New Music
11.03.2009, Words by Charlie Jones

Crystal Stilts "It’s been a little gruelling."

Crystal Stilts left America ten days ago for the first time ever. Already frontman Brad Hargett’s voice is winding down to the point where it sounds like he’s running out of batteries. “It’s been a little gruelling,” he admits. “We’d rather be writing and recording.” The facts back up the sentiment. It’s been three years since this quintet started producing fuzzed-out debut album Alight Of Night and only now are they hitting the road. The fact that shows like tonight’s at Brixton Windmill sold out way in advance suggests no-one’s minded the wait.

Guitarist JB Townsend peers at us from behind his glasses and pop-art fringe. He doesn’t look like he’s enjoying himself much. He reluctantly nods hello. Drummer Frankie Rose is asleep so she’s even less forthcoming. This Jesus & Mary Chain/Velvet Underground-inspired outfit (completed by bassist Andy Adler and keyboardist Kyle Forrester) may be based in Brooklyn but clearly they’re not as perky as MGMT. “The record is to do with being bored,” Hargett says. “Moving from Florida to New York was a big influence, moving to a place that wasn’t boring and being fascinated by it.”

“I’m not really a performer, though,” he emphasises. “I didn’t do this because I was compelled to get up on stage.” It’s the same for JB, but he has a coping strategy. “If I’m not in the mood to look at the crowd I’ll just turn around,” he says. “I don’t want people to steal my moves!” The guitarist cracks a smile, before recalling his favourite live moment when someone in the audience tied Brad’s shoelaces together. It’s good to find a droll side to the band. Lightning-lit, psychedelic surf may be their key currency, but with all the positivity surrounding them – and despite their best intentions – Crystal Stilts are going to be forced into having a good time.

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