Some three years ago, ripples of excitement began spreading between those in the know. FACTORY FLOOR had just released Lying /A Wooden Box. Hypnotic, visceral and vital, the tracks soon turned ripples into waves. Singles with Glasgow’s Optimo records and James Murphy’s DFA did nothing to quell the excitement surrounding the band. And then, nothing. No more singles, no EPs and no indication of a debut LP. Some three years ago, ripples of excitement began spreading between those in the know. Factory Floor had just released Lying /A Wooden Box. Hypnotic, visceral and vital, the tracks soon turned ripples into waves. Singles with Glasgow’s Optimo records and James Murphy’s DFA did nothing to quell the excitement surrounding the band. And then, nothing. No more singles, no EPs and no indication of a debut LP.
Those with an unquenchable thirst for some new Factory Floor were forced to catch their live shows, and they were not disappointed. Factory Floor developed into one of the most exciting live acts in the country. With semi-legendary shows at venues up and down the country (including the TATE Modern), the band began building a reputation.
Despite the temptations to capitalise on the hype, however, Factory Floor chose to spend time honing their craft. “We’ve got to be happy with it ultimately or that could have a detrimental effect on the band going forward,” founding member Gabriel Gurnsey (Drums) tells Bido Lito!, fresh from a flight back from Italy. “I think we made the right choice. We took the right kind of stepping stones towards putting together this album. When you work on them in a live situation, you’re giving the track all the room to grow and you’ve experimented until you get to the point – rather than going in with an idea and saying ‘it’s got to sound like this’.”
Not only did this time spent touring strengthen their ability as performers, the songwriting began to take on a much more fluid dynamic. Fragments of song ideas were fed into the live set, played and refined. “We take the simple elements of the tracks and they grow. Live, it’s always going to be different. We can’t be formulaic or we’ll just get bored shitless. We need to make the set reach that intensity. When it gets there you can really play with the audience and manipulate them. But, they also begin to initiate the changes. If we stumble across something that makes the crowd go apeshit, we explore it.”
All of this refinement has been channelled into their immensely impressive self-titled debut. Somewhere between Cabaret Voltaire and New Order, the album stands as testament to how far the band has come. Violent, agitated and very very danceable. “It’s still a starting point for us,” assures Gurnsey, “but we needed that amount of time to get to where we were happy with what we were doing and what we were giving to the public; what we were playing and how we could translate that live.”
Having a clear vision of what needed to be done, the band wanted to ensure they, as a collective, retained control: “When writing the songs, the tracks that stuck, the ones that had the energy and the feel of Factory Floor, were the ones we played together in the studio. All three of us would be in the room doing it. That’s the only time it works with Factory Floor. If you take an element out of it, it doesn’t have the same chemistry. All of the tracks on the album were done as live takes. Some of them were done over a period of three to four hours. Fall Back and Work Out are snippets of very long recording sessions. Then we’d have to go back and work out what worked. During the recording not only were we writing, we were learning how to record our stuff. We were engineering our own stuff and we were all mixing as we were going along and producing it. It was a big learning curve, the production of the record. We set out from the start with the intention of us doing it ourselves because we couldn’t translate it through anybody else. We wanted to learn it ourselves and put that on the record. There were times where in the takes there was loads of spill in the room, technical things. It was up to me to learn how to capture the sound I wanted. More often than not it got down to simplifying the set up.”
Process, it seems, is paramount to the band’s music. Much like the band themselves, each song goes through numerous iterations and revisions. Such as when recording, “It’s not a case of doing a drum take over a track and leaving it. It’s a matter of getting the kick sounding perfect. Processing it, routing it through a vintage deck or pedals. However it works. Our songs progress in that way.” So Factory Floor songs rely on these sonic variations, eschewing traditional structures? “There’s no verse-chorus,” Gurnsey reminds us. “The progression comes through those changes: percussion repeated through different effects.”
Factory Floor’s industrial connections reach much further than just their name. The tracks appear to be built from a blueprint. Monolithic structures that refuse to bend or waver, the songs grow around their rhythmic foundations and create a heady mix that provokes the most primitive responses. Stories of spontaneous nudity and stage invasions are none too difficult to believe. “In terms of writing, we write stuff on stage and it goes into the studio and then visa versa. They’re both different disciplines. You’re messing around with different spaces and different rooms. The adrenaline and anxiety of going on before an audience isn’t there [in the studio]. Live, we have that audience feedback, people dancing and getting lost in it.”
This symbiotic relationship between audience and band has been key to the band’s success. Besides making the band a much stronger unit, being able to enjoy their live shows has ensured they continue to love what they do, eight years since forming.
“The best shows are the ones where you feel like you’re not really there. It’s pure escapism.”