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Interview: FOE (Hannah Clark)

 
By on Friday, 23rd December 2011 at 11:00 am
 

FOE’s Hannah Clark comes across over the phone as shy. Definitively shy. Not what I expected after listening to the guitar wails of ‘Bad Dream Hotline’. Shyness over the phone, however, cannot detract from the fact that Hannah Clark is extremely talented and can produce music which gets your legs stomping. Most sites cite her as sounding like a PJ Harvey/Nirvana mix, which makes sense seeing as she cites her two major influences as the two-time Mercury prize winner and the grunge giants.

The new album ‘Bad Dream Hotline’ done now, and Hannah had this to say about it: “Some of the songs on it are actually a couple of years old, but it’s my debut album so most of the songs were recorded in the past year. My producer has a little bedroom studio and he did half the recording there, while we did the other half of the recording in a studio called the Doghouse in Henley. The good thing about the Doghouse was that we could just move the entire, identical set up from one studio to somewhere where we could make a hell of a lot more noise late at night.”

Now noise is what FOE specialises in, a kind of huge noise reminiscent of early Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. This band, know what they like and that’s big grungy guitars skidding through a torrent of bass and when they get it right, it makes for brilliant listening. “Most of the songs are quite personal in a way; they’re inspired by how I am feeling and what’s happening at the time. I have sort of, bad dreams or night terrors and I’ve kind of combined that, so it’s a bit of a mismatch between reality and well, not reality.”

In her videos, it’s not difficult to tell that the music is inspired by a sense of the unreal, with trippy images and patterns throughout. The night terrors though, while at first being distressing, are something Hannah has turned to her advantage. “They are kind of scary, but I’ve kind of got used to them I sort of had to so I could get on with my life.”

When listening to FOE then, try and keep an ear out for that insight into her psyche. The night terrors may have been combatted and turned to her songwriting advantage now. She’s beaten herself; now the public waits, with her new record ‘Bad Dream Hotline’ out on the 16th of January on Vertigo Records.

 

Interview: Marc Riley (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 22nd December 2011 at 3:00 pm
 

Packing up and sorting through the music collection you’ve scuttled away for years are daunting chores for anyone preparing to change locales. BBC 6music presenter Marc Riley knows this all too well: when he and his staff were getting ready for the big move from the BBC Manchester studios on Oxford Road to their shiny new digs at MediaCityUK at Salford Quays, they were faced with a dilemma. “We had thousands of CDs because we had lots of cupboards. Then we were told when we moved here, we didn’t have lots of cupboards. So that was a problem, because I pick the music for the programme, whereas lots of other programmes get the music given to them, because it’s on a computer, you know? I normally put the shows together, look at the shelves and say, ‘play that, play that’ and take stuff out of the cupboards. So what had to do, we had to take all the CDs out of the cases and put them in little plastic slips and put them in little cellophane albums. That took forever!”

I got to speak to the great man on the 1st of December in the Dock House green room, a place that few beyond the people that actually work here have seen yet, simply because the place is so new. Beyond the physical CDs that I think we all would have predicted them having, Marc also had some very interesting things that I suggested should be put in a future 6music museum: “It’s strange, it’s kind of indicative of where we are (technologically). But when I started the job, I bought lots of research books and things. Of course, I haven’t looked at them for the last 10 years because of the internet. Encyclopedia of Rock…and reggae…and all kinds of things, redundant! And whilst you don’t need them, they’re just sat on the shelf, you ignore them, and the shelf gets fuller and fuller as the years go by. And then when you’re told to leave, it’s like…this is going to take some doing. It was a big effort to move out of there, 21 years of clutter.” Sadly though instead of keeping them for posterity, some lucky charity shops in Manchester have most of Marc’s old books. Just saying, if you live round that way and you’re interested…

When I ask him how he feels in the new place at Salford Quays, he’s honest. “I was quite prepared to be miserable and moan about this place for the next 2 years, but I love it. It’s great. The studio is slightly bigger than our old studio, and the bands sound great. The gear is new to me but it’s real easy to use. So I’ve been looking for something to moan about, but I’m struggling at the moment. It’s good, I like it.” I wondered if the location – moving from near the university over to the “west”, in Salford, posed a problem. “Yeah, I just went to a friend’s leaving do, just by the BBC (on Oxford Street), funnily enough. Went out there, waited for a quarter of an hour for a cab here, took a quarter of an hour to get there, we’re only talking about a half-hour. But the bands, when they come in here, when they go straight from here to do a gig in Manchester, it’s just not as convenient. There’s no point about thinking about it, because this is where we are. And they’ll have to deal with it like we do.”

We go back to the start of Marc’s musical upbringing. “My uncle was a drummer in a band. They played village halls and things like that. He used to play music all the time, particularly like the Beatles and the usual ‘60s and the Bee Gees, and that kind of stuff. What happened was I used to watch him play along to records and I just got into what he liked. That was my first introduction (to music), through my Uncle Chris. It was the first thing I saw on tv that I thought for me was T. Rex doing ‘Ride a White Swan’ on Top of the Pops. I liked that, I knew it was something a little different, a little special. Actually, it was about a year later on David Bowie on a show called Lift Off with Ayshea, he was doing ‘Starman’ on it and I was bamboozled and blown away by him. I didn’t understand completely what I’d seen, because at that point in time, I would have been 11 years old and I didn’t know what hit me! The following week David Bowie went on Top of the Pops, when the whole Davie Bowie thing went ballistic: that’s when everyone saw him, that appearance was really what set him off. But I’d seen him the previous and I was already in, and when I saw him again, I thought, ‘I know this fella!’ Never in a million years had I ever seen anything like David Bowie. That was the thing that made me think music is very important to me, it shook me. Bowie doing that made me think, ‘this is mine, this is amazing. My parents don’t like it, and I absolutely adore it. But that’s where it all kicked off.

“Then from there, it was really seeing things on tv, because I was too young to go to gigs at that point. I saw Genesis doing ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ on The Old Grey Whistle Test, and then Genesis became a big part of what I was listening to. I started going to gigs in 1974. The first band I ever saw was Queen, supporting Mott the Hoople. The second band was T. Rex, the third was Lou Reed, and then Mick Ronson…and that’s how I went through a really, really healthy time. A lot of people view the mid-Seventies as really terrible, everyone cites it being the reason why punk happened. Genesis and Camel, you know, some of the prog stuff. But I used to love all of that. Any show that came to town. If I couldn’t afford a ticket, I’d sneak in. I’d go to see bands I didn’t even have any awareness of, really. Backstreet Crawler with Paul Kossoff in it, and Robin Trower. I didn’t have a clue who they were but it was a gig, so I went. And then it was the second of the two legendary Sex Pistols gigs at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester that I went to. Buzzcocks’ first ever gig, Buzzcocks were promoting it. The middle band on the bill was Slaughter and the Dogs, who I used to see play little clubs and the Sex Pistols were headlining. Though I didn’t really understand what was going on with the Sex Pistols, maybe a couple months later the punk thing getting momentum. So I was really into the punk thing at that time. I saw the Fall, became the Fall’s roadie, and then in a few months, I was playing bass for them. That’s the journey. None of everything I’ve ever done has been planned. Everything has been a lucky series of accidents. Lucky for me but not necessarily lucky for everyone else.”

Marc’s history with the Fall, if you believe Wikipedia, was acrimonious, so I had to press him for more information on what it was like being employed by Mark E. Smith. “The drummer in the band, Karl Burns, is quite a character. He had the first ever Fall shirt. I had the second; I made a stencil and made my own t-shirt. I think the first gig I ever saw them do, they opened for Penetration or Wayne County. Me and my mate Craig were blown away by them and then they became my favourite band in the world. Because I was obviously into the band, I had a t-shirt and everything, Mark E. Smith approached n a club called Rafters, which was the first place I had seen them, and he asked me and asked if I wanted to be their roadie. It involved no money, but it meant I could see them whenever they played, so that was good enough for me. I was still in school at the time, I was have been just 16 at the time. So I used to go roadie for them and I was there for every gig.

“They fell out with the bass player, they’d lost one bass player, and then by that time they’d lost a second bass player, and they asked me to join. I’m not a very good player, I still can’t play anything properly now. But it wasn’t that complicated music, and so yeah, I wasn’t 17 yet, and I was playing bass in my favourite band in the world. I was in there for 5 years, most of it was great. Mark just became more and more erratic. I mean, Mark is an erratic character, I know that he is, and he’s gotten more and more erratic, but even at that point in time, he was around 21, he already was getting a strange side to his character which made him quite hard to deal with. And he was running it as a dictatorship already at that point, and he was quite happy to have me and my mates as his backing band because he thought we would put up with whatever he did. Increasingly, I didn’t, so we fell out and we had a fight one night and stuff like that. Then we had a fight in Australia and it became quite obvious I’d not last much longer in the band. And then about 4 months later, I got my marching orders. And then, the rest of it…I formed my own band, I had a my own label, was a record plugger. And none of it was ever planned.” While he says all of this, he has this look on his face, half surprise and half thankfulness.

I am starting to think there is something inherently mystical and magical about Manchester, that nothing ever is planned in this town, but everything is fated. Why? Because who should walk in during our interview, preparing to leave the office for the day, but Stuart Maconie? Not going to lie, I was already overwhelmed sitting in the middle of the 6music Manchester green room chatting to Marc Riley, and then my favourite living author turns up, asking about drinks later at the Ritz. Apparently Marc thinks I have no idea who Stuart is…er, I do actually. Like, a lot. Embarrassingly. I’m kind of a Maconie geek. I know about the Wainwrights in Cumbria only because Stuart has climbed them all, but I don’t let on. I breathe a sigh of astonishment mixed with relief that he knows who I am. I know I look slightly petrified but I’m smiling, at least on the outside. Inside I’m dying, thinking, “oh my god, Stuart Maconie knows who I am!”

After this brief interruption, we go back to the matter at hand, the interview. We chat a bit about the live band Marc has on tonight’s show (the 1st of December), Field Music, and then asked after the Fall, how he got into radio. “I had a band called the Creepers, and I had a record label. I got to know a local guy called Tony Michaelides. He was on Piccadilly Radio, and he was also a record plugger. One day I went into his office to see if he could get me some tickets to one of his bands, which was Happy Mondays. Turns out that very day someone had just left his office, so he asked me if I wanted to be a record plugger for him. And despite the fact that I had a band and a record label, I still didn’t really know what a record plugger did. So I said, yeah, sure. And for about 3 years I worked for Tony, he looked after for bands like Massive Attack, World of Twist, the Pixies. We had the Factory label and 4 AD. So we worked with bands I really loved, like Massive Attack and World of Twist, and then some terrible…well, not terrible, bands I didn’t like, like Hue and Cry. So a bit of a mixed bag. So I had to persuade people to play records even I didn’t like, which is a difficult place to be. So I ended up starting to going to a new station that has just opened called 5 Live, then called Radio 5.

“At that point in time, they were just starting to put together a series of programmes, 5 nights a week from different parts of the country. The one that was going to come from the North of England was from Manchester, and the producer asked me if I wanted to present it, because he knew of the bands I had and liked them. I told him, I’m not a presenter: all I’d ever done on radio was interview Iggy Pop once because Tony Michaelides couldn’t do it, because he also had a radio programme. So I suggested Mark Radcliffe, who at that point was producing but used to be on Piccadilly Radio before Tony Michaelides was on there…it’s all a bit convoluted! And so Mark got the job presenting this programme, named ironically ‘Hit the North!’ after the Fall song. And then Mark, who had a lady who came in every other week just to talk about Manchester and the music scene, they didn’t really work, they didn’t gel. So they asked me to do it, and I did, we got on, and we had a laugh. It was every other week, and then it was every week, and then we got offered a nighttime show, 4 nights a week. So I did 3 of them, and I was the researcher, and I was a producer, but I was still on air. Eventually, Mark and I got a reputation as a double act and Mark and Lard, we broadcast together for 14 years and had a massive audience on Radio1. Yeah, it was ginormous. We’re talking, 8, 9 million a week. Then we did the breakfast show: some people liked it, some didn’t, we hated it. Then eventually, we were too old for Radio1 so they did a deal with Lesley Douglas, who runs 6music and Radio2. Mark Radcliffe went to Radio2 and I went to 6music. So we went our separate ways, though these days Mark Radcliffe is on 6music with Stuart Maconie. So again, as I said before, it was a happy accident, it’s just the way things went.”

As a listener, 6music has always felt to me like a really big, happy family, a group of people that not just know each other but also really likes working with one another. So I ask Marc if he feels this way too. He’s quick to give props to his fellow presenters, with the exception of someone who has departed: “No, absolutely. It is. No name, but there was someone here at the station not that long ago who stuck out like a sore thumb and nobody liked, but I don’t think he liked anyone anyway, so it was mutual. So since he’s gone, yeah, they’re a great bunch. I know Shaun Keaveny pretty well, he’s a brilliant fella. I’ve only met Lauren (Laverne) a couple of times. I don’t run into her very often. Ironically, I was telling the bosses for a long time that Lauren Laverne was so right for 6music and she had to be here, and eventually she ended on the station, and she’s absolutely brilliant. I’ve known Steve Lamacq for a long time through Radio1, obviously Mark and Stuart, the first time I ever met Mark Radcliffe was when he produced a Creepers session for John Peel. And Gideon Coe is a good mate. And then you have the people on the weekend, Guy Garvey is one of my best mates, Jarvis (Cocker) is great, I don’t know them all…Craig Charles…it sounds like I’m saying everyone is great, but they are.

“Last week we all went down to London, and everyone was there. And there wasn’t anyone there I didn’t want to talk to. So yeah, it is a happy family, and everybody’s enjoying what they do. There is much more freedom than anywhere else. The playlist, to my mind, I find the playlist to be a bit small. I don’t have to adhere to it anyway, but the 6music playlist is, by a country mile, better than any other playlist in the country that I’m aware of. And yeah, it’s a brilliant organisation. And it’s only been probably over the last 2 years that it understands what it’s supposed to be. It started off as an experiment, I think it was called Network Y? It was digital broadcasting, what is it? Put on a couple stations. Let’s put whatever we want on there and field it and see how it goes. I think 6music started as a free for all, I think everyone could play anything they wanted really, with no real structure, but great people like Phill Jupitus, Gideon Coe, Tom Robinson. Then over the years, it meandered a little bit, trying to find its feet.

“Then what really focused it was when the BBC tried to shut it down. So that really focused a lot of people’s minds. It does…the threat of redundancy focuses the mind a little bit. That really brought everybody together. Apparently a pivotal part of keeping 6music alive was, I organised a meeting for myself, Guy Garvey, Jarvis Cocker and Gideon Coe to go and see the BBC Trust and a guy, David Liddiment. We had an hour to state the case of 6music not getting shut down. And the guy from the Trust, a really amazing man named David Liddiment, he used to run Granada TV a few blocks away from here. And he was putting all the arguments on shutting the station, and none of them held up. We just completely obliterated them. At the end of it he did said, that has been most helpful, thanks very much. And we’ve since heard it played a large part on keeping the station alive. As did the listeners and all the other people at the station who did their bit.

“A lot of what went on that people don’t know about…a lot of it was very cloak and dagger, it’s a strange thing the BBC, they’re trying to shut you down and kill you, but you’re not allowed to defend yourself. So really, ostensibly, on the surface, we had to say, ‘okay, you keep on with this’, but we didn’t. The four of us went to talk to the Trust, and the listeners went mad, and the people at 6music did an awful lot to make sure what needed to be done, what could be done, was done. So that really brought everyone together. You know the cliché, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger‘? Well, it did. They said we had 700,000 listeners and it’s not enough, and then when they gave us all the publicity for free, we ended up getting over 1 million, 200 thousand. So that really took the wind out of the sails of the Director General and his team that wanted to get rid of us. So here we are, still 1 million, 200 thousand listeners and maybe there are more people who want to hear us and know about us. Maybe there isn’t, maybe there are only 1 million, 200 thousand people in Britain who want to hear us. That’s fine by me, that’s a lot of people. I know when Cerys (Matthews) was depping about a year ago, she’d play a 10-minute Noi track, you’re not going to get that anywhere else! If there are only 1 million, 200 thousand in Britain that can stand hearing krautrock at 2 in the afternoon, great! Because I’m in that 1 million, 200 thousand. And if by any chance we could get another 400,000 listeners by playing Razorlight or the Killers, no thanks. Not really interested in that. That’s me, that’s my personal view.”

Stay tuned for the riveting conclusion of my interview with Marc Riley, which posts tomorrow.

 

Interview: Richard Thomas of Brother and Bones

 
By on Thursday, 22nd December 2011 at 1:00 pm
 

I had the pleasure of witnessing Brother and Bones live in an underground setting at the Great Escape festival in Brighton. (Read my review here.) I stumbled upon the Cornwall-based five-piece completely by accident. What a glorious accident it was. Little did I know I would be witness to one of the most exciting, vibrant and engaging performances I had ever seen. Since then I’ve been obsessed, but it’s difficult to be obsessed with a band when there are less than 10 videos of their songs online. So when frontman of Brother and Bones Richard Thomas supported Ben Howard on his UK tour at Lincoln Tokyo, there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to meet the man.

The Brother and Bones frontman was in a good mood from the start: “We’ve been quite overwhelmed by the response of people in places we’ve never been to. I mean I’ve never been to Margate, but a ton of people turned up! Enough people turned up to sing the songs so that was great! Since then I’ve gone onto this tour with Ben Howard, which was been amazing and a bit of a different experience; I mean we’re going round Europe and I’m not playing with the band, I’m on my own on stage.”

You wouldn’t notice that he was a novice playing alone though: his banter onstage is cool, calm and collected and with an entire room of people staring at him thinking, “who is this guy? We came for Ben Howard!”, he manages to evoke a huge reaction from the crowd with his set. The songs are delivered with passion, huge amounts of it; from a vantage point in the audience; you can tell that Richard believes in these songs. At the end of his short set, it seems his solo stint could pay dividends for the band, in the fact that Brother and Bones’s album, which was on sale downstairs, sold out after the gig. Now with the tour over, I asked Richard what Brother and Bones’ plans are for the next year.

“We released a single last month, and we’ve been touring around that, but the plan is to start getting the skeleton of an album together. Demos have been started and me and the band have spoken to some producers, so it’s a bit of an ongoing process.”

So the future definitely looks busy for the band. It’s obvious though from Richard’s sheer love of this music that big things are ahead for him and his band. The tunes are phenomenal and feel like they are more suited to stadium settings then basements, their live show is powerful and can captivate anyone, all that’s needed now is a bit of luck, or maybe them getting featured on Radio1. Whatever the future holds, this band is worth a listen to. Ignore them if you dare.

 

10 for 2012 Interview: Films of Colour

 
By on Thursday, 22nd December 2011 at 11:00 am
 

Films in Colour, the band you TGTF readers voted to the top spot in our 10 for 2012 poll, answered some questions for us just as they were hunkering down for the holidays. They tell us how they feel being compared to Coldplay and Foals, how crossing the pond will be the furthest they’ve travelled other than Middlesbrough (!), and of course, we had to ask them about that David Bowie cover…

How did you come up with the name Films of Colour? Are films a big influence on you personally and/or professionally?
It’s from an Aldous Huxley essay called ‘Heaven and Hell’, which is in a kind of two-part series with ‘The Doors of Perception’. Some guy called Jim Morrison named his band after the latter. It’s basically one man’s experience with mescalin, in which he sees ‘delicate floating films of colour’, so it actually has nothing to do with movies! We just liked the image of many layers.

Who decided, “okay, we’re going to tackle a David Bowie song”? Did you have any reservations before attempting the cover? Now having done it, how do you feel about it? (Relief? Pride?)
We were approached back in 2009 by Bowie’s publishing team asking if we were up for covering one of his songs. Covering an artist as prolific as Bowie is fraught with danger, I think that’s why we picked a lesser known song and ‘Slow Burn’ stood out as a track that melodically we could relate to. I think relief definitely, the reception from the Bowie community was always very important and to be featured on David Bowie’s official Web site was an honour. I don’t think we won over 100% of the faithful, but the majority of feedback we got was very positive.

How did you hear about Tony Visconti’s take on your cover? (I’m a little confused…did you send him this track as a demo b/c you wanted to work with him for your producer on your future material?)
It’s that classic “it’s not what you know…” story again. Our manager used to work with Bowie and Tony, he sent Tony the track, he liked it. Next thing we know is that Tony is visiting from America to come to a rehearsal. Very surreal night in a tiny East London practice room ensues! He’s the genuine article, lovely guy, great stories, and we remain in contact.

What is like being signed to Fierce Panda? Where they one of the indie labels you felt would be a good fit for your band?
We were technically signed to Fierce Panda through their single label, Club Fandango. When they were up for doing our first single we were chuffed, as they are a really great label with a history. We cannot speak highly enough of Simon Williams, Martin and the Panda team. Would love to work with them again someday.

There’s a lot of good talk going around your appearance at SXSW in March. Are you excited to be going to the States?
Absolutely, not sure it has really sunk in yet to be honest. I think the furthest away we’ve been from home is Middlesbrough? We are sure going to make the most of it. The plan is to stop off in New York for a few days, do some busking, filming etc., before heading to Austin. And hopefully when we are at SXSW we’ll do a handful of shows to offset the handful of forms you have to fill out to enter the country!

Will this be your first time there / first time playing there? Are you going to try and woo American labels when you’re over?
It will be our first SXSW. Sure, we’d love to meet American labels, but I think our SXSW will be purely just drumming up a bit of interest in a new place. Giving away as many CDs as humanly possible in 4 days, etc. We’d rather just worry about playing a gig than who might be watching.

Reviewers often compare bands to other bands that have come before. Who have you been compared to? Which bands did you feel honoured to be compared to? Which comparisons struck you as particularly bizarre?
Did you know this is the hardest question that Films of Colour ever seem to get asked for some reason. We all like different stuff so for example, we’ve been compared to Coldplay before. Two out of four might feel honoured, the other two will find it bizarre. That might work the other way round if someone compares to Foals. I guess it’s just a case of what you want to hear. I think as a general rule in music everyone feels honoured to be compared to Radiohead, right? No one has said we sound like KISS, that would be particularly bizarre.

As an up and coming band, what misconception about your band do you want to dispel up front?
A lot of people get put off by the word ‘Coldplay’, but it’s a double-edged sword. We implore you to come and see us live and make up your own mind.

When can we expect your next release?
The next release is due around SXSW time (End of February/March 2012). Although we do tend to put up free downloads from time to time on our website: http://www.filmsofcolour.com or our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/filmsofcolour

What do you predict for yourselves in 2012?
More of the same! A few more singles, lots more gigs. New ways of getting music out there and meeting people. And at some point, the album. Hopefully we can justify our number one spot on the ‘There Goes the Fear 10 of 2012’!! Onwards and upwards.

 

10 for 2012 Interview: Steve Sparrow of Morning Parade

 
By on Tuesday, 20th December 2011 at 11:00 am
 

Morning Parade rounded out the 10 for 2012 poll this year at #10. We asked the band some questions about all those tats and what exactly is going on in the ‘Us & Ourselves’ video. Read on…

It’s been a busy year for Morning Parade from start to finish. How has the step up in activity affected you as a unit?
It has indeed been a busy and very intense year for us, just how we like it to be honest. I think as a unit we’re probably stronger than ever, we’re always learning about ourselves, each other and about music all the time and its nice to share the journey with each other.

There seems to be a real dedication in the band, as the tattoos demonstrate. If you hadn’t been in this band, what would you all be doing and would you have gotten any tattoos?
The honest truth? I really have no idea. Phil and Chad already had tattoos, the Morning Parade ones got decided upon on a particularly drunken night out but I love that we all have them, we are a weird and wonderful family… I don’t think any other combination of people would work for Morning Parade. What would we do if we weren’t in MP? Well, Ben was studying at a drama school and the rest of us have always been in bands. I can’t speak for the others but if wasn’t in this ‘this’ band, I’d probably be in another band, I’d always write songs because I always have done, the same goes for all of the others; Morning Parade just gives us a platform to share them on.

You’ve spent a lot of time touring with the likes of the Wombats and the Kooks. What are your favourite memories of your time with the two groups?
We’ve had some incredible times this year and we’ve met a bunch of different bands. The Wombats have been really good to us and we’ve had a lot of very funny extra-curricular activities with them and their crew ranging from ‘borrowing’ the head of a 20-foot polystyrene man, stage invasions in Rome and best of all hungover paintball in Newcastle on the UK tour this autumn just gone – we had a lot of fun and played our first ever European tour with them, so we have very fond memories.

The Kooks’ tour was fantastic too, it was great to meet and get to know the guys. Luke’s passion and hunger was a huge inspiration to me, he was not how I expected him to be at all. We shared one strange night out in Hamburg, there was an open mic night happening and the guys just got up and played a mini set of their best known songs to an unsuspecting room of German punters. It was pretty surreal.

Your sold out show at Scala (review here) seemed a pretty big deal for both you and those present. Has there been a gig so far when you’ve felt a change in the crowds?
Yeah of course, it was a big deal. We really haven’t spent much time playing in the UK this year and we’ve not always had the support that you’d hope for in our position. The UK music scene is so very fickle, it’s nice to see that people don’t forget and that the songs are connecting with those who have discovered us already. I guess there is some sort of validation in that.

The Scala was definitely a special show for everyone involved, and for us, a great opportunity to play a longer set and some new material – we’ve done a lot of support shows this year!
I don’t know if there has been a particular show where we’ve felt a difference but we’re definitely noticing more people singing along, and more people wearing either our t-shirts or their own home made ones. We’re always surprised by the warmth of our fans and the gifts they bring to our shows.

What are your plans as far as hitting festivals in the next 12 months?
Wow, we’re mainly just thinking about tomorrow at the moment. Twelve months is too big a stretch of time for our minds to comprehend right now. With the album coming out in March I’m sure we’ll be at a whole bunch of festivals all across the UK, Europe and hopefully further afield too. We’d like to play as many shows as humanly possible next year. Indoors/Outdoors we don’t mind. We just like playing shows.

What’s the best thing a fan’s done for you?
This is a tough one, we have met a lot of very kind fans this year. We’ve had fans travel across the continent to come see us, some have been to every date on a tour which is quite overwhelming. There is one in particular who hand wrote a book for us. It was an inch thick and filled with interview quotes, lyrics, messages, it also had lots of photos and postcards of her city because we don’t really get a chance to see much of where we’re playing. A tremendous amount of care had gone into making it, we couldn’t believe it.

Will the album finally be launching this year? What can we expect from it?
Yes, thank the lord. I don’t think we could wait any longer. It is due for a spring release and it is finished, unless we write anything we feel *has* to be on there. This is a dangerous trap and the reason it’s taken us so long to get it out.

The record encapsulates everything about us. We wanted to make sure the record was a true representation of where we are, where we’ve been and hopefully an indication of where we might go – as we’re growing our ideas and perceptions are changing. The record has a real mixture of dynamics and textures, we were keen to show all sides of ourselves so there might be a couple of surprises on there. You’ll have to wait and see.

Lastly, what on earth is going on in the ‘Us & Ourselves’ video?
Haha, I’m glad you get that from it… I find life confusing, and the concept behind the song still confuses me. In fact everything confuses me, can you help me? What was the question?

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10 for 2012 Interview: Willy Moon

 
By on Monday, 19th December 2011 at 11:00 am
 

In our q&a with 10 for 2012 act #6 Willy Moon, we find out what he thought of the prospect of becoming the next Michael Buble, among other interesting tidbits…

What inspired your 1950s-inspired image?
I think a guy like me looks best in a suit. If you look good then you feel good, and if you feel good then you look good…make sense?

Your video for ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ shows some really slick dance moves. Where did you learn to dance like that?
I didn’t learn, otherwise I probably would have done it differently…just doing my thing, man. I make up my own moves, It’s better that way.

Is it true you’ve not played live yet?
Yes – as I write, produce and play all of my own material I have had to work a little differently. I didn’t want to go out there with a wall of playback, nor a band that didn’t complement the sound of my records. I’m putting a group together at the moment, and looking to start playing early 2012. I can’t wait…

Your sound is a powerful blend of old and new. Who are you inspired by from both eras?
Cab Calloway, James Brown, Kanye West, Bo Diddley, Nas, Curtis Mayfield, Eartha Kitt, Screaming Jay Hawkins and the list goes on…

I hear you moved from New Zealand to London to kick-start your musical career, and this strategy seems to be working. What was the reason behind the move?
Making it in a small town is playing to 100 people, I guess I was aiming for a different kind of success..

There are a number of good antipodean acts around right now, so the region is generating its fair share of talent, although they do seem to be more dub-styled rather than rock ‘n’ roll? What artists have you been compared to and been honoured to be compared to and why? What artists have been lumped in with that you have found entirely bizarre?
Somebody said Bo Diddley remixed by Swizz Beatz, another tune apparently recalls Beyonce by Screaming Jay Hawkins…an A&R man once told me that if I played my cards right I could be the next Michael Buble, which I thought was pretty fucking hilarious.

What is something unusual about you that you think your fans would be surprised about?
I’m actually a black albino from outer space.

What do you predict for yourself in 2012?
Hard work. And haircuts once a week.

 
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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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