In the spotlight – Still Traffico are a pop band based in London (UK), consisting of Cam McColl (vocals), Dan Arthur (bass), Dan Carabine (lead guitar) and Connor Lilley (drummer). Influenced by everything from Chanson Française storytelling to Michael Head to African desert blues to contemporary house to post-rock, post-punk and more, Still Traffico make a fine blend of indie pop, which they call Railway Pop.
I spoke to singer Cam McColl about their debut single ‘Seagull’, the importance of lyrics and their goals as a band.
How did the band form?
“I started off playing solo acoustic gigs in London in 2021, and not particularly enjoying it. I convinced Carabine to come on board and play guitar with me – we’ve been close friends since we went to school together in Manchester. Dan A. came on board through Carabine – they were work colleagues down here. Then, Dan Arthur, Carabine and I started writing and rehearsing in practice rooms in Tottenham last year.”
“We were a drummer short, and we didn’t know any drummers in London. So, we had to hire drummers for gigs at first. Carabine joked once that it would be class if we could just have Lilley on the drums – he was universally known back in school as the best drummer anyone knew. Neither of us had spoken to him for years. We had our first gig in Manchester and Carabine plucked up the courage to message him on the off-chance. Amazingly, he was well up for it. The band as it is now with Lilley on the drums has been going since around May of this year, really.”
You recently changed the band name from Peach to Still Traffico. What was the reason behind the name change? How did the new name come about?
“Try finding Peach on the internet. It’s just a moraine of cooking recipes, soft porn sites, and the US state of Georgia. So the name had to change.‘Still Traffic’ seemed to fit a sense of stasis which appears a lot in our songs. Carabine and I come from an area in Manchester called ‘Tameside’ which I enjoy mispronouncing in an Italian accent as ‘Tam-ay-seed-ay’. In the same vein, ‘traffic’ became ‘traffic-o’.”
You sayyour music is “Railway Pop”. How would you describe Railway Pop?
“A sound that clanks and shunts but soothes.”
Three words why people should listen to you?
You released your debut single ‘Seagull’ end of September. What does this song mean to you? How are you feeling about it being out in the world?
“I felt a bit vulnerable. really. I take some comfort from the fact that people listening to it probably don’t pay too much attention to what I’m saying. It’s not exactly Obla-di, Obla-da, put it that way.”
“In terms of what it means to us? I’m not sure. For me, once it’s shared, and listened to, it’s not really ours anymore – unless you want to buy it. Then, your money should obviously come our way.”
With ‘Seagull’ being your debut single, what was the process like deciding what would be your musical introduction?
“It was our first ever experience recording something together. And we had enough saved up in the kitty from ticket sales for one full day in a studio. We knew it had to be a song that we could bring into the room, play live, and get done in a day. So, the prosaic answer to your question is: convenience with limited resources. But, I’m happy with it being the first one – it’s got clout.”
Can you walk us through your songwriting process?
“I carry about a notebook full of scribbled lyrics, bad poetry, whole sentences from a book I’m reading, or maybe a turn of phrase from an article that I like. And it all just sits there in a heap waiting to be made sense of. Most of it will never see the light of day, thankfully.”
“The music happens separately. It’s collaborative. Maybe Dan will have a bass lick, Carabine might turn up with a chord sequence, Lilley might try a drum beat you hadn’t contemplated in your head and the song goes in a completely different direction.”
“Then the music informs the mood, so that helps choose the right kind of lyrics for you. It’s finding the melody to bring the words in that’s the tough part. Sometimes the idea jumps out from the page, other times I’m guilty of shoehorning in a lyric. But the melody is the most important part of the process. It can’t be messed with for the sake of an extra syllable. The lyrics need to work for the melody, not the other way around.”
How important are lyrics to you?
“They mean everything. The things you won’t say in conversation. It has to be that way. You can’t leave any word said half-arsed. You can always hear insincerity – people have a natural ear for it. So, making sure that you’re showing who you really are, that’s the whole point.”
What are you hoping to achieve when you sit down and write a song?
“It’s about making something that you’d listen to if it wasn’t you. That’s more difficult to achieve than I’d anticipated. When I listen to our music, I find it hard to separate the fact that it’s us doing it from the song itself. I can’t stand the sound of my own voice on tape, in all honesty. So, it’s difficult to have that separation. The more songs that we record, maybe I’ll learn to listen and enjoy us – then I’ll feel a sense of achievement, hopefully.”
What are you currently working on that you can share with us? Do you have plans to release more new music soon?
“We’re working on our second single, which we’re calling ‘Silver Line’. Lilley’s a writer, and the title’s inspired by a character in one of his stories. We’re making a demo of it with the help of our producer friend, Rick Jakubowski, who also produced ‘Seagull’. We plan on doing the whole thing in his home studio. So it’ll be interesting to see what we make of it.”
How do you see the future, regarding the choice of making an EP or album?
“The plan for next year will be to have an EP, hopefully around spring time. We already know which songs will be on it, it’s just having the patience to get them right. The other lads are more methodical about the process. I’m more like a scanner at the checkout: right, done, next.”
If you could choose one person to produce your debut album, who would they be and why?
“Rick’s our guy. So, without doubt, if we ever do an album, I wouldn’t want anyone else on it. That said, if I had to answer more in the spirit of the question: Bill-Ryder Jones. Why? Because he makes music sound like a gesture of kindness.”
If you could open a show for an artist who would it be?
“I’d open one of Violette Records’ La Società nights in the vain hope they’d take us on or, failing that, to get to have a pint with Roy.”
What is your goal as a band, both short term and long term?
“Short term: record all the songs in our set and write a brand new set. Long term: I would kill to be able to tour as a band. To have enough people listening to us that we could turn up anywhere and have a crowd, no matter how small…That’ll do me.”
What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?
“Well, we saw that Moving mentioned our song when asked this question, so I naturally went straight to their single, ‘I Don’t Know’. It’s a beautifully poised song, lovely melody, and a twisting guitar piece like helicopter seeds falling off a sycamore tree. I love it.”
“I also really love ‘Talk About Running’ by Wilson A. It’s a righteous snarl against wellness frauds, backed up by music that makes me feel like I could burst through plate glass unscathed. What’s not to like?”
“….Dutch bands, man. Maybe Haarlem’s the place to be.”
What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?
“Margo Cassidy, ‘I’ll Be Around’. We’ve known Margo for a while. I met her at an open mic in Shoreditch a couple of years ago. We’ve played the same venues in London and she’s joined us on stage recently too. She writes beautiful songs, what more could you want than that?”
“I also want to mention the Outers. They’re a London band that have been on the same bill as us before. It was a toss up between them and Margo for the bonus track mention, but the coin landed on heads. The Outers are a class band, I’d recommend listening to them.”
Is there anything you’d like to add?
“If people like our single, they should follow us via 122Music in London. 122Music were the first people to pay any notice to us. They’re trying to build something exciting in London and they will…If people come down!”
Written by: leancool20
122Music Bill-Ryder Jones Cam McColl Connor Lilley Dan Arthur Dan Carabine Haarlem London Manchester Moving Peach Railway pop Rick Jakubowski Seagull Shoreditch Silver Line Still Traffico Tameside The Outers UK Wilson A
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