We’re here with The Boy Least Likely To, lyricist and songwriter Jof Owen, and composer/multi-instrumentalist Pete Hobbs.

Thanks for chatting to The New Roxette guys…

You’ve already had success in the UK, and USA, and have toured with the likes of James Blunt, and Razorlight… but some of our readers may recognise and remember you, as you’re originally from ‘up the road’ in Wendover!

Q1:      What have been some of the biggest highlights so far, since you formed TBLLT?

I remember when Steve Lamacq played our first single on his radio show, after we’d sent him a copy with a hand written note. It was so exciting. If that had been all that had ever happened I would have still been happy. After that everything else was just so amazing to me that it almost became silly. I remember being so excited when the rough trade shop first stocked our album and we sold out of the first run before it had even been released, and then when pitchfork first wrote about us. These are still the things that mean the most to me. There have been so many highlights I can’t list them all. Going on tour in America, landing in Boston and being on the front page of the Daily newspapers. Landing in New York and being photographed for Rolling Stone. America generally is always amazing. Playing Wembley, and all the other places we’ve been able to play. Nearly all the shows we’ve played I’ve loved. I still get excited when I see the finished albums and singles too. I suppose we started the band because we wanted to make records and that was all we really cared about. When we started I never imagined us playing live, so to have done as many shows as we have still seems weird to me. In a nice way! 

Q2:      Your latest (second) album is released on 9th March 2009, which is called “The Law Of The Playground”. What is the inspiration and story behind this album?

Musically it’s still a very happy record. It bounces around and bobs along like the last one did. We moved our recording equipment out of the bedroom that we recorded the first album in and into a studio a few miles down the road. We brought in a few new instruments to compliment the banjos, recorders and glockenspiels of the first album. There’s a brass section courtesy of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band for example, and then even when we were recording the more familiar instruments we still tried to record them in different ways, and then lyrically I think it’s quite a sad angry record.

 It’s an album about what happens when all your dreams come true and it isn’t how you thought it would be.

 I suppose there are themes of disillusionment and feeling like you don’t fit in that run throughout the album. It’s kind of about coming to terms with the compromises and the failures that are likely to happen in everyone’s lives, but it’s also like a celebration of those failures too.

Q3:      Do you have a favourite track from the album, and please tell us about the new Double-A-side you’re releasing.

I’m so excited about all the songs on the record and I can’t wait for people to hear them, but if I had to pick one, then there’s a song called ‘The Boy With Two Hearts’ that I’m really proud of. We recorded all the brass parts with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. I remember the demo was quite mournful in a really sweet way and I ended up writing relatively simple words for it. It sounds quite sad and Christmassy, and it reminds me of the theme tune to the flumps, but I don’t expect anyone else will think that.

The new Double-A side has ‘Every Goliath Has Its David’ on one side and ‘A Balloon On A Broken String’ on the other. We liked them both as much as each other and so it’s a Double-A side! It has two videos and everything! Both of the songs are quite bouncy indie pop-songs, one of them is just me imagining what it would be like to be a balloon and then squeezing that metaphor dry, and the other song is a song about fighting - but then most of our songs are!

Q4:      TBLLT are known, not just for your music, (which has been described as “Country Disco”), but also for your artwork, and these colourful characters? Would you agree with that description of the band, and who designs/creates these characters?

I like the description of us as being ‘Country Disco’, I think it kind of sums up what we do quite nicely. I don’t really mind any of the descriptions that usually get applied to us. I’ve always been comfortable with ‘twee pop’ or ‘cutie or indie pop’. As for the drawings, my brother does them all. Except the new album cover features a knitted version of a drawing he did of a bird, and then we made a tank out of shoe boxes, cotton reels, pineapple tins and a sink plunger. I missed doing the drawings a bit because they were so much easier.

The bird and the tank were the most difficult things I’ve ever had to work with. We did do some new drawings recently though, for a B-sides and Rarities compilation that comes free when you buy the new album from the Rough Trade shop. I really enjoyed how easily and quickly it comes together when the covers are drawn. I’m not sure what we’ll do next time!

Q5:      You have a new tour coming up, what do you like most, and least about touring?

I love doing the shows and I love spending time with my friends in the band, but I miss being away from home. I love the village I live in, and I’ve spent so much time here over the last two years that it’s going to be a bit weird not being here. Sometimes being on a tour bus and everything else before a show feels a bit like waiting in an airport for a plane. Whole days slip by without anything happening, and I always think I’m going to do something constructive with my time, but I end up just staring out of the window and wandering around venues aimlessly. I’m determined to do something useful with my spare time on this tour though. Perhaps I’ll learn Spanish!

Q6:      What else have you got coming up this year?

With all the touring and the album coming out, I don’t think I’ll have time for anything else, but if I did then I’d like to write some children’s poems and get my brother to illustrate them and then make an animation from it. I don’t think I’ll have time though!

Q7:      Anything else you’d like to add?

Not that I can think of. It’s just nice to do an interview with someone from Aylesbury. Thank You.  x

THE QUICK FIRE FIVE – please complete the sentence…

1*        Be Gentle With Me because: - I bruise like a peach.

2*        The Best Party Ever was: - The best parties are always the impromptu ones. The ones that you don’t plan for. They can happen anytime. I remember one Wednesday last year that just got bigger and bigger until it was four in the morning and everyone had to force themselves to go to bed because we had work in the morning. I had a party at my flat on Christmas Eve too, and I was so drunk that I had to leave. Ii was kind of annoyed in the morning, just because I’d thrown a party but I hadn’t been there! That was a good party!

3*        I’m looking forward to: - Christmas. I always do. I don’t care how far away it is.

4*        My favourite bands at the moment are: - I think The School are one of the most lovely bands I’ve heard all year. They’re a seven piece indie pop group from Cardiff, fronted by Liz, who used to be the keyboard player in The Loves. They remind me of Camera Obscura and Sixties girl groups. They’re signed to Elefant and they’re coming on tour with us in March too. My other favourite bands at the moment are Versus The Lion, The Fox And The Bramble and a band called Oh, Atoms. I think they’re all going to be bigger than the Beatles!!!

5*        The Law Of The Playground is: - Bully or be Bullied. I will always be happier being bullied I guess, however much it hurts sometimes!

Many thanks Guys, good luck with the new single, album and of course the tour, and we look forward to catching up with you and the band again very soon.