Exposure: Joe Carnall and the Book Club

Exposure: Joe Carnall and the Book Club

It's nearly five years now since the music media's microscope focused in on Sheffield as acts like Bromhead's Jacket, Little Man Tate and Long Blondes were heralded to define the decade. And though only Arctic Monkeys may have made it into the big leagues of Brit Awards and world tours, there was still a lot of talent in the city of steel. Joe Carnall was one man to find himself in the middle of such excitement fronting the now defunct Milburn, whose brief but bright life was noted by two albums of intelligent, homegrown indie rock. Now joined by ex-Arctic Monkey's man, Andy Nicholson, he's back with The Book Club, and the familiar sounds of tight rhythms, neat guitar and a vibrant attitude of someone doing something they love. He told us all about this new chapter.

So it was last year that Milburn split up?
Yeah, March 2008 was our last gig. We'd just gone as far as we could have gone. We could have still carried on writing songs, but it just seemed right. Maybe it might turn out to be a mistake and we'll get back together. But it was a clean break and it's going well.

How long did it take for The Book Club to come together?
I spent about six months not really doing anything with music. Every time I would try write a song it would end up being about the split and it took time to gain new inspiration and go after new ideas. Then after all these shit songs, these nice ones started coming out. It was just going back to beginning and writing cos I enjoyed it.

And Andy Nicholson who used to be with Arctic Monkeys is in the band too?
Yeah, we've been friends for a while. And we needed a bass player and he was up for doing it.

So this is your first big tour around the UK tour with The Book Club?
We've just done three gigs so far so it's really early days yet. But we're all very excited. Sometimes it feels like we're cheating a bit playing decent venues cos of our names, but it'll be good to back on the road. It's been a while. It's good to get back to Scotland too. King Tut's is always good and we've done Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. It seems the further north you get the more people appreciate you getting on stage.

Has the reception been good so far?
It's been great because all we've really had so far is our MySpace and the four songs on that. But people have been going on and listening and commenting and saying nice things.

What about something physical?
I've always seen that to be a good band you've got to be a good live act first, so we're concentrating on that at the moment. And once we're comfortable on stage, that's when we'll get recording.

There's a future for the band though?
Definitely. I'll see how I manage with university though as well - I'm at Sheffield doing history. I'm in my second year though, so it's still possible to play all these gigs. Most of the dates on this upcoming tour are just long weekends.

And Sheffield's still home then?
It's a good place. I can't imagine living anywhere else really.

Is the music scene still as strong as it was when Milburn first came out in 2005 and you had Arctic Monkeys, Bromhead's Jacket, Little Man Tate etc?
There's still a lot happening. I think after a surge like that though, it's natural for a little break. Perhaps Milburn would have fared better then if we were from Glasgow or somewhere, away from the media attention and always being compared to these other bands. But it also did as a massive favour. And if you're good, you'll make it.


Joe Carnall and the Book Club play The Dog House, Dundee on 10 Oct; The Hive, Edinburgh on 12 Oct, and King Tut's, Glasgow on 13 Oct.

Joe Carnall & The Book Club

The former frontman of Sheffield indie also-rans Milburn returns with a new band.

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