GIITTV: Willie J Healey – People And Their Dogs (National Anthem/Columbia Records)

People And Their Dogs is the debut album of Oxfordshire singer/songwriter Willie J Healey. Grounded in observations of everyday mundanity, it is a cool breeze of youthfulness. At times it is utterly inspired and romantic, at others trying to get something seriously substandard past you, pretending that it brushed its teeth by putting a spot of toothpaste on its tongue.

It’s as if there are two performers on this recording, evidence, perhaps, that Healey is still trying to find his voice – literally. It’s a bit of a lucky dip which Healey you will get on each track. The most distinctive and possibly authentic songs are the gentler tracks. ‘Marie’s Balcony’ is predominantly acoustic guitar and bass. It is a romantic melody of ‘sweet dreams and pretty things’. The slide guitar lilts and sways. It is altogether a mature and accomplished song that sounds as if Healey both knows it and is proud of it.

‘All These Things’ is similar. From the opening strum, Healey brings lazy summer days and young love, ‘I’ll be yours to keep if you come and hang out with me’. ‘Pipedreams’ is rockier in places with Healey showcasing the vocal mannerisms of Elvis Costello. The final of these more serious pieces is ‘Somewhere In Between’. Significantly moodier, due to the inclusion of a saxophone and slow drumming, Healey performs some creditable Marc Bolan quavering over the top.

Other tracks well-deserving of a mention are ‘My Room’ and the title track ‘People And Their Dogs’. Both are expansive and musically varied. ‘Subterraneans’, likewise, proves that Healey is the master of the pause. This track celebrates the beautiful things in life like cool places and boys that sing. Shades of ‘Across The Universe’ creep into ‘We Should Hang’, a love song enhanced by the addition of a female vocalist.

There are also a number of songs that would translate very well to a live setting, true festival pleasers. Louder almost punkier tracks, such as ‘Greys’, have not so much jangling, as metal-rattling guitars. This track arrives on a puff of youthfulness. As does ‘Would You Be’, a marvellously energetic finish to People And Their Dogs which should have a field of shaggy haired and be-hatted twenty-somethings in full voice.

There’s no doubt there’s plenty of success on People And Their Dogs, a talent that can’t help but come out, no matter how much Healey tries to disguise it! A little more attention to the undeveloped tracks and even bravery in developing his own style will surely pay off.

People And Their Dogs will be released on 18th August 2017 through National Anthem/Columbia Records.

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GIITTV: Track Of The Day #1064: The Academic – Bear Claws

If you thought Catfish and The Bottlemen had pretty much exhausted the indie rock arena with their stadium-sized sing-songs, you may well be correct. But growing up never really gets old, does it? And there are still bands knocking around who have a knack of condensing the chaos of our late teens into solid guitar-led pop tunes.

Ireland-based foursome The Academic are one of many hitching a lift on The Bottlemen’s rise and their latest single ‘Bear Claws’ shows that they’re more than capable of joining them amongst sweaty, summer festival crowds. The premise is simple “We all do stupid things at that time of our lives, not thinking about the longer-term implications,” said the band of the track. ‘Bear Claws’ is exactly what you’d expect and delivers a fresh-faced boost to the more accessible realms of its genre. It also has one of the catchiest choruses you’ll hear today.

 

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The VPME Track Of The Day – Pale Waves Television Romance

Pale Waves Television Romance

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Manchester’s indie pop new comers Pale Wales return with brand new track ‘Television Romance’, but what sort of reception will it get? (ho, ho). It’s the follow up to their sublime official debut single for Dirty Hit Records  ‘There’s A Honey’ and to be honest it isn’t a million miles away from that track, indeed there are points in the chorus that sound like it’s actually going to morph into said debut.  But it’s another lovingly crafted slice of slick but heartfelt indie, one that you could imagine being featured in a John Hughes montage featuring Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy. As such it will appeal to pop and indie kids and highlights the melancholic winsome appeal of  Heather Baron-Gracies fragile vocal.

Interestingly we’ve noted some online dissent, namely that since joining Dirty Hit records Pale Waves have changed … in all honesty their new songs compared to earlier recordings sound pretty much the same albeit a little more polished and expansive.  But not polished to the extent that the band’s personality is erased. We’ll let the earnest indie kids and smug poptimsits fight that one out, we’d rather just listen to the music.  But there will always be those from whom wax strip home demos, preferably recorded in a tin bath using “guerilla”  instruments such as a rolling pin and a wooden spoon, will be viewed as somehow more authentic. “What you used an actual guitar??  And worse still you FUCKING TUNED IT ???  What a sellout ! “

Let’s face it Dirty Hit have a pretty impressive track record when it comes to working with and developing new talent, and we’d expect to see Pale Waves on numerous tip lists come the start of 2018, quite possibly including the BBC’s Sound of.

Pale Waves - Television Romance - Track Of The Day VPME

 

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GIITTV: NEWS: Car Seat Headrest shares new single

After releasing a demo version of War Is Coming (If You Want It) for just 24 hours earlier this month, Car Seat Headrest shares the studio version of the track. After donating the proceeds to Bandcamp’s fundraiser for the Transgender Law Center, all further bandcamp sales for the single will be donated to the fundraiser as well. Check out War Is Coming (If You Want It) below:

http://ift.tt/2uLEQy1

After gigging across America on their North American tour, Car Seat Headrest will perform at a number of dates throughout the UK and Ireland. Full list of tour dates below:

29/08  Forum – London (UK) 
30/08  Ritz – Manchester (UK) 
31/08  Leeds Uni – Leeds (UK) 
01/09  Electric Fields festival – Thornhill (UK) 
02/09  End of the Road festival – Dorset (UK) 
03/09  
Electric Picnic – Dublin (EIR)

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GIITTV: Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Crescent, York, 15/08/2017

“We are Hurray For The Riff Raff. We are American. And we come in peace”. Alynda Segarra’s introduces the band. The charismatic frontwoman’s words may be well-rehearsed but no matter how many times you hear them, the final sentence never loses its impact. Her message of friendship, harmony and goodwill is in deliberately marked contrast to the fire and fury rhetoric of her country’s President and it lays down a strong marker for the evening’s performance.

Segarra goes on to tell us that we are listening to “resistance music” and there is no doubting Hurray For The Riff Raff’s position in what is a very long and noble tradition of producing protest songs in popular music, one that stretches back through the Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge movements and anti-Vietnam war ballads. Even as long ago as 1941 the folk legend Woody Guthrie had placed the message ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’ on his guitar.

Music has long been a potentially political vehicle to voice what has been, and continues to be legitimate countercultural anger at oppression, marginalisation and injustice. On The Navigator (Hurray For The Riff Raff’s sixth and most recent album, released earlier this year to widespread critical acclaim), Alynda Segarra – the band’s songwriter – explores her own heritage as a New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent. On the record’s powerful title-track – appearing five songs into tonight’s show – she assumes the voice of her ancestors to help guide her and her fellow Hispanic-Americans through what have become the most difficult and chaotic of times. Later on in the set, she moves from her position centre-stage to the keyboards to accompany herself on what is a beautifully poignant reading of ‘Fourteen Floors’, the narrative of which is inspired by the trip that her grandparents took from Puerto Rico to New York City many years earlier.

Whilst commenting more specifically upon the decimation of established Latin American communities in her home country through the process of gentrification, the material taken from The Navigator – the majority of which is played here tonight – has an even greater purpose, conveying as it does a more universal sense of togetherness.  And it is this collective spirit, a fervent belief in wider assimilation that unites us all here tonight.

“To all who had to hide, I say, Pa’lante! To all who lost their pride, I say, Pa’lante! To all who had to survive, I say, Pa’lante! To my brothers, and my sisters, I say, Pa’lante!”

A sparkling encore of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ aside – the only Boss that Alynda Segarra will listen to – Hurray For The Riff Raff bid York farewell with ‘Pa’lante’. With Donald Trump’s continuing amoral stance on immigration firmly in its sights, the song is a huge rallying cry for us all to move forward. And given the compassionate spirit of inclusion that lies at its very heart, ‘Pa’lante’ cements Hurray For The Riff Raff’s rightful place in the modern pantheon of protest music.

Hurray For The Riff Raff at The Crescent Community Venue in York was brought to us by Please Please You

Photo credit: Simon Godley

More photos from this show can be found HERE

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GIITTV: IN CONVERSATION – Modern Sky Artists (Pixey, Fuss, Violet Youth and Catholic Action)

A few weeks ago, one of the most arresting album samplers of the past few years was released, showcasing the cream of talent on offer, amongst many varied acts, on the label Modern Sky. The Future Influences The Present Just As Much As The Past was such an impressive collection, harking back to the days of those classic Indie Top 20 albums while at the same time looking to incorporate the new (hence the title, I guess), that I decided to track down each artist on it for a little more background…

PIXEY

‘Hometown’ is an irresistible tune, Prodigy like beats with guitar motifs akin to Johnny Marr’s on Talking Heads’ ‘Naked’ album. How would you personally describe your sound?

I’d personally describe my sound as punchy pop beats with lo-fi electric guitar riffs. I’m not afraid to incorporate elements of pop into my songs but I can never go without writing a gritty riff over the top to complement it.

What should we expect from a Pixey gig?

I’m currently in the process of switching up my live set so you’d probably expect something a little bit different – I have always had all my instruments from my tracks played live, however I’m thinking of getting some proper technology in to ramp things up a bit.

You have three wishes. They must be music related. What are they?

My first wish would definitely be to time travel back to a Prince gig on his Purple Rain tour. Second wish would be able to play the drums with my eyes closed. And my third wish would probably be to never experience stage fright again.

FUSS

What are FUSS all about?

Escapism, cartoons and death defying stunts. Small mammals, big fish and playing top trumps

Obviously Liverpool has a very rich musical heritage. How do you feel when you play at places like The Cavern Club? Is it more special, given its history? Or does the venue not matter? What I’m getting at is, are there venues that seem to bring the best out of you for no apparent reason? Where are the best places you’ve played and why?

The cavern lounge is a boss venue, incredible sound, its in a different part of town to where we usually play, different vibe but we enjoy it.

In terms of venue, the better the sound, the better we play basically. We played a house party last year and it was the best sound yet, you never know what you’re gonna get.

Fluff‘ is a very dreamy, seemingly very optimistic track, until you listen to the lyrics (if, indeed, I’m hearing them correctly!). I love that contrast. If you WERE being optimistic though, what would be your ultimate dream for FUSS?

Nice one for listening to the tune, the contrast is really important like, we’re all optimistic but reality is always there. We just wanna keep doing our thing, make many more tunes and eventually play dominoes with Keith Richards in a Tree City of our own creation.

VIOLET YOUTH

Lucid Dreams‘ is a lush soundscape of orgasmic proportions. To me, it’s kind of like Real Estate doing shoegaze if Prefab Sprout had produced it (which means it’s ace, by the way) but somehow it goes beyond even that. I find it quite exhilarating. How does it feel to play this stuff live?

The live shows are always an experience. There’s a lot more energy in the songs when they’re played live than you might expect but you don’t lose the “soundscape” feel either. We played in an old church for our EP launch recently and it sounded huge.

Do you have a specific vision for Violet Youth? What sets you apart from your contemporaries, do you think?

The Vision for Violet Youth is to grow and take things up a level every time we release. We want to keep an integrity in terms of songwriting and originality. We feel that we stand out when it comes to other bands. You can pick our influences from a mile off but we don’t sound like anyone else. We don’t want to just be a band that has one release then becomes stagnant there is too much of that these days. We want to grab the attention of as many people as possible and give them something to get behind.

What’s the best thing about being on Modern Sky?

The best thing about Modern Sky is that whenever we walk into the office it doesn’t matter what’s going on or how busy they are we always get a warm welcome which is nice since they usually have about 1,000 things to deal with all at once.

CATHOLIC ACTION

Doing Well‘ is an insanely catchy track, harking back to classic songwriters such as Jonathan Richman or maybe even Chuck Prophet (certainly vocally anyway), whilst maintaining a distinctly modern feel.
What can we expect from your debut album later this year? It can’t ALL be as infectious as this. Can it?

It’s funny you mention Jonathan Richman, I remember I played ‘Roadrunner‘ at a party once and my friend thought it was me singing. Andrew and I are huge fans.

Simply put, the debut album is a culmination of everything we’ve been through as a band so far. Play it from start to finish, and you’ll be richly rewarded. That’s how I listen to LPs, so that’s how we made ours. To me it really opens up as it goes along, it gets a lot darker, and a lot more expansive than you might expect.

Did you ever hear from Rita Ora in the end? If not, has it lowered your opinion of her?

In the end? We heard from Rita quite quickly! She’s a very big fan of the tune – I think she tweeted something along the lines of it being her new theme song and/or the best song ever made. Which is quite an accolade. My opinion of Rita Ora is at an all time high.

How was your SXSW experience earlier this year? Any tales to tell?

This SXSW was my favourite yet. Here are three things I learned:

1. Student Co-ops are probably the closest American’s will ever get to socialism. And they work so well. We stayed in one at in the West Campus area of the city and spent a lot of time hanging out with a carousel of friendly faces, always with something interesting to say. It makes me really want to go and study there. Oh and they host really good gigs too.

2. See The Lemon Twigs live. I’ve seen them live as many times as I could (3). And it was worth all the sunburn.

3. Relax, take it in and speak to the locals. Austin is a little progressive bubble in the middle of Texas. It’s truly unique and it’s definitely much, much more than Sixth Street. Aside from all the music, my favourite thing was just exploring the City and talking to people.

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GIITTV: Video Of The Week #45: Greta Issac – Comfortable

Originally a folk artist Greta Isaac‘s recent single ‘Comfortable’ is a step change in her artistry, super production cuts up her songwriting layers in beats, guitar strums stop start samples and wonderful vocals it’s an unadulterated glitch pop cracker that explores apathy and selfishness even as the world is crashing around our ears.watch the fine video above a collage of found footage, natural shots and live action imagery painted eyes upon eyes symbolic of what we fail to see or don’t want to see in front of us. Originally from Wales but now based in London, her work is as a whole is an exploration into habits and destructive human tendencies; each song explores and exaggerates a different unhealthy trait from the perspective of a neurotic character.

Greta is set to debut this project live at a secret London show on 5th September followed by a return to Wales to play at Festival No.6.

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GIITTV: Bella McKendree – Waiting EP (Trellis Records)

As a teenager in the 1990s there seemed to me to be suddenly so many offshoots and sub-genres of music it was like growing up in one of those sweetshops where everything was nicely ordered in plastic tubs on the shelves, as journalists scrambled to cleverly label the next big thing. Grunge gave way to nu-metal and emo, the Madchester and shoegaze scenes spewed forth Britpop and (the incredibly named) New Wave Of New Wave, while hip-hop and rave combined in techno, jungle and trip-hop. As trip-hop revolutionised what it was possible to do with a home studio for a while it seemed Tricky, Portishead et al were giving us something genuinely innovative and relevant. Then Massive Attack’s sublime Blue Lines changed everything setting a new high-water mark for experimental British music. But like the imagined heat death of the universe after this initial period of great invention it seemed we’d reached a point where musical entropy quickly diminished into a uniform soup of genre equilibrium.

Oddly but interestingly, the last great leap forward stylistically, dubstep, has also seemingly cooled into a version of trip-hop identical to that of the late 1990s as if evolving independently twice like some kind of perfect (but underwhelming) evolutionary end game, all roads lead to trip-hop. Bands like The XX and London Grammar now dilute the airwaves like the last remnants of the stars and galaxies in our universe metaphor.

So, if the world needs another singer/songwriter “influenced by the likes of London Grammar [and] The XX” why shouldn’t it be Bella McKendree. The Morcheeba-by-numbers of ‘Don’t You Wanna Be Loved’ is hardly reinventing the wheel. The predictable slowed down broken-glass beats, double layered vocals and scratchy (as if sampled) organ couldn’t be more derivative. So far, so unflinchingly bland and inoffensive. Similarly, ‘Grieve’ is a lovely country ballad spoiled only by being played at 90 bpm with an overblown piano loop when a pedal steel would have been sufficiently heartfelt and allowed the incredible melody in the chorus to shine. Less is sometimes more.

These aren’t bad songs, far from it, but by consciously shying away from the traditional singer/songwriter blueprint when you are actually a really good singer/songwriter is detrimental to the cause. However, the title track is a bit more like it, simple and mournful in a Lana Del Rey sort of way and the sentimental “I start to wonder if you’re as good a lover as a friend” in the pre-chorus is both relatable and emotive as the song slowly builds towards moments of nigh-on perfect modern power-pop. If you listen carefully there is also some lovely slide guitar in the background, more intuitive with the singer’s natural tone and delivery, but again it’s virtually hidden in the production.

However, like an occasional raisin in a world of curry sauce, Waiting’s appeal is in its brief glimpses of a possible future that all debut releases should contain but more often than not do not, and on closer ‘Baby Lets Fall’ Bella McKendree gets tantalisingly close to the contemporary Kate Bush styling she aspires to.

Waiting is released on August 18th through Trellis Records.

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The VPME Track Of The Day – Dream Wife – Fire

Dream Wife – Fire

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Dream Wife return with a new track and EP,  which includes their previous release, the excellent ‘Somebody’ plus three exclusive remixes of ‘Fire’.  It’s a track that’s already a live favourite and is driven by guitarist Alice Go’s dizzying relentless riffs. It highlights why we regard her as one of the most exciting innovative young guitarists to emerge in recent years.  Indeed Alice’s guitar work adds a real rock heft to Dream Wife’s sublime indie punk pop. It’s another fabulous release from this now must see a live band who are reading their debut album.

Ps/ Still waiting on them releasing the visceral Stooges sounding ‘Let’s Make Out’ which must surely be the next single?

Pre-order the Fire EP: http://ift.tt/2wMheqb

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Fire EP is out September 29th via Lucky Number

 

Dream Wife Live at Blue Dot Festival - Photo Andy Von Pip

 

Full list of upcoming live dates  below and tickets for all shows are available via Dice FM or See Tickets

 

Tour dates:

12/10/2017   Magnet Bar, Liverpool 16+

13/10/2017   King Tuts, Glasgow 18+

14/10/2017   Hare & Hounds, Birmingham 16+

15/10/2017   The Cookie, Leicester 14+

16/10/2017   The Bullingdon, Oxford 16+

18/10/2017   The Wardrobe, Leeds 14+

19/10/2017   Band on the Wall, Manchester 14+

20/10/2017   Esquires, Bedford 14+

21/10/2017   The Haunt, Brighton 14+

22/10/2017   The Louisiana, Bristol 16+

24/10/2017   Old Fire Station, Bournemouth 14+

25/10/2017   Scala, London 16+

Dream Wife - Fire
Photo: Hollie Fernando

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GIITTV: IN CONVERSATION: Paul Draper

Following Mansun‘s dramatic split in 2003, the myths and rumour surrounding a Paul Draper solo record have continued to swirl. Fans of the band desperate to hear what the enigmatic songwriter had been concocting after the dramatic and painful disillusionment of one of the ’90s most idiosyncratic and successful bands were left to speculate feverishly at the time about its existence and when it would be released to no avail. Recording sessions for a solo album were shelved in 2004 and Paul Draper disappeared from view in the middle of a crisis of confidence, fans left somewhat bereft by the complete radio silence from a songwriter who crafted such wonderful albums as their string laden grandeur and dark wit of their 1997 debut Attack of the Grey Lantern and the myriad of ideas contained in its follow-up the experimental concept album Six and the ill-fated Little Kix, their last official release as a band. Draper claiming that lead guitarist Chad tried to sack him from the band several times following the release of Little Kix: “(Chad) didn’t want me to be the producer or the songwriter and he wanted me replaced by another singer and for the band to be more like The Seahorses, remember that band with John Squire? He wanted the songs to come out of jams in rehearsal rooms”

In the years since Paul gradually returned to public view, songwriting for Skin, working with Menace Beach and The Joy Formidable then as part of after a fan petition, he agreed to work on a release of the unfinished sessions for their fourth unreleased album Kleptomania and a ‘Best Of’. Then after various fan petitions and a Mansun fan convention depicting just how strong the Mansun fan community was, even after twenty years since their first album, in 2007 news came that Draper had started working with Catherine Davies (The Anchoress) on producing her debut album. After two EP releases on Too Pure, it’s finally here, the much discussed solo album from Paul Draper. It’s been a long, long wait and whilst perhaps it won’t receive the same commercial attention it would have back in the early ’00s, it’s still a much anticipated artistic statement and a full stop on a myth that’s existed for over a decade and whilst it doesn’t push many conceptual and sonic barriers like Six did, it’s well worth listening to. Dark, brooding, and ripe with percussive rock grooves, layered synths, and shuddering crescendos and laced with Draper’s trademark bittersweet, melodramatic theatrical vocals that swoop with disappointment and injected with searingly honest lyrics.

An attempt to capture a more live band sound, released last week Spooky Action doesn’t try to push much beyond the Mansun sound, indeed any song with Draper’s vocals on is going to remind you of them, thus it surfs the lines between the sonic experimental concept album Six and the more accessible anthemic, lyrical duality of Attack of the Grey Lantern yet it sounds rawer and heavier than both. Choice cuts include the infectious groove of ‘The Things People Want’ the intensity of ‘Feeling My Heart Run Slow’ and songs that point towards a possible future with a psych, voodoo rock of ‘Grey House’ and synth pop of ‘Jealousy is a Powerful Emotion’ that’s redolent of peak Depeche Mode as played by a proper prog rock band, featuring five tracks co-written with Catherine Davies that reflecting on his life, at times exhaustively laying to rest ghosts of the bitter turmoil and betrayal he experienced during the disillusionment of Mansun, it contains some of the most personal and brutal lyrics he’s ever committed to record.

I meet Paul after a record signing at Spillers records, to say it’s somewhat of a surreal experience for me interviewing a man responsible for records I loved to death, in the late 1990s is an understatement made all the more unusual by the animal rights activists on Cardiff’s St Mary’s street that drown out the first five minutes of our interview outside a pub, before we retreat inside. Slightly tired from an in-store a gig in London the night before and the travel to Cardiff the day after, nevertheless he appears in fine form; an honest, engaging, funny and interesting interviewee. Here are the answers to my questions and those of Mansun fans who sent me them:

I heard you played an in-store last night?

I played a three-track acoustic set last night in Rough Trade in London. The set was ‘Friends Make The Worst Enemies’, ‘The Inner Wheel’ and then I ended with ‘Disgusting’ but I had to take a break half way through because the lyrics blew away. I don’t even remember lyrics from this album never mind Mansun ones.

Did working with Catherine help reignite your passion for songwriting again?

Catherine (The Anchoress) had the drive and energy to stand out from the sea of shit out there on the internet and to make herself an alternative pop star. She co-wrote five songs and she sings backing vocals on the middle eight of ‘Feel Like I Wanna Stay’ on the album. She’s a big part of it, if that project hadn’t took off I wouldn’t be here doing this or talking to you.

In the years leading up to the confirmation of new material, you were once quoted as saying (something to the effect of) that you didn’t really like singing anymore, not even in the shower. Did you go through a phase of being tired of your singing voice, and how do feel about it now?

I don’t like my own voice and I don’t like singing but I like making records. Spooky Action is no different to The Anchoress record or the rest of everything I’ve ever done, except I’m singing on it.

You originally started solo record years ago but shelved it didn’t you? When did you come back to this material?

About 18 months ago. I was never going to do it but my studio in Acton got taken over so I had to relocate to my engineer’s studio Pdub, it became obvious when I was working with Catherine there was still the interest there and for the first time, I thought about it again.

When Mansun split up there was fevered speculation online about a solo project…

Mansun was such a nasty break up of a band and I had the wind knock out of me, I never saw myself as a solo artist until I saw the amount of fanship on the internet when doing the album with Catherine. And you can’t turn that down, once you’ve got thousands of people saying yes 20 years after the fact. If Beyonce had come along and asked me to produce her I probably would have done it, I would have made more money but now I’ve done it and I’m here in Cardiff, and it’s awesome.

‘Feeling My Heart Run Slow’ feels and sounds intense like you are being placed in the eye of a very intense maelstrom…

Well ‘Feeling My Heart Run Slow’ means laying low for a while after you’ve been fucked over. Lyrically, everything I did on this album was very very quick. I’d been through such a massive experience that I just wrote the same song out 11 times. Then Catherine stepped in and said you keep writing the same thing 11 times, so I changed the words around, it’s all part of the same story of me in coming out of Mansun, and that’s probably why they’re all a bit dark.

The lyrics on ‘Spooky Action’ are brutally honest. Is there a sense of settling scores and reflecting on being taken advantage of in the past or are they more of a “getting things off your chest”?

There’s no settling scores, there’s no bitterness. If there was settling scores and bitterness I wouldn’t be doing music again. I wouldn’t be here talking to you. It’s just a thought process I’ve had over a long time. Some people will understand some of the lyrics and relate to them, other people won’t. Some of them are obvious others are obvious to the people involved.


Well, even the titles like ‘Jealousy is a Powerful Emotion’ and ‘Friends Make The Worst Enemies’ – they are pretty direct messages. I read somewhere that you felt like you had been taken advantage of in Mansun?

Well, some are pretty obvious, really. I felt like in Mansun they had a good laugh at my expense, but time is a great healer. If I’d have released it at the time it probably would have been a disaster straight after the fact. But the lyrics are still true to how I felt, when I picked those things up 18 months ago and just finished them, they reflected how I felt then, but after finishing the record now I don’t think about it.

Why Spooky Action? I hear this dark shadowy theme running throughout the songs…

The title came first; it came from part of a lyric (on ‘Feeling My Heart Run Slow’). When we started the album and the more spooky it got, the more it went into the title. Conceptual things aren’t usually the place of someone with a genius mind who comes up with an amazing idea, I’d say they are developed more on the fly. I wouldn’t say there’s an amazing concept with Spooky Action other than they are a raw set of feelings laid out on a record. A raw arc of saying the same thing 11 times. When I came back to finish the album off and I revisited the tracks and that place, but I couldn’t have gone back to that place unless I’d resolved it in my own mind. I would say you move on but you never really deal with it fully; it’s an ongoing process of catharsis, but isn’t life like that? Isn’t music a reflection of life?

I hear the themes of mental well-being and anxiety from songs like ‘The Inner Wheel’…

Well, I was pretty fucked up after Mansun. Well with ‘The Inner Wheel‘ there’s a big story to it at the end of the album. I’m asking a question: Is ignorance bliss in life or should you seek a resolution to it? But there’s a double meaning to the song because at the end of my street is a bench and I always sit on it because I haven’t got a garden and it says on it ‘donated by the inner wheel’. I thought the inner wheel was a cycling club but it turns out it was the female masons or something. It’s like the cycling ground of things in my head, so it has a double meaning. If you listen to the end of the song you’ll get it.

I get a really dark and proggy vibe from the album sound. Was this intentional?

On this album we left it pretty loose; they want to equalise everything very tightly. My record was based around playing in a room. There’s a looseness and there’s a groove to it; the darkness emerged, we are Welsh, man – if you are Welsh you have the funk, man. I was born in Liverpool but moved to Wales when I was zero. My band has the funk in it.  It’s more accessible than Six but not quite as accessible as Grey Lantern; it’s somewhere in between. If the record company had left me on my own to make a record that’s probably what the third Mansun album would have been, instead of trying to make us into a pop group. At the time everyone was going mad for us after Six, but we were a big pop band. Now I’m an independent artist on an independent label. I mean I could have done it differently, I had an offer from Sony and Universal to do this album but there would have been compromises.

It might have ended up a bit like Liam Gallagher’s upcoming major label solo album..?

I’ve heard three of the tracks off the Liam Gallagher album – two I really like. But it’s very of the now, it’s very modern. Mine’s very DIY and live sounding.

What are the themes that inform your new single ‘The Things People Want’?

It was one of the last lyrics I wrote about the anger of coming out of Mansun and the realisation of where you are in your life. I should have written I want a Ferrari sport, massive mansion, a house in Barbados and eight million quid in the bank but I changed the lyrics and the reality is somewhat different. Yet I’m living in a flat with no garden so I sit on the ‘Inner Wheel.’

Was there a conscious effort to move away from the Mansun sound with your solo work?

How can I escape the Mansun sound? Yeah, I don’t want to diminish the other guys involved but I was the main protagonist in it.

But you’re still trying to experiment with that sound.  There’s things like the psych ‘Grey House’ and the shadowy ‘Poke The Bear’ that possess experimental elements?

I think you always want to be relevant, have a balance between that and the art. If you’re a Mansun fan I think you’ll like it, if you’re into like Shania Twain or Kesha, Katy Perry or Ed Sheeran then you’ll probably think it’s a crock of shite and I’m fine with that. I haven’t tried to be commercial on this album at all. There’s some songs on the album with hooks on them. With Mansun, we wrote singles and we were the pop music of our day, but I can’t be arsed anymore.

How different is releasing an album now compared to back in the late ’90s when you were with Mansun?

When Mansun was a big band we were the pop music of our day, I was a pop star, and now I’m just an alternative artist, I don’t have any pressure to get in the charts or anything. I think this album is relatively accessible – if anything it’s a bit long winded. I could have pushed it harder and made it more odd but we’ll see how it goes. It is a balance but it just happens; I haven’t tried to write any singles. You’ve got to remember in Mansun, our manager would call us up and say ‘give us a hit rekkid, give us a hit rekkid’ [laughs]. If you’re Katy Perry, I’m sure you still get that. I’ve just done an album, released a couple of EPs I am seeing how it goes. I will play some gigs and try and enjoy it all.

Mansun releases always contained a plethora of themes and inspirations particularly ‘Six’ it was almost like a jigsaw puzzle at times trying to piece together the ideas… What themes have informed your solo recordings?

It’s not a conceptual piece but there’s an over-riding arc of me not thinking too hard about the lyrics but just writing down what happened to me in the band. It’s not about a super hero coming down to save the planet or something!

I saw a programme on BBC4 about concept albums recently and Six by Mansun was a glaring absence, did it start out as a concept album or was it more a case of pulling all the of the ideas/songs together into one record?

We could have gone down the route of having another big pop album instead. I look back now and think maybe I should have. I’d have a house in Barbados now. Suede did their Dog Man Star but they made a conscious decision to make a pop record with Coming Up and there’s nowt wrong with that. We had some bits of ideas and songs, that’s all we had.

I read that you weren’t even talking at the time?

I wasn’t mates with those guys at the time. I was ready to throw the towel in, but they persuaded me to come and do it. We weren’t going to walk away from it.

What are your thoughts on anniversary re-releases/full-album tours, given that it’s always so many years since something was released – Six notably due to turn 20 next year.

There’s going to be an anniversary reissue of Six next year. I’ll do a couple of Mansun songs on my upcoming dates but it will mainly new stuff.

It’s 20 years since the release of the Attack of The Grey Lantern this year. Could you ever see a record like that getting to number one in the charts now?

Well, it depends. Stephen Wilson could. But it’s the age of the established artist; in the ’90s you could come out of nowhere. Spotify has made the established artists a lot more important

I wonder if Spotify has just reinforced major artists sometimes, people listen to it like background music and that’s made music bland as a result.

Most people drive Ford Fiestas, listen to Ed Sheeran and go and watch super hero films; people like middle of the road stuff.

Little Kix remains a lovely, oddly uplifting record with some fine singles. Given the difficulties and compromises you’ve described as hindering the recording of the album, are you able to hear the good elements in it?

I think there’s loads of good elements until the ‘Next Life’, ‘Forgive Me’, ‘I Can Only Disappoint You’, ‘New Beginning’, ‘Comes As No Surprise’, there’s loads of good elements on it – just fucked it up. The production wasn’t right and we didn’t pick the right songs. I was not the producer, I was not even allowed to take part in the mixing side of it.

You have spoken about how you can’t envisage a Mansun reunion, but how do you feel when you see other ’90s acts getting back together such as Lush, Ride, Stone Roses et al…?

Well, it doesn’t bother me or affect the Mansun story. Mansun had our own thing really. I can’t tell you if we would ever get back together; the other guys took the band over from me. It would be their decision really. Maybe I wouldn’t even be in it?

What! It would be like the Jam without Paul Weller…?

Yeah, from the Mansun, yeah there’s a band called From the Jam. I’ve yet to see the full stupidity of Mansun’s other members.

In recent years you have collaborated with quite a few bands and artists including Skin, Menace Beach, The Joy Formidable and of course The Anchoress. Who would be your dream collaboration?

Well, that’s it now, that chapters over. It depends on how this goes but I think it’s going alright so far. My next project after this is me again, that’s as far into the future as I can see.

 I saw you posting about the greatness of Talk Talk on Facebook. Why do you think they are a bit under appreciated?

I just thought they were a great pop group from the eighties when I was a kid but they also went a bit leftfield and stuff with ‘Laughing Stock’ and Mark Hollis’s solo album. I am sure there will be a BBC4 documentary at some point there’s a lot of rumours about them.

What current songwriters/artists/bands are you into?

Alabama Shakes. I like them. I’ve been listening to some of the Cabbage stuff that’s all right, and The Blossoms‘ album. Everything is a bit ’80s and shiny and poppy these days. I like Beak> stuff – that’s cool too; Geoff Barrow from Portishead‘s solo stuff – it’s lo fi which is a nice reference for my solo work. The equipment you have these days that you have to put a lot of effort into making it sound shit

You are playing your first shows for a very long time, are you nervous? What can we expect for the forthcoming tour?

It’s mainly going to be new stuff. I’m a bit nervous and I need to get into shape for it.

Would you consider playing Cardiff again?

Yeah, we will come back in February and March to play Cardiff.

Are there plans for more singles from the album?

We are going to do a couple I think. We’re going to do a 7″ around the tour in September. We’re going to a new single from the album with an acoustic version of one of the tracks on the b-side; a different version from the album.

Paul Draper’s Spooky Action is out now on Kscope.

http://ift.tt/2wP5MKp

Paul Draper plays a sold out tour of the UK in September with a full live band that includes regular studio collaborator Catherine AD (the Anchoress).
These are his first solo live dates. Paul will play at:

Thu 14th Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
Fri 15th Manchester, Gorilla
Sat 16th Glasgow, King Tuts
Thu 21st London, Scala
Fri 22nd Bristol, Thekla
Sat 23rd Birmingham, Institute 2

Photo: Kevin Pick

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