Here’s the first part of the launch interview the band did for the album. I hope you will find the reading interesting.
Q: How did you meet each other? Why did you decide to take part in the project?
PETER MORRIS: Simon and me both studied in the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and hit it off right away. Our personalities are very similar in the sense that we take our work very seriously and strive to do our very best.
SIMON MAS: That’s part of it, for sure. On the other hand, what kept us together is a similar sense of humour. Nothing’s sacred, and we joke all the time about all kinds of stuff, including our own work. I think it helps keeping things in perspective.
Anyway, some of the songs I wanted to record were written for our original uni band, and I thought it would have been nice to have Peter on board. We managed to kept in touch, and so the proposal was one email away, really.
MATTHEW ROBERTS: When I was studying music at 6th form college studying music, one of my music teachers put me in contact with somebody who was running a Grease production at a local school and they needed a saxophone player. This is where I met Peter: he was playing the bass guitar for the same production.
A few years down the line when I was playing in an Oliver production and they needed a bass player and I recommended Peter. On the last show he asked me if I would like to record an album of originals and of course I said yes, I would be silly if I said no. A few weeks down the line I met Simon at Peter’s house when we started the rehearsals.
PETER: I was impressed by Matthew’s broad taste in music. I believed such an asset was essential in forming a unit that could effectively merge the diverging styles of progressive rock, funk and new-wave that Simon was proposing.
SIMON: Yeah, Matthew turned out to be an excellent choice: a solid drummer that actually studies the pieces before coming to rehearsals. His personality fit very well, too.
Q: You all have qualifications in music; how did utilise your expertise in the making of this album?
MATTHEW: My Foundation Degree in Popular Music taught me so much on how to work in the music industry as a performer, whether it’s in the studio, live event, etc. I gained valuable knowledge and experience about working in the studio through the course that now I don’t feel the pressure most other musicians feel when they’re in the studio. It’s a very different environment than a stage, and it takes a bit to get used to it.
SIMON: In my case, apart from the obvious arranging/ composing skills, I’d say that the acquired skill I have treasured most is immediately spotting problematic behaviours in a band. Diva moments, complete laziness, self-destructive behaviour, obsession to “advance music” by repeating some experiment that has been done to death 40 years ago… I learnt I just don’t belong together with people flaunting such attitudes.
PETER: Listening analytically and identifying compositional characteristics in all instrumental parts must be the key skill as far as I am concerned. For instance, rather than work with a view to create technically demanding parts, I tried to create parts that locked with the drums and create interesting counterpoint with the vocal melody.
Q. How did the concept of the album come about? What were your musical references? In what ways all this was reflected in the writing, arranging and playing of the music?
SIMON: The initial concept of the album was creating an electric counterpart to ‘Family Issues’: minimal music by a trio. I wanted it to be an early new wave record, like U2’s ‘Boy’ or The Cure’s ‘Seventeen Seconds’.
During the writing of the songs all kinds of different ideas came creeping in: early Prince, Genesis in their progressive phase, Lucio Battisti, Wes Montgomery, King Crimson, CCCP… the concept evolved into a psychedelic opus full of layers and quirky songs (I like Syd Barrett’s a lot).
Finally, by the time the band got together and started rehearsing, I had come full circle and returned to the initial idea, especially since we didn’t have enough time to experiment with crazy sounds in the studio. I guess I just wanted to tell the stories of the characters that had kept me company for months (or, in case of older songs, years) and see how we could deliver them as a band.
I’d lie if I said that the album wasn’t made thinking about the audience. I am too much of a pop head not to think about that. The good news is that when I think about an audience, I am really thinking about me. So, in the end, I had to scrap a number of ideas just to fit my own musical sensibility, even if these ideas could have worked in their own merit.
PETER: For me, the album was about Simon and I working together again with the goal of writing good music that people would want to listen to again and again.
I think we have managed to create a unique fusion of the progressive, funk and post-punk that we all enjoy so much. We have forged a style that is almost like Zappa meets Roxy Music! Originality is a concern in the music world because everything is in danger of sounding anonymous. Most music these days sounds like a direct copy of a trend that came twenty years before and I think we, either consciously or subconsciously, wanted to create something that stood out through fusing styles that would not be considered as compatible.
MATTHEW: It’s hard to say where I drew my inspiration from for the various playing styles of the album because this album is very unique in its own way. It’s not your typical predictive music that you hear today in the charts. It’s original and unique and I’m glad to have taken part in it.
SIMON: I actually think it’s impossible to sound like someone else, unless you go out on a mission to make a pastiche… and even then, I wonder how much chance you have to succeed. Originality is like authenticity, in the music world. Both are very important to pay lip attention to, but few people really care or even try to say something objectively new.
I think what we did was original in the sense that everyone poured their heart out in the sessions. When you have this attitude, and the band really gets involved in the process of creating and arranging the songs, not only your personality shines through the music, but you have a better chance to achieved this mystical “originality” that everyone is raving about. It’s up to the listener to say how much we have succeeded, but I am personally ecstatic about the results.
And that’s it for part one of this launch interview. Part two and three will be available soon on Matthew‘s and Peter‘s website. Do not forget to drop me a line for any interview request with the band: whether or not you write for a professional publication, we take media attention very seriously.
Also, if you are a fan and you have a question that is not covered here (or in the following parts of the interviews), please feel free to write a comment to this post or to write me an email. I always try to reply as fast as I can.
Finally, remember that you can order a limited edition first pressing of the album for only 10 euros by writing at the following address before the 15th of December: