage-pop’ bands like Jade TV, Wakes and Santa Fe. Also on their ‘Animal Fat’ EP it has a gentler, blissed out feel to their usual half-snarled lyrics,showing off their softer underbelly.
Mark explains, “One of the guys who runs the label, Manny just emailed us. You occasionally get emails from people wanting to put you on compilations, but they want, like, a cash incentive and we would never do that because it’s ridiculous! This was different”.
James nods, “We just thought, why not? He’s young but he’s hella enthusiastic and super nice”.
Mark agrees, “He’s only 19 or something, but he’s passionate as hell, plus we’re both really big fans of Alex G (who Take Turns supported last year at the Brudenell). Our messages are just about, ‘Have you heard this Alex G song’; he’s got so many rare demos! It was a totally out of the blue thing, but I had enough faith in him that he would do it credibly. We have had people get in touch too because of it”
He continues, “Also it sold out in about a week; I think he’s going to re-press them. I like the idea that one of those bands, not necessarily us, would get really big in the future and there would be Citrus City tapes on eBay for 500 quid!”
Rob: “There was a dude who bought five of our tapes for no reason. Maybe he thinks we’re going to be famous and he’s selling them to his mates for double the money!”
Although quietly spoken, Bass player Rob Caschetto is a man of hidden talents. Their video for ‘Finishers Medals’ features the band limbering up for a pie eating contest and Rob busts out some serious Bruce Lee moves. So can he really do Kungfu?!
He smiles and looks sheepish, “Yeah, I’m black belt in Tae Kwando. I’ve been doing it since I was 12. I feel a bit bad though because I’ve never done anything good with it. I used to compete a bit though, when I was younger”.
James laughs, “If you YouTube ‘Rob Caschetto Tae Kwando’ you can see him on there doing some crazy spinning high kicks. This videos the best thing he’s ever done though”.
Mark grins, “Yeah, he’s been training 15 years for this! Sadly it didn’t come out, but there was meant to be this amazing shot of Rob doing a spin kick and hitting a gateau.”
Rob agrees, “I did it and I don’t think I was cool about it at all. I was just like (jumps up out of his seat and fist pumps the air), ‘Yes!’”
Marks adds, “We did that was just a practice though, everyone was like ‘Are you sure you don’t want us to film it?’ He said ‘No’ and then completely nailed it! Then he had four more gos and kept missing the cake!”
Rob nods, “It’s because there was pressure and people cheering. I had to land in exactly the same spot and I couldn’t do it for the camera. That wasn’t the hardest thing though, that was the filming we did at Almscliffe Crag. We were on this beach and all of a sudden this little kid said, ‘Mummy look, there’s a naked man!’”.
James shakes his head, “I can’t believe you went through with all of the stuff that they made you do”.
Robs adds “Now I can laugh about it, but at the time it was just horrible. It was on the 22nd of November last year, the day before Gold Sounds Festival and I was ill the next day.”
‘Finishers Medals’ talks sarcastically about being crap at sports and laziness, surrounded by a flurry of feedback and cymbals that blasts it clear away from Loser-ville. Filming the video also brought out the bands competitive side, with Mark cast as Steve Kram style 70’s Athlete, James as a Media-hungry Playboy, Luke transforms into a Crazy Steroid Junkie and Rob is the Martial Arts Master. So I had to ask, was this just play-acting or did any of them genuinely wanted to win?
Mark chimes in first, “It’s all or nothing! Go hard or go home! I think I technically won though”.
James explains, “Here’s the problem, they put the lemon meringue pies down and I was like, ‘right lets do this!’ Then they messed about with some film stuff for a while and the pie started slowly losing its shape and melting outwards. It was a really warm day in October, not so warm when Rob was in the river though, unfortunately”.
He continues, “So back to story, the cream on the pies started to dissolve. I looked down before they put a second lot on and there were loads of various flies, midges and bluebottles in there. Anyway, I knew I still had to go for it. I didn’t see the flies again so I assume I just ate them! I actually ate through the bottom of the pie and started eating the table cloth. I couldn’t see anything and there was meringue going up my nose. I actually had a date that night and still stank of milk. That red tracksuit I was wearing I washed it like 8 times. You could not get the smell off; I had two or three baths when I got in that night. I suffered that day!”
Moving away from their food mis-haps to their DIY ethos and sarcastic lyrics, Take Turns remind in turn of my teenage band crush Seafood and early Dinosaur Jr. Which is coincidental as the band’s last EP was mastered by Dinosaur Jr.’s legendary producer, Carl Saff, who also mastered Hookworms album Pearl Mystic in 2013.
Mark explains, “He’s based in Chicago, but with mastering they don’t really need to know what you’re going for, it’s a bit of black art like that. We’d looked at his back catalogue and there were records he’d done with Guided by Voices that we really liked”.
Recording studio wise, they are sticking with Greenmount, a small group of Wakefield lads, whose recording roster reads like a who’s who of the Yorkshire music scene. Their credits include The Cribs, Pulled Apart By Horses and Post War Glamour Girls, as well as pulling in acts from further afield like The Vaccines and Jeffrey Lewis.
James explains, “Its a nice break from the everyday really, they work out of a big church in Armley and their studio looks like the future, but as imagined in the 1970s. Loads of vintage gear and plus they’ve both got really good ears, individually they’re amazing, but together they are a dream team. The first time we went in and we had no time and a ton of songs, now it’s so much more streamlined, it a relationship that’s getting better I think”.
Mark agrees, “I think I’m going to enjoy the studio more this time, sometimes the studio be quite pressuring. We recorded our first two EPs really quickly. This time we’ve got a bit more time with them and I’ve got lots of idea of extra bits that I want to do”.
Their previous EP ‘Sick Note’ had a touch more shoe-gaze with the songs like ‘Malteser’ dishing out some serious 90’s nostalgia with it’s melancholy hooks. Title track ‘Sick Note’ hollers ‘We’re past the point of no return’ down the street through a megaphone there’s a sense of urgency throughout. The songs all come in under the three minute mark, but that brief burst of energy is enough to create an impact.
Take Turns aren’t afraid to play around with their style and are starting to enjoy some of the perks of being in a band, although not all the time..
James shrugs, “For me it depends, I am generally quite miserable anyway, so usually when it comes time to play a gig I’ve been up for all of 2 hours. I’m tired, I’m a little bit hungry, little bit grouchy having a complain. I love a complain!”
Mark nods, “Sometimes it comes a bit automatic and I have to remind myself to enjoy it. I was going to go all Ferris Bueller then, ‘If you don’t look around every once in a while, you could miss it’”, he breaks off laughing.
James smiles, “I think that’s absolutely right though, to be fair. The Alex G gig specifically I remember. I was absolutely exhausted that day and I remember doing the sound check, seeing Alex G watching us play our music and thinking this is actually cool as fuck”.
After four years together Take Turns are a closer unit than ever, even though as James mentions, “the band met through a really bizarre series of coincidences”. Luke comes from Petersfield, near Brighton, Mark lives near Hull, while Rob and James are Leeds natives. Ultimately though, Mark declares, “We are a Leeds band”.
James adds, “I’ve always liked the scene in Leeds because its big enough to be interesting, but small enough that you don’t just get lost. You always end up meeting people, usually from hanging out at the Brudenell.”
After a sold out show and with an album in the works Take Turns have a great year ahead. Who knows, maybe 2015 could be the year all that Rock Band practice comes in handy.