Posts Tagged ‘savants’

Take a Drag or Two interview

January 16, 2010

Here’s a recent interview we did for a French webzine called ‘Take a drag or two’. thanks to Jessyka.

What about the name ? It’s unusual to take your name from a children’s book, is it your child’s soul that comes out from it ?

John. Children are free from cynicism and fear; everything is an adventure when you’re a kid. It’s that sense of escapism from those baggages of adulthood, that the Gaoler’s Daughter alludes to.

Alfie. I wouldn’t necessarily class Wind in the Willows as solely a book for children, it has been read and loved by children and adults for over 100 years.

The character ‘the Gaoler’s Daughter’ (from where we take our name), is the key to the toads escape and she holds a definite place in my heart, she is a symbol for escapism and for hope.

There is also a definite similarity between us (John, Alex, Ben and myself),and the four heroes (Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad), in the sense that we combine our skills and personalities to reach a common goal.

Ben. I agree with what Alfie said. Music and Literature can influence each other. That seems perfectly natural to me.

Last month you supported Babyshambles on their UK tour, was it a great experience ?

John. It was great to get out of London and play to lots of new faces. Playing the bigger venues definitely brings out the best in bands. Plus we got free food!

Ben. We played with Pete last year at The Studio in Liverpool’s launch party. We also have a long history with the Babyshambles boys; Alex and I were in ‘Littl’ans’ who used to support them and even recorded a song with Pete.

Alfie’s old band ‘Larrikin Love’ supported ‘Babyshambles’ at Mont Matre in Paris too.

I also played drums and percussion on Adam Ficek’s ‘Roses, Kings, Castles’ – ‘Apples And Engines’ EP and on his forthcoming album.

Everything seems to happen really fast for you : your debut EP, the tour with Babyshambles and soon the release of your second EP. Is it hard for you or just pleasant ?

Alex. Very pleasant.

Ben. It may seem quick if you have only just heard of us but for us it’s been a long road already. We love it hard though and we wouldn’t have it any other way. I believe that each band should ‘earn their dues’ and earn the respect of their peers regardless of what the individuals in that band have achieved before.

What are your projects after the release of your second EP ‘Alchemy’ ?

John. Maybe get a tour together around Europe too, after the next release

Ben. Yeah, we’ll just keep working on more of the same. We are writing new songs and planning to record soon. We’re also booking and playing as many gigs as we can. We really want to keep the momentum going.

You all come from different bands that are representative of London scene but it sounds pretty different from what we ever heard from you. Was it what you expected with this new band ?

Ben. The thing about this band is that it started as a Sunday afternoon ‘Jam session’ in Camberwell. We never had any agenda or rules. We played ‘Drum n’ Bass’ grooves, South African grooves and even some Country and Western tunes! Whatever we felt like.

After a while though it became obvious to us that we had actually created a ‘band’ sound that was ours. We still live by the ‘no rules’ spirit but we’ve played together so much now that whatever style of music we attempt to play, it sounds like us.

I feel sorry for bands that are confined to the style and image that they have created for themselves from their conception. It must be very hard to live like that. Music is and always should be free and easy. Do what you feel, not what you think is cool!

John. I agree with Ben. We never sat down at the start and said ‘what do we want to sound like’, our sound just evolved naturally, which I believe is the best way to go about things. Otherwise I think you risk sounding contrived and could end up a parody of how you started out.

Let’s talk about From Russia With Love, where comes the idea to talk about Alexander Litvinyenko from?

John. Well it’s just such a fascinating story. It sounds like a James Bond film plot, but it actually happened. For some reason the whole situation really struck a chord and angered me, and the fact that nobody has been held accountable is a travesty.

What was the best gig you ever played ? the worst ?

John. I enjoyed Nottingham Rock City because the crowd watched us with open minds, and had a lot of energy that we could feed off. The venue was perfect too, like a kind of ‘Shakespearian’ theatre with two tiers, giving it a really intimate feel.

Perhaps the worst was when we played the Luxe in Spitalfields. We had a nightmare just getting there. Driving all around London trying to get bass amps and various other bits of equipment; and then our van got a puncture. We played to about ten people in the end, so it was probably not worth the hassle!

Ben. Yeah, that was a trial that night at Luxe. Birmingham O2 Academy was great for me because my eldest brother saw me play for the first time ever. I was really nervous playing in front of him.

Alex. Nottingham Rock City was great!

My worst was definitely that gig at Nambucca in Holloway road when my mandolin had gone really out of tune and it sounded awful. I was trying to drunkenly tune it whilst playing. The gig was recorded on video camera and every time I see it I cringe. We had some great nights at Nambucca but that gig was a nightmare for me.

What are the bands you currently enjoy ?

Alex. I’m enjoying us. I always love listening to Ian Dury or The Fall.

Alfie. Bands I am currently enjoying are Fiction and Filthy Boy.

Ben. I’m working my way through the 6 X CD Miles Davis Quintet Box-set at the moment. It’s great. Tony Williams is my favourite drummer ever! Even when he was only 17! New bands I love are Babe Shadow, Fiction, Is Tropical, Rum Shebeen, Savants…

John. Really into John Martyn at the moment, but locally I’m loving ‘Filthy Boy’, ‘Tom Williams and the Boat’, and the ‘Smoke Fairies’.

Our webzine is called ‘Take A Drag Or Two’, if you could take a drag or two on the cigarette of someone famous, who would it be?

John. Audrey Hepburn just so I could look all demure with that cigarette holder. Failing that, Bob Dylan.

Alfie. I’d take a drag or two with Snoop Dogg (for obvious reasons), and it has always been a dream of mine to record with him.

Ben. I always wondered what one of those huge Bob Marley coned spliffs taste like, They look as though they would be really harsh on the throat. I reckon I could only manage to ‘take a drag or two’ before my throat seizes up.

Bus Geek

December 13, 2009

Yo yo yo,

I’m at home now recovering from two gigs on the trot, one in Limehouse for Monika Magazine, and one in Camden’s Tommy Flynn’s.

The Monika magazine christmas party was good fun all round, Ivan Ink and Pen set a dark reverb-washed ambience to the night playing bluesy solo guitar and really getting the crowd’s attention. We had a good gig, and it was nice to play just yards away from where we recorded our debut E.P! It was a great venue, and although the sound wasn’t great (solid concrete/solid walls/no carpet n all that) there were some beautiful objects in there that more than made up for it. A gramophone with inlaid butterflies, a selection of old lamps and mismatched thrones, littered around the place…

Yesterday we played at Tommy Flynn’s. I’d heard a lot about it but never actually been, and it didn”t disappoint. Exactly how a rock n roll pub/venue should be, with a stage that makes you wan’t to really perform. Can’t really explain why, but it does. I had major trouble with my mic stand surrendering spinelessly to gravity throughout the set though, and ended up hunching over, trying to sing all awkward and folded-up,  like some sort of scene from a twisted hall of mirrors. Everyone seemed up for a dance though and it was packed with new faces and some familiar ones too. One of the best gigs of the year in my opinion! Savants played a great one too, as did the Federals after us.

The way home was however, and was made even more annoying by a 20-something man, who can only be described as an uber-geek with a massive lack of self awareness and, probably, friends, standing next to me, moaning into his motorola to TFL about the fact that his bus didn’t turn up for an hour and a half. The poor person on the other end, probably not earning enough to care (bearing in mind this was 4 in the morning) deserves a medal for angelic patience.

The uber-geek continued…’I propose a system where all TFL employees have real-time computer updates as to the whereabouts of each individual bus…’ he wittered. ‘The infrastructure cannot and will not be difficult to set up: for example my pocket calculator here has more computing power than that of  the spacecraft on the apollo missions!’ O shut up! I am far from a violent man (I once saved a drowning ant from my garden pond) but i had some urges that, thankfully, i didn’t act upon, otherwise i would be carving this blog into the walls of a cell!

Anyway, this idiocy went on for around an hour, prompting me to think; if he’s spending that much money on his phonebill, why not get a cab and stop moaning?