Squid on “Bright Green Field” and How They Got Their Name | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, July 17th, 2024  

Squid on “Bright Green Field” and How They Got Their Name

Finding Dystopia in Modern Life

Nov 15, 2021 Issue #68 - Japanese Breakfast and HAIM (The Protest Issue) Photography by Holly Whitaker Bookmark and Share

Squid want you to know that they’re nice people, really. Despite the shouting lyrics, the sharp guitars, and the take-down of the flawed facets of our modern lives, the English five-piece are genuinely lovely people. And they have something to say. On their debut album, Bright Green Field, the group take aim at city life and dive deeper into their Krautrock and jazz affinities, with an influence from sci-fi books.

“I was inspired by J.G Ballard,” says lead singer and drummer, Ollie Judge. “It’s such a specific kind of image of the city that he writes about. The first song that I started writing lyrics for was ‘G.S.K,’ when I was on a bus from Bristol to London. On that route, you go over the flyover that Ballard writes about in Concrete Island, which I was reading at the time. It’s this really dystopian road.”

That depiction of the modern city is a staple of Bright Green Field. It’s amplified by Judge’s pained vocal delivery, which has picked up attention from fans and critics alike. Judge didn’t always sing like that, he points out. It came about at one of the band’s early shows, when a combination of poor sound and poor technical support led Judge to have to shout his lyrics while drumming. But now, Judge jokes, “I just want to croon, man.”

The shouting adds to the band’s avant-garde aesthetic, and makes the listener really pay attention to what they have to say. Adds bassist Laurie Nankivell: “I think naturally it’s had a bit of an influence on the music, in terms of what the lines are and what the chords and various different other elements of the music are.”

Squid formed in Brighton in 2015 and rose to prominence in 2019 with the release of “Houseplants,” a song that sneers in the face of gentrification.

“Ollie just started shouting all this crazy stuff,” says Nankivell, “and it definitely propelled us to make the song a lot more aggressive, a lot more mad than it was originally written.”

Squid’s music slips by and escapes real categorization. As people, they’re equally elusive. Hesitant to define their music as post-punk (a label that many fans have thrown their way), they instead look to free jazz, Krautrock, and electronic music for inspiration. “I think jazz is way more punk than punk will ever be,” says Judge with a grin.

The band seem to enjoy living in this elusivity. When asked about the band’s name, Nankivell and Judge offer three options, in order to “leave the readers to decide which one is real and which ones are lies.”

The first possibility involves a story of a young Judge visiting a tapas restaurant with his family, when he started choking on calamari and needed someone to give him the Heimlich maneuver. “I flirted with death that day,” Judge reflects.

Nankivell chimes in with the second option, which tells the story of a trip to southern Spain that he and Arthur Leadbetter, the band’s keyboardist, took while at university. “We went scuba diving into this beautiful underwater cave, and within the cave, there were all these fluorescent squids. We felt that at some point down the line, we should be in a band called Squid.”

“And number three,” Judge adds. “[Guitarist] Louis [Borlase]’s dad was a fisherman in Cornwall and got dragged by a giant squid into the water and almost got killed by the squid.”

Is any one of these actually true? “That’s the mystery,” says Nankivell.

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 68 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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