“We’ve had a lot of faith in what we were doing”, says Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin when reflecting on the writing and recording process of their stunning album Every Bad and its impact. “I think the fact it’s been really well received is amazing but it’s not what we set out thinking about.”
Humble in success, the four-piece have every right to bask in the plaudits that have rightfully been lavished across their second LP.
Hailed by critics, Every Bad is a nigh-on indie masterpiece awash with influences ranging from post-punk to art-rock that boasts vulnerable and explosive moments through beautiful guitar melodies and Margolin’s fierce and emotive vocals. It culminates in an experience you’ll cherish with every listen.
And just four months after dropping, it was shortlisted for the 2020 Hyundai Mercury Prize – one of the most prestigious accolades in music – alongside the likes of Stormzy, Charli XCX and Dua Lipa.
The nomination marked an incredible rise and breakthrough year for Porridge Radio, who were included on Daily Star Online’s Ones to Watch 2020 list.
“It’s not something we really knew what to expect from doing it the way we’d been doing it for the last five years”, Dana told Daily Star Online. “To have people really be in to it has been really amazing.”
From evolving from Margolin’s bedroom project, the quartet became mainstays in the Brighton live music scene, immersing themselves in shows and touring, before making the move to London.
In that time they’ve shared stages with the likes of Soccer Mommy, Alex G, Goat Girl, and Cherry Glazer, and were due to appear at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas, before the Covid-19 pandemic forced its cancellation.
New single, the Marta Salgoni-produced 7 Seconds, was released last week, giving us a glimpse into their ever-evolving soundscape and future ambition.
On the dizzying closing section of Lilac, Dana sings: “I don’t want to get bitter, I want us to get better, I want us to be kinder to ourselves and to each other”.
If that’s not the message we should be living by in 2020’s turbulence, what is?
Daily Star Online’s Rory McKeown caught up with Margolin to talk about Every Bad, Porridge Radio’s phenomenal rise, their Mercury Prize shortlisting and future material.
Hi Dana. Firstly, congratulations on the Mercury Prize nomination for Every Bad. How did you feel when you heard it was nominated?
“It was quite a weird one. We’d spoken about it a bit because it had been said we might be shortlisted. I don’t think any of us really thought we would be. We didn’t think it through in any way.
“My manager phoned me up when I was driving to Brighton. I was on the M25 and he was like ‘OK I’ve got some news for you. You can’t tell anybody. You’ve been shortlisted for the Mercury but you can’t tell anyone for a week’. I was like ‘OK cool’, I didn’t know what to do with that information. It’s really nice.”
Was it always one of your goals?
“Not at all. Our band have been making music and playing shows together for five years and before that I’d been doing it on my own for a few years. We always just enjoy making music and playing music together.
“The recent feeling of being accepted by the music industry on a wider level has been really nice. It’s not something we set out doing this for.”
The album itself has had widespread praise from music critics and the music industry in general. Did you think it would have the impact it has?
“I don’t think we really thought that part of it through. We were just thinking about how we wanted it to sound and what we were able to do when we were making it.
“We’ve had a lot of faith in what we were doing. I think the fact it’s been really well received is amazing but it’s not what we set out thinking about.”
It’s evolved from a bedroom project to a full four-piece. What was the writing and recording process like this time? What were your inspirations going into writing it?
“It took a few years to go from demoing it to releasing it. Even before then I’d written these songs and we were playing a lot of them live. The way I write is over a long period of time.
“There was a lot of inspiration going into it. It was all written when I lived in Brighton and now I live in London. Being near the sea, my mental health wasn’t great at the time and a lot of my friends were struggling. That was a big influence in a lot of the music.
“I wouldn’t say there was one writing period for this album. It tends to be spread out over a long period of time. The songs that ended up on the album were grouped together because they fit together.
“Living in Brighton had a big influence on how it sounded. We would play every week, sometimes a few shows a week. It was a very non-stop few years of writing and playing shows all the time, and touring whenever we could. In that sense Brighton was a huge part of that.”
What’s the scene like in Brighton now?
“I moved to London two years ago and haven’t been back for a while but there are loads of bands and promoters. Loads of people putting on shows for their friends. There’s a really big DIY scene and loads of stuff happening.
“There are loads of amazing venues and people do like being part of that in Brighton. It was really great for us because it allowed us to become part of something and learn how to make music together.”
You’re nominated alongside the likes of Stormzy, Charli XCX, Michael Kiwanuka and Dua Lipa, as well as Georgia and Sports Team. Are there any of those albums that you’re fans of?
“Yeah, I’m a big fan of a lot of the artists, especially Charli XCS, Dua Lipa and Michael Kiwanuka. I think the whole list is really amazing and it’s cool to be alongside some albums that are really incredible.”
Have you thought what you’d do if you were announced as winners?
“No, not really. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m just happy to be along for the ride and taking everything as it comes.”
You’re a part of this exciting new charge of bands in the UK and Ireland. What do you make of the indie scene at the moment?
“There is loads of really good music. I think it’s amazing. It’s really special to be making and playing music and being surrounded by loads of artists who I really respect.
“It’s really fun to be able to play shows and want to see bands on the same line up. Being a part of that is really great.”
How have you found lockdown? Are you keen to get back out there?
“Yes, but it is what it is. When it’s safe to play shows again, we will be playing shows again. That’s the way it is and that’s OK. I’m very happy to spend this time writing and recording and thinking about other ways of making and playing music.
“In that sense it’s great to not be touring because it’s given us the time to just be creative, which I really love.
“It will be nice to tour again when we can but I’m not rushing anything.”
You’ve just released new song 7 Seconds. Tell me more about it.
“It’s a few years old lyrically. Last year I showed it to Sam who plays drums in Porridge Radio and is a big part of producing and arranging the music with me. He has sped it up and made this main riff in the song. He brought it to the rest of the band last summer and finished arranging it.
“Because of the pandemic, we were able to have some studio time with Marta Salogni a month or two ago. We’ve been demoing over lockdown and we were able to go into the studio and record it, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if we’d been on tour.
“In a way it’s an old song but a really new song because it stands a long period of time but in its current form it’s very new.
“We’d never played it live except for the live session we’d just released.”
Have you been working on material for Every Bad’s follow up?
“I have been thinking about that for about a year and a half. I’ve been kind of ready to go. That’s the fun of making anything.
“There’s always these ideas for the future. It’s fun to think about the way we’re going to be able to develop.”
Will it sound different?
“I’ve got a lot of ideas for how it’s going to sound. It’s just a continuous, evolving conversation and process of going from one place to another. We’ve got a load of ideas.
“Where we are now, 7 Seconds is one direction of where we want to go. We’ve got a lot of songs and ideas for what we want. We’ll just see how it turns out.”
It’s been an incredible 12 months for Porridge Radio. Excluding the pandemic, how would you describe it?
“It’s great that people have responded so well to our music at this point. It’s not something we really knew what to expect from doing it the way we’d been doing it for the last five years.
“To have people really be in to it has been really amazing.”
The winner of the 2020 Hyundai Mercury Prize will be announced at 7pm on September 24 on BBC One’s The One Show
Full 2020 Hyundai Mercury Prize shortlist:
Anna Meredith – FIBS
Charli XCX – how i’m feeling now
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Georgia – Seeking Thrills
Kano – Hoodies All Summer
Lanterns on the Lake – Spook the Herd
Laura Marling – Song for Our Daughter
Michael Kiwanuka – KIWANUKA
Moses Boyd – Dark Matter
Porridge Radio – Every Bad
Sports Team – Deep Down Happy
Stormzy – Heavy is the Head