INTERVIEW: Retriever

A few weeks ago came the sad news that local band Retriever had decided to call it a day. We spoke to lead singer Jackie Miller to get the full story.

So what happened? You realise you’ve broken the hearts of many a music fan in the Northeast!?

Ha-ha! they should start up a dark garage rock band to help them repair them, carry on our legacy! Nothing happened to be honest, we’ve been RETRIEVER for years and enjoyed it but sometimes it’s hard to see how to take it further and you need to try something new.

The on/off status has happened before. Is this truly the end?

We never really ended before we just swapped the drum machine for Fintan and any other gaps weren’t intentional.

The return earlier this year was met with great praise and enthusiasm, I saw you myself a few times and was impressed. The reformation also included a jaunt with Northeast favourite Nadine Shah. Looking back on this period how do you reflect on your achievements. Was this year a more successful year than expected, or in fact did you expect more?

We were really surprised to get so much support after a year away from it all to be honest. We got a fair bit of radio play, the gigs with Nadine went down really well and we had good response from the EP. To look back on it we’re pleased with it all. While you’re in the midst of it you only really look at what’s next so you don’t reflect and think about it until afterwards.

Are the band members still on speaking terms?

Actually, people think Garth and I live together but he’s buried under the patio. No, we’re all friends, it’s was mutual. We don’t even have a patio.

I’ve heard rumours of the earlier shows being much more of an intense noise experience? Is this true and what triggered the change towards more ‘standard’ song approach? A natural evolution?

Yeah. We started 6 years ago, none of us had been in bands before and we just wanted to make a noise – we didn’t know how to play our instruments! The rest sort of evolved from there. You can’t do the same thing forever. You may say the song approach was ‘standard’ but my Dad was still telling us to write more ‘melodic songs people will like’ after the last EP! Ha.

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Reviewers often compared you to The Kills. Personally I feel your music may have some minor similarities but your music went way beyond that limited two piece song structure. was this a fair comparison? Any material left over to release?

Thanks. We probably were heavily influenced by them as when the three of us started we really loved them and it was just after Midnight Boom was released. I definitely loved Alison Mosshart’s approach to being a girl in a band and after one of our first gigs someone said I ‘wasnt very ladylike’ and I was quite pleased with that. We wanted to be a unit, all of us on the same level so we went for that – similar to The Kills. Plus we had a drum machine. Other than that, comparisons are good to hear but we wouldn’t want to say we agree with them and big ourselves up. We do have songs we never polished enough to release but who knows if they’ll ever get past my ipod.

I hear there will be some farewell shows, any plans for those yet?

They’re in the making but nothing concrete yet – we’ll give people plenty of notice (and ourselves so we can practice the old songs).

What is next for the band members?

We’ll start on something new. Some of us may do new projects together. Fintan already has a new band called The Slurs.

Highlight/or fondest memory of your time with the band?

For me, personally it was supporting The Slits at the Star and Shadow. It was surreal to be standing in the same room as Ari Up, let alone play a gig with her. I also really loved our last gigs with Nadine as she’s one of my oldest friends, and I’m incredibly proud of what she’s created so it was quite special to be part of it.

If you could give one music industry related tip for other up and coming local acts what would it be?

Work hard. It’s not easy being in a band, you practice a lot, travel a lot, spend a lot of money on it but the harder you work the more you get out of it. If no one’s coming to you with gigs or offers then just do it yourself – carve it out on your own.

Photographer – Daniel Robson

Graeme Baty

Graeme Baty

I'm 34 from Newcastle.

Bald, bearded, rock nerd with a serious photography habit. I can be regularly spotted at gigs around Newcastle; alternative, punk and and bit of metal. I've covered shows, tours and festivals around the UK.

I'm mainly known for my music photography project GJB Performance Photography, which ran from early 2012 to July 2015.

Now photoing for Blank Slate Creative Photography, based in Newcastle. Alongside covering shows for NE:MM.
Graeme Baty

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