Mercury Prize-nominated Villagers: 'Being selected is a real honour and a surprise'

Although frontman Conor O'Brien admits he wants to 'maintain a little bit of distance' from the award

Villagers have admitted "it's a real honour and a definite surprise" to make the shortlist for this year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize, adding that they want to "maintain a little bit of distance from it".

The band, whose debut album 'Becoming A Jackal' was nominated for the prize last week (July 20), are trying to keep a cool head about the increased exposure that invariably comes from being up for such an award.

"It's a real honour and a definite surprise to be nominated," frontman Conor O'Brien told NME, also annoucing that his band will play Belfast's Coors Light Open House Festival which takes place between September 6 and 12. "I wasn't even expecting it, there wasn't even a sense of 'maybe we'll get this', I'm super-surprised, it's something I never would have thought about."

He added: "The thing about prizes, it's a real honour to be included but I want to maintain a little bit of distance from it because I want to keep creative, I want to keep writing, and I think if you get obsessed too much with stuff like this then it's not too good for your songwriting."

As for his fellow nominees, O'Brien was quick to choose a number of albums that were also on the shortlist which he was a fan of.

"I really like the Wild Beasts album ['Two Dancers']," he explained. "I think there is a lot of space to it and I really dig it – it's kinda groovy too. It's one album I've come back to consistently since it has was released. I also dig The xx album ['xx'], I've only just started listening to it and again I get that kind of spatial vibe to it."

O'Brien added: "I'm also looking forward to hearing the I Am Kloot record ['Sky At Night']. I Listened to them a lot when I was learning to write songs. I remember a friend of mine at school would give me compilation tapes all the time and it always had 4-5 I Am Kloot tracks on – there is a kind of rawness to their music which I really like."

In terms of winning, the frontman revealed what scooping the £20,000 prize money would mean to him and the band.

"I didn't even know there was prize money involved [at first]," he explained. "Winning would mean I could take the band with me [on tour] a lot more. At the moment, the reason we're not doing that is money, we're getting up to that position anyway, but the prize money would go towards that or probably into recording the next album. Either way it would gradually make its way back into the band. I don't think I would go out and buy a boat or something."

The winner of the 2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize will be announced at a ceremony in London on September 7.

As previously reported, Villagers will head out on a tour of the UK in October, plus will perform shows in the tunnels under the Old Vic Theatre in London on August 4 and 5, before appearing at Reading And Leeds Festival, The Big Chill and Coors Light Open House festivals this summer.

Listen to all the albums on the Mercury shortlist.

You can buy all the albums from the Mercury Prize shortlist from Amazon.co.uk now.

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