INTERVIEW

This appeared in Open Magazine recently.

How did the band meet and get together?
I met bass player Ben at an ill-fated gig at the Pressure Point, an ill-fated venue in Brighton.  He was doing the sound and I was helping to rep the show.  No one came, the band was rubbish and everyone was in a bad mood.  We, however, spent a lovely evening talking excitedly about music and realised we were basically long lost brothers.  He has always had better haircuts than me.

Other than Ben, the band has been fairly amorphous.  Various people have been involved but the band you find now is a combination of pure chance Gumtree finds (Jen Rouse), members poached from other bands (Jo Burke, Cathy Cardin) and someone who had dreads, a broken leg and a car we could borrow for our first tour before we actually had a drummer (Mike Miles).  He features pretty heavily (and X-ratedly) on our album artwork.

How would you describe your music?
A naïve, optimistic homebrew of confessional math pop. That or folk.

Has your sound changed since you started playing together?
Yes.  The project began essentially as an extension of my blog posts.  Musical diary entries, birthday cards for friends, love poems and whinges on modern life.  Then it became a band.  To begin with we could barely play our instruments in time or in key.  Now we are tighter than the brakes on my bike (just had them tightened).  It’s been a long journey.

Who inspired the songs on your album?
The songs are mostly inspired by friends.  My girlfriend has a lot to answer for, generally.  It takes a lot to impress her so I have to try pretty hard.  If it’s anything less than Bill Callahan or Leonard Cohen, then forget it.  My friend Rory has done pretty well out of my music.  Because he is essentially all things to all men and because his birthday always seems to fall at a time when I desperately need creatively unblocking, he’s had a lot of songs written for/about him.  ‘Petty Ruiner’ being one. ‘Song on a Transition’ being another.

What’s the process of making music like for you?
Making music is very much like making love to a beautiful woman.  On the one hand she is a supremely sociable, spontaneous and joyous creature; bursting with curvaceous, sexy energy.  On the other hand she is a self-doubting shrivelled beast, and makes you spend many hard hours in a room by yourself, weeping and ejaculating onto computer screens. I admit the analogy breaks down.

I have noticed that I have sacrificed pretty much any chance at a normal or wealthy existence and my relationships are frequently strained.  Still, I get to go on tour and that is why we all bother.

Who writes the songs?
Me.  They come out in weird little spurts.  I have to record everything straight away.  Usually a song comes from something written down in my notebook (I’ve recently discovered the classic moleskin and I wonder if I can ever go back) and then it has to go through various drafts and re-workings by singing quick takes into my laptop.  I am increasingly aware of what a controlling freak I have become.  My band mates tell me that I have developed a ‘look’ for when they fuck something up.  It is, I am told, terrifying.  Saves me having to say anything, I suppose.

What bands are you listening to at the mo?
For most of my life I have been obsessed with new sounds and discovering new music and cool bands, which has taken me to many weird gigs and earned me a lot of indie points.  In my old age (I am 27, relax) I am discovering or rediscovering some older classics.  Fleetwood Mac, early Pink Floyd, The Soft Machine and Robert Wyatt, King Crimson.  Not much time passes before I put on a Smog album.

What’s your ultimate goal for the band – fame, money….
Only today I counted up that I have two albums worth of new material that needs bending into shape.  I also want to record a bunch of cover songs written by the various bands of the Willkommen Collective and there are so many drunken conversations we all have about collaborations that frankly need to see the sober light of day.  And loads of touring.  For then you really feel like a musician with a job to do. It would be really nice to be able to say with all honesty and financial reality that I have a music career.

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