WHEN a British band manages to bag a slot on David Letterman’s iconic US chat show, it’s usually a sure-fire sign that big things lurk just round the corner.
But when Leeds band Eagulls appeared on the show a couple of months back, the New York audience were left more than a little bewildered.
The reason? They thought they were about to see West Coast soft rock veterans The Eagles.
It meant that instead of being welcomed to the Hotel California, they were treated to Eagulls frontman George Mitchell informing them he was Possessed.
YouTube records that ‘smattering’ would be a pretty fair description of the applause that greeted the end of their assured performance.
Not that it bothers Mitchell in the slightest. “That whole thing was surreal,” he says. “We were walking along in Manhattan on day with Tim, the boss of our record label, and went past the studios where they film it.
“He said, ‘You’ll play there one day’ and we were like, ‘Don’t be stupid’. But a month later we did.
“Some of our friends were in New York on holiday so we got tickets for them. They said loads of people sitting near them thought it was going to be The Eagles playing,” he laughs.
“God knows what they thought when we rocked up.”
The post-punk outfit formed in Leeds about four years ago, but it’s only in the last 12 months that Eagulls have really taken off.
They released a smattering of EPs last year, but self-financed their debut album, also called Eagulls, before being signed to US-based label Partisan.
Since then they’ve built up a strong following, with fans likening their sound to The Cure and My Bloody Valentine.
“We’ve all grown up listening to different music,” says George, 25. “I was listening to punk records my uncle gave me. I loved it because other people weren’t listening to it. Stuff like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Stiff Little Fingers and Sham 69.
“It’s hard to say we’re doing anything unique but we put our own stamp on it. We never put a record on and say we want to sound like that.”
George writes all the lyrics and then the band – Mark Goldsworthy (guitar), Liam Matthews (guitar), Tom Kelly (bass) and Henry Ruddell (drums) – come together to write the music. It helps that they all share a house together in Burley.
“Some of the music does seem pessimistic sounding but that’s because it’s about emotions, feelings and what’s happening around you.
“People come up to me and say our music is a part of them. They seem to be affected by it – and that’s special because that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Now spending the rest of the year touring, with another high-profile TV appearance on Later... with Jools Holland tonight, they’ve finally been able to quit their “dead-end” jobs at the likes of a well-known supermarket and clothes chain in Leeds city centre. “Don’t put their names in,” asks Mitchell. “We don’t want them getting any free publicity.”
And they’re not afraid to ruffle a few feathers along the way. Infamously they posted an open letter telling the “beach bands” whose “mum and dads pay for you to do the band full-time” to “shut your rich mouths”.
“It was a bit of dark humour really,” insists Mitchell. “It was aimed at all the bands who are writing about stuff that doesn’t mean anything.
“It does dig at you when you’re doing a full-time job to pay for your music and someone’s paying for these bands to go in a studio and record for the sake of it.
“I won’t name any names. They know who they are.”
Eagulls’ debut album is out now on Partisan Records. They can be seen on Later... with Jools Holland tonight (April 15) at 10pm on BBC2.