Alt-rock trio Careerist are bearing forwards with a clarity and focus which is sure to make waves. Their standout debut album Weird Hill was released earlier this year. The announcement of which coincided with the news that the band was now called Careerist, shedding its old moniker Hot Cops. I was able to speak with lead vocalist Carl Eccles, listen to his thoughts and discuss the album.
The band was previously called Hot Cops, why the name change and why now?
Short answer: it was a career move (badum tss)
Long answer: The name change was on the cards for a while. I had never been happy with the name Hot Cops, it was a teenage decision to make a somewhat niche reference to the show Arrested Development and I think it was off-putting and made us seem like a novelty act. Also there’s like 30 bands named Hot Cops.
Did you think the album fit being released under a new name?
I think the name change was a reflection of how ourselves and the songs have matured. For me the album felt like a fresh start like everything up until now has been practice. We’ve been playing together for about 5 years and we worked really hard to make “Weird Hill” so I hated the thought of all that effort being immediately dismissed as a joke, even though there is quite a lot of humour in the tracks.
I’m interested in your process, and how a track comes to be. Is each song tackled differently or is there a formula to create the Careerist sound?
Typically I’ll make demos and show them to Conor and Nathan. Sometimes the demo is a close-to-finished song, other times it’ll require some editing or whole structure changes and we work on that together in practice and discuss what we think needs to be addressed to make a song interesting. For example “Negative One” and “Doors” have pretty much been the same since their first demos (sans drums), whereas songs like “Piran” and “Slasher” had whole sections removed or rearranged for the final song. We also did some co-writing, like Nathan showed me a chord progression he had written on bass which I thought sounded like something the band Broadcast would write but he never listened to them, so I changed it slightly and it became the verses for “Idle”.
I came across the Weird Hill Cheat Sheet on Spotify and was pleased to see artists like David Berman on there. Can you tell me more about the influences on this album?
Maybe some we may not expect?
David Berman was a key influence for me, he had an extremely unique understanding of poetry and language that I find really difficult to explain, like he could make a very mundane setting sound sacred but also make totally alien concepts seem familiar. “Ring of Hands” is probably my favourite song from the album. It was inspired by Silver Jews’ later work, Ennio Morricone and the kind of 60s/70s choral sound of “Suicide is Painless” from M.A.S.H. (which I’ve never watched). That Spaghetti Western guitar sound also appears in “Slasher” and I was trying to emulate the beautiful Bass VI solo from “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell. I went through a period of fascination with Robert Fripp’s guitar work on the David Bowie album “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) especially “It’s No Game”. That got me into King Crimson and the stuff Adrian Belew was doing on “Elephant Talk” and both of those songs lead to “Doors”. The more jangly indie rock aspects like on “Weight” come from listening to the R.E.M. album “Fables of the Reconstruction” and also a little known band called The Necessaries, Arthur Russell’s cello blends surprisingly well with the guitars on their record “Event Horizon” and partly inspired the use of Mellotron cello sounds featured on “Piran”, “Ring of Hands” and “Party Up”. A collective influence for us is definitely the band Deerhunter so we’d use them for mix references, particularly the albums “Monomania” and “Fading Frontier”, they’re vastly different records but their sense of texture and melody really resonates with us.
Does Careerist have influences outside of music?
I was watching a lot of David Lynch films at the time. “Wild at Heart” and “Twin Peaks: The Return” really stood out to me. I liked how there was a musical guest in each episode of The Return and I was obsessed with the scene in Wild at Heart where Nick Cage sings “Love Me” by Elvis. I have terrible reading habits, I’ll fall asleep or get distracted, but “Homesick For Another World” by Ottessa Moshfegh is this incredible collection of short stories which contain wonderfully realised/often disgusting characters and depth despite their brevity. “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski was also a touchstone, the concept alone is intriguing enough but the execution and attention to detail is overwhelming, I hadn’t seen anything like it. Travel, geography and relationships were always going to be an important influence. My partner lives in Chicago, which is a flat grid, and I usually go out to visit them twice a year and the nature of it can be pretty surreal, airports are like a liminal space, I feel like I’m dissociating from the moment I check my bag until I land. I’m used to it now but had pretty bad culture-shock on my initial visits. “Doors” and “Piran” were written and demoed in Chicago, but “Piran” came about because one of my friends there has family in Cornwall, half the lyrics might as well come from the wikipedia page for Cornwall.
What are your thoughts on the other music that is being made locally?
I think it’s drastically improved in both quality and variety in recent years. When I was in my teens I had zero interest in local acts, which is my fault because I never looked into it and I wasn’t comfortable leaving the house, so it’s great just to see so many people making whatever they want just because they want to, but then the occasional success stories are interesting to follow.
With impeccable instrumentation and lyrics that denote the band’s maturity and confidence with their own sound – Weird Hill is an unmissable album to add to your end of year lists. Listen on Bandcamp below.