Gig preview: Department M at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Department M
Department M
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“I wanted to prove I could do something which was not just a rehash of what I’ve done before, I suppose,” says former Grammatics singer Owen Brinley of his latest project, Department M.

Ditching the tricksy indie rock of his old band (and their predecessors Colour of Fire) for crepuscular synth pop, Brinley duly fulfilled his ambition to “raze the past and start again with something completely new”. Now, after a string of well-received singles and a self-titled mini-album, he’s eased up a little.

“On this new record the policy with me as a songwriter was to let some things I’ve done before the past back in a little – playing guitar, for instance. I allowed myself to do all the things that are my strengths as a songwriter.

“I think it’s the best record I’ve done under any moniker. I let myself be comfortable with my past and what I can do.”

Brinley credits the input of drummer Tommy Davidson – who’s dividing his time between Department M and fellow Leeds band Pulled Apart By Horses – as “an extra pair or ears and head involved in the process” for the transition towards a warmer sound and helping to “get more of a live feel to what we were doing”, the first fruits of which can be heard on the new single Bleak Technique.

Department M launch it with a joint gig with Hide & Seek labelmates Post War Glamour Girls at Brudenell Social Club tonight.

Brinley explains the song’s lyrics are “based in a modern, post-internet paranoia about the fact that now with companies like Uber and Google your every move can be tracked if you let it”.

“I think a lot of people are starting to feel with this technological revolution there are some downsides, it’s not just a 100 per cent positive thing.

“In the last couple of years the amount of people who I’ve had conversations with about social media and they’ve said, ‘Oh yeah, I want to delete my Facebook’ or even now with Facebook if you suspend your account when you deactivate it you can just choose to do that for seven days, people are in Facebook holidays, so the lyrics are based in that slight paranoia and fear that people are starting to feel about the loss of privacy from these things.”

He confirms Department M’s debut full-length album is complete but negotiations are continuing over when and with whom it’s released.

“It’ll be out by hook or by crook by the end of January next year. I would’ve liked it to be out by January this year but things inevitably get pushed back. The artwork or getting a single campaign together often takes longer than recording the whole album.”

The album is called Deep Control, he reveals. “The theme of the album reflects on issues of control, both internally for people and with big business and companies intruding on people’s privacy.”
The title comes from Patti Smith’s book Just Kids. “It’s two words in one of her poems. I liked the strength of those two words together,” Brinley says.

Department M and Post War Glamour Girls play at Brudenell Social Club on Thursday August 6, doors 7.30pm. For details visit