Easy Life: "If I’m experiencing something, chances are everyone else has, so I feel it’s essential to write about those things."
Jade Poulters| 17/09/2022
I’ve probably caught easy life’s Murray Matravers at the worst possible time. It’s 17:30 pm in Japan, where the band was performing at Tokyo’s Summer Sonic Festival the night before. What followed was a seemingly mega night out, a high-speed bullet train to the next stop with a heavy hangover and a failed hunt for some greasy comfort food. “All I could find to eat was mackerel sushi,” he tells me over a very shaky connection, “so it’s not treated me very kindly today. I’m feeling a bit worse for wear.”
The band is currently festival hopping around the world, treating fans to some old favourites and fresh new bangers from the second album, Maybe In Another Life, which comes out next month. The immersive and ambitious project in sound and storytelling takes the one-of-a-kind British band to a whole new level. Introduced by a stellar run of singles, it includes features from Brockhampton’s Kevin Abstract and Kiwi alt-pop superstar BENEE. Influenced in equal measure by the manic, hip-hop energy of Odd Future all the way through to the 70s nostalgia of Elton John. With a colourful visual palette inspired by the wonderful worlds of Disney and Wes Anderson alike, the album is one of silver linings and making sense of the world in both its chaotic and melancholic moments, which takes the band to new creative heights.
If debut album life’s a beach was easy life’s most sunny side up, optimistic study of Middle England, then lockdown really did a number on Matravers, whose shank sharp observations on modern British life really cut through hard the second time around. What’s emerged is an expertly realised vision of masculinity, which encourages us – via straight-talking or exuberant world-building – to find joy in the journey, not just the destination.
The album drops amongst a flurry of activity for the group, who kicked off their festival run in May after a massive US tour. They also recently announced a huge UK, European, and North American headline tour for 2023, including their biggest-ever dates at London’s Alexandra Palace and Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena, and a sold-out record store tour soon to make its way across the UK. It’s been a whirlwind of a ride for the five-piece, so I take this small respite in their schedule to reflect back and look forward to what will only be an even bigger 2023.
“There was a lot of anticipation around our first album, from the fans, from the industry, so we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to deliver our debut album as best as possible. I think, in general, we as musicians are very ambitious. We put a lot of pressure and stress on ourselves, so it was nice to get that first one out and out of the way. The second one came so much easier. I wrote it in secret. Actually, I didn’t advertise the fact I was doing it and just sat down and got on with it by myself.
The album itself is amazing, but the process of writing it was incredible. It was such an incredible time. The process is so important. I feel like if I enjoy writing the music, then nine times out of ten, it turns out great, whereas if I’m not enjoying it, not feeling it, maybe writing it for the wrong reasons, then it’s never good’s pointless. I’m actually now really looking forward to getting started on the third one now. As soon as I finish something, I’m kind of over it straight away and want to move on to the next thing straight away, and because I had such a good time writing this album, I just want to keep writing.”
Like most 2022 releases, Maybe In Another Life sprang to life in the latter half of the pandemic, when the optimistic “we’re all in this together” spirit had long faded away. The reality of a second Christmas without loved ones was looming, a darkening mood creeping into the thematic arc of the record.
“I started writing at the back end of COVID, sort of as we were coming out, but while it was still going on. The world was still closed up as we were going in and out of lockdowns, so that feeling of anxiety and insecurity we all felt is definitely laced throughout the album. I’m normally moved to write songs when I’m feeling melancholy. I wouldn’t say the songs I write are particularly happy songs, you know. If you play the instrumental, yeah, they are uplifting, and I think the album, in general, has a hopeful note. We’re all optimists at easy life, but I do talk about stuff quite profoundly.
If I’m experiencing something, chances are everyone else has, so I feel it’s essential to write about those things if it’s just missing the train or something more shocking. Even if it is the most boring pedestrian surface-level issue, you can only write about your experiences, but everything that happens to me has happened to most other people at some point, so it’s good to talk about it and get it out there 100%
I think it’s very easy to be defined by something like anxiety or depression. I talk about it because I experience it daily, sadly, and I know countless other people do too. Increasingly so it feels with young people in England. So it is something I want to talk about, but I don’t want it to necessarily define our songwriting. I don’t want people to think of easy life and think of mental health issues because - yes, it’s worth talking about, but especially now, it is an aspect of life that is becoming less of a big deal because we have created communities which allow us to be vulnerable and have a whinge about not feeling right all of the time. So I wanted to write, and I think we have created a positive record nonetheless.”
While the group doesn’t want their struggles to define their music, they definitely play a massive part in the songwriting process. Matravers doesn’t think he could write the songs he does without his struggles, nor would he be able to overcome them without turning them into art.
“I’m always searching for new ways to tackle feeling overwhelmed. I’m doing a lot more exercise. If you go see a doctor, the first thing they’ll tell you is, ‘you should probably do some exercise,’ but it’s hard to exercise when you’re not feeling motivated.
I’m not sure if it’s completely helping or not, but it is definitely one of those things that take you out of your own head -so exercise, yoga, and reading are all really enjoyable for me. But genuinely, I’ve always said that writing music is an amazing sort of form of therapy, or it certainly is for me. As I said, I do it a lot of the time on my own, so having that time to write lyrics, melody, chord structures, and whatnot, just that feeling of the music, actually helps me explain things to myself. It’s hard to know at times how you actually feel in yourself or how you feel about a situation, so lots of the time, it’s when I finish a song that I realise that I’ve just explored that situation or my anxieties, insecurities, and vulnerabilities. It’s cathartic, but it’s also subconscious a lot of the time, those feelings just come out, and it’s then you can read back and understand what emotions you are actually feeling.
I’m lucky to have the time to do that, to be honest with you, because, you know, a lot of people have to plough through and put those thoughts to one side, and they end up pilling up, and the stress buries them. Songwriting is like meditation for me -although I’m really bad at meditation- it’s relaxing, it’s freeing, and there are no rules.”
Since live events as we knew them were given the green light again last year, the boys haven’t stopped with two rounds of summer festivals, two UK tours, a US tour, and a European tour all packed away. With over 30 more dates locked in for early 2023, it was understandable that it took Matravers a few seconds to remember where he had been these last twelve months. I wanted to know how all this time on the road has been for them, both physically and mentally.
“We’ve done a lot of touring this year. I’m trying to remember, we did the UK at the end of last year, right? Then Europe, then America, and now we’re in Asia - oh, and we did like all the festivals we could this summer as well. It’s been pretty relentless, to be honest, but bro, it’s amazing! I love touring, it can be really hard with the lack of routine and the instability of it all, but through all the troubling and gruelling times, we must remember that we and the audience are teammates. These are really special moments where you meet fans and hear their experiences and how they experience and interpret your music, and it’s so rewarding, and it’s so special, it still blows me away.
You know we are in Japan right now, and we’ve had people wait for us at the airport to tell us that the music has helped them through dark times, or been there in good times, or whatever it may be. It’s wild, like it’s completely bananas, to be honest with you. I’ve met so many inspiring young people who have been through so much, you know, so much trauma and so many hardships, and to find out our music has played a small part in their defiance against the world is just so special. It’s the greatest accolade that anyone could have given us.”
Their new album, out October 7th after a two-month delay, marks a new era for the group, one that is less urgent and chaotic but more delicate and balanced. If life’s a beach was the rowdy, bucket hat-wearing 16-year-old at their first Leeds fest post GCSE results day, then Maybe In Another Life is the punter at their third Glastonbury, they know where they’re going and are far more self-assured.
It feels like the band has taken a big step forward, experimenting sonically with their already complex mixture of hip-hop, indie, jazz, and dance and elevating things to a whole new level.
From the get-go, the first song, ‘GROWING PAINS, ’ attacks you with the band’s newly matured style with moodier instrumentation, deeper vocals, and lyrics more obviously hard-hitting than anything from their debut. The next track, ‘BASEMENT,’ is similarly more sassy and assertive, the punchy house track is confident, winking at arrogance with the line “I don’t owe anyone an explanation/everyone thinks I’m amazing!” but fans know it’s all in good fun. The third track ‘DEAR MISS HOLLOWAY’ is a stand-out for us nostalgic, unironic BUSTED fans at HATC, the collaboration with Kevin Abstract is the cornerstone of the album explained Matravers, the bridge between their debut and sophomore outing. It’s youthful, optimistic, and a touch naive in the retelling of a crush on an old teacher, the more true to life “What I Go To School For,” perhaps.
“Can I just - on the record,” starts Matravers as we discuss the song’s meaning, “because people keep messaging me and stuff. Miss Holloway isn’t a real person. She’s a fictional character because if I had actually written a song about, like yeah, someone who would now be quite an old lady by name and have this be the way she found out about it, that would be so weird, really inappropriate. So the character is fictional, but the situation is real” Noted. “While we are talking about it, I want to mention the music video for it. With all the claymation, it took months to make that video it was the most tedious thing, so I’ve got to shout out William Child, the absolute genius who made it - he also helped design the artwork for the album as well, he is amazing, and we were really stoked to be able to work with him.”
As we round up our conversation, wishing the boys all the best on what will be a genuinely eventful 2023, I reflect on the last track to the record ‘FORTUNE COOKIE’ and its closing lines, words I think we should all, moving forward, live by. “if you believe you’re in need of repair, take care,”
easy life’s second album, Maybe In Another Life, is available now.
Words: Jade Poulters