To be frank there aren’t many bands that completely unite the SOURCE office, but Mirrors are adored by us all. Absolutely mind-blowing live from their very first gigs a year ago, we’ve been holding a cover spot for them ever since. So what makes them special? Well, they’ve got the tunes. Songs like the ‘Autobahn’-esque melancholic bleep of ‘Fear Of Drowning’, the soft ballad that is ‘Look At Me’ and emotionally wrought ‘Write In The Night’ combine the best of OMD, New Order and Kraftwerk. And that’s high praise indeed. But there’s craft in there, real catchy songs to go with the style. Perhaps it’s because half the group have come from the more traditional confines of Mumm-ra, the Bexhill band that seemed to end too early.
“I was already thinking about leaving to do something more interesting,” says singer James of those final Mumm-Ra days. “Me and Ali sort of had this mutual disappointment in things around us, especially in music but also politically and musically, we just fell into the same world together and making music was the next obvious step.”
Ali: “Me and James started making music together before we really gave a band any serious thought – it came so naturally to us we felt we could potentially take this somewhere. We brought in Tate from Mumm-Ra, who James has known for a long time, and Joe, a mutual acquaintance and a really good musician, and decided this should be something we should be taking more seriously.”
It certainly was taken seriously. We were chatting to über-promoters Metropolis at last year’s Great Escape about who they were interested in seeing and the response was a single word: Mirrors. They weren’t looking to sign anyone else, and in the end weren’t able to beat off the competition for the synth pop quartet’s live bookings. With the smart suits and stylised four-synth stage show that wasn’t a complete surprise, despite the Great Escape being only their second live outing.
“From the outset the difference was that we wanted to make something based around the experience of it rather than just writing a few songs, gigging 200 times a year and hoping someone spotted us,” explains James. “We wanted to give everything a lot more thought; the stage show, how we look, the whole aesthetic of the band and the whole experience of what coming to see a Mirrors show should be, rather than four lads on a stage playing music. An all-encompassing audio-visual experience, an entire world of our own – that’s where we’d like to be.”
Being a new band and trying to take control of every element sounds like potential for stress but Mirrors say they just need enough room for their four imposing metal desks and a projector. “I don’t think it’s difficult at all really,” says James. “I think bands really need to start thinking about these things. All you need is a little imagination to dress something up. We’ve never had any money to do the things we do but where there’s a will there’s a way.”
Mirrors are pushing their low budget, high aesthetic ethos harder in their home town than anywhere else, avoiding the usual round of support slots available in the city in favour of their own nights. For Un Autre Monde, which means ‘another world’, they’re planning to dress the venue and choose the DJs and music, so even though on paper you’re just going to see a band it comes across as a whole experience; when you walk in you’re totally engrossed in Mirrors’ world and lose yourself. It sounds like the most exciting residency in Brighton since Club Sea Power.
With that in mind we’re so happy that they left the control to one side to play at our Great Escape party this year. Kicking off what was a chaotic night, they threw so much energy into it they didn’t need a vibe.
“It was quite hard work,” laughs James. “It was our punk show – what it lacked in vibe we made up for in volume.”
So far the Mirrors story has been about those incredible live shows but with the album already halfway through Skint are almost ready to start the singles assault.Incredibly, despite working with superstar producers like Richard X and Ed Buller, the band threw out early versions of the LP to record it themselves. A brave move that shows how confident they are in achieving their goals.
“Brave?” smiles Ali. “Yes. I’m not sure what the label thought of that but they’ve backed us this far. Now the album is something that’s ours – more personal, soulful but with rough round edges, electronic soul music. We have such a strong idea of what we want that getting it across is half the battle, we’ve cut out the middle man if you will.”
And that’s why we’re so excited by Mirrors. They know exactly what they want and they’re working hard to get it. It’s time to step into another world.
LIVE: Un Autre Monde at New Hero, Weds 14th
SINGLE: ‘Ways To An End’ out next month