Eagulls frontman George Mitchell and guitarist Mark “Goldy” Goldsworthy, working at their English clothing-shop day job after three years, asked for a week’s vacation so the band could fly to New York for a career-coup appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”
The bosses wouldn’t give them time off, so they quit, says Mitchell.
“I wanted to smash the place up, but I couldn’t do anything extreme because they still owed us money — it was pretty frustrating,” he says.
Mitchell, 25, who appears with the Eagulls in San Francisco this week, has been feeling that same anxiety his whole life. That could explain his maniacal snarl of a singing voice and the post-punk spark crackling through Eagulls’ self-titled debut, one of the best albums of 2014.
Hailing from Leeds — home to other dark outfits like Sisters of Mercy and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry — he studied illustration in college and graduated with high hopes. His optimism didn’t last long.
The singer summarized the dismal experience in a song called “Hollow Visions.”
“It’s about going to university and thinking, ‘Oh, next year I’ll have a great job and I’ll be doing this and that,’” he says. “And then it’s all hollow — there’s nothing for you, nothing to go into. So you just have to go to work in some s—- retail job. And the worst thing is, you’re just brain-dead, stuck there for eight hours a day, and you can’t do anything that’s worthwhile.”
Somehow, Mitchell’s stars aligned. To keep himself amused, he made sketches, which caught the attention of Goldsmith and other future bandmates.
When the avid skateboarder broke his arm and was temporarily unable to draw, his friends invited him with an unusual idea. “They said, ‘Why don’t you try and be our singer instead?’” Mitchell says. “And that was it. I just focused on doing the band from then on.”
Mitchell found gloomy inspiration all around him. Heroin dealers moved next door to his mother’s, and daily observations of junkies bringing odd items to trade for their fix — even washing machines — inspired the jarring “Amber Veins.”
The stomping “Possessed” was based in early online reviews of chaotic Eagulls’ gigs.
“People thought I was completely out of my mind on drugs, but really I was just overcome — or overpowered — by the music,” he says.
Mitchell thinks his outlook will remain bleak. “I was a born pessimist,” he says. “Even if I had a million pounds in the bank, I’d still have something to moan about — everyone would hate me, because I’d be rich!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F.
When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday