So far Diagrams have released an ep with five songs, why did the go the ep route and is there a full album on the way?
The E.P. seemed like a good way to make people aware of the band ahead of putting out an album. I think it can be hard to get noticed with so much great music around and it would be nice if a few people have heard of us before putting an album out. Hopefully that will happen early next year.
How would you describe your songs and influences to people who have not heard your music before?
I think of it as alternative pop music with a bit of electronica and the occasional hint of funk...and perhaps a whiff of folk. Influences amongst many include Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, New Orleans Funk and Pentangle.
Is Diagrams a side project to Tunng or have you parted ways?
I left Tunng on good terms a couple of years ago so this is something totally new.
1:Congratulations on a great debut album, How the devil are you today and where are you?
A: Devilishly good thanks!
2: What drove the band to take up the Rock banner?
A: Loud guitars, bashing drums why wouldn’t you! I can't remember how it started, but I do remember making a drum in school when I was about 8 or 9 and a good friend at school always seemed to have Raw/Kerrang so rock was an easy path to get into. Around that time rock music was, for me, in its prime. Metallica’s black album, GnR’s Use Your Illusions, Nirvana’s Nevermind, Maiden’s Fear Of The Dark and my first album, Def Leppard’s Adrenalize all came out so it was a great time to start.
3: What do you think the band has to offer that would take you to the top of people’s shopping list?
A: Here’s where we bang on about being new, fresh, different, like nothing before right?? Well, truth is it’s a genre that has been done over and over again; we just try to be better. We feel it’s an album with no weak track on it. I think the thing that stands out for us is that there are a number of different influences and styles musically, in our work. This adds to our sound, the way we write and the dynamics.
Our Kevin Hand was lucky enough to meet celebrated Cambridge singer/song-writer Paul Godwin at the Cambridge Folk Festival, where he was promoting his latest album, Trinkets and Offcuts, and caught unawares he agreed to an interview:
Hi Paul, how are you?
Good thanks. Life has been a bit hectic lately because I'm getting married soon. Which seems to involve a lot more DIY than I realised.
So, tell us about the new album
It's called "Trinkets and Offcuts" and is a mixture of songs that I thought were a bit lightweight (by which I think I mean upbeat...) to go on my next album and songs that didn't quite make it onto my last but I have a soft spot for. I write songs really slowly, so I want to make the most of any I think are good.
It’s a slightly strange cover, and name, for a new album (do people still call them albums?)
I still call them albums, though "record" is what the cool kids are saying I believe. I think the name is quite appropriate to the idea of it, but maybe I'm just getting my excuses in early. The artwork is a box I found in an antique shop in Cambridge and filled with some of the little bits and bobs that I've ended up with over the years - also seemed appropriate. I got the cover printed sideways so it opens as the box does, which I thought was pretty cool, but it seems to just confuse people.
An interview with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks. Questions from Jim & Pete
Hi and how are you today, in fact where are you?
Today I am in Birmingham England, home of Black Sabbath.
What was the main driver for the comeback album and tour and do you see yourselves as blazing a trail for the newer Americana bands today?
I still don’t see this as a comeback album or a reunion record. It is just a continuation of making Jayhawks music, and this time it is with Mark Olson back in the group. I feel that it was an extension of the rekindling of the friendship and the music making that began in the early part of this millennium and led to our duo record Ready For The Flood and then some shows with the band. Yes I feel we are a link in the chain of what could be called folk rock music.
Is the reformation of the band a one off or, a long term chapter in the history of the Jayhawks?
Only time will tell. We have no long range plan. We wrote the best song we could and then wrote another and another. Then we tried to record them the best way we knew how. Now we have a record and we are taking it out on the road. If we enjoy a show we play the next and the next. If we still like it next year we will most likely make another record. We are going day to day, month to month to see how it feels …so far so good.
A revealing insight into Scoundrels with Ned Wyndham
What is the band up to today? Is it a 24/7 existence being in a band or is there downtime too?
Today I am working in an antique shop doing some work to earn some cash, living the rock and roll dream amidst mahogany tables and brass lamps. Oh and there's even a narwhale tusk here for sale. Mentally the band is always in my head 24/7 without a shadow of doubt, we're always thinking of tunes, coming up with new ideas and when we can we'll get into the studio and rehearse. We've all got one goal really, to make the band work. From a personal viewpoint I'm terrible at unwinding, if I go on a break all I can ever think of is what I should be doing to further the band, perhaps I should take tranquilisers with me on my next sojourn.
Where do you think the band is currently sitting on the path to fame and fortune?
We were once told that the path of a band can be compared to the rungs of a ladder, the first rung being the toughest to get on and one that 99.9% of bands never get on. There are hundreds of rungs. After we first got signed we were told that we had made the first rung, then when we got our second deal and released our album we were told we'd made the second rung. We've made a good solid start but we're still light years away from our goal. One of the things our labels were intent on, was establishing a career for us, building the foundations slowly yet solidly. We don't want to be a band with a short lifespan, we want to maintain an ever growing fanbase and have the chance to release album after album.
The blues is your ‘bread and butter’ who were you listening to that may you want to be in a band?
All of us have been in bands since we were mere scamps of lads, since we'd learned to tie shoelaces. I think we've all had different introductions to music; mine was long journeys in the car with my parents who always had great taste. I remember how they'd always buy these 50's and 60's compilation tapes from petrol stations, tunes by greats like Eddie Cochrane, Fats Domino and Del Shannon. I think my parents always instilled that love of music within me and I remember as a little kid I used to imagine being Chuck Berry playing "Tulane" in front of loads of people.
It’s hard to imagine a more mild-mannered bunch than the band-members of newish indie outfit Dog Is Dead. While your stereotypical touring band would, you imagine, exist on a diet of vodka and late night kebabs, these boys have been spending an awful lot of time in Pizza Express. It’s not very rock n’ roll, and neither at first glance, are they.
But ask these gentle twenty year olds what they’d like to achieve in their careers, and you start to see the spark behind their recent success. “We’re ridiculously ambitious”, says lead singer Rob. “We’ll push things as far as we’re able to – as long as we’re happy with the records we’re making and are proud of them then we’ll go as far as possible.”
They’ve already been on quite a journey, from local gigs in front of a dedicated fan base in their native Nottingham, to playing a summer of festivals and their first sold-out headline London gig, here at the Lexington. It sounds as though they’re loving every minute of it. Rob continues, “We’re playing Latitude, Bestival, Leeds, Underage, and lots of little ones too. It’s great to say it’s your job during festival season.”
They’ve also starred in an episode of Skins, “It was surreal. We had to prerecord the song and then mime it to kids acting like they were on MDMA.” They admit that the programme isn’t really their scene, but go on to say that the experience was “really fun”. It’s this positive attitude, coupled with a slight bemusement, that runs through all their tales of their time in the limelight so far.
I ask them what they’re listening to on their travels. Their band of the moment is Big Deal, which is handy since the duo is supporting Dog is Dead at this gig, and Tribes. The Flaming Lips and Band of Horses also get a mention. And their first gigs, in their early teens, were Muse and Kings of Leon respectively.
Their own music though, is not as mainstream as these bands might suggest. Their parents listened to Springsteen and Simon and Garfunkel but their influences go wider than that, from grunge to psychedelic to pop. I find it hard to keep a straight face when they talk about the ‘eclectic sound clash’ that is their music, but on stage later the mix of influences is apparent. They come on stage to Sufjan Stevens’ Chicago which is a pleasant surprise, and go off to Fleet Foxes. And in between, during their short set, I definitely hear hints of Muse and Vampire Weekend, but also the Beatles and, weirdly, Guns n’ Roses.
There’s also masses of energy, great harmonies, some impressive multi-tasking from Trev, and a feel-good factor that help to gloss over the not yet perfect vocals. The audience, not as familiar with the songs as their home crowd, is enthusiastic, and leaves happy even after just seven songs.
The future is looking pretty bright for Dog is Dead. Fresh from their London gig they were heading to a studio in deepest Wales to record an EP, due out later this year, and an album for 2012. Rumour has it they’ll be working with a pretty exciting producer. And there will be more touring because ‘you can’t tour enough’. Look out for them in a city near you – they’ll be the ones in the corner with a plate of dough balls.
Louise Neilan spoke to Trev and Rob from Dog is Dead before their headline gig at the Lexington in London (13/07/11)
How does it feel to have a new band release in the name of Hot Tuna under your belt for the first time in many years and, what is the most satisfying aspect of the new album for you?
Well... all things come to those who wait... and work for it. In a nutshell, the time was just right for us. We are incredibly proud of our new project. To be able to put everything you have learned over the years to productive use is more than satisfying!
The band are playing the record live, is there any chance of UK & European dates other than Italian shows next week?
Not at this moment... we just have gotten any offers, frankly, that said, who knows what will happen as the year unfolds.
The art work on Hot Tuna Albums over the years has been varied and iconic. How do you go about choosing the art work for an album and who designed the latest?
Yeah, we've had some cool looking covers. The one for 'Steady As She Goes,' was designed by our friend Kevin Morgan, who does all of our artwork.
An interview with Guitarist, Joel Schneider and drummer, Ethan Jacobson of My Goodness, a thoroughly rocking new band out of Seattle. Hi. We just got back from Slackfest a couple days ago. It’s a great relatively new festival up in the north part of WashingtonState. It was a blast!
How the devil are you today? Where are you and what's the view from the nearest window?
We are doing great! Currently we are enjoying lunch at a small Mexican diner in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood of Seattle; watching all the beautiful people walk by on Pike Street....nothing quite like Seattle on a sunny day.
Debut Album under your belt, ready to conquer the music world
Hah. Our album just came out a few months ago so we are still new to everything coming our way with this project. Definitely taking baby steps and hoping for the best.
There are going to be obvious comparisons made between your music and say Bands like, The Black Keys, White Stripes etc. How do you feel your sound differs?
Well......We feel most of these comparisons come from the fact that we are a "duo" that plays blues driven rock. We are huge fans of both bands, but never really had either in mind as an influence when we started. We have a little more of a heavier influence to our music that I think sets us apart. It might have something to do with the city we grew up in. That being said, we really just try and play music that feels good to us and most importantly is fun to play. If that ends up sounding somewhat sonically similar to another band, then that just happens.
“Shane MacGowan came up and put his arm around me and he says to me, ‘Come on, me and you, we’ll do Helpless’… I could hardly understand him, he was pretty far gone.” That would have been one hell of a Neil Young cover.
Jesse Malin, from Queens, New York, has been supporting Ryan Adams on his ‘Acoustic Nightmare’ tour, from Dublin to Scandinavia to Britain and finishing in Amsterdam.He’s now back in the Big Apple. But over a cold beer at the New Theatre in Oxford, at the end of the last show on the UK leg of the tour, he talked to The Rock Club UK.
Anyone who saw Malin on this tour or at previous shows will know that he’s a slick storyteller. He’s a natural comedian and admits he recently considered stand-up as change of career. Mostly his tales are about family and growing up ‘in the Boro’ and many of the tales reference his musical influences and heroes – especially the Ramones.
A punk rocker at heart and with a recording and performing pedigree to back it up – look up D Generation – his solo career is, however, defined by his first album, ‘The Fine Art of Self Destruction’. It was produced by his friend, Ryan Adams, and it’s an excellent record that he drew upon frequently on this European tour.
We’ll get to the record it in full later this year when Jesse brings the St Marks Social band over to perform the whole record.
How was your Glastonbury experience last weekend and how did the Tim Wheeler Pixies cover come about?
It was epic, as always! The cover was something Euan and I had done in the past, and when Tim did his Pixies cover set for JD sessions, he asked us to come and do ‘where is my mind’ with him. Now it's something we do together because it's in our repertoire. I really wanted Tim to come to Glastonbury this year and since he was there it seemed cool that he would come on stage with us.
I am sure the last time I saw you, you were solo at the Latitude festival prior to the release of the first album. Second album done and with a very substantial band( judging by Glasto,) playing alongside you, how is your musical life right now?
It's pretty varied at the moment. I play solo acoustic, or with just me and Euan, and then we go on tour with our big band, and then at bigger dates still we add two backing singers. I also have a side project with Elizabeth from Summer Camp where it's just the two of us and we sing without guitars. And yesterday Tim and I played a show at the Willowstone Festival in Northern Ireland and that was a different experience again. I got to play guitar on Shining Light. As you can imagine it was a pretty awesome experience.
How would you describe your music to people who have not heard you before?
It’s super percussive with interlocking electric guitar riffs and layered vocals. As you said in your review, and others writers have echoed, it's hard to pin down bands that we sound like.There are strains of TV on the Radio, Tinariwen, Blonde Redhead, PJ Harvey, Page & Plant in the music, but there's something new happening here.
Matt, who are your drumming influences - Billy Cobham, Michael Shrieve& or Neil Peart by any chance?
They are all great drummers for sure.All powerhouse, technically great players but also with a lot of deep groove.Of the three, I have checked Billy Cobham out the most.Another great drummer is Narada Michael Walden – the stuff with Mahavishnu on “Visions of the Emerald Beyond” is classic.
But since I play a hyrid set with a lot of percussion, I also really like Zakir Hussain, Jamey Haddad, and Nana Vasconcelos, among others.