Initially a duo consisting of guitarist Rachel Aggs (Shopping) from London and drummer Eilidh Rodgers from Glasgow, Sacred Paws have an expanded lineup and sound on their sophomore release Run Around The Sun, released in May on Merge Records. I recently sat down with the pair, who now both reside in Glasgow, to chat about the new album, and the full band performed songs from it, which you can listen to in the player below.
FMQB: For a while, you were a long distance band. How did that work?
Rachel Aggs: It was really wild that we did that.
Eilidh Rodgers: For a long time, yeah. Like six years or something.
FMQB: Being so far apart, how did you even get the whole thing started?
Eilidh: We were playing in another group together [Golden Grrrls] and we wanted an excuse to hang out a bit more, so we sort of just started Sacred Paws, and we’d travel, and hang out, and play gigs, and practice, and stuff.
FMQB: Was it always one of you going to the other place, or was it a back and forth?
Eilidh: It was a back and forth, but probably more often in…
Rachel: I spent more time coming to Glasgow, because I think Glasgow sort of accepted us. We got gigs there and we were very taken in by the musical community there. I really enjoyed having a reason to go and visit to be honest. It was ages of people asking me when I was gonna move there. I was like, "soon, soon."
FMQB: And you did.
Rachel: I did, eventually.
Eilidh: I mean… I traveled. That makes it seem like I didn’t make the effort. I was in London a lot. Some people thought I lived in London. [laughter]
FMQB: But Glasgow won.
Eilidh: Glasgow’s cheaper.
FMQB: Immediately I was caught by how upbeat and jubilant your songs are. But sometimes when that’s the case, the subject matter can still be dark or depressing. Is that the case with you guys?
Eilidh: On occasion I guess some of the songs aren’t as happy as they first appear. I think it’s important for us to make exciting music that feels cathartic in a way.
Rachel: We have to sing about things that are on our mind, which are usually things that are bothering us or making us sad. And I think, like you said, it’s a catharsis. It’s a way of dealing with stuff. I think in order to make something joyous, you have to have gone through something to get to the point of joy. So, there’s always a dark side of the cloud or whatever.
FMQB: I’m admittedly not familiar with your first album, so let’s go backwards and tell me what difference I’d notice going back to listen to that after Run Around The Sun?
Rachel: I think the first record was very much a culmination of everything we’d been doing for about six years, so it maybe sounds like that.
Eilidh: They’re not worlds apart. I think maybe this record is step forward with the songwriting. We have choruses, if you’d call them that, whereas with the first record, it was almost like we’d never heard a song before.
Rachel: Yeah, totally! The songs were definitely less traditional in their structure and a bit weirder in general. But, I don’t think they sound wildly different.
Eilidh: The compositions are similar. They’ve got the same brass and production.
FMQB: Yeah, I was gonna ask if the brass was a new addition for this album.
Eilidh: No. Same formula.
FMQB: Now, you don’t have a brass section with you on tour, so are there ways to substitute that?
Eilidh: Well sometimes Jack will try to play the brass melody on guitar.
Rachel: He manages it! [laughter] Yeah, we haven’t quite reached the level of bringing a three-piece brass section on tour with us. One day! We play as a guitar band live and it’s got that energy and that vibe to it. I think if we did introduce much more it would be a very different type of show. But we still try and bring the energy to the live show. That’s sort of why we ended up putting so much stuff on the record, because it didn’t sound as fun as it felt to play when we recorded it. It was like, if you add instruments it translates that energy that we try to do live. I don’t think you need all that stuff going in in the live show. It can be really minimal and still be fun.