I think that’s one of the problems with downloading mps these days. You never really get a chance to attune to a different logic, a different musical logic. If you hear a song and don’t like it, you’ll just delete it off your hard drive.
I was very lucky, because when I was at school, I had a great music teacher who would just take out these free-jazz records and play them for me. So it was in my early teens that I started to listen to jazz.
I think the music that’s part of your heritage is what you spend a lot of your early life rejecting. The very idea of folk music would break me out in hives until I was about 28. But I think it’s nice when you eventually do come back to it. It’s like coming home, and you realize it wasn’t so bad after all.
It’s very interesting to read why Cornelius Cardew became disenchanted with academic avant-garde music. He wanted to reach as many people as possible and change their consciousness. He wanted to reach the "working classes" in England. The kind of music he was making was very much from the academy, even though it had a lot in common with things like free jazz and improvisation, and he felt that it was the music of the elite, and that he wasn’t really speaking to the people.
One of the great things about being in a band is that you meet so many other musicians who will turn you on to stuff you would never have otherwise found out about.
I remember the period in the 1980s where the Beatles were terminally uncool, and it seemed to me then like they were just my little secret, and the rest of the world didn’t know anything about them.
I think whatever we’ve done as a band at The Clientele, we’ve done because it’s so natural. Our "old" sound isn’t really like any actual bands from old times. We take elements of past music styles and past sounds as a way to… this is going to sound very pretentious and perhaps overly thought-out, but as a way to strike chords of vague nostalgia, and strike chords of, "I’ve heard this before somewhere." That’s what a lot of our music is about in terms of the words and ideas behind it, so we really use old sounds as a way to serve that agenda.
Folk songs in general, I like. The old spooky Scottish folk songs.
John [Lennon] as a singer – the way he sings on "Twist and Shout" and the way he sings on "Strawberry Fields Forever" – is a very odd voice, in the sense that it seems to be celebrating but almost mourning at the same time. There’s a quality of mourning to his voice, which is very enigmatic.
I’m a huge Boards Of Canada fan. They’re my favorite contemporary band. The interesting thing about Boards Of Canada is, they use analog and digital recording techniques, and nobody really knows how they get their sound. But I think that very warm, enveloping analog sound.
There’s nobody on a normal income who can afford to live anywhere centrally, so everything becomes displaced and decentralized. The city [of London] becomes incongruent. It doesn’t have any coherence anymore.
I do like that idea that music can work on two levels, and you only pick up on the second one after a few listens.
When you’re in a daze – whether it’s from running or a hangover or whatever else – I think that ideas from your subconscious can slip through more easily. The way that I write songs, for what its worth, when I’m playing music, if it’s good music it will bring images forward into my mind and then I’ll write down what the images are and that becomes the lyrics. I think that process is just easier if the superego has just gone away in disgust for the day.
Cornelius Cardew very famous in Britain, because he was the darling of the avant-garde, and he played in a band called AMM, which was an improvising band in the ’60s. Paul McCartney used to come watch them. Later on in life, he became disenchanted with avant-garde music, because he felt it couldn’t reach the public. It didn’t have a wide enough appeal. So he’d take these tunes of old English folk songs and write Stalinist lyrics over the top of them. I do think that when he changed to folk songs, he actually lost the tiny audience he already had, which is quite interesting.
I have the longing that all writers have for new ears to pour my words into.
Cornelius Cardew’s folk songs were very, very literal, and they were just about workers smashing their chains. It was like reading Das Kapital over a folk-song melody, and it’s a spectacular failure, in my opinion.
We’re in a situation now where we’ve got five long-play records of sort of eerie psychedelic pop music. I don’t think that we can make another one. That’s really my position on it. If we were to do a film soundtrack or something else where I could take the rest of the band with me. I really don’t think bands should make more than five records anyway. In fact, five is one too many. We’ll have to see how it pans out.