Pictish Trail – an interview in May 2017

Yours truly has long been a fan of Pictish Trail – Johnny Lynch with his band, as a duo or solo. Nothing like the longing and wildness in the song “Winter Home Disco”. He presented a shiny, glittering album of ten delicate songs to us recently: “Future Echoes”. Since Johnny now resides on the Isle Of Eigg, one of the Small Islands, part of the Inner Hebrides in Scotland, I even contemplated to take the Road To The Isles…I haven’t do so yet but I still give you Pictish Trail – an interview in May 2017. How? Read on!

Less than one hundred people live on Eigg and do so totally independent from the mainland. And yes, you can write songs there and much more…Johnny runs a record label there – Lost Map Records (featuring artists like Rozi Plain, Kid Canaveral and Seamus Fogarty and organises a festival even on the island called Howlin’ Fling!

Would I ever have a chance to see Pictish Trail in action? Yeeeeessss, British Sea Power, brilliant band in now yet another way, picked Pictish Trail as support for their UK and Europe tour. British Sea Power have also played at a Howlin’ Fling festival!

On site at the Gebäude 9, Cologne, Johnny agreed to a chat and turns out to be the kindest and funniest man ever – well, music in most cases does not lie! See for the interview with Pictish Trail’s Johnny below.

Pictish Trail - an interview in May 2017

I have to tell you about this gig…the venue is empty, Pictish Trail manage to call  some people in. Bewilderment on the audience’s faces, then careful laughter and nodding, more laughter, sheer amazement. This development is followed by people going outside telling the rest to come in for Heaven’s sake. Those who remained outside until British Sea Power’s set were reproached in no uncertain terms by the ones inside that they have missed brilliance! I was there to witness it and totally agree. Pictish Trail were present just as a duo, Johnny and Suse on bass and great vocals (and with a tremendous sense of humour too). It was to be an acoustic set, consisting of some heart-warming songs on bass and acoustic guitar first. Without giving too much away, we were treated to the thirty-seconds songs from the soundbox afterwards and one full song from the new album with Johnny wandering in his kaftan through the audience. I still have my mouth hanging open…many insects have found their way in since Thursday…I don’t care.

Check out Pictish Trail’s website for more information and soundbites and other goodies.

And here comes Pictish Trail – an interview in May 2017

Offbeat Music Blog:
Thank you very much for taking the time, Johnny! We sadly never make it to the Isle of Eigg, so it is great that you are supporting British Sea Power and we meet you here.

Pictish Trail:
No problem!

OMB:
Is your festival on the Isle of Eigg/Scotland taking place this year?

Pictish Trail:
It has not happened yet. It is happening at the end of July. We have not announced anyone who is playing yet, so it is all top secret. But we will announce it in the next few weeks. Basically, I am still organising it. I have booked all the bands but I don’t know where to put them all. There is not much accommodation on the Isle of Eigg.

OMB:
I know! So what do you usually do? Tents?

Pictish Trail:
There is a lot of camping and there is a hostel in the middle of the island. It is not a massive hostel but it is big enough and it is very good. So, I’ve got a lot of the bands staying there all together. So, yeah, it’s gonna be messy (laughs).

OMB:
Do you get midges?

Pictish Trail:
We do get midges but I don’t think that they are that bad but then I have been living on Eigg for seven years and I think you can get used to it.

OMB:
Are they not interested in you anymore?

Pictish Trail:
I’ve got a protective forcefield which is my beard. My beard covers up about eighty per cent of my face now.

OMB:
You started out your label Lost Map really from a caravan, didn’t you?

Pictish Trail:
I did, yeah. I mean, I ran a label before when I was living in a fishing village called Anstruther on the East Coast and I had a label called Fence there. When I moved to Eigg we rebranded the label as Lost Map in 2013, four years ago. Yeah, but it was working out of a caravan. (Laughs). It was a great caravan. I have built a house since then so I am now in a house. But the caravan was amazing because it was just really relaxing and the views from the caravan were beautiful. Eigg is an amazing place to live.

OMB:
What made you move there?

Pictish Trail:
My partner, she is a farmer on the island and I went to visit her when we were first going out. As soon as I arrived, I made friends with a lot of people on the island. I couldn’t really figure out a reason for not staying and so I just stayed. I enjoyed the place so much, that I thought, oh, I can just live here. And do what I do. Because I travel quite a lot anyway. It did not matter to me where my home was. Home is just where you leave all your stuff. So it’s there. And I am spending more and more time there now.

OMB:
So, for the tours you obviously have to travel but music for Pictish Trail you can do there and everything concerning the label Lost Map you can do there as well?

Pictish Trail:
Yeah, I can do everything there. The only thing I cannot do there is…I do a lot of writing and record demos. But I am not a very good producer. I have realised that now (laughs). All my records were self-produced and very low-fi. I love that sound and I will continue to do that stuff. But I suddenly realised, I don’t have any interest in producing. Eigg is good for writing but recording I do elsewhere.

OMB:
Eigg is self-sufficient but you have to be a bit careful with the electricity. So, probably, when you switch everything on, everyone else is without electricity.

Pictish Trail:
(Laughs). Especially when I go for a tea break which is like once every thirty minutes. Yeah, we are totally off-grid. We generate all our own electricity. Although the equipment I use does not use much electricity.

OMB:
So noone has to sit on the bike and pedal away?

Pictish Trail:
Nooooo. Although sometimes it is good to have no electricity. We had a few power cuts this year and that’s actually been really good for writing because it forces you to play with your guitar.

OMB:
Let’s talk about your lovely new album “Future Echoes” (nicely produced!).

Pictish Trail:
Yeah, let’s talk about my new album! It was produced by my friend Adam. My friend Rob co-produced some of it, Rob Jones. I am really proud of it. It is the first time as Pictish Trail to kind of work on ten songs and really focus on the songs. Before, what I would do, I would have just a pile of songs and I would jigsaw them together like a compilation of my favourite ones.

OMB:
With this one you had an album in mind?

Pictish Trail:
Yeah, and I had a few things that I wanted to try out. Within those ten songs, if something didn’t work, I just had to go back and work on it until it fitted. And it makes for a more cohesive album, I think. This would be something, I’d do again. It took a long time though. The writing and recording session took over a year and a half. So I would write and do demos on Eigg and travel down to London to record for three days with my friend and travel back home. A few months later I would go back down again. So it was a lot of back and forward. But it was really good and I enjoyed that, so I think the next album will be like that.

OMB:
What did you have in mind with this album? Maybe an overall story or atmosphere?

Pictish Trail:
In terms of sound, I wanted to have something that was a bit more full-sounding, my vocals right to the front and something that sounded a bit better produced really. In terms of theme: My previous record had been primarily about the passing of my mother and coming to terms with that. This one was sort of my own mortality. I’ve just had a son. So that definitely played a role in the shaping of the album. It is basically an album about death (smiles). Also, my partner and I miscarried while making the record. So that was definitely on my mind and I was worrying about the next pregnancy. But it went well. It is something that we really don’t talk about that much and I thought, well, I may write some songs about it.

OMB:
Yeah, been there as well and you keep thinking of it and it is good to deal with it. And you wonder what kind of person that could have become.

Pictish Trail:
And also I wondered, my son who now exists would not have existed if the previous one existed.

OMB:
Yes, and where do they go?

Pictish Trail:
Yes, this is it! It is all kind of a weird alternate reality. And you think about how someone’s personality can completely affect your life and how it can completely change your own perception on things. But the chance of that person existing is really (clicks fingers). My Mum miscarried before she had me – sorry, this is too dark….but so often I thought, maybe what would have happened if I had not been. If he had made it. That makes me think about my own mortality in that respect. So I got quite metaphysical. There is a lot of questioning about existence on the album. There is one song about being in a car crash. Me and two friends were in a car crash. We should not have lived following this car crash. The crash was horrific, we definitely should have died. Afterwards I was having a recurring dream where I had died and I was looking at the world without me in it – sounds very self-centred but you can’t control dreams. So that kind of thing came up quite a bit.
But also there is a thing with the record – there’s song called “Half Life” about how something decays forever and even if something breaks up, there is always something that will eternally divide leaving some sort of semblance to the original thing. That song has specifically to do with a relationship. It exists and it plays a big role.

OMB:
What kind of bands would you be interested in taking onto your label?

Pictish Trail:
I don’t really know to be honest. Most of the people who are on the label are people who I am friends with. I tend to like music of my friends, thank God (laughs). We have put out a lot of music this year by bands we’ve only just met. But they are all people who I get on really well with. I am quite open-minded. The deal that we have as a label is quite different to a lot of other record labels. So I operate more as a distributor as opposed to an actual label. The band is self-releasing but with our assistance. I had a policy of saying yes to everything and see what happens. Not that the quality has gone down but if it is something that I really like, I go: Well, okay, this is what we can do for you. Let the people know about the record and get out to shops and we can help you get gigs and all this sort of stuff. Let’s just see if it works out. With every record that has come along which I have enjoyed and I have met the person and they have not been an arsehole, then I am: Okay, let’s do it.
I think that might probably come to an end at some point. I might go: Oh my God, I am taking on too much. I think that people understand the limitations that we have as label. We can’t give tour support and we can’t pay them for the recordings. We can make sure that they get copies. We do a product split. Say, a thousand copies of an album will be made and the band pay half and we pay half and they get to keep half the copies and we keep half. Whatever they sell, they keep and what we sell, we keep. If one party runs out of copies before the other, then they can buy back at cost price. It just means that everybody can get the copies for a cheap amount of money. I’ve got friends who are on labels who pay like really crazy money to buy their copies back from their label. For me, particularly nowadays, with touring, CD and vinyl sales are a massive part of my income. Like I normally tour with a five-piece band and before I can’t afford to pay each of them as players. I rely heavily on CD and vinyl sales to make it work. So that is my attitude with the label as well. Like Factory Records we don’t own anyone’s music. All the rights belong to them. So if a band gets picked up by a bigger label, which has happened a few times, it means that they own their entire back catalogue. At the end of the day, I just like to help people out. And it’s worthwhile. To be honest, these days, not a lot of people make enough money out of selling music anyway. So as long as it doesn’t cost us, as long as we are not losing anything, that is the main thing. The area where we manage to make ourselves sustainable, is events. Those are used to showcase the bands on the label.

OMB:
You have done that in London too?

Pictish Trail:
We do a few shows in London. We do a festival on Eigg, a few events in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I’d love to do something further afield but I am not that organised (laughs).

OMB:
Well, you can’t be everywhere at the same time.

Pictish Trail:
No, unfortunately not. Even though, touring with British Sea Power helps, definitely.

OMB:
And is that good?

Pictish Trail:
Oh yeah, it is amazing. They are incredible. I have been a fan since they started so it’s a bit surreal as well. But they are all so nice, so friendly. Also such an incredible band, so many great songs, really great albums. Quite a singular band as well – there is really no act out there like them. They’ve always really impressed me. They have their own sound and they developed within that sound, done soundtracks, something that’s quite epic, something that is quite intimate but retained their quality to it. It also existed outwith any kind of trends. They don’t fit in with whatever the hot trendy new thing is.

OMB:
I would not know what the hot trendy new thing is…

Pictish Trail:
I definitely wouldn’t know, not on Eigg (laughs). Yeah, but just great songs at the end of the day, amazing playing. I have been watching their shows every single night and just loving it.

OMB:
Thank you very much, Johnny!

Pictish Trail:
Thank you!

Pictish Trail - an interview in May 2017

Pictish Trail © Kevin Burns

British Sea Power – Interview May 2017

Just as often as we despair about the music industry, especially in this day and age, shaping the tastes of people who in turn then support those artists that would not really be in need of support (yes, I am oversimplifying here) – just as often there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is hope. The bands that lately have given interviews to Offbeat Music Blog have defied the trends, the labelling and the media hype by continuing what they do and do it well. Here is another one that shines in all areas: British Sea Power! Before their gig at Cologne’s Gebäude 9 (wonderful support by Pictish Trail) and recovering from their stay in and trip from Munich, they kindly took some time for: British Sea Power – Interview May 2017.

British Sea Power have consistently delivered great albums from the start and stuck to their own specific brand of indie infused rock. In this field they have diversified their trademark sound to upbeat songs, tender tracks, sad and dark melodies as well as real rockers. Topped off with a sheer cornucopia full of lyrics that sidetrack you to new areas of interest and not a platitude in sight. And then we have the live shows: Unusual locations, unusual decorations and sheer craftsmanship from start to end.

By the way, you don’t get constant change of band members with British Sea Power. And all who were travelling with them were involved in the show and having a great time. Why is that important? Because this is my blog:-) I love that kind of thing. Kind of restores your hope in humanity, yes, on a small scale, but it is there.

Not following any trends, British Sea Power convince with their high-quality albums and intense live shows and have thus earned (and well-earned) a following that will follow them for times to come. Some follow even to all gigs and it is a joy to witness the mutual appreciation of bands and fans alike at tonight’s gig in Cologne. Yes, the bears were there, too, dancing and hugging and so welcomed. (Even though especially the polar bear must have been dissolving in that heat).  And as much as they were distracting from the stage, who can resist them?

Before the gig Offbeat Music Blog spoke to Yan Scott Wilkinson and Martin Noble. A big Thank you to Jack Bradford from Caroline Records and David Taylor, Management.

British Sea Power - Interview May 2017

British Sea Power – Interview May 2017

Offbeat Music Blog: Everyone waited desperately for your new album. Inbetween you did “Sea Of Brass” and re-issues. How did the album-making process go? Did you have setbacks?

British Sea Power:
Yan: The actual album was reasonably fast really. We just did as you said a lot of other things in the meantime, “Sea Of Brass” and a re-release or a celebration of our first album, a really big box. We did…
Martin: “From The Sea To The Land Beyond”.
Yan: A computer game, a couple of weird documentaries. Then we got bored of experimenting and thought, let’s make a pop album.
Martin: Yeah, it felt like drifting away and you were wondering, when we are we going to get down and do the album. The more that goes on, you sort of feel a bit anxious that you need to do an album.
We went into a local studio called Brighton Electric and kept on going in there for little periods just to do a few demos, a few tracks. During that time – I can’t quite remember the timeline – we had our mind on it.

OMB:
You nowadays are not all located in Brighton and work via modern technology. How does that feel compared to the traditional way?

BSP:
Yan: Yeah, it’s okay really. I think for when you send music up to the Isle Of Skye, it just means Abi has got more time to do her string parts. In a studio it is a finite amount of time. So it is quite good really and it is exciting to hear it. When it comes down, you load it up into your computer and see what the hell is happening.

OMB:
You probably take in more influences from all over the place as well rather than when being confined to a neutral space like a studio where you don’t know what’s going on outside.

BSP:
Martin: Yeah.
Yan: Neil has his weird instruments, hasn’t he? What’s it called? A bonga.
Martin: A bonga. Yeah, it is like a giant bath tub with springs.
Yan: There is no way he could get that down to Brighton.

OMB:
You left your label a while ago. Are you still happy doing everything yourself?

BSP:
Martin: We haven’t done everything ourselves. We have licensed the record to a record label, so that takes care of a lot of work.
Yan: We made it ourselves, funded all that but once it was finished…you don’t want to be spending your life doing…you are in a band to sort of not sit at a computer and do lots of paperwork and deals and work out all sorts of fact and figures. That’s what we found out. Because we did “Sea Of Brass” and the re-issue. You think this is going to be so much fun (laughs). It is nice originally when you think what it should be like and all that. And then it comes down to getting it out into the world and then it becomes…

OMB:
A grind?

BSP:
Yan: A grind is the perfect word.

OMB:
Just last week I was interviewing two bands who are very different but they both face this situation that their music cannot really be placed. They are between genres, one has a distinct gap between music and lyrics or so it seems. Once people come to see them play live, it is fine. But the industry and the media have a problem with that. You also have got really really famous through word of mouth and playing live. Is that labelling thing a problem for you?

BSP:
Martin: I think it is a lot easier if a band is fairly simple in terms of the aesthetic, the sound and repeating the same things so that it is easy to cotton on to. They have less of a problem getting known. We are a bit more difficult, I think.

OMB:
You are famous for your live shows, lots of drama, lots of extraordinary ideas?

BSP:
Martin: It is easy for people to be confused and think we are just that.
Yan: I think for some reason we thought it would be a good idea to put obstacles in (laughs). We have been trying to remove them ever since.
Martin: We still do have a problem there but I think, gradually, people come round. They realise it is not that difficult after all. It’s taken fifteen years for people to come round.

OMB:
To my ears there is a lot of eighties’ influence in your music. The good times, when nobody cared whether it was indie or rock as long as it sounded fine to them whereas today that has changed. Influence from bands like Echo & The Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs.

BSP:
Martin: We like lots of music and there is a lot of music from the eighties that we like. From The Fall and The Smiths and lots of really good bands.

OMB:
Then we have the lyrics…I sometimes wonder, did you really all know that, did you not have to look that up? You have all that in your head, all these references and make us all feel stupid because we have to look it up?

BSP:
Yan: it used to be more like that. There used to be more book references and things like that. I liked that kind of a thing at the time but in a way it became sort of: Oh no, not again. Also you think, if you are doing the same thing over and over, it is getting boring. So I tried to get rid of that a bit. It is more in the background, not a in-your-face kind of thing anymore. I am trying to get the emotion of things across and a personal element really. That’s what I enjoy these days. The new album is more like that. (Loud fan goes on). Ah, that’s just another obstacle (laughs). I think the new album is easier. You can go below the surface if you want to.
Martin: I think it is more of a present day album. It does not reference a lot of older things. There might be a few bits and bobs in there.

OMB:
In your songs you find up to now a lot of, kind of, British nostalgia. Lots of historical, literary and even natural references. Do you sometimes get employed, you know, by the wrong people?

BSP:
Yan: It is sort of true. But at the same time we probably have more songs about other countries than most British bands. Poland, Czech Republic…
Martin: Russian writers…
Yan: But then, if you call yourself British Sea Power, you ask for being pigeonholed in that kind of way. It is one of those names. In one sense it is a lovely name. It is possibly too clever for its own good.

OMB:
Then again you are envied by Guy Garvey for the name. He only has “Elbow”.

BSP:
Martin: It is two opposites. Sometimes you think, oh maybe we should have gone for “Shoulder” to make it easy.

OMB:
British Sea Power to some reeks of “Make Britain great again.” I think it is a lovely name.

BSP:
Yan: Especially in the way the world has changed since we started. It seemed we were headed for quite happy times in those days. Progress…but it has kind of gone a bit wobbly. We thought we maybe could have a bit of fun with these things and recycle them and make them into something cheeky and fun instead of horrendous politics.
Martin: We thought with the name of the first record “The decline of British Seapower” it would have been obvious from the start. But then for people who came round to us and did not know the first record, it is completely different.

OMB:
You said somewhere in an interview before making the new album that you could not write about Europe so much as there was not much happening…sort of pre-Brexit timewise.

BSP:
Yan: It may have been a flippant comment…Well, I am sort of fed up with it now, I can’t be bothered. You are probably better off without us (laughs).

British Sea Power - Interview May 2017

OMB:
You moved to Brighton initially because of the music scene. How is it now? Can you still be a part of that?

BSP:
Yan: Not really. It is not like in Manchester or Glasgow where you have a certain sound. It is not like that in Brighton. You have got quite a lot of artistic people and there’s lots of small venues, not many medium ones. It is quite good for people starting out or people who are…never going anywhere (grins). It is by the sea. It was probably going to be either that or London. I did not really want to do London.
Martin: It is good to be more outside the music industry. When we first moved to Brighton, we were trying to get started and playing all the venues and meeting all the different bands. So we were more in a scene then.

OMB:
You did your music nights as well?

BSP:
Martin:
We did another one, the “Krankenhaus” night. We did have a few Brighton bands on there. GAPS for instance who are really good. But now as we are not gigging every week in Brighton, we do not know that many.

OMB:
Is there anything about the new album that you would really liked to be asked? Sort of, if you imagine an interview, you’d go, wow, I’d really make my point on that. Or say, to state what British Sea Power is right now, at the moment?

BSP:
Yan:We probably spend more time talking about vegetables at the moment because Martin started doing it first – we got into allotments..We spend a lot of time talking about digging and getting our first crops through. So I just learned a couple of tips from him how to keep the blackfly away.
Martin: Ah, it is a big problem this time of year. I have a cherry tree covered in blackflies and you have to hose them down.

OBM:
You have to get the ladybirds in..

BSP:
Martin: Yeah, but they come when they want to come.

OBM:
But are you happy with the result of “Let The Dancers Inherit The Party”?

BSP:
Yan: Yeah, very happy. It is nice to play live. It is probably the album we played more tracks of ever really. When we started touring in the UK, I think, we did every track of the album. We curbed it back a little bit because we haven’t been to Europe for a while and people want to hear the older songs too.

OBM:
You brought Pictish Trail with you? Love what they are doing, all from the Isle of Eigg! If you can do it there, you can do it anywhere!

Yan:
Oh yeah, it is his last gig with us tonight, the band are off to Edinburgh and we are going to Amsterdam. He’s a good lad!

OBM:
Thank you very much for your time!

Yan and Martin: Cheers!

British Sea Power - Interview May 2017

 

 

Wovenhand interview at Reflektor, Liège, 2017

Here’s man who thinks that not many people listen to his music. I have heard otherwise and if all the gigs are like the one I attended, it could not be further from the truth. Have a short recap on Wovenhand and the gig and then read a  Wovenhand interview at Reflektor, Liège, 2017. David Eugene Edwards’ upbringing was one of extremes: After his freedom and biking loving father died, he spent a lot of time with his grandfather, a Nazarene preacher, and joined him on his travelling. The Nazarene church is a very strict one and David left it later – much to the chagrin of his grandfather. He is still a very religious person – or to put it a better way: He believes in God, in Jesus and the Bible. His faith determines everything he does.

Late as a teenager David Eugene Edwards discovered music by Joy Division, Bauhaus and other dark, heavy music and he could identify with the music, if not the lyrics. But he accepted the honesty of the music.

Having been the lead singer and songwriter for 16 Horsepower (still sorely missed by many fans) until 2001, Denver-born Edwards founded Wovenhand with an often changing set of musicians. Wovenhand had started out roughly in the alternative country, folk and native American music sphere. Live shows and single songs would sometimes be harder, louder and darker. Up to and including Wovenhand’s eighth album “Star Treatment”, the music has been spiralling to its rockiest yet. This might have disappointed early fans but it both reflects the origin of the musicians he works with now and the way he sees his ideas portrayed best presently.

16 Horse Power already were welcomed into the metal scene and even though fans there might have a totally different stance towards faith, David Eugene Edwards would be impressed by their honesty rather than being fake.

Supposedly, at least at a live concert in Europe, many fans will not even make out the words so much. Again, it has been proven worthwhile not to ignore the lyrics or indeed ignoring the whole band due to the Biblical content of the lyrics but to listen and appreciate that there is a man who has been delivering music of high quality over the years, shows an intense interest in music from all over the world and performing to a very high standard and is himself. No more, no less.

In the sold-out Reflektor Club in Liège, Belgium, the audience was captivated and enthusiastic. Quite a few in the audience were unfamiliar with Wovenhand and seemed to feel rewarded to come in and see them play. David Eugene Edwards brought along Chuck French on guitar and vocals, Neil Keener on bass and Ordy Garrison on drums. Neil Keener and Chuck French form half of the hardcore band Mistaken For Stars.

A set that left you hardly time to breathe. Being pummelled by bass and drums, longing guitars and singing and intense, mostly dark, hypnotising songs, the audience was compelled, wanted more and received.

David Eugene Edwards kindly spared some time before the concert and spoke to Offbeat Music Blog. Thank you very much, also to Lutz at Glitterhouse Records and Lou and Toon from the tour management and the lovely Reflektor team.

Wovenhand interview at Reflektor, Liège, 2017

Offbeat Music Blog:
Your latest album “Star Treatment”, despite more tender moments, has all the marks of a real rock album. You have been welcomed into the metal scene, a scene, that I used to think of as quite insular. What do you make of that?

Wovenhand – David Eugene Edwards:
That is not something that happened lately. We were popular with 16 Horsepower, mostly in Norway and Sweden with the, I guess, black metal crowd. It followed us all the way through to where we are now. Yeah, we have all kinds of fans in those kinds of music that, for whatever reason, like what we do too.

OMB:
Some media and listeners are not quite able to put you in a box – your variety in music, the – to them – contrast in music and lyrics. How is the reception for you in Europe and in particular Eastern Europe as compared to the States? Do you find people more open?
Wovenhand: There are more open in certain ways, maybe, I dunno. We do better in Europe – it has always been that way. A lot of bands are in the same situation. We do well in parts of America, on the coasts of course, you know, and in Texas we do well. Where we are from, we do well enough. So we have a good crowd everywhere. It is just, we spent a lot more time here. The arts in general are more supported by the government itself and it is easier for people to be part of that. People are happy to work at the club than can’t wait to leave as it is in America. But we have great shows in America too.

OMB:
Are you still a part of the Denver music scene?

Wovenhand:
Well…of course, I mean, we have never really been part of any music scene in Denver. We have only just played in Denver. There are all kinds of different scenes in Denver and there always have been but we don’t play there very often. We play there once a year.

OMB:
You write the music, you write the lyrics, you perform – and we are getting an honest David Eugene Edwards on record and on stage and not a persona, not a role which ist great. There are people out there who might ignore the Christian part of it or reject the whole package which is a pity because you are not really about organised religion so much, I understand. Do you wish it was different or were you ever tempted to try and change something about yourself or your honesty to maybe compromise?

Wovenhand:
No, of course not. I do that all the time in my mind, compromise, but not in the sense that you say. I dunno what else to do. I just do what I have to do. (Laughs). I don’t really have control over it, you know what I mean? It just is what it is. And of course if you are in a band that is associated with you, you are immediately on the B-list, you know what I mean? (Laughs). That’s fine with me, that’s okay.

OMB:
What we see in the US today and have seen for a while and everywhere else, is the power, the money, the white supremacy, the shallowness and the lies on the one side, often hiding behind or abusing the Christian front. What do you think of that? Did you ever get mistaken for this kind of believer? Did they ever try to employ you?

Wovenhand:
I dunno. This is really difficult. You know, I come from a place where everything was taken from the people who live there. They were destroyed in order to set something up for [new] people that are helping each other out and doing good things. But first you have to get rid of the people who were there. For me it’s all bullshit. I just believe what I believe and I don’t really think about it so much outside complaining about it (laughs).

OMB:
But you were never approached by anyone with a political agenda?

Wovenhand:
No, we weren’t. We have always been too wild for any sort of religious group to be a part of…and too religious for any other group to be a part of.

OMB:
If you go back to your very earliest musical childhood memory, what was that?

Wovenhand:
I guess my mother singing, playing guitar.

OMB:
When did you pick up playing yourself?

Wovenhand:
I played the violin first when I was small, the piano and then the drums for a long time. Then guitar at probably sixteen or so. And then from there everything else.

OMB:
Were you self-taught?

Wovenhand:
Oh yeah. Although I got violin lessons and piano lessons, but I did not last long with lessons, only a few months.

OMB: You had an extraordinary upbringing. Now you are a touring musician. What brings peace and settlement into your life?

Wovenhand:
(Long pause). I dunno. (Another long pause). Just what I know to be true.

OMB:
So, the things you believe in and family. Does that balance the touring life out a bit?

Wovenhand:
No, it’s not easy. It’s not a normal job.

OMB:
You’ve got kids, right?

Wovenhand:
I have two.

OMB:
How old are they now?

Wovenhand:
They are older, both of them. My daughter is been on her own for quite a while. My son is still with me. I have him just part time. His mother has him the other half of the time.

OMB:
But is a bit easier now that they have grown older to be on tour?

Wovenhand:
Sort of. It is always hard, even now.

OMB:
There is a beautiful 40-minutes plus documentary on yourself from a while back on your website. Can you still identify with that?

Wovenhand:
That dates probably fifteen years back. But I still stand for the things I said there, of course.

Wovenhand interview at Reflektor, Liège, 2017

OMB:
You have a love for traditional music from all over the world and also for traditional instruments. Is there anything you would like to explore more or for the first time?

Wovenhand:
Not really, other than just going to places where I haven’t been. To listen to the people play, in Persia, Afghanistan or Pakistan or Egypt. To be able to go to these places and play music there. That’s what interests me.
OMB:
You are interested in the pure form of the traditional music? Often, especially Indian music, gets used for this wishy washy new age stuff.

Wovenhand:
Yeah, I am not into that, I am interested in what the people play. Well, you know, if people make some money out of that kind of music. If that is what it takes to make some money out of their music, it’s okay with me. It gets used for other purposes, it gets appropriated – as does everything (laughs).
OMB:
How do you write your songs? How do you go about it? Music or lyrics first.

Wovenhand:
Music first. I mean, they kind of happen at the same time. But there is more attention to the music, more time spent with the music and then the words just kind of fall on top of the music.

OMB:
Does the band get a particular input?

Wovenhand:
Of course. It varies, it depends on how far along the song is when it is presented. Sometimes it is worked out at the same time, other times it is so far along that is quite obvious what to do.

OMB:
Looking back on a record you made, do you feel, I should have done that differently or do you feel the songs are in constant development anyway and you kind have had to let them go? Which song or songs encapsulates your current state of mind best?

Wovenhand:
Obviously the most current songs. Well, you know, I don’t like any of them. To me they are all not what they should be. I am not good enough to do what I want to do.
OMB:
But only you think that or it is your own measurement against your expectations. The listeners would not know.

Wovenhand:
Well, we don’t have that many listeners (laughs).

OMB:
Ah, now don’t be so modest. I know a few.
Wovenhand:
No, it’s true.
OMB;
Are there any older songs where you say: Can’t identify with that at all anymore?

Wovenhand:
Oh yeah. Most of the 16 Horsepower stuff. People always want to hear the old songs but that is not very easy for me. I have trouble with just a few years back.

OMB:
But does it happen that maybe sometimes a song does survives because it takes on a different meaning?

Wovenhand:
It can happen, yeah. But there are lot of criteria going in why we play what we play at shows. From instrumentation to tunings, different guitars that are needed because I use so many different tunings. So we do what is most expedient at the moment for the most part.

OMB:
If I may ask you that…can you live from the music and thus concentrate on it full-time?

Wovenhand:
Yeah, I live from the music.

OMB:
Brilliant! And: Well, you kind of answered that earlier probably but are you content with what you achieved musically so far?

Wovenhand:
Yes.

OMB:
Good. What kind of show can we expect tonight?

Wovenhand:
All kinds of contentment! (Laughs). No, it’s different every night. It is always a surprise. We have a setlist but again associated with the guitars that I use and the songs going together as a sort of a story as we play.

OMB:
Thank you very much!

Wovenhand:
You’re welcome.

Wovenhand interview at Reflektor, Liège, 2017

Interview with The Wave Pictures, May 2017

Staying true to yourself, no matter how little you earn, no matter how much scorn you face – is that not the true aim of an artist? To do what you love and keep doing it despite the wind blowing cold into your face? The Wave Pictures from Wymeswold in the UK (i.e. Franic and David hail from there) (Jonny Helm (drums), Dave Tattersall (guitar & vocals) and Franic Rozycki (bass)) do just that and do it in heaps and with joy. Find out in this interview with The Wave Pictures, May 2017.

Since 1998 they have released (wait for it) fifteen albums, toured relentlessly and poured out the songs – all of them little funny and touching and handmade with love wonders.

The Wave Pictures released their album “Bamboo Diner In The Rain” in November 2016 and went straight on tour. On the last day of their tour through Austria and Germany, Offbeat had the chance to see them perform and speak to them.

They delivered a long and skilfull, laugh-out-loud and moving to tears set with covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival, a Van Morrison rendition by Johnny and old and new songs galore. Shining on all instruments percussion was their tour guest David Beauchamp from New York. Their conviviality, their craftsmanship and the sheer joy, was rewarded plenty by an enthusiastic audience that came to see and hear them on a Monday night (first warm evening this year) into a dark WWII bunker in Aachen, Germany. The Wave Pictures made that last day of their tour a memorable one for everyone and here they go, in their words.

Thank you already The Wave Pictures for coming inside from a just started stroll outside, for the interview, for the fabulous gig and also to their label Moshi Moshi/PIAS for arranging this.

Interview with The Wave Pictures, May 2017

Interview with The Wave Pictures, May 2017

Offbeat Music Blog: Thank you very much, Dave, Franic and John for taking the time! How has the tour gone?

The Wave Pictures (Franic): It’s been a success…I think. (Johnny) Fran’s the man in charge, so if he says it’s a success, then it is a success.

OMB: Listening to your album “Bamboo Diner In The Rain” (Moshi Moshi), it is hard to believe, if it weren’t for the lyrics, that you are actually a British band. From, what I thought, initial quirkiness and jangliness, it is sort of full-on American now. How do you see your own development?

TWP (Dave): Well, we wanted to do something bluesy but we didn’t want to do a blues album. That was the starting point for “Bamboo Diner In The Rain” really. Then we put the acoustic guitar instrumentals on there, so there are a sort of ragtime/John Fahey kind of style songs there. We tried to do some bluesy kind of rock but with our type of lyrics. We are big fans of American music, especially blues and rock’n roll and we just wanted to bring that out a little more without changing anything fundamental about the band, I suppose.

OMB: But has it been creeping in a little more over the years?

TWP (Dave): It’s always been there, probably. What do you think, Johnny? (Johnny) Yeah, I think, it has always been there. We all love rock’n roll music and the birthplace was America. Trying to play like an American blues or R&B band is definitely something that we would aspire to do. I suppose, doing the Creedence covers on the previous album, the album recorded with Billy Childish, was kind of a more obvious step towards that old-style American rock’n roll music that we all listen to a lot.

OMB: Have you always listened to that kind of music?

TWP (Dave): Yeah, that’s our first love really. (Johnny) That and the Rolling Stones, English sixties rock’n roll as well.

OMB: How was it to work with Billy Childish?

TWP (Dave): Oh, really fun! Really good fun! We were very nervous when we went to meet him on the first day because we didn’t know what he would be like. And we thought that maybe he would be kind of an aggressive punk guy. And he wasn’t really (laughs). He was painting in his artist’s studio with his beret on and his painting clothes. He was just this funny, eccentric kind of guy, very enthusiastic and he wanted to write all the songs for the album. He had never heard of The Wave Pictures!  We thought, we’d do a covers album and get him to produce it. But he wanted to write all the songs together which was great, immediately great fun. Because then we knew that he wanted to have fun with us and make something up.

OMB: And really get into it?

TWP (Dave): Really get into it. He is just the same as we are. We got along great. He just likes doing stuff, loves being creative. He’s fun, like a child at play, Billy. Of course he is a genius with the sound. He knows exactly to get the right sound for his kind of music. It was sort of “anything goes”. He knows what he likes. We liked one another and it was really easy and super fast. I went to his house twice or maybe three times. In three songwriting sessions we wrote about four or five songs every time. We recorded it in two days. It was a very fast, fun thing. We haven’t seen him since…(laughter). It was very fun and exciting because we listen to his records a lot.

OMB: You also have been associated with the Anti-Folk music scene? Do you approve of that?

TWP (Dave): Kind of. When we were kids, Franic and I grew up together. We were very much on our own with the type of music we wanted to play in Wymeswold in the East Midlands. We had gone and played nights with other bands and nobody liked us or understood us at all. Except for our parents who were always quite enthusiastic and nice about it. When we first went to New York and met Jeff Lewis and Turner Cody and Prewar Yardsale, Brian Piltin…these so-called Anti-Folk musicians liked us a lot. That was the first time when we had a lot of friends that were musicians. So, in a way, it is okay. In another type of way, I think, Anti-Folk music doesn’t really mean anything. It is just the people who play in The Sidewalk Cafe and the likes in Manhattan. A lot of them are terrible, some of them are very good. It would be weird to like all of them. But it was an important part of our lives really. We had lots of friends and musicians we were friends with in New York when we didn’t have any in England. (Franic) One of them is on tour with us now: David Beauchamp used to play drums for the Jeffrey Lewis band for a long time. (Johnny) And Franic sometimes plays mandolin for Jeffrey Lewis. So those connections are still there, they are still our friends.

OMB: Some artists like their lyrics not to be misunderstood, very clear. Some sing about personal things, but leave their listener their own perspective, their own handle on them. Some rather not sing about anything personal at all. Some artists say, their lyrics don’t mean that much or don’t think about it. Where do you stand?

TWP (Dave): Ooooh. Well, I think, the lyrics are very important. I always write the lyrics first…

OMB: That’s a very rare thing!

TWP (Dave): Yeah, but my Dad always used to say: If you write the lyrics afterwards, after you got the music, you might as well just go “la la la la la”. You are just making words to fit a tune. It is not communicating anything. But I find it very boring if the songs are straight-forward and easy for people to understand. They are not really supposed to be understood or puzzled over. They are supposed to make a strong impression that you couldn’t say in any other way, I suppose. There is not a message or a riddle to figure out.

Interview with The Wave Pictures, May 2017

OMB: You’ve been virtually churning the songs out over the years. Do you put all the new songs on an album or do you actually select the tracks to make an album – even though again that is rare today.

TWP (Dave): We do make a lot of effort to select specific tracks that go on an album and debate it a lot for a very long time. What we do is, we record very quickly, write songs very quickly and then spent a long time arguing about what to release. That’s The Wave Pictures’ method. We always have loads of stuff left over from any album. Lots of songs don’t make it onto one album, but make it onto a later one because they fit better or they disappear entirely.

OMB: You still think in terms of an album, even with A- and B-sides?

TWP (Dave): Yeah, that’s really important to us (all nod). We think about which song starts side two of the album, which song starts the album, which song finishes it and the flow. We plan them all for vinyl, for the two sides or even the four sides of a vinyl in the case of “City Forgiveness”. Even though we know that nobody listens to music this way anymore. They just listen to them in a random order on Spotify or just watch the videos on Youtube. Albums is where we really come from in terms of being music fans. We are always trying to make the best album that we can, complete things in themselves. Albums are very important to us, yeah. Even though, we don’t know if there is that many people who relate to albums any more. But for us it is the only way to think. I couldn’t imagine for instance thinking that a single was important. I know that singles are supposed to be important and I appreciate that they get played on the radio and people watch the videos. I know all this. But I can’t relate to it because I’ve just never been a singles guy. I don’t think I ever bought a single in my life. Whichever song somebody wants to be a single, is fine by me, most of the time. But what’s on the album is really important to me.

OMB: You’ve stayed very true to yourself. Do you feel sort of misplaced in the UK?

TWP (Dave): We do feel out of place in the UK. (Franic) We used to feel even more out of place than we do now. People didn’t like us much at home at first. That was why we were hanging out with people in bands from New York or France much more. We don’t really have as many English band friends still. But people are starting to like us a bit more and not think we are so ridiculous. People are just more aware of what’s fashionable and we didn’t really fit in very much in the UK. That was a problem. But in Germany – we just came here and people liked us straightaway. Which is really cool and feels good. We didn’t realise until we got signed to a label. Because we grew up in the countryside, as Dave says, kind of isolated, we didn’t really think about the fashion stuff. There was no fashion in Wymeswold. Then we moved to London and signed to a label, people kept telling us we did everything wrong, the clothes or the guitar solos, videos or all this stuff which we didn’t think important because we grew up just listening to albums all the time. But it’s much better now than it used to be. But Germany and Spain, the rest of Europe is much easier to come and play and people criticise you less.

OMB: In an ideal world, you could retain what you want to do and still sell a lot. So what do you think of today’s music scene?

TWP (Dave): I feel that we would sell a lot if people got a chance to hear us. Every time we play, everyone comes over to us and says “You guys are great”. So I always think if they played our music all the time on the radio and television, we’d sell loads of records just as we are. I think it comes more from the media in a way because we don’t fit in. I don’t think we make music that is difficult for people to like. It’s pretty accessible. It is not avantgarde music or anything. That’s my theory. I may be wrong about that.

OMB: No, you are addressing the right person. People do not listen to the radio that much anymore and if so, then on the side. The commercial radios have to play what the attracts people or what they think attracts people, so they play what is being given to them by the big labels with the big money and mostly public broadcasting does too. People buy what they hear and then strengthen those artists who would not really need anymore strengthening. I am always surprised by listeners going: Oh my word, that was an excellent song, where did you find that….It is because many listeners don’t go out and search for the music anymore. The money involved in the industry makes it very difficult for bands and it makes me cringe. You really don’t get a chance.

TWP (Dave): Yeah, exactly. It feels that way. And also, what Franic was saying, it seems a bit difficult for people to place us sometimes because we have guitar solos like in classic rock and also something quite indie. We are too indie for the classic rock fans and too rock for the indie fans. You can get booed by indie fans in London for playing a guitar solo – they’ll boo you (laughter). They don’t like anything except for Belle & Sebastian and The Smiths. Nothing from the whole history of music do they like. Fascists, they are extraordinary.

OMB: In the States there is a whole generation getting into say, American primitive music, psych, folk, John Fahey…a whole crowd of musicians are into this now. The original musicians are turning up again and going on tour, like Michael Chapman. And then you have all the younger artists getting into this music. Not a keyboard in sight. It seems to work there. I am not saying they are selling that great. But they have a very very strong following, are very well-known and you wonder why it cannot work in the UK even though Michael Chapman is and Bert Jansch for instance was from the UK.

TWP (Dave): Yeah, I know! Exactly. But I don’t know the answer to that.

OMB: What can an audience expect from a typical The Wave Pictures gig?

TWP (Dave): Every gig is different because we don’t use setlists and we don’t plan the shows out in advance and we improvise a little bit. We do very old songs, from when we were fifteen and very new songs and a couple of covers, a Van Morrison song or a Jonathan Richman song. I don’t know what I play immediately before I play it, let alone anybody else. It is usually pretty rocking and pretty good. We are probably at our best live.

OMB: Do you get to tour much?

TWP (Dave): I guess, about a hundred shows a year.

OMB: On your latest album, you also included instrumentals there. Did you find it difficult, just to do instrumentals?

TWP (Dave): Not really because I when I started out playing guitar, I started with acoustic instrumental stuff. It was not difficult and I suppose we thought, once we have recorded them we don’t have to release them but they fitted in perfectly and they came out great and Franic played some really beautiful mandolin and the songs just came out really nicely. One of them in particular “Meeting Simon at the airport” is maybe my favourite track on the album. It was easy but kind of a big deal for us to try something a little bit different. We are pleased that it worked.

OBM: It is all handmade music. No synths, not even effects?

TWP (Dave): No effects pedals, no click track, very little overdub even. It is pretty much as playing in a room live. I was reading in a magazine the other day, Brian Eno was saying that he hates it when he hears a record and he can just hear four people in a room playing music. And I read that and I thought: That’s exactly what I like. The complete opposite of Brian Eno. Which makes sense because I don’t like his music. (Offbeat shushing photographer, big Eno fan…) I like four people playing in a room, Jimmy Reid, that’s what I like.

OBM: Who would you like to collaborate with?

TWP (Dave): We always talk about being  a band for Bob Dylan because we always think Bob Dylan’s band aren’t very good. We would be a much better band for Bob Dylan and I think he would have a good time hanging out with us. If he’s interested, get in touch. We’d love to do that and it would be jolly good fun.

OBM: So, Dave, you write the lyrics and then you come in with the songs and everybody joins in for the music or how does it work?

TWP (Johnny): That’s pretty much it. Dave will come in with a complete song that he has written and the guitar’s already there. We join in. That’s mostly how it goes. If I am doing something that he really doesn’t like, he might say: Try this.

OBM: That’s very diplomatic.

TWP (Johnny): Yes, he is VERY diplomatic! Surprisingly diplomatic (laugher). (Franic) Yeah, most of the time it is pretty easy. It is not experimental music, it is classic. Sometimes I try, when I have been listening to something, to copy it and fit it in. If it doesn’t sound like what I copied, but all the small differences make the songs. You just try and make everything sound good. Hard to explain. I guess, once Dave’s written the song, that is the hard part over. Then you just try and make it work together.

OBM: Thank you so much, Dave, Johnny and Franic from the Wave Pictures.