Interview with The Savage Nomads' Cole Salewicz
Confident enough to seem cocky, Cole Salewicz, of the ever-rising rock band, The Savage Nomads, is certainly a character.
Born and raised in Clapham, and son of the well-known music journalist Chris Salewicz, the springy, fiercely ambitious twenty-something seems desperate for glory in his own right.
Eccentric and confused
He agrees to meet me on his home turf and on his terms, and taps me on the shoulder outside Clapham North tube station in the scorching hot sun, rather fashionably late.
He greets me with a wide smile and a welcoming embrace, yet remains cool. His eccentric and possibly confused style is hard to go unnoticed.
Wearing an Emanuel Netball t-shirt, bright red high-top sneakers, a pair of Prada sunglasses and a baseball cap with Cuba splayed across it, Cole looks more like a basketball playing hip-hop star than the well-educated and talented Rock musician that he is known as.
Electric mash-up of genres and sounds
It was almost a reflection of The Savage Nomads’ latest album, Coloured Clutter, which as the name suggests, is an eclectic mash-up of music genres and experimental sounds.
“I’m hungry,” he blurts out within seconds, before leading me to an upmarket delicatessen named Esca on the Clapham strip – a street he is very well acquainted with, yet insists he does not spend much time.
Like him, the eat-in deli is a bohemian enigma that doesn’t quite fit into its surroundings. The niggling noise of loud chatter and baby cries resounds through the herb-scented room whilst Cole orders a nutritious looking dish of grilled chicken and luscious green vegetables. His wide-eyed stare and fast-paced presence eliminates everyone else in the room; they all know who he is, and he is very aware of that.
He begins to chew on his food as he starts to talk about the album, staring at me intently as if I’m about to fire bullets at him.
“When we released our album, Coloured Clutter, in July, no one touched it for weeks. Absolute silence. It was so disheartening," he said. "Then, one day out of nowhere, Artrocker magazine published a piece describing the record as the best debut album from a British band this year.”
“That was a huge deal for us. Then it was a sort of, er, snowball effect. NME soon followed up with an article describing us as 'the country's most un-English sounding band. Singer Cole channels his inner David Byrne, but musically they hone everything from At The Drive-In to The Libertines' - and then the bloggers went crazy and it all blew up.”
"It's all about smoke and mirrors"
“It’s all about smoke and mirrors,” he said, as he pointed at me with his fork, gripping an oil-laden piece of asparagus.
He is quick to inform me that the band is signed to the newly successful independent record label, Alaska Sounds, despite being offered numerous other deals. “We chose Alaska because they were the best option for us; we can still do whatever we want, have our creative freedom and I can remain in control. I’m a bit of a control freak, you see," he said laughing.
“Bob Earland produced most of the album, he is also the in-house engineer at our label's studio in Waterloo. Mike Crossey also came in and produced a few tracks on the album - he’s produced the likes of the Arctic Monkeys – one of our inspirations, and the Foals, so we were very glad to have him on board,” he recalls, nonchalantly yet full of pride.
Cole’s attention diverts to a baby cackling and smiling on the table behind us, which fills him with amusement. The next moment he jumps out of his seat and insists we go for a stroll around Clapham Common in the sunshine.
It would be correct to assume that Cole is not a man of rest; he gets a buzz out of being busy and sought after due to his phone going off every few minutes. His drive and thirst for success is on another level to most peoples.
“I first realized we’d made it when I was walking down Clapham High Street and saw our name on a massive billboard for the Beach Break Festival, supporting one of our idols, Dizzie Rascal.”
An unlikely 'idol' for a Rock band - Dizzie Rascal, a once London Grime artist from Bow and now an international rap star, I ask Cole if he thinks Dizzie sold his soul for fame and fortune.
“No way. Right from the beginning, Dizzie stated that it was all about the money – he grew up on a council estate in Bow, and of course he wanted the best for himself. I want us to be huge!”
"Our sound is always changing"
On the walk back through the high street he begins to explain the sound of the new EP, which is released later this year, “I can’t even play back our old stuff,” he shrieks. “Our sound is always changing and we are always developing as artists – like, when our album sold out in Rough Trade earlier this year, one of the guys on the label said that he really liked it, but didn’t love it; he saw something great in us but knew we were still finding our sound.”
He asks me if I’d like a copy of the new EP, and eagerly takes me back to his three-storey Edwardian townhouse which he shares with his parents, hidden behind unkempt wild bushes, in order to collect it.
“Sorry, it’s a bit of a mess!” he says, before handing over the shiny new record that hasn’t been released yet.
The house inside is a beautiful state; the only thing in line of view is heaps of books, books, and more books. Oh, and a glimpse of red-painted wooden floor that occasionally peaks out from under the mountain of books, CDs and documents.
Signed records and posters of his father’s novels are scattered on the walls and floors, and the reason for Cole’s ‘fire in the belly’ becomes a bit clearer. He longs for his own world of Coloured Clutter.