Saturday, 25 May 2013



Interview with Frontman and lead singer Dan Coburn

Whats new in IC1-LAND?

Dan = There has been a lot going on recently in fact in the last few days we've actually taken a phone call from *name removed on request* in regards to being on their new label as well as taking other offers from a few other labels that have just started appearing from the woodwork. It's nice to go from being the ones approaching everyone to being the ones approached. Everything seems to be falling into place and hopefully it'll all be complete by the time we get to 2014.

This is your first time playing The Great Escape, what do you think about festivals rather than regular venue gigs for the band? Any differences in set or performance?

Dan = I'm not too sure really, for today we're all really up for it and can't wait to play. Andy (Andy Faulkner:Drums) fucked his ankle playing football, I mean what kind of guy plays a football match the night before a massive festival gig? But he's soldiering through as we all take it very seriously when all said and done. For gigs we approach them all the same really and it doesn't really matter where or when it is or which time slot we have, if its 10,000 people or 10 we'd go on and give it the same energy.

You have a new vinyl release coming out, care to elaborate more on that?

Dan = I think you know about this don't you? (laughs) We're using the punk ethos of 'the record companies don't exist', we're releasing the record ourselves, it won't be chart worthy or anything but it's available as a free download on our website on June 3rd. There will also be a limited edition 7" vinyl out at 5? to 10? to 15 pounds? (laughs) you can't put a price on brilliance (laughs) out via Rough Trade again on the 3rd June. It's all promotion and getting our name about really.

The debut album is still in the works, do you think you are close to nailing the final running order and complete first album?

Dan = I think from every time i've written a song that I know how the album is going to sound and ultimately be but then it changes again and again. In my head I think i'm pretty sure what songs will make it to the album yeah. As for it being recorded any time soon I think we'd prefer a good outlet and label rather than just do it 100% ourselves…punk ethos! (laughs)

As well as playing a lot of full band gigs you're also known for your acoustic slots, how do the arrangements change when doing these more low key slots?

Dan = Yeah well it's basically the same set but…stoned. It's a lot slower and quieter but at the same time mistakes are heard much clearer this way. We did the acoustic slots at the Olympics and Para-Olympics and various other gigs and it's nice to have another string to your bow. If today Andy couldn't physically play we could have done the acoustic versions without any trouble so it's good to have that in backup as well. It's like losing your gun but knowing you still have your knife.

IC1S are known for being outspoken in interviews, do you ever worry that a light hearted slip of the tongue could damage the group from climbing higher up the ranks?

Dan = Well we're really not THAT outspoken. I have thought about it before although in the long run I don't think it really effects things that much. I mean in the 90's when you had the whole Blur VS Oasis thing it was all orchestrated by the labels anyway to shift records.

There has been a recent resurgence in the popularity of the 90's and Britpop as a genre where a certain level of nostalgia has begun to creep into the consciousness of people. Would you consider yourself Britpop or Britpop influenced maybe?

Dan = Britpop influenced would be fair point but Britpop as a whole probably not no. To be honest apart from the bands like Oasis, Blur, Supergrass and The Stereophonics if you actually listen back to Britpop era records it was f*cking shit! We were just lucky to have a few stand out bands at the time which took the light off of these bands that were f*cking awful. Menswear! Northern Uproar! What was that? Nowaysis (Oasis tribute band) were even better than them! Really I would always want IC1S to be the start of a movement rather than just another band riding on the back of a new genre or something.

Are there any groups that you're looking forward to see at Great Escape this year?

Dan = Well we as a band do get very full of ourselves when we're are playing anywhere although there is an act I do want to see and that's the Bangkok Ladyboys over on the green (laughs) no,no…Tribes I like and i'll try and check them out. Good band.

Do you feel any musical kinship with any of the other bands out on the circuit at the moment?

Dan = Not really no. To be honest with you and maybe it's a real horrible way to be but for us it's a case of soundcheck and then go off somewhere else till it's our time to be on I don't really watch any other bands. I would want it to effect my psyche and think "they're REALLY good" and then worry. I'd just rather go on do my thing. As far as I'm concerned there is no other bands on the circuit…just us.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Dan = A lot of Northern Soul music and I really love and am almost addicted to the track "Band of Gold" by Freda Payne, I mean I must have heard this song all my life and it's just slipped past me and then recently it just caught me and I f*cking love it. Dobie Grey as well. When we were on the video shoot for 'Growing Up, Going Down' John (John Campbell: Guitar) CD player packed in and we did acapella tunes and doing Righteous Brothers tunes *sings* "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your liiiips" (laughs) just awesome over Dartford Tunnel (laughs) it was good. New music? No.

'Growing Up,Going Down' will be available as a FREE download on on the 3rd June 2013




Would you say that in The Netherlands that there was an underground Psychedelic scene emerging or are you very much an outsider?

Jacco Gardner = There are some friends of mine that are doing a similar thing but thats it really, there is no scene going on at all.

I've read that you play the majority of instruments on the album. Would you consider using outside musicians or is the creative process when making an album too personal to involve outside players?

J.G = Well yes, except the drums I do. In the creative process it's the most natural way of working where I don't have to say anything to anyone just pick up the next instrument and just play. It's the same with the recording and producing, it has to be me in every step of the process to get exactly the sound I want.

What instrument do you write on? Guitar, piano perhaps?

J.G = Both, there is no main instrument that I write on.

Who or what influences your writing and the album ' Cabinet of Curiosities'?

J.G = The songwriting? There are a lot of influences, I mean I could name a lot of different people that I like and listen to but for songwriting?
I don't know really, thats a tough question.

Are you at all worried that some critics may simply write you off as a retro or nostalgia act rather than a new artist with something fresh to say musically?

J.G = Not really, to me when they say these things it's a sign that they don't get it and they don't know what it's really about and almost miss the unique things that to me are special in music.

Are you influenced by The Brian Jonestown Massacre or other newer bands that keep the spirit of 60's music and culture current?

J.G = No, not at all. While I was recording I really didn't listen to anything new, only 1960's records really.

You've been vocally compared to Syd Barrett, how do you feel about that?

J.G = You think? I dunno, in singing I try and match people like Brian Wilson, and Arthur Lee with high pitched melodic type of singing, not really Syd Barrett.

How do you compare UK audiences to those abroad?

J.G = In The Netherlands you connect to the audience because you're Dutch and over here you need to prove yourself a little more I think. In Europe most audiences are more wild and fascinated about music where thats not always the case here or in Holland.

What's next in 2013 for you?

J.G = We'll be doing a festival in Belgium, then Luxembourg before doing a big show in 'Paradiso' in Amsterdam. A lot more touring and I'm sure we'll be back in the UK as well.

'Cabinet of Curiosities' is out now on Excelsior Recordings/Trouble In Mind

thanks to Nikki McNeill at Global Publicity

All attached images are strictly © Beki Cowey / Bekitakespictures (2013) and are licensed to Chris Lancaster for use in conjunction with The Great Escape interviews with Jacco Gardner. Further use is not permitted without prior consent, and unauthorised use in any media is prohibited.


After their recent 3 sets in 3 days at Brigton's Great Escape Festival 2013 I managed to catch up with one of the most exciting bands of 2013 thus far...Ladies and Gentlemen be upstanding for DEAP VALLY!

Interview Transcript

Lindsey Troy (Guitar/Vocals) & Julie Edwards (Drums/Backing Vocals)

You're playing 3 gigs in 3 days here at The Great Escape 2013, hows that been for you?

Julie: Well it's been great, really fun although there was a power outage on the first night, they didn't check the levels or something and overpowered it I think, I dunno why it happened during our set and not with anybody else. The power of Rock I guess (laughs)

Would you say your live show encapsulates the band differently from your recordings?

Julie:Yeah that's what we're ALL about, the live shows definitely.

How did the recording go? Did any of the older songs evolve further during the sessions?

Lindsay: Some of them maybe but not really that much.

Julie: Little tweaks here and there

Lindsey: Tracks that maybe started out a bit boring did change during the recording.

Julia: Yeah, although nothing radically different, just certain sounds.

How do you compare the live show to the album? Is it the show that you try and capture on tape?

Julie: Well that's what we wanted to get, our live sound recorded without any fuss.

Lindsey: the goal is to make the album sound as big as it does live which can be a challenge as we are a live band and all of the chaos that spontaneously happens on a stage in a room full of people with all the sounds and feedback's and all kinds of things are the small details that MAKE the show. I think that the studio engineers tend to try and get rid of that stuff and make a weird 'clean' sound.

Julie: We really wanted to let everything hang out and I think that approach works with our minimalism too, you wouldn't want to tidy it up too much otherwise what would there be left? You need all the noise and hiss and contextual sounds.

So there was lots of bleed?(i.e. the guitar sound being picked up by the microphone on the drum kit and vice versa due to volume and lack of sound dampeners)

Julie: Yeah we went for bleed definitely, most of the songs we just jammed out in a room together so on all the drum tracks there was bleed from Lindsey's guitar amp. I think that helps it sound like a live show with the sound bouncing all around you, I mean you can control it to a certain extent but why do you want to right?

The Black Keys, The White Stripes, The Yeah,Yeah,Yeahs and now Deap Vally…what have you all got against bass players?

Lindsey: (laughs) we don't hate bass players!

Julie: My husbands a bass player!

Lindsey: My brothers a bass player

Julie: MY brothers a bass player too!

Lindsey: weird, maybe that's it!, it's psychological. I dunno. Bass is great though, we don't hate bass

Julie: The Black Keys have a bass player now anyway, a friend of ours plays bass for them as he's a sick bass player.

Lindsey: But bass is awesome, bass is fun. I'll probably pick up a bass on some later songs (laughs)

No 'slap' bass though surely? ('Seinfield' intro)

Julie: Are you kidding that'd be cool

Lindsey: if I could I totally would!

How have you found UK shows in comparison to L.A audiences?

Julie: We haven't played in L.A in 2 years now.

Lindsey: No! maybe a year, whenever the smell was

The 'smell'?

Lindsey: (laughs) it's a venue in L.A, whenever that was, that was the last time.

Julie: I think there might be more men at the shows here than girls.

Lindsey: yeah last night there was a lot of guys at the front which sometimes makes it harder to gauge if there are any girls in.

It's sometimes said that UK audiences are more reserved and just wait to be entertained where some audiences in Europe like Spain for example
are 'with you' from the first song, what do you think?

Julie: Yeah but L.A. is that times a million where everyone is the son of the head of a record company or something and has their own band or whatever.

Lindsey: I'm sure it can be like that everywhere, we've had some of the craziest shows in London too. Brighton as well. The last time we played here at the end of our tour in January at 'The Haunt' there was crowd surfing and moshing, it was awesome.

You have a supporter in Vincent Gallo, how did that come about?

Lindsey: He came to a couple of our shows.

Julie:Yeah well he emailed our MySpace page and frankly we don't get messages on our MySpace page much and it said " I am The Director Vincent Gallo, I think you guys are a really great band" and I said that there was no way that was real and that it was some fake thing although Lindsey was a believer and she wrote back and then from there he kinda became our mentor at a really crucial time where we were a baby band who had played a handful of shows, we had a few songs and we were being approached by A&R people who were already trying to get all involved and he was just like "you need to stand by what you do , you are the people that know it, you're the artist, the creative ones here and nobody else knows what you're doing" and he's such a great artist and we have so much respect for him and to have this coming from him is so meaningful to us. He taught us to not be little pussies about it, especially at that time when lame people were trying to control us and I think it was really valuable.

Did you try and borrow any of his gear? (known for his fastidious vintage instrument collection)

Lindsey: Yeah he told us that he had 1600 guitars! But I didn't get to see any of them.

Julie: We love his album 'When', especially because it's from 2001 and the first song is 'I wrote this song for the girl Paris Hilton' and at that time she really wasn't even 'Paris Hilton' yet ya' know? I think he'd met her on the scene and then she was in that video for him (Honey Bunny) that was amazing.

Has Jack White made any inroads to you to disprove your view that he'd "disapprove of you" and your unregimented attire?

Julie: That was a joke! I thought it was because he wouldn't like the way we dressed.

Lindsey: We love Jack White and hope to work with him sometime. We are going to be in Nashville for 'Bonnaroo-2013' festival. (Jack White's 'THIRD MAN RECORDS' is based in Nashville)

Julie: Although he's really hard to pin down as he doesn't own a cell phone.

Jack White is famous for his eye for detail when it comes to stage clothes, do you think it's ever acceptable for a drummer to let the side down by wearing trainers?

Julie: Well here's the deal, I play barefoot I don't know how to play in shoes, it's a weird sensation and I just don't do it. I try not to hold bad footwear against drummers as it needs to be functional as well. I guess trainers are flat footed and flexible and it is like 'sports' playing the drums. They should all try and play barefoot personally although i'm sure there are some drummers who's feet you don't want to see (laughs) hairy feet.

Lindsey: Hammer toes? (laughs) although you don't really see them behind the kit right?

Deap Vally's debut album 'Sistrionix' is released on the 24th June 2013 via Island Records/Communion

Thanks to Deap Vally, Matt Brown at Stay Loose and Zippy Cooper.

All images are strictly © Beki Cowey / Bekitakespictures (2013)
Further use is not permitted without prior consent, and unauthorised use in any media is prohibited.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

WAY TO BLUE: The Songs of Nick Drake

WAY TO BLUE: The Songs of Nick Drake

Nick Drake was always destined to be a cult artist. With his introverted Folk based acoustic songs, doe eyes and an untimely death in 1974 at only 26 years old he was invariably going to find a home within the growing singer songwriter influx of the later 60’s and early 70’s rather than the Top 10 or on the burgeoning Blues Rock scene that were coming to fruition towards the end of the decade. A true album based artist that wrote personal melancholy songs that strayed away from the politics of the protest movement of the New York acts and instead chose to create very English sounding records without ever trying to disguise his clipped upper middle class accent or Cambridge reference points. Generations since have discovered the eloquent beauty within his catalogue and very soon with the release of tribute album ‘Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake’ a new audience will be presented with an window into one of the most interesting characters in U.K music who even after nearly 44 years remains as mysterious and curious as he did in 1969 upon the release of his debut album ‘Five Leaves Left’.

The ‘Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake’ album (released April 16th) has been curated by former Nick Drake producer and friend Joe Boyd and will feature Drake’s songs covered by a variety of artists such as Robyn Hitchcock, Scott Matthews, Luluc as well as one time collaborator and Bass player extraordinaire Danny Thompson. Joe Boyd himself is an already celebrated producer working with acts such as Pink Floyd, Nico and Toots & The Maytals as well as finding time to write one of the definitive books on the 1960’s ‘White Bicycles’ which diarises Boyd’s own experiences and ultimate assimilation into the music industry throughout one of the most exciting periods of Rock music. There will also be a celebratory evening to launch the release of the CD which will feature a Q&A with Boyd as well as footage and live performances from the original ‘Way to Blue’ concerts at The Barbican back in January 2010. The Q&A will be interesting for all fans of Nick Drake as well as the whole U.K Folk scene of the 60’s and 70’s as Boyd has always had a way of cutting through the myths and legends surrounding Nick Drake and his contemporaries and instead giving a balanced opinion of the music, artists and legacies.

I was lucky enough to speak to Joe Boyd about the upcoming night of music as well as his own personal and working relationship with Nick Drake over the first two albums. Below he discusses the recording sessions, musicians involved as well as the uphill battle to try and get Drake on the road and into the world of the underground Folk circuit.

Interview with Joe Boyd

Q) What inspired you to curate the up-coming Nick Drake celebration concert?

A) It’s really for the upcoming release of the ‘Way To Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake’ record and a celebration of that really. I don't want people to think it's a concert like the original 'Way To Blue' shows at Barbican but a few people are going to sing and we'll show some clips from the Barbican event. I'll then talk about working with Nick and they'll be some other bits and pieces and it should be a fun evening.

Q) How did you originally meet Nick and then go on to produce what would become the debut ‘Five Leaves Left’ LP?

A) Well Ashley Hutchings who was the bass player in Fairport Convention had heard Nick play and got his phone number before telling me "you better call this guy, he's very, very good", he had a demo tape that I listened to and almost straight away said "lets make a record".

Q) What was your first impression of the music and songs on the demo tape?

A) Well the very first song that was on the demo tape was 'Magic' which is probably my least favourite Nick Drake song (laughs), but it was my first Nick Drake song that I’d heard and I loved it. The next tracks were 'Time has told Me' and 'Thoughts of Mary Jane' and so really just from that I knew that this guy was amazing and all it took was about 15 seconds of the first song to make that very clear to me.

Q) Robert Kirby contributed the majority of the string arrangements on Nick Drake’s albums, who’s idea was it to bring in Harry Robinson for the ‘River Man’ sessions?

A) Well what happened was that Robert was close friends with Nick and he'd tried to write an arrangement for 'River Man'… and actually something that I didn't know until much recently when I worked on the 'Way To Blue' concerts with Robert was that it wasn't the harmonics or the ambition of the song or even Nick's ideas that he'd felt un-equal to, it was the 5/4 time signature and the fact that he hadn't gotten to the 5/4 lessons at music school yet! (Laughs) he said that he didn't feel confident writing in 5/4 time. He then basically said that "look I don't think I can do 'River Man'" and John Wood (the sound engineer on the session) asked Nick what he wanted and Nick said "I kinda want it to sound like Frederick Delius" and John said "well, get Harry Robinson he can mimic anyone (laughs) . Harry was one of the original members of Lord Rockingham's XI (British group of session musicians that appeared on POP T.V show 'Oh Boy' as the house band) and he also did the film scores for the Hammer Horror Movies. He was great, a real character and he was intrigued and loved doing it and loved the song.

Q) The closing track on ‘Five Leaves Left’ is ‘Saturday Sun’ and apart from being a beautiful piece of music it is also one of the very few tracks where Nick plays piano instead of guitar, who’s idea was that?

A) The piano was Nick's idea. He pretty much dictated what we did and he wanted it to be piano and then John Wood knew Tristan Fry and so we got him in to play vibes which gave it a jazzier vibe to it which slightly confused people at the time. In fact Melody Maker at the time reviewed 'Five Leaves Left' and said that it was "an awkward mixture of folk and cocktail jazz" and I think that it was maybe the vibes on 'Saturday Sun' that threw the Melody Maker (laughs)

Q) Who chose the musicians to accompany Nick on the recordings?

A) Well Nick would say what he wanted and I'd introduce him to various musicians who I thought would accompany his songs well. I was working with Paul Harris for example who'd been doing all the arrangements for John and Beverley Martyn for an album called 'Stormbringer!' at that time, so Paul had met Nick and heard him play and just loved what he was doing and so he played piano on 'Time Has Told Me' and 'Man In A Shed'. I then brought in Danny Thompson (double bass) and Rocky Dzidzornu the conga player who's on 'Cello Song' and 'Three Hours' so in terms of the musicians Nick was more "well we need a piano here…" you know? He'd brought Robert into the mix and then I brought people as and when they were needed. I brought in Richard (Thompson) to overdub the guitar solo on 'Time Has Told Me' and then again on the 'Bryter Layter' album he played live on 'Hazy Jane' and although I don't remember deciding that the second album ('Bryter Layter') would have drums and it was only later in retrospect that I realised that there was no drums except for the congas on 'Five Leaves Left' and that there was drums all over 'Bryter Layter'. I would just bring in people that I knew and had worked with like Dave Pegg (bass guitar), Dave Mattacks (drums) and Mike Kowalski (drums). People that were really good. There were also the 'wild cards' that I included, people like John Cale who was initially kind of an accident in the sense that I’d been recording the ‘Desertshore’ album for Nico (ex-Velvet Underground singer) with him and during the mixing session he had asked me to play some stuff I was working on and I played him a track of Nick’s and he just went crazy over it and said "I’ve got meet this guy" and from that went on to record two songs with him which became 'Fly' and 'Northern Sky'. A lot of the choices were just happenstance really where for example Chris McGregor was at a mixing session I was doing in the morning and it overlapped into the next session with Nick and he just stayed around and hung out and it was just coincidence that these were the sessions where Nick was doing 'Poor Boy' and just ended up playing piano on it.

Q) ‘Bryter Layter’ often gets described as Nick’s “city album”, was there an idea to make a more commercial sounding recording that may reach a wider market?

A) (laughs) well wider, there was really no market at the time for Nick's music. But as far as making anything more commercial, I don't think so. We didn't really make any decisions beforehand like "we're gonna use a drum kit", it was just the songs began to lead to that naturally. Once we'd tried a song with an electric bass and a drum kit instead of Danny Thompson and a conga drum, it sounded good and we just kept going in that vein. Robert had also begun writing with horns in mind instead of strings which gave things a little bit more of an edge to it. As far as the overall sound though there really wasn't a conscious decision to make a more commercial sounding record, in some ways it was less commercial than 'Five Leaves Left' as it was more confusing of an album genre wise. There had been acoustic albums with strings such as Leonard Cohen and you could say that 'Fiver Leaves Left' was in that category but 'Bryter Layter'? I don't know what category that was in.

Q) It’s been said Nick Drake only ever performed few gigs due to the various complex guitar tunings on each song which would leave frequent gaps of silence from the stage while the guitar was adjusted. Was this the case or was it more a mixture of reasons?

A) The guitar tunings live were definitely a problem for sure although it was a mixture of things. Nick didn't talk easily; he didn't have 'small-talk' or know what to say to people, particularly not an audience. He was a very quiet guy so although in hindsight it's easier to think about things you would have done differently at the time it wasn't thought about, nobody even thought it might be an idea to have another guitar in the wings in a different tuning. Although I don't think anybody even knew HOW to tune Nick's guitar except Nick as the tunings were pretty complicated.

I tired to get him out on tour to promote the albums but it just didn't go very well and you have to realise that in the late 60’s early 70’s things were different. The folk circuit was mainly just rooms above pubs and they weren't interested in what Nick was doing as it wasn't traditional English folk music and although he did play at 'Les Cousins' (a folk and blues club in the basement of a Greek restaurant in Soho) a few times but he had trouble getting the attention of the audience who were all there for a drink and night out while on top of that you’d have the waitresses walking around chatting and taking orders and it really wasn't an atmosphere where people would sit quietly and listen unless you grabbed their attention and he just didn't in that surrounding.

Q) Do you think that Nick would have gained a wider audience and broken through bigger if he’d been taken to California on the back of the whole ‘Laurel Canyon’ scene like Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills & Nash crowd?

A) Yes definitely, and it was very frustrating because David Geffen really liked 'Five Leaves Left' and talked about putting it out in America, which would have been great. Although at the time he was just starting up his label (Asylum Records) and he just never came back to really close the deal. Island Records then did a deal with Capitol Records to have their own imprint in America and as Chris Blackwell (Island Records Owner) loved Nick he said that he'd put Nick out through Island, and that took a while to get started and releases arranged. Nick's first release in America wasn't until late 1971 and even then it was a compilation album of tracks from 'Five Leaves Left' and 'Bryter Layter'. It should have come out in 1969 on Asylum Records, which would have been a boost to get on FM radio in America.

Q) Nick’s final album ‘Pink Moon’ was produced by engineer John Wood (who’d worked on the previous two with you). Why did you decide not to produce the sessions?

A) I was moving to California as ‘Witchseason’ (Joe Boyd's production company) really wasn't selling enough records to keep afloat. The records were getting great reviews but weren't selling a lot. So I was working faster and harder to catch up and getting more anxious about all the debts mounting up and then I got this offer to go and work for Warner Bros and I just felt burnt out and in need of a change. Nick had announced that he wanted to do his next record with just guitar and voice which I thought was a very bad idea, Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention was arguing with me about 'Fairport' not being as interesting as before and forming Fotheringay, The Incredible String band had become Scientologists (laughs) and so it seemed to me that everywhere I looked the wheels were coming off and this move was an easy and elegant solution where I could move to California, Island Records had agreed to buy my company and pay off the debts.

Q) Your thoughts on ‘Pink Moon’?

A) I was horrified with the whole idea and thought that it wasn't a good move for him as he'd be turning his back on the possibility of any kind of success he'd built up on the back of the other releases. I don't know what I would have done if I'd been producing, maybe try and talk him into adding some more and putting some more things on the songs I guess, not too elaborate just something else instrumentally. But of course Nick as ever turned out to be right in the sense that today 'Pink Moon' sells by far the most out of the three records.

It's partially because of the Volkswagen commercial where 'Pink Moon' was used that a lot of people were first introduced to Nick's music and that’s great although because it is the most popular both I and the Nick Drake estate receive a steady trickle of emails requesting that the other two albums are re-released with just guitar and voice and without the overdubs and other added arrangements. I have to explain that Nick really worked on those arrangements and really wanted those arrangements it wasn't just me trying to be 'commercial' (laughs). To me the least interesting and corny part of 'Bryter Layter' were the instrumentals which open and close the album which I tried to talk Nick out of but who insisted on them anyway. They are also shocked when I explain that we couldn't do the 'naked' versions even if we wanted to because a lot of the tracks were cut live and recorded in the same room with Nick singing and playing live along with all the other instruments so you couldn't separate it all out.

Q) There is a fabled story among Nick Drake fans that Nick handed the finished master tapes into a secretary at Island Records only for her to put them in a drawer and forget about them. Do you think there is any truth in this?

A) I think there is definitely some truth to that story. I think it was really a case of Nick having finished the record came to Island Records imagining giving the tapes to Chris Blackwell (Island Records owner) and I can imagine him just shuffling up to the front desk and asking if Chris Blackwell was there and the receptionist saying "No" and him just mumbling "when so and so get's back can you give them this". You have to remember that a receptionist in 1971 would have been the same as any other person around that time; she would have never heard of Nick Drake or had any idea who this person was standing in front of her and just assumed it was another demo. It wasn't like he'd even been into Island Records more than once or twice ever and so by just dumping down this tapes and walking back out the door without explaining himself properly or having a real conversation with her stating that he was an Island artist and that this was an expected master tape he was handing in, is completely believable and typical of Nick.

Q) Do you listen to his music for pleasure?

A) Yes, 'Bryter Layter' is one of the albums that I really enjoy listening to out of the ones that I've produced.

‘Way To Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake’ is available now on StorySound Records

Many thanks to Joe Boyd and James Parrish at Prescription PR.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Phoenix Foundation/Fandango Review

The Phoenix Foundation


(Memphis Industries)

‘Fandango’ is the 5th album from New Zealand based (and current six piece) The Phoenix Foundation. The ever revolving door of musicians expanding once again for these sessions with drummer Chris O’Connor joining the fold after long term member Richie Singleton’s recent departure to pursue environmental work (who said Rock and Rollers were all selfish toe-rags?). The first thing you notice about this album over the majority of releases is the fact that this is an album that provides the listener with a lot of bang for their buck! Firstly the length, at 80 minutes long you’re definitely getting a piece of work from the band that wasn’t simply cobbled together in the hope of getting some download hits before festival season started, this is a magnum opus in the truest sense! It does demand a certain level of discipline from the listener, especially those used to the 3 minute single download of the iTunes generation and wouldn’t have the patience for a 17 minute individual track (‘Friendly Society’), but for those who remember the days of double vinyl and indeed a bit of Proggy outlandishness it’s a worthwhile pursuit and an easy way to shut off the daily grind and allow your mind to turn of, relax and float downstream.

A confident effort with nods to The Flaming Lips, David Bowie and Luke Steele weaved throughout the songs manage to blend guitars and synthesizers in equal measure without sounding contrived or over trendy. The group manage to produce something here that manages to keep accessible while never sounding boring or obvious. The song ‘Morning Riff’ which manages to throw slow funk, electronica and an almost Zappa like finger knotting riff and time signature into the mix while keeping the groove throughout is another gem hidden mid way through. Each track warrants its own inclusion and keeps and even flow throughout listing wise. The first track ‘Black Mould’ is placed as the opener which provides an almost sonic shot across the bow to get an immediate ‘win’ straight out of the box, although by getting one of the most recognised songs on the album out of the way first it then draws you in immediately and prepares you for the journey that awaits you. The album continues with the more refined folky ‘Modern Rock’ and the already pre-released ‘The Captain’.

Phrases like ‘Krautrock’ and ‘Synthpop’ can get thrown about easily enough when describing the music on offer here (and with tracks like ‘Walls’ owing more than a germ or ten to Bowie’s Berlin period especially ‘Sound and Vision’ it’s understood) although scratch a little further and Folk exploration and good ol’ fashioned POP are evident within the invisible digital grooves. Looking at it as a complete piece there could be an argument that some trimming could have been done and the less impressive tracks been ditched altogether but then again people have discussed ‘The White Album’ as another contender in these types of debates also. Personally I think you need to take it as it is and enjoy it as a big meal rather than a snack. It’s good to see a band that likes to push the envelope and write outside the confines of the norm while still keeping their eyes on the prize and making something that the listener will actually enjoy listening to without scratching their head and mumbling something about the music being ‘challenging’. It’s not an effort. It’s a pure joy.

Release Date: 29th APRIL 2013