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Outdoing Eleanor: The Union Choir PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nic Wright   
29 11 2011
ImageScience (and by science, we mean, in absolutely no way scientific whatsoever) dictates that the perfect length for a pop song is two minutes and forty two seconds. Somewhere, the boffins agree, between two and a half and three minutes, but certainly no longer than that. Maybe three minutes is where the human brain begins to lose interest. Maybe most songs just don't need that huge horn solo in the bridge. The Union Choir's début single 'Eleanor' comes in a shade shorter than that at two minutes and thirty nine seconds. Coincidence?

Probably. The success of 'Eleanor' probably has more to do with it being a bloody good song. The first release for the melancholy South Shields pop band sold out its run of physical copies, and received glowing praise across the board. Now hot on 'Eleanor's tail, the band are knocking out a double a-side single through Cottage Industries' Singles Club.

ImagePairing up new recordings of live favourite 'Your Melodica' and 'Lavender', the release is described in typically cheery fashion by the band as "pop songs that tick off the stages of relationships coming together and breaking apart, set against images from New Year's Eve parties, Valentine's Day gigs and nights sitting in Accident & Emergency".

Though it would of course be nice, and certainly well-deserved, for new single 'Your Melodica/Lavender' to enjoy similar success, front-man Jon Melvin isn't particularly concerned about them living up to the standards set by their predecessor. "To be honest the main reason for being in this band is our own enjoyment," he says, "so from that point of view the songs have already achieved what he hoped for because we're really proud of them and the experience we had recording and mixing was fantastic."

Recorded at The Sound House in Gateshead, it's perhaps unsurprising that the experience of laying down the double a-side was a happy one, especially for a band who list their band interests simply as 'gin'; "Whenever I listen to either song my main memory is of me, Grant (Lagan, drums) and the producer James drinking wine on the roof of the studio where we mixed them... which is quite nice 'cause it's removed the memory of what the songs are actually about."

Although Jon admits that, while commercial or critical attainment is not what the band strive for, it would be a bonus; "Obviously it's great when a label put their trust in you to make something that people like, and for the sake of my ego I hope this one sells out too."


With an album, as Jon cryptically puts it "in the pipeline and I can't be more precise than that at the minute", the band aren't exactly struggling for material, but the decision as to which of the songs would form the new single came rather easily. "It was always the plan to release 'Your Melodica' 'cause it's the closest thing we've done to a ridiculous cheesy pop song (in the best possible way), and I think as a band we were quite eager to record Lavender 'cause we'd never really done justice to it on previous demos, so the decision happened naturally."

In an industry as fickle as a teenage girl's affections, label Cottage Industries were keen to keep up the momentum that the band have gained since the release of 'Eleanor'. Although Jon maintains that the band aren't letting the success of their release go to their heads, and have a realistic attitude about where that success will take them; "Doors are always being opened and slammed shut at varying times in a band's life," he says, "so I tend to not think about it." And having a label behind the scenes cracking the whip, says Jon, has prevented the band from dragging their feet over their next venture. "I think if it'd been entirely down to us we would have still be procrastinating over what colour the font on the artwork of 'Eleanor' should be."

Artwork is of course just one of the little additional jobs that promoting a single(s) come with, along with shooting a video. Or, in this case, two. The video for 'Eleanor', directed by local filmakers Jim Martin and Oliver Rothwell , was acclaimed in it's own right, appearing at film festivals up and down the country. This time around though, the promos won't be so nautically themed; "Unfortunately instead of a mermaid it'll actually feature us, which might effect how many hits it gets on YouTube."


The octet's recent strides have not been made just in the studio however; "I think the main thing that's happened to us as a band since the single launch was that we've really clicked as a live act now," Jon enthuses. The band's live performance is something they'll be showing off at their next launch party in January.  And it's a good job The Union Choir have hit their stride on stage, as they'll be sharing it on the night with three of the best live acts in the region.

The Lake Poets, The Prison Library and O'Messy Life have all come on board to support the band at The Cluny next year, something that Jon is pretty pleased about; "It's an amazing line up. I'm utterly chuffed to bits that the three bands have agreed to play it, and it'll make the night so much more fun. We genuinely think they're brilliant. To be sharing a bill with them is a massive privilege."

Fans of The Union Choir can catch them at their single launch, and while it might be a while yet before we see an album, there'll be plenty to whet your appetite in the meantime, according to Jon; "While we're working on the album we'll be recording some stuff ourselves too so hopefully we'll be able to put together a few free downloads or an EP to keep us busy."

Details of their single launch can be found here.
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