Sorry talk debut LP, writing in quarantine, touring plans, and more in BV Q&A
In March, sonically sultry London five-piece Sorry released their terrific debut record, 925. Synth-ridden and filled to the brim with beautiful post-punk riffing, glittery shoegaze lullabies, and poetic prose, the album touches on romantic qualms, self-perception, vanity, desire, and indulgence in a glamorous, gritty fashion.
What should have been a happy album release month, though, coincided with the pandemic sweeping across the world. Sorry were actually in the US at the time, set to tour around SXSW (canceled). As one last hurrah, the band — primary members Asha Lorenz (vocals) and Louis O’Bryen (vocals, guitar) and bandmates Lincoln Barrett (drums), Campbell Baum (bass), and Marco Pini (synths) — played Brooklyn's Union Pool March 12, just before they were forced to travel back overseas to shelter in place and everything shut down.
Since then Sorry have slowly begun working on new material, spending time in the studio and eager not to let external turmoil put a damper on their creative process. They even had the chance to return to the stage at a socially-distanced, seated gig at London's The Windmill in October for an overdue 925 release show.
Curious about what else Sorry had been up to since March, I chatted with Asha and Louis over email about their debut, their approach to writing in a time like this, missing simple pleasures like going to the pub, and much more.
Read our conversation below.
Hey guys! To begin, for anyone who has yet to know you, how would you describe Sorry (sonically, or otherwise)? What should fans know about you guys?
Louis: Hey there! We’re a band from North London, all old friends. We try to make warped pop music — "chameleonic" is the best way someone has described it — and we just released our album 925 on Domino Records.
925 is a stellar record! As a refresher, which songs should listeners take a look at to get a taste of it?
Louis: Thanks very much! I would say start with "As the Sun Sets" or "Perfect." The album jumps all over the place, genre-wise, so you can kind of dip in and out of it and get different things from it each time. If you want something a bit more upbeat, you can start with “Right Round the Clock” or "Starstruck."
As this was your debut, had you guys undergone a lot of planning in regard to what you wanted to say and how you wanted to say it before everything came together? Or was it more organic?
Louis: We had ideas about what we wanted it to sound like, but a lot of that came together quite naturally. Because 925 was a culmination of songs we’d written over the last 5 years, the way we write songs changed a lot and, as a result of that, the genres and styles jump around a bit. We like how it turned out like that. I guess, for the next album, we’ll approach it in another way and that process will produce something different.
In that vein, 2017 single "Lies" was given a little touch-up for its inclusion on the album. What led you to make this change from the original? So it could fit a little better in relation to the rest of the record?
Louis: Yeah, we just liked that song a lot, and always thought it lent itself to having a beat-sy element to it. It was fun updating that track, and [it] allowed us to experiment a bit. The lyrics are really important to the album, so we definitely wanted it to fit in with the other songs, so it needed a bit of an update.
Tracks such as "Snakes," "As the Sun Sets," and "Rosie" present a vulnerable side of the record. When opening up, lyrically, does this come easy to you, or is it a little intimidating?
Louis: I feel like it’s easier to be vulnerable in a song! I like putting things away in [them]; you feel stronger for being able to put the vulnerability somewhere other than yourself. We also try and use the right instruments that accompany the idea/lyrics behind the song, too. “In Unison” is sort of a lullaby and the orchestral breakdown sort of sinks you lower into it. It also reminds me of something from a funeral.
With "As the Sun Sets" specifically, there’s a distinct sense of loss buried within it. With more current contexts in mind, what would you say you miss most about the times pre-pandemic? Is there anything you’re looking forward to once things return to a semblance of normalcy?
Louis: I think [we’re] just missing having hope and sort of things to look forward to — gigs, friends, prospects, proper pubs...
How have you guys been doing during the past few, tumultuous months? Where have you been holed up/what have you been getting up to? Any new hobbies?
Asha: It’s been quite a horrible time, yeah. For the world, it all seems very dire, but I think it’s important to remind yourself that it will end at one point, and it’s just about getting on with the stuff until it does eventually end. We’ve been listening and making a lot of music, reading, and just passing the time.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, how has the writing/recording process been vs. your process prior?
Asha: It’s kinda been the same for us — a lot of bedroom writing and recording — so, not a lot has changed in that aspect. We’ve taken some tracks to the studio to work on as well, so that’s been fun. I guess, just how we approach it has changed a bit. It’s been strange, not being able to play live — something we didn’t realise we liked so much until it’d been taken away from everyone. I think that helps with our self-esteem when writing, so we’ve had to learn to motivate ourselves in different ways. The new normal is weird!
How are you guys feeling about the future of the industry, as everything is being forced to adapt so hastily and there’s a lot of uncertainty? Hopeful? Nervous?
Asha: It’s a scary time for all creative industries. Not sure when gigs will be able to be back in full motion. Everyone is in the same boat so it is what is...hopefully, we’ll just carry on releasing music and be making music. There are a lot of nerves around the whole thing, wondering what will still be open when we do eventually go back on tour.
What do you think you would be up to right now if the pandemic wasn’t a factor
Asha: Right now, we’d probably be touring the UK or maybe America — playing gigs and having fun.
In that regard, you guys only really got one good 925-era gig in the States (and recently, another in London). Which songs are you guys most amped to play live once that can happen more safely and frequently?
Asha: "Lies," "Heather," and "Wolf" are all quite fun to play live. We’re just excited to play the whole thing, really. The last time we played live properly, people were getting to know the songs, so it’ll be nice to do a show where people know a whole album.
Sorry have rescheduled their tour for May and June 2021, noting "Hopefully they happen." Dates are below.