Timber Timbre at Muziekgieterij, Maastricht – an interview

What is going on? I will arrive later in Maastricht, Netherlands, than the band itself, Timber Timbre, who have travelled all the way from Switzerland…Holiday traffic jams, roadworks galore and then a city thronging with people and coaches from all over Europe. Ah, the city’s greatest son, André Rieu is playing his hometown in a beautiful old open air setting slap bang in the middle of the city. Masses of fans queue up and populate every, and I mean every, restaurant and cafe in town. Will there be still people attending Timber Timbre at the Muziekgieterij tonight? I am not insinuating that the fans share a musical taste here but that visitors might simply not get into town…But they do, many of them, and they are being well rewarded with a great final gig before the venue’s summer lull. Here we go:Timber Timbre at Muziekgieterij, Maastricht – an interview.

Timber Timbre at Muziekgieterij, Maastricht - an interview

Timber Timbre play songs from all albums, neatly interject the new “Sincerely, Future Pollution” album and do so with a dark, hypnotic and yet danceable vibe. Encores galore, a very friendly band, what more do you want. It is however very dark, suits the music, suits Taylor Kirk, but does not suit the camera so much…

Earlier in the afternoon, a tired Taylor Kirk enters the venue from the tour coach and kindly chats to Offbeat Music Blog. A quiet, pensive, well-spoken man who strikes me as very modest and friendly with a good sense of humour.

At this point, I would like to thank Ingrid Huhn at City Slang and Yann Dupuis, tour manager, for making it possible and as always the great crew at the Muziekgieterij, the appreciative audience of this venue and of course Timber Timbre for the great performance. And now we chat:

 

Timber Timbre at Muziekgieterij, Maastricht - an interview

Offbeat Music Blog: Thank you very much, Taylor, for taking the time for this interview on your rather strenuous tour!

Taylor Kirk (Timber Timbre): Yes, of course.

OMB: Has there been a defining moment in your life where you decided, music is something I want to do and totally immerse myself in it and create?

Taylor Kirk: I can remember as a kid seeing another kid, a couple of years older than me: He was playing guitar at a friend’s place. He was playing “Heart Shaped Box” by Nirvana. This really captured my imagination and I understood that I needed to be able to do that. That was the only real kind of moment. From that point on it was just something that needed to be done at some level.

OMB: How old were you there?

Taylor Kirk: I think I was maybe twelve or thirteen.

OMB: And did you come from a musical family?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, my Dad is actually a drummer. We used to actually play together when I learned to play guitar. We would jam.

OMB: You joined bands before Timber Timbre. Were they in the same kind of genre?

Taylor Kirk: I suppose, yeah. I was mostly playing drums before this project in other people’s friends’ bands, kind of, yeah, rock’n roll music.

OMB: When you look back at Timber Timbre and the bands before that, do you see a straight line in your development, in your songwriting?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, to me it is quite linear. It changes a certain way. I can track where it’s come from and how it’s changed. I observed that. And also, you know, part of that is intentional and deliberate, and part is also subconscious and a result of learning.

OMB: When you sit down to write a song, do you think about the perception they might receive or is that at the back of your mind and you write them for yourself?

Taylor Kirk: I remember when I began making recordings, writing songs, that it was really just for me – it was for my own kind of catharsis or pleasure. Now, as I go along, I notice more and more that the thing is kind of infected by this concern that it has another purpose, that it is not just meant for me. I always try and put that away but it is there. It is too bad. I wish I could somehow undo that. I don’t know what that would mean to reverse that kind of idea or that factor, you know.

OMB: You recorded your new album “Sincerely Future Pollution” in France in a studio that was full of old, mainly electronic, instruments and you made use of them in a big way. But did you already have in mind before that to change direction a little bit?

Taylor Kirk: Oh yes! The idea was that we would make something that was decidedly electronic and maybe even sort of uptempo or danceable. Something more kind of fun. There was a curiosity about doing something different. It didn’t really go as planned but we did end up embracing this different instrumentation. It is not hugely different but I guess it is just the era of the synthesisers we were using.

OMB: For me it is not so different. There is some new additions but it is still Timber Timbre.

Taylor Kirk: For some it was a big deal.

OMB: For some it was a HUGE deal to the point that they claimed this is not Timber Timbre anymore. How did you deal with that?

Taylor Kirk: I dunno. That was kind of the initial reaction when we started to share the recording with friends and contemporaries and they found it to be…well, it was weird to them and somehow unfamiliar. So that got me a little bit concerned at the time. I never found that it was that unusual.

OMB: Maybe people see Timber Timbre from a different angle sometimes than yourself?

Taylor Kirk: Could be, yeah!

OMB: When you write songs, you do this on your own, I presume and then go into the studio. Do your band colleagues find it difficult, those not being their own songs, to add to them?

Taylor Kirk: No, it seems, as we’ve gone along, they have insinuated themselves more into the thing and made themselves indispensable. To the show but also to the recording process and to the composing as well and arranging. This time around we spent a lot of time together, evolving the songs, the three of us, Mathieu and Simon and myself. Olivier, our former drummer – he was also very involved with sounds and he played quite a lot on the album as well….Did I lose track there?

OMB: No, not at all, you are right on track (laughter). What did you have in mind other than from the musical perspective, from the lyrical and atmospheric side, when you started out doing the album?

Taylor Kirk: All these kind of notes and observations I collected, textural kind of references – all of them were kind of revolving around this science fiction ideas of dystopic realities. I started to consider that we were now living in one of these science fiction worlds that had been written about in the past, had this idea that we had arrived in the future.

OMB: Do you mean the power or the digitalisation?

Taylor Kirk: Yes, that but also the ephemeral nature of how things are disposable and how fast things are moving now.

OMB: You live in Montreal, Canada. Canada is becoming really popular right now, back on the map when we talk about “America”, isn’t it? You are lucky to live there.

Taylor Kirk: Yes, I guess so.

OMB: From the feel of your older recordings and knowing you write in solitude, one would assume you live in the countryside, but Montreal is a pretty big place, isn’t it?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, it’s a proper city. I dunno, I really thought I was destined to return to the woods. I grew up in a rural place. But I haven’t managed to do it yet. I haven’t managed to be courageous enough to do that on my own. One day…

OMB: If, like you said, tend to write “in a bubble”, how do you find touring? You have one stressful tour here at the moment.

Taylor Kirk: It’s fun. I really really used to hate it. I really preferred to be at home but somehow I have adjusted and I have come to like it and need it. It’s weird. It has been very different now with this group. It’s become a lot more fun to do it with this group of people. To play in this kind of traditional format of a rock group is much more satisfying, I think. People know what this is and they respond to it. As opposed to what we were doing years ago. It was really difficult.

OMB: With the audience?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, to win people over in the format that we were approaching it with before.

OMB: And now you get a good feedback?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, it doesn’t require the same level of patience and attention. It is a bit more like (snaps fingers).

OMB: With the more complex nature of the instrumentation on your new album, are the songs more difficult to take to a stage?

Taylor Kirk: It is only really now that we had to pay attention to honour what we have done with the recordings with the live show. It is still a bit bigger and heavier but we have never been overly concerned about that. This time we weren’t really able to do other arrangements because of the nuanced things. Everything needed to be there.

OMB: So it was a bit like jumping into cold water then. But it worked out fine?

Taylor Kirk: Oh yeah, yeah! There was a big concern also that the new music wasn’t going to fit with the older repertoire but it’s all good.

OMB: Which song on the new album “Sincerely Future Pollution” best exemplifies the spirit of the album?

Taylor Kirk: The one that I was really the most proud of was “Sincerely Future Pollution”, the song. Because we really realised it as a group. That was probably the first time that something had been created organically between all of us together. It is quite anonymous on the recording but that’s the one for me.

OMB: Are there songs that you won’t play anymore from the past or on the contrary are there songs that you can still totally identify with?

Taylor Kirk: Oh yeah! I mean there are lots of songs that we never played because we just never were able to make them compelling in a live setting. And certainly there is older music that we have played for so long that it needs to be put away for a little while. Yeah, I dunno, I think everything from the catalogue is still cool, is still relevant. But maybe the first two recordings, “Cedar Shakes” and “Medicinals” – these were home recordings I did on my own. These are much more rooted in blues music and folk music. It would be tricky to find a place for a lot of these songs.

OMB: Is there any question where you would think – sitting at home and thinking about doing an interview – “I would really like to be asked that”?

Taylor Kirk: (Laughs out loud). I never ever think about that. I am not a good interviewee. I get really nervous about these kind of situations.

OMB: Well, this is not television and something big! So, nothing comes to mind?

Taylor Kirk: No, nothing in particular (laughs).

OMB: Thank you very much, Taylor!

Taylor Kirk: Thank you for the opportunity!

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Tom play Muziekgieterij Maastricht plus interview

Do you get this feeling too? You have listened to a certain album so many times that the first little sound of just one song off it, makes your mind explode with the memories of that time of your life. Sometimes I do not want to listen to that album later on in my life for the simple reason that I fear I might dilute those strong sentiments. This has been the case for many albums in my case, but certainly for the threesome of “Let Me Come Over”, “Big Red Letter Day” and “Sleepy Eyed” by one of Boston’s and indeed the US’ finest bands Buffalo Tom. I have found though that their later albums (spread over the years since Buffalo Tom are not fully in the music business alone anymore) appealed to me as well, Buffalo Tom having of course grown up too.  Since Buffalo Tom do still play their old songs and graced Europe with a rare set of performances (25th anniversary of “Let Me Come Over”), I went to their gig (giddily excited like everyone else in the series of sold-out shows in Europe). Are you ready? Buffalo Tom play Muziekgieterij Maastricht plus interview.

Buffalo Tom play Muziekgieterij Maastricht plus interview

Okay, I am ready to listen to the old songs again. Why? Because Bill Janovitz, Chris Colbourn and Tom Maginnis, just the three of them, without much ado, delivered a burning set of old and new songs. And the old songs have stayed so fresh despite being delivered very true to the originals. Buffalo Tom songs can take a lot memories of a lot of people and there is room for new experiences too.

Thank you so much Buffalo Tom for this amazing gig and everyone at Muziekgieterij too for being such a lovely venue of real music enthusiasts and of course another thank you to Bill Janovitz for the following interview!

Buffalo Tom play Muziekgieterij Maastricht plus interview

Offbeat Music Blog: Thank you very much, Bill, for taking the time for a chat. We are all looking forward to Buffalo Tom’s show tonight here in Maastricht/Netherlands. You seem to have a very loyal fanbase in Belgium and the Netherlands. How come?

Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz: Thank you. I don’t know! You should tell me (laughs)! There are a couple of things: American guitar rock was already fairly popular on an indie level in the Netherlands and Belgium and Germany and the UK when we started in the late eighties. We signed to a label out of the Netherlands, run by a Belgian guy, Megadisc Records. We signed to them and SST in America at around the same time. That was really our first entree to Europe. Also we were produced by J Mascis on our first two albums and he already had some leeway here in Europe. So people were interested in that respect. And we actually had a Dutch promoter to our first tour, the Paperclip people. There was already a circuit for people plus we had the fortune to sign to a Dutch label and the Play It Again Sam people were all involved. We had a good leg up here but the music, I think, appealed to people and I think, they were ready for this kind of thing, at least on the level that we were at.

OMB: I heard you first on a Belgian radio station in the mid-eighties. I think we are about the same age. Belated happy birthday by the way. You were going straight on a tour after your birthday. That must have been pretty rough.

Bill: Nooo, no, it’s a good thing. At this point, a tour of a week is a vacation for me. This is all my birthday week. I love playing music live. You know, we don’t have to tour for months and months at a time like we used to. So, at fifty-one, it’s like…I have a friend who is just here for the ride. He came along because he is having a good time. My friends look at this like: Wow, you get to play to thousands of people or hundreds of people and you tour around and drink beer and have fun and meet people. That’s what touring was when we started. But it gets old very quickly especially when you tour for a month, then go home for a week and then you do another month and then ten years of that. Then it gets burning out.

OMB: You are celebrating the 25th anniversary of your third album “Let Me Come Over”. Did you celebrate the anniversaries of the first two albums as well?

Bill: (Laughs). No, no. We might want to do an anniversary of “Big Red Letter Day” (4th album) because that was a big record for us. I don’t know. At this point it is just an excuse to go out (chuckles).

OMB: Some people also say, that on the third album you found your distinctive voice. The first two albums were fine but it was really Buffalo Tom from the third album on.

Bill: Yeah, that’s right. It is kind of our breakthrough artistic record, for sure.

OMB: Did you have to rehearse or did you often play the songs of that third album?

Bill: Most of “Let Me Come Over” we know like the back of our hand but there are some songs that we had to rehearse. Then there are some songs we thought we knew. We just soundchecked now and we soundchecked “Staples” and we were looking at each other, asking “Do you we end here or do you we keep going?” Certain things like that: As soon as you start thinking about it, it is no longer muscle memory and you start to question yourself. But a lot of it is just muscle memory. It is just a matter of reminding yourself and the ball rolls. So most of “Let Me Come Over” we have played but some songs we have not played much at all after that initial tour.

OMB: After “Let Me Come Over” came the two big commercial successes “Big Red Letter Day” and “Let Me Come Over” and then after that “Smitten”. Then, for a long time, there was nothing. Had you decided, okay, we are doing music on the side now.

Bill: Sort of. I don’t think we were that absolute about it. We were more burned out and said, let’s concentrate on our families for now. I had a kid that was being born that year, 1999, and Tom (Maginnis) already had two kids. We were just really tired of it all. It had gone on for longer than we expected. We didn’t say “Let’s break up” or “Let’s do this for a hobby”. It was more like Let’s give this a break for now, Let’s not rush back into the studio. We certainly did not. We did not have another record out for five or almost ten more years. But we kept playing and we would do a few shows here and there, even did little tours. We did this cover of “Going Underground” by The Jam. So we did things like that and always played around Boston. We went on to other jobs and in doing so, getting off that cycle, made music just so much more enjoyable again.

OMB: Maybe because the pressure was off? Probably explains why you three are still playing together and did not start to fight?

Bill: Yeah, that’s right. We might have just done irreparable harm back then. And the fact that we didn’t have a huge hit…it would have been nice to have a huge hit from the financial perspective because then you can do music on your own terms as well. I am friendly with Eddie Vedder. I look at this as a kind of ideal of success. He can go and play smaller places himself and still theatres and things. So he can get that experience. Also he can go “I can make whatever kind of record I want” and they make lots and lots of money. I don’t know if it would have been a good thing for Buffalo Tom or not. I think we are very level-headed, so who knows.

OMB: Your music was independent of any fashion which in the long run was a good thing because you are still there.

Bill: I think we were always more interested in classic kind of things, timeless, not necessarily classic. We were interested in the timeless aspects of music. We loved new sounds and experimenting with new sounds and bands that experimented, artists like My Bloody Valentine. You always want to push that. But we always wanted to write good songs, songs that lasted. “Let Me Come Over” is an interesting example of what you are talking about. At the time Nirvana and the grunge scene were really taking off and we were going back to more acoustic guitar. We double-downed with that idea on “Big Red Letter Day”, made it even more real classic sounding and I think those records hold up very well.

OMB: They do. They stay very fresh. Or do you have songs that you cannot identify with anymore?

Bill: Oh yeah, for sure! Especially those first two records (Buffalo Tom and Birdbrain) where you are still finding your way through. What are we? That’s why “Let Me Come Over” was such a breakthrough because we really coalesced into a thing. On the first two records you are sort of experimenting. Especially “Birdbrain”: It had more darkness to it than there really was about the band, I think. It was a little more grungy than Buffalo Tom actually tended to be. There is song called “Directive” which we don’t play. It is not that I dislike the song or a guy who is me from that record. We just quickly went through them. The other thing about the first two records for any band is, that is all you have for material. That’s basically a set. So you play these songs over and over again and by the time you get into the third, fourth, fifth record, you have all these songs to choose from. We are now on the ninth record and we try and work in some new songs too.

OMB: The albums “Three Easy Pieces” and “Skins” were then spread out over a number of years. How did you find your approach to making a record had changed, not only technologically but also maybe atmospherically?

Bill: The primary thing is, it is all digital. So you can make records at home or at least record sounds at home that are arguably better than our first record’s technology when it was still primitive. It wasn’t so much that technology in general was that primitive. The height of recording technology for me is still the late seventies of analogue. But then digital became so good to where we are now. But the first record was made on very inexpensive analogue equipment. Everybody involved in making the record was sort of inexperienced including the producers and the engineers. It was not a real studio, more like a warehouse space. You were just happy to get the sounds you get. But now, you can take stuff and bring it home and work on it and if the ideas don’t work, that’s fine, because you are not wasting anybody’s time or money. I am no engineer but I know how to get a decent sound with a decent amplifier. And I can sing.

OMB: Are you a bit nostalgic about the old days though? The record shops instead of downloading and streaming, the analogue technology, the music industry, the radio stations?

Bill: Yeah, I mean, I loved the days of spending a Saturday afternoon going to buy records and books and going back to my rented apartment with my girlfriend or my friends. Just having a glass of wine and putting on the new records and reading books and maybe going to a movie. But that was a whole lifestyle of being in my twenties. I don’t know what people in their twenties without kids do now – I am sure there are all kinds of fun things. But I also embraced technology readily. I am kind of an early adopter of things. I love new tools – to a fault. I love Spotify and I love being able to stream music. I think it is a myth that bands, new bands, feel that they missed out on an opportunity to make money. Because we made no royalties from records, you know. You got an advance and if you recouped your advance, then you did not get a very big advance because we were only selling ten, twenty, thirty thousand records. It wasn’t like all of a sudden there was big money in it. I think people make the mistake of thinking, well, if you got played on the radio, you get these royalty cheques from the broadcasters. And that you do get, but that was on the big radio stations. If a couple of people are streaming your…I think, the formulas could be better, don’t get me wrong. I would like to see people getting paid more.
I don’t really get nostalgic for vinyl per se. I understand it and I like to put on records from time to time. But I am much more about streaming music all through my house from my phone and if it sounds good on the high-quality systems I use, high-bit rate and whatever, bla bla bla, the convenience far outweighs – and I am glad to pay ten dollars. Honestly, I would pay twenty dollars a month for the same access. I don’t go buy records anymore, really. I mean, I will, if it helps support a band if they are doing a campaign or that sort of thing. But I don’t really listen to the vinyl anymore. It is located in a part of my house, in the basement.

OMB: Yeah, I keep them there too, looking after them though. I like the feel of vinyl and the look of it. (Me too, says Bill). But I am happy that I can do shows from home and artists can contact me with their music easily. And I can find new music on the internet.

Bill: I don’t know if I would be as adventurous if it was about records. I think I would shut down my mind.

OMB: Sometimes people don’t even get to do records or CDs and they put the music on bandcamp first.

Bill: Then there is that thing. Bandcamp is a great tool. I find a lot of acts that way and I support acts that way. Bandcamp is a great thing because you can put it on any device and listen to it – through Sonos which I use at home.

Buffalo Tom play Muziekgieterij Maastricht plus interview

OMB: I often hear people saying: Buffalo Tom – oh my, they were great, but they were the perennial maids of honour. But the other bands who made it were not exactly swimming in dosh, like Pavement.

Bill: Yeah, Pavement did a very successful reunion tour. They did okay there. But, yeah, you’re right. There were a lot of bands that did not get to our level but they were a lot of bands that opened up for us or supported us that did go on to big time like Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Hole. But you know, I wouldn’t trade places and be Smashing Pumpkins. Billy is an interesting guy but I wouldn’t want to be in a band with him. (Sees my uncomfortable face and laughs out loud). And apparently nobody else does here. (Laughs even louder). But he is a very nice guy when I have met him. And we were really enjoying playing with them and Hole.It’s just different. Listen, to be able to go and play to 1700 or 1800 people in Brussels or sell out London or come here…it’s just a gift.

OMB: Yeah, it is great, you go on tour and get packed venues still.

Bill: Yeah, we always admired cult artists like Tom Waits or Nick Cave. Even Van Morrison, he was huge in the seventies, but he still plays to loyal audiences. I would love to achieve that level of respect and be able to fill out a theatre any time. I don’t feel we are there. But I think if we devoted more time to the road, we would. But I think it is nice, I mean, the Paradiso in Amsterdam and so on, I never wanted to get much bigger than that. We have gotten respect over the years. There is nothing I would really change too much.

OMB: How do think your songwriting has changed over the years?

Bill: I think we mostly stayed ninety per cent the same (laughs). The lyrics have changed quite a bit. It reflects our lives and our lives as fifty-year olds are very different than when we were twenty-five. Things about adult concerns get in there. The approach of impressionist and stream-of-consciousness and guitar rock is all sort of the same though. We are writing different stuff now – we have a new record coming out which I think is excellent. So, let’s see.

OMB: Yes, I wanted to keep that secret until last. Because you have a very big surprise, you are working on a new record. It is almost finished?

Bill: Yeah, it’s done and we are having it mixed next week or so by John Agnello (Me: Woohoo!) who actually produced and mixed “Sleepy Eyed”. And he’s obviously done quite a bit since then (laughs). That should be interesting. He is a nice guy. It was a pledge music campaign – a crowd-sourcing thing. It did very well and it is still open if people wanna pledge!

OMB: But you have your own label?

Bill: Yeah, I am not sure who is going to release it. It’s going be us in partnership with somebody maybe.

OMB: Will you play a new song tonight?

Bill, Yeah, I think we will play a song.

OMB: Thank you very much!

Bill: Thank you so much, Alice!

Buffalo Tom play Muziekgieterij Maastricht plus interview

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.