Shampoo is a tough duo of punk rock Barbie dolls who started in the recording industry when they were barely out of their teens. Hailing from Plumstead, England, Jacqui Blake and Carrie Askew both handle vocals in a highly energetic and barely intelligible fashion, and both have enough attitude and downright sass to make critics on both sides of the Atlantic go ga-ga over their primitive punk and sly innuendoes. Even though their talent is barely discernible (their singing often sounding like punk rock karoake) Shampoo never lacks wit and are always loads of fun.

We Are Shampoo, their full-length debut, features all of the jaw-dropping singles released in Britain including their anthem, "Trouble," which was featured on the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers soundtrack. Girl Power followed in 1996. In the past few years they have become very successful in Japan. Now they have released a new album, Absolute Shampoo, which has all of their fans excited. New songs like "Inspector Gadget" and "Take A Break" are some of their best recordings to date. To their benefit, they have reunited with Saint Etienne on part of this record yet again. I talked to them recently about their new CD which they have marketed themselves over the internet.

AL: I have a bunch of questions for you. First, did you try to make the album Absolute Shampoo more accessible and mainstream?
Shampoo: We didn't try and make it more "anything" it just came out the way we wanted it to!
AL: That's funny. A few of the songs on the new album sound like they are funkier than previous stuff. How do you feel about that?
Shampoo: Lots of people have different opinions about our latest album, some say it's the same and some say it's totally different... which is bizarre.
AL: What is your favorite food now?
Shampoo: Sweets, curry and chips... all on the same plate.
AL: What is your favorite color?
Shampoo: Silver and pink
AL: Has living in South London been an influence on you? Plumstead is very famous now.
Shampoo: It made us want to get out of the place as soon as we could!
AL: Did the fact that the Mercury Prize has been denied to you for several years affect the way you approached music in the past two years?
Shampoo: We've never been fussed about what people think of us, so awards like that don't matter to us
AL: What are your diaries like?
Shampoo: Pink and full of swear words
AL: I always wondered. How much does nature have to do with your music?
Shampoo: Erm.....we like cats (???) AL: Does the perception of Brit-pop or Girl Power mean anything anymore?
Shampoo: Nah, Girl Power is a load of rubbish, who the hell thought that one up anyway?
AL: You did, of course. How did you approach writing the new tracks?
Shampoo: We just hang out together, have a laugh then it tends to come naturally (with the help of alcohol! )
AL: Sounds good. What was your experience of Japan like? You are bigger than The Beatles there.
Shampoo: It was the best experience to have, it was nice to go home and be normal though!
AL: What was it like to work with Saint Etienne?
Shampoo: They're our mates anyway, so it was a good laugh to work with each other again after all these years.
AL: Are films ever an influence, and would you like to make a soundtrack for a feature film?
Shampoo: We wrote the title track for Barb Wire after reading the script, but it turned out to be a pile of crap (the film not our song!). We'd love to write the entire soundtrack for a Chinese action film though!
AL: What is your favorite TV show?
Shampoo: Crimewatch UK.
AL: Have you ever been a fan of house music, which is still very popular in America?
Shampoo: No!!! AL: What are your favorite cities? Shampoo: London, Tokyo and New York
AL: There's a lot of "Yeah's" on the new album. Are you more positive about life and music than in the past?
Shampoo: Nah, we just like saying "yeah" a lot.
AL: Do you read what is said about you and your music on the Internet?
Shampoo: Yep, we're great fans of the internet
AL: Any advice for people and fans of yours who would like to make records?
Shampoo: Just do it, you will never know until you try!.... Well we managed didn't we?
AL: How are you doing today?
Shampoo: Alright, we've had our fix of sweets now!
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The Coral

The Coral has become one of the quality UK bands of the past five years. They
have released four albums in the past four years. They mix garage rock with
psychedelic music in a very original way. Their singer, James Skelly, is a very
unique vocalist. At their recent LA show, luminaries such as Morrissey and PJ
Harvey were in attendance. Afterwards they were telling me, they were
upstairs in the dressing room, saying: “There’s Morrissey, there’s Sting, there’s
Bono.” It was like every other person was some pop star. Early in the day, I
was watching them do their soundcheck at The Troubadour. It took about two

It all started for The Coral in Hoylake, Merseyside, which is outside
Liverpool. They started their own label called Deltasonic. They released an EP in
2001. The amazing thing is that this seven-member band is all under 24 years old.
They released their first album The Coral (2002) and were soon featured on
Top of The Pops. Next came Magic & Medicine (2003). That album was re-released
later with a second disc called Night Freak & The Sons of Becker (2004). Now
comes the new one The Invisible Invasion (2005). Already praised in England, it
comes out August 30th in the States. The band has been constantly inspired and
been equally prolific. Their recent shows in America display their need to
road test some songs to new listeners. So far the reaction is good.

The band is James Skelly (guitar/Vocals), and brother Ian Skelly (drums),
Nick Power (organ), Bill Ryder-Jones (guitar), Lee Southall (guitar), Paul Duffy
(bass guitar), and John Duffy (percussion). I spoke to Paul, John and Lee
during this interview. The Coral have an accent that it’s really hard to pick out
who is who. So I made their answers as a group for the sake of this interview.
We had a lunch together down the road from the Troubadour. Some guy from
Queer Eye for The Straight Guy was sitting nearby. It was very informal. The Coral
seemed like down to earth guys. The Coral will return in August and September
for a proper American tour.

AL: What are you going to order?
The Coral: Just checking it out.

AL: Has the new album been released in the UK?
The Coral: Yeah. It’s been out about three months. It’s doing really well.
Much better than expected.

AL: You did the first two albums. We didn’t see much of the third album here
in the States.
The Coral: It came free with the second album. It was a mini-album. It was us
having some fun and letting go. We were messing around in the studio really.

AL: You have seven members so it seems like you can have a bunch of
influences and take the music in several directions.
The Coral: We have written a lot of songs. We try to do as much as we can.
Some of the stuff becomes b-sides. All that is taken care of. When we get to the
studio we never know what we are going to do. We obviously want to do
something each time that is going to be an album. We want to make money and play
songs. Recently a bunch of our songs have come to us while we were in the studio.
But James is always writing new songs. He is writing all the time. I think he
has the next album ready to go. It is hard to write songs on the road. We
don’t bring the guitars with us in the hotel rooms.

AL: When you did the first album it was nominated for The Mercury Prize. Then
you had a Top Ten single soon after and were on Top of The Pops. The Coral
has a popular audience then it is also a more serious album oriented group.
The Coral: Yeah. That’s how it happens. You release a single and it does
well. There are not a lot of music programs in the UK. There is Top of The Pops,
CD UK, and Jools Holland, and that’s it. There is only one that you can play
live on. When you have a song in the top twenty, you get invited to play on
those shows.

AL: You played every time you got invited?
The Coral: Yeah. It’s free publicity. Loads of kids watch it. It’s corny but
it is an established show. So you play it, don’t you?

AL: MTV over here shows “reality shows” now. There is very little new music
or interesting music on it.
The Coral: That’s all it is now. You might get four videos in the space of an
hour. It’s mostly R. Kelly.

AL: So when you do an album it’s like a snapshot of that time?
The Coral: That’s it. It's all about what music you were into at that time.

AL: What was your inspiration to make this new album, The Invisible Invasion?
The Coral: There was nothing to do. We were bored.

AL: Did you have new gear on this album?
The Coral: Yeah. There were new guitars that we wanted to try out. That is
what is good about studios. You can get your hands on so much different
equipment. We were working with new producers this time. We had a year off so we were
eager to get back in the studio. We had more time to write the songs. We
didn’t rush through like we did with the other albums.

AL: There is a distinct “Coral” sound. You heard that organ and you know who
it is. Do you have that organ on every song?
The Coral: Well, yeah. We have got a keyboardist. He plays piano. He just
bought a new keyboard today. Everything is a part in our music. Everything is
meant to be in our songs. It’s not because of there is a keyboard in the songs.

AL: You worked with different producers. There was Ian Broudie.
The Coral: We worked with Ian Broudie on the first two albums. He was well
sound. He was the first guy to say, “I’ll produce you. I know what to do with
you.” We were getting all these names. It was like “Try this, and this.” We
knew about that song he did for the England football team. We didn’t know much
about the Lightning Seeds. They have got some good tunes. He was a dead nice
fellow. He was interested in producing us.

AL: Was the early stuff all live takes?
The Coral: Pretty much. The bass and drums were done first a live takes. I
played along with rhythm guitar. We would overdub the guitars and keyboards.
That was the first album. Only “Night Freak” was done totally live. We were all
in the room.

AL: When you did the new album with Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley (of
Portishead) how was it different?
The Coral: We started in the same way with bass and drums.

AL: You would think that with the Portishead guys it would be more computers.
The Coral: No. Not at all. I never heard their music before when I met them.
I heard some of their singles. They would let us do what we do in the studio.
They would know what grooves and sounds to go for. They knew how to get a real
good live sound with the music. They had only produced their own band at that
point. It was a challenge for them to work with another band. They were well
off for it. He said once “All I have to do is put yous down on tape.” There
is not much difference. They know what speakers and what frequencies to use.
They know about sound and the dynamics of the studio.

AL: Did you go down to Bristol?
The Coral: Yeah, we demo-ed in Bristol, in Geoff’s studio. We got along.
Sometimes there is some animosity with Londoners. He came down to see us in the
practice room. He watched us rehearse and watched how we play. We recorded the
whole thing in Monmouth.

AL: Portishead takes about ten years to do an album.
The Coral: They are working on one now. They have one or two ideas.

AL: Did you hear any of the new stuff?
The Coral: We heard about half a tune. It sounded good. A week later he
didn’t like it so he scrapped it.

AL: How do you write songs in The Coral?
The Coral: It’s mostly James who starts it off. He writes the lyrics, and
records his voice and guitar. We’ll go to each other’s houses and work on songs.
James always has ideas and songs and stories. The songs are often about
fictional stuff or books he’s reading. Sometimes there is a film he likes. It’s
not a song about his personal life. There might be like two lines about his life
in a song. James will get obsessed with something like tennis. He likes the
speed of tennis. He is the worst tennis player ever.

AL: Are you reading any books now?
The Coral: I am reading a book about Deadwood.

AL: You guys live near Liverpool. Do you like the football team there?
The Coral: He likes Liverpool, and I like Manchester City. Liverpool won the
Champions League.

AL: Was that a bigger achievement than winning the league?
The Coral: Yeah. It is a bigger scale, because you are the champion of all

AL: How have the tours been this year?
The Coral: Very easy. We have only played like fifty shows. We have played
the UK, and have went to France and Germany. We did some radio shows. It’s been

AL: Do you have stalkers?
The Coral: Yeah. But it’s not young people. It’s like weird fat fellows who
seem to like us. They have every album, every single, and every poster. They
make us sign everything. They fool us into thinking that we are signing all
this stuff for the children’s hospital. We ask them “Where did you get all that
stuff then?” And they say, “Oh, I rang up Sony.” That is very scary. We are
not cool enough to have proper stalkers.

AL: Are you playing some festivals this year?
The Coral: Yeah. We are doing all of them. We are playing the main stage at
Glastonbury. We go on before New Order.

AL: Are you going to do a Joy Division cover song right before they come on?
The Coral: Nah. We are not going to take the piss. They will just batter us.

AL: Have you played recently with any cool bands?
The Coral: We played with The Gorky’s from Wales. We played about four shows
with them last year. The girl who plays violin played on our record, Magic &
Medicine. The first time we came to American we toured with Supergrass. We
played with Blur.

AL: Any bands you look forward to playing with?
The Coral: Yeah. We are playing with Oasis. That band is why we started doing
music. We are also playing with Beck. Those shows are in Italy.

AL: What countries do you like to go to?
The Coral: France and Italy.

AL: You guys listen to a lot of records?
The Coral: Yeah, loads. We went to Amoeba Records the other day and spent two
hundred dollars.

AL: Anything inspire you lately?
The Coral: Mostly old ones by Frank Sinatra, Lee Hazelwood, and Lee Scratch
Perry. The only new one I got was The Beta Band. I heard the new one by The
White Stripes. I heard the new one by Beck.

AL: What should people expect to hear when you play this summer?
The Coral: New stuff. We will play a few singles and a few favorites of ours.

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The Epoxies

The Epoxies
Interview by Alexander Laurence

They are playing at the Henry Fonda on July 23rd.

I went to the LA Shakedown back in February, which was a festival of garage rock and punk. Most of the bands were okay. Then I was shocked to see something very different. I was excited and surprised by The Epoxies. I was attentive to every song. They seem to take all the best things of New Wave and punk, and with their use of imagination and duct tape, bring something new to the formula. The band members were too young to feel the impact of Devo and Berlin on fashion and music back in the late Sevenities and early Eighties, but their music brings that magical New Wave energy to the stage. The Epoxies have been described as "music at it's irresistible best: catchy, upbeat and danceable as hell." Roxy Epoxy is also one of the most explosive performers onstage now. She is like a female Andrew WK, ready to party hard, as long as there is a synth hook in the mix. Roxy is pure energy. She can do every robotic dance or kick there is. She is an inspiration to all.

The Epoxies are from Portland and were formed in 2000 and haven't looked back. Their first single "Need More Time" was an instant hit in underground clubs. LA Deejay Rodney Bingenheimer has been playing their songs all year and raving about them. The Epoxies released their debut album (Dirtnap Records) in March, 2002. It's thirty minutes of synthetic pleasure. Every song on the CD is a catchy hit and makes you want to dance.
I spoke to F. M. Static, Roxy, and Viz Spectrum in the touring camper early into their new American tour which will be hitting New York and the East Coast in April. Check them out in Williamsburg at Luxx, and at CBGB's.

Ray Cathode: DRUMS
Shock Diode: BASS
Roxy Epoxy: VOCALS
Viz Spectrum: GUITAR
AL: What did you think of the LA Shakedown? There was a lot of posing. There were all these Betty Page girls and Rockabilly guys with them. They were supposed to be really cool.
FMS: We are not so cool oursleves. But it was a beautiful forum to showcase the whole point behind the Epoxies. I liked The Fuse. They were really insulting and dangerous. They said "It looks like a Hot Topic has exploded in here." They were really funny. They said "Everyone here looks like they want to fix our car." They pushed the envelope so it was more interesting than most of the bands. If you get something out of it, then it's valid. But personally I am tired of watching other bands. There is so much of it. Once something becomes a uniform it's time to let it go.
AL: Do you think the Epoxies will change their whole style every few years like David Bowie?
FMS: We talked about it. We have to. We can't do the same thing forever. There is a real need to put labels on things. We are trying hard not to be a one trick pony. You can definitely read all of our influences, but they are all over the map.
AL: What is like living in Portland? Is there any hipster neighborhoods?
Roxy: There are portions of it. I think people now are trying to have fun with stuff. People just care less with how cool they look and they just try to have fun.
FMS: It seems like every night that there are dozens of shows that I know nothing about. I would not contemplate going to them either. It's always bands that I have heard about but have never seen. Once in a while I will stumble into one of those shows and see how there's a lot of people there.
AL: Do you have a lot of friends in bands?
Roxy: There's a lot bands who are really cool in Portland right now. The bands keep coming too. More recently there is The Minds, who are a punk group. They are trying stuff on their own and it's coming out really good.
Viz: Every time we go on tour, we come back, and there's load of new bands. Many of them are reconfigurations or previous bands. They are fabulous because they are made from other fabulous bands. There are a lot of side projects in Portland.
AL: One thing that I know about Portland is that there are more stripper bars per capita. What is up with that?
Viz: It does. I am for it.
FMS: People always ask us about that. It's dark and rainy all the time. There is nothing to do. People like indoor activities. Stripper bars make sense.
AL: What about Suicide Girls?
FMS: We played at a party for Suicide Girls in Portland. It was weird. People like to see the Suicide Girls.
Roxy: It was weird but it was crowded. They gave me this T-shirt and a free membership.
AL: Did you grow up going to art school or just listening to punk rock?
FMS: We are the opposite of art achool people. I guess we grew up listening to punk rock. It's really true. Roxy and Shock have college degrees. Shock is more educated than the rest of us. It's a computer science degree.
AL: When you started The Epoxies, did you have the songs first, then think of what types of clothes to wear?
Roxy: We just rummaged through the dumpster and whatever we came up with is what we wore.
FMS: In the early days there were plenty of spur of the moment harebrained ideas that just became hallmarks of The Epoxies' look. It was two days before our first show that Viz said: "I saw this guy with duct taped pants. It looked really cool." So we decided to do that for our first show. Somehow that became a thing, which we have been trying to disown ever since. As soon as everyone in the audience comes in duct tape, we will start wearing flowing pirate shirts and full length gowns. We will grow beards and long hair. We will play sitting down.
AL: Are there a lot of Salvation Army shops in Portland?
FMS: Yeah. Although at this point because of our increasing poverty and the increasing hipness of thrift stores, I don't think that we can shop there anymore. People give us stuff and we find things in alleys and dumpsters.
Viz: We like going to an army surplus store. We talked about a uniform look but it's too much trouble. Dressing the same is not quite us.
AL: Who writes all the songs?
FMS: It varies. Some songs are really group efforts and other songs one person brings in most of a song and the rest of us finish it up from there. But everyone has input. We have written about 60 or 70 songs. We might have had ideas for about 200 songs altogether.
Roxy: We have a high number of songs and we end up throwing out the majority. We decide that they are horrible.
AL: Do you tape all the ideas for songs?
FMS: Sometimes it's lyrics and sometimes it's music. Personally I tend to write them together. Sometimes I will write just the chorus part.
AL: How did you decide what songs went on the first CD?
FMS: That was all the stuff that made it into the live show. Those were all the best songs. We did a lot of self-editing of songs even before they were performed live. We like to be as formulaic as possible. We listen to pop music on the radio and try to emulate that, figuring that would make the most money.
Viz: Some of the songs are two or three songs put together.
AL: Most of your songs are less than three minutes. But "Stop Looking At Me" is over four minutes. Why is that so long?
Viz: We had to cut it down from twelve minutes. There was a horn section in there originally which we took out. We did a lot of arrangements.
AL: There is a big drum and guitar buildup. The lead vocal doesn't drop in until a minute into the song.
FMS: Much like "I Ran" by Flock of Seagulls. To answer your question: I think that most of our songs come close to the pop standard. The radio length is a good length for a song. I don't see why our songs have to be different.
AL: Does your set end up being short? Maybe a half hour?
FMS: It depends. We try not to play too long. We don't come back on for three encores. There are not many bands that you would want to see for more than an hour. I can't sit down for any good bands, or bad bands, who play forever.
Viz: We don't want to wear out our welcome. There is a point that a band should stop so everyone can go home.
FMS: Most people are there to talk to their friends and get laid anyway.
AL: Is that true of all the Epoxies fans? They are looking to hook up with someone?
FMS: It's probably true of our fans more than most. They are desperate. We are a "hard up" type of band.
AL: What sort of things do you like to write about in your lyrics?
FMS: It's all on the album. We are often ruminating on modern society. There is a feeling of being disenfranchised. There is a feeling of "It doesn't matter anymore." I don't feel any connection to anything or anyone around me. The whole world is designed to use me up. Having recognized that, we are just marking time until we can relax in a cold, cold grave.
AL: Does your families come to your shows?
FMS: My mom comes to almost every show in Portland.
AL: Does anyone come from a musical family?
Roxy: This is the first band that I sang for. I listen to a lot of opera. Does that help? That is my main influence. My dad would play opera records all day and would wake me up.
Viz: None of us know what we are doing at all.
AL: Do you have any other hobbies?
Viz: We like to make stuff out of wire, tape and garbage.
Roxy: Kamikaze sewing, stitching, gluing, stapling, safety pinning.
FMS: I spent most of my time fixing the RV. It's very relaxing.
AL: You guys don't play video games or masturbate in here?
Roxy: We have a girl in the band. They can only do so much. We save all our sexual energy for the stage.
Vix: We have to save that for when we get home. Then it's three or four days of straight masturbation.
AL: What is it like being on the road with a bunch of guys?
Roxy: I am just as gross as the rest of them.
FMS: We are all constantly trying to have sex with her: it's terrible. "Roxy, can you pick up that thing for me." Ha!
AL: Who does this skateboard belong to?
FMS: Our roadie. Our roadie has met some of his skating idols on this trip. There's an article about us in Thrasher Magazine. So all the skaters are reading about us and going to the shows. Our roadie points them out to us because we wouldn't know them. They all seem to have good taste in music.
AL: Are there any bands that you played with recently that you like?
FMS: We played with The Phenonmenauts. They are great. We like The Spits, The Briefs, The Fliptops, The Minds, The Exploding Hearts, The Hunches, The Diskords.
Roxy: Manda and The Marbles. We like playing with punk groups.
AL: What is the average age for the band?
FMS: Our drummer is a clone. He's about a year old now. That really pulls the average down. We don't know how long Roxy's andro body is capable of lasting. It was supposedly created in the late 1970s during some Soviet super soldier program. The rest of us are regular normal young men. If I would guess that would put it around ten years.
AL: Let me ask you a few questions from The Hipster Handbook. Which of the following artists would you buy a recording of: Insane Clown Posse, Korn, Wilco, Kool Keith, or The Strokes?
Viz: I would say Kool Keith.
Roxy: I have heard some good things about Kool Keith.
FMS: I would not mind buying some of those other records and destroying them. We are not satanic as much as we just like Judas Priest.
AL: You would like your armpits to smell like: powdery, naturally musky, unscented, sporty, or like pork?
Roxy: Pork? I would like my armpits to smell like that, but I don't think it's possible. Talcum powder? I don't want to smell like a baby's ass. I don't want to have kids. I have seen other people do it: that's good enough for me. I wouldn't be a good baby-sitter. I was watching some plants and I killed a plant in a week recently.
AL: When buying new shoes, you are likely to buy which brand: New Balance, Rockport, Adidas, Puma, Birkenstock?
FMS: I would say Puma. They have nice stripes. I don't wear any shoes like those.
AL: Your dream car is: an SUV, a 1970s Mustang, a PT Cruiser, a vintage Volkswagen Bug, or a hummer?
Roxy: A big wheel and an engine.
FMS: I would go for the Bug.
Viz: Whatever is the most expensive. Whatever I could sell for the most money.
AL: You go to a bar. You are offered the following selection....
Viz: Pabst's.
AL: What about out of Coors Light, Tequiza, Guinness, Anchor Steam, or Ice?
FMS: I think all these questions reflect choices we wouldn't make in real life.
AL: The first Epoxies record is perfect as it is. How would you top it with the next one?
FMS: We are just trying to manufacture the best product we can for the listening audience. We are trying to refine our style to what they demand. We want to reach that lowest common denominator. For me it has nothing to do with content. It's all about sales. We want to attract the most dollars. So far it's been a failure. I realize that we aren't really writing pop songs and are making pop culture. Instead I am trying to figure out how mass media and mind control works. I think that people can be lead to believe whatever you want them to believe. So I am giving up on the whole "art" and so-called "musician" thing. I am more interested in taking whatever crappy songs we happen to have, and changing people so that's the sort of music they happen to like.
AL: Since you believe that we are in a constant state of now, and time is illusory, and that your work till you die, do you think that there is a remedy?
FMS: How to make ourselves feel better? I think it's all about trying to lower your expectations. You have to get to a place where you don't expect anything because that is what you are going to get. If you lower them low enough, surprises happen all the time. You achieve your ambitions.
AL: How does a fantasy life help a person's real life?
FMS: We operate on a bunch of principles that are complete fallacies. Yet they aren't. We never know where the truth and lies about this band separate. Sometimes we make big band decisions based on the way thing should be. It's unfortunate to let yourself succumb to the real world.
AL: On this tour, what is the setlist like?
FMS: For the most part we are still playing this album. We have two new songs that we slip in occassionally. We have enough new material for half of the next album. We will probably start recording the new songs this summer. But for the most part we are doing songs that people know and want to hear.
AL: I heard that you met Seymour Stein? What happened there?
FMS: Seymour did come and see us play. He did express interest. Sire Records may or may nor be mulling it over. We don't know. It was fun to meet him. He loves the album. That means a lot to me, having the guy who signed the Ramones liking what we do. That's all the praise I need. We are getting better and better as musicians. We are all having fun. I am more excited on stage. I was surprised to go places and people knew all the songs.
AL: Who does your website?
Roxy: I do. The other day we got a thousand hits. That was a fluke.
7/21 SLO Brewing Co.; San Luis Obispo, CA
7/22 SOMA; San Diego, CA (AA)
7/23 Henry Fonda Theatre; Los Angeles, CA
Will add more dates as they are confirmed....

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Blast from the Past: 2001

One of the more interesting things to note is that Dublin’s JJ72 were still in high school when they wrote the tormented rock songs comprising their self-titled debut, but there's more here than simple teenage angst. After selling more than 200,000 copies of JJ72 upon its release in the U.K. last year, the trio - guitarist/singer and main songwriter Mark Greaney, hard-hitting drummer Fergal Matthews and bassist Hilary Woods - further strengthened its already solid fan base with a searing and sonic live show. I heard the record soon after it came out and was very intrigued. Songs like "Snow" and "October Swimmer" seemed to show a maturity and a development beyond their years.

Columbia Records released the album around the time of 9/11 and JJ72 finally came to the US in November 2001, playing with Pete Yorn, Remy Zero, and Coldplay. I came to Hollywood to see some of their first American shows, since the original one at CMJ was cancelled. JJ72 surprised me how heavy they were as a live act. They definitely delivered. We were able to hear some new songs that will be on the next record. As I met them the next day in their hotel on Sunset Boulevard, we were also all surprised to run into Little Richard, who gave us all some religious books. It was a thrill to have lunch with this new band on the winding roads of Hollywood.

JJ72 will be back in America playing some show in early 2002.

AL: You have already conquered the British. Now you are here to do the same thing.

Mark: It’s very exciting doing this. Playing in Britain is fairly obvious because it’s right next door to us. Playing Europe is obvious as well, because we had been in Europe a lot anyway, apart from the band. The first time we go to Japan to do gigs, or the first time we come here (to America) it’s a very strange feeling going to the other side of the planet to play songs that you have written. You can think about the amount of people here. We’re doing a four-week tour. It seems like nothing compared to a four week of tour of Britain, which would be a very extensive tour. That would be taking it to a lot of people. We are going to be playing to quite of a lot of people here, but it’s a small percentage.

AL: If you are a band who lives in London, you can drive out to Liverpool or Sheffield, do a gig, and pack it up and come back the same night. Are you going to be in a tour bus the whole time or on planes?

Mark: We have a bus, but I think that we have a few flights in between. The shows have been great so far but it’s hard to gage. We don’t really know how the way music works here. We know American music obviously. Whether you like it or not, being in a band over a certain period of time, you will learn a little about how things work. You find out about the cogs in the machine of the music business in Britain. You know what a good live response is. You know what it means to be A-listed at a radio station. We know what Rolling Stone Magazine is, but we don’t know about anything else.

Fergal: KROQ and Rolling Stone.

AL: America has tons of independent magazines and local newspapers. I heard your first record about a year ago soon after it came out and immediately, but had no idea what the live show was like. It seems that many people here are going to be surprised how exciting you guys are as a live band. There is a lot of thunder and lightning in the live act that you wouldn’t know from the record that seems more intimate after seeing the show.

Mark: When we made the first record it was really our first time in the studio properly. It was quite daunting for us. We knew that we could make noise live but we had no idea how to do that in the studio. The record came out maybe a little differently than it should have in one way, regarding the way we play live. We were happy with that actually because the record is different than how we play live. There are more layers in the record. There’s more strings and other things. As you heard last night, we replaced the string section with sheer noise. I like how that turned out.

AL: Some people are just headbangers. They would like what you are doing. Maybe they couldn’t understand what you were singing about, but they can relate to the noise. They are into thrills and getting a sonic buzz. Having a drink and having a good time.

Mark: I like that kind of music sometimes. That is what rock music is here for in one way. If you are straight away thinking that your audience should be a certain way then there is no point in writing music. You have to give people the option. If they want to come along to one of our shows and shake their heads and run around like mad pigs, they can. That’s cool. As music fans ourselves, that what we want to do sometimes when we go to gigs. We don’t want to be listening to every lyric. Some people want to think about what you are singing. That’s fine too. We’re not selective in that way to what reaction people should or shouldn’t have. It’s interesting. Any reaction.

AL: What exactly is the reaction in Britain? You have had a successful record. Now people are following you around.

Mark: Yeah. We filled the void. The Manic Street Preachers sort of left and did this other thing. At that point we came in Britain, we attracted a lot of their extremely devoted fans, who followed us from gig to gig. We became used to that at an early stage: that there were people who wanted to see us play every night. The same people. It’s strange in one way but we appreciate it.

What about the local Irish music scene that never gets out? Over here we only about U2 and The Coors, and yourself, and a few others, but we never hear about the bands who stay there and never get known outside Dublin. Are JJ72 hated locally because they never had to play the small clubs there, and went from nowhere, to being internationally known, and playing with U2 two years later?

Fergal: They may be annoyed because we did it properly rather than in some compromised way. They don’t have the balls to really go for it.

Mark: That happens in every city all over the world where there’s some music scene. There’s usually some clique of people who are scared of going for it properly. They will use their "indie" credentials as an excuse. That’s what we found in Dublin, and in Britain. There are plenty of good bands that have good songs, but they won’t do interviews because they think it’s beneath them, in some way.

AL: When you go back to Dublin do you have some of the local bands play as a supporting act?

Hilary: We have played with different support bands all the time. When we go back to Dublin, there may be a lot of envy going on there, because there are musicians who have played a lot of gigs. We came along and had good timing. Now we are playing long tours with several different bands in different countries. I think that there is no chance of gaining any recognition in your own town. You have to go away first and leave yourself to circumstance. Especially in Dublin, because they are very skeptical of the bands and very slow to say anything is good. They don’t dare say anything.

Mark: Luckily for us, we didn’t have to spend too much time in Dublin doing a circuit of local pub gigs. We worked with a sort of useful type of naivete that made us just go for it and appeal to a larger audience elsewhere. It just seemed logical to send a demo tape to a record company and expect a reaction.

AL: What do your parents think of the records?

Fergal: They love it. They sense our dedication.

Mark: It made sense that they would be supportive of it, because they saw it being born.

AL: What are your plans about touring and doing a new album?

Fergal: This is our "American" tour.

Mark: After we finish this tour, we are going to demo some tracks for that next album. We played three new songs last night. We decided that this would be a good time to try out new ideas. That’s all they are, as opposed to definite songs. We figured that at some of the bigger venues where we are supporting Pete Yorn many people wouldn’t know who we are. So we can afford to give it a go. We are going to record the new album in January 2002. Come back and tour here in early spring. We are going to keep it going.

AL: Have you played with any American bands?

Mark: We did a tour of Britain with The Dandy Warhols. We supported them. It was just before our album was released. It was nice. It was a weird matching. We are not the same types of band. That’s what was interesting. You learn to get along with people and you learn a little from people. That was good. We played with some other less salubrious bands like Embrace and Ocean Colour Scene.

Hilary: We have played with Coldplay too.

AL: Are there any bands you would like to play with or like to meet?

Hilary: I can’t really think of anyone in particular, but I would like to meet Billy Corgan.

AL: When can he play onstage with JJ72?

Mark: Oh God, I wish. I remember writing a letter to the Smashing Pumpkins when we first started JJ72: "Please, let us support you!" I think he is now doing gigs with his new band, Zwan.

AL: On the way over here I was reading about the time you met Michael Stipe. You are not a big fan of REM?

Mark: It was the first time that I was told to "fuck off" by an international rock star. It was quite an experience.

AL: You wrote most of the songs on JJ72 when you were in high school?

Mark: Yeah, about four or five years ago. I am 21 years old now. I wrote all the songs on acoustic guitar. Last night I played a new one. That’s how things are now panning out. It’s similar to the first album, where I write the stuff at home, and then I bring it in to these guys, and then, that’s where the band exists. They put their own feeling into the song and that’s how a JJ72 song comes about. It’s the way things unravel. Anyone is welcome to write a song, even you. Flood is going to produce the next album. He did stuff with the Pumpkins and Depeche Mode. There will be less smacking people in the face. There will be less bombast. I want the next record to be as powerful in a slightly different way. A little more subtle. We are going to steer away from the "quiet, quiet, quiet…. LOUD" sort of stuff. I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t know what we are doing.

AL: Do you have any hobbies?

Fergal: All we do is play. Not much else.

Hilary: We don’t have time for it.

Mark: When I am not playing with the band I am at home writing songs. Some of the stuff we did before the band, like playing football, you can’t really do at home, and I would be a prime target to get my legs broken anyway. It’s weird. When we get home, we spend a few weeks sitting there doing nothing, and then we start getting fidgety and start going "oh shit" and then we are off on tour again. I relax when we sell ten millions records.

AL: I wanted to ask you about the song "Snow." Is there a James Joyce (see quote below) influence on that? It reminded me of the last part of "The Dead."

Mark: Yeah. Pretty much. People in Britain are really annoying in interviews. They say: "He’s talking about the weather." It’s an obvious metaphor for something falling from the sky and covering the ground and making everything magical and beautiful. It’s a quite special thing. It’s like magic. I read Dubliners and the last part of "The Dead." There was a description of snow falling all over Ireland. What was cool about it was it made Ireland sound like this huge massive land. The snow falls on the "central plains" of Ireland. Ireland doesn’t have any central plains. It’s so fucking small. The description of it made Ireland, and being Irish, bigger than it actually is. That why "Snow" is the song it is. That is a huge chorus and making it sound bigger than it is.

AL: There is one video you did where you beat each other up. Who won that fight?

Fergal: Mark won the fight. It’s in his contract.

AL: There are a lot of JJ72 websites. Many created by the fans. Do you read any of them?

Mark: Yeah. I just a computer a few weeks ago. We have an official site. Then there is (www.jj72.org). It’s huge. People write there all the time. They are on there for hours. Stuff about us. That’s kind of freaky. There’s someone sitting down somewhere thinking about us somewhere in the world all the time. It’s like when this guy was on the toilet was he thinking about us?

Hilary: There are over 50 websites about us. We only set up one. Ours is very functional. The other people have more time to put up stuff.

Fergal: Ours is shit. There is a fan website that is better than ours is. I have to go to the loo. (leaves)

AL: I heard some fans got your phone number.

Mark: It’s weird. You might get sporadic phone calls. Four calls will come in two days of each other, and then nothing for months, as if they just lost the number or something. Back home, you go out and give your number to someone who you think is your best mate. Then at the end of the night, your number has been passed on. You have to change your number again. A few times when I went on tour, my parents would get calls from places like Sheffield in the middle of night: "We want to talk to Mark."

AL: Melody Maker is no more? They voted Hilary "sexiest person alive" and then went under.

Mark: They couldn’t handle the response. They gave us a lot of support. One of our first interviews that we thought was very important was in Melody Maker. They certainly helped us get quite a devoted following. They made us into a hardcore indie band. And so did NME. These magazine are an integral part of getting music out to people. Other bands don’t see that way.

(Fergal returns)

Fergal: Little Richard gave me all these books. He’s upstairs. He said "Give these to your friends, man." (laughter)

Mark: No way.

Fergal: Yeah. He said: "Where you from?" I said "Dublin." He said" "I played there before, man." (laughter) He had two massive guys with him. I shook his hand. I like LA. You take it for granted here but you actually meet these people here in LA.

AL: Yeah, I just bumped into Dee Dee Ramone over at the Virgin Megastore before this.

Mark: I have to tell you something. Elijah Wood was at our gig last night. He was with another guy, Dominick, who was also in the film Lord of The Rings. So we end up drinking with these guys last night. It was really weird being with Elijah Wood, and drinking in LA, and talking about films and music. That was an experience. I like that. In London, we are seen as a cool band to see because we are young. We get invited to things in London and Dublin too, because we live there. They people want to get together to pat each other on the back. Anyone who is involved in music or film, they like successful people around, so they can be in this exclusive club. Here’s it’s different. There are genuine people here who are brilliant actors or somebody. They are pleasant towards each other.

AL: London has those exclusive clubs. The Met Bar….

Mark: Oh God, yes. It’s ridiculous. We have went to all those award parties with secret locations. The NME awards or the Q Awards. The secret aftershow party ends up being a shithole. It was really great hanging out With Elijah Wood and his mates. We were sitting in a garage drinking a beer and smoking a clove. That’s what I like.

AL: What are your apartments like back in Dublin?

Fergal: We all live at home with our parents.

Mark: When we are on tour, our apartment is the bus. The apartment on wheels. Then we get home and loads of times we think "okay I am going to get myself a nice apartment." Then I think what is the point? Might as well let my parents watch my empty room when I am out on tour.

AL: You live with your parents too?

Hilary: I’m sort of in and out.

Fergal: Go back and get a good meal.

AL: Does the media follow you around back at home?

Hilary: No.

Mark: Once we were back at home. We were listening to one of the main radio stations in Dublin. It doesn’t even play our music. They said "In Dublin news today, JJ72 are at home having a break. Hilary is off having a holiday in the Canary Islands. Fergal is home fixing his motorcycle."

(November 2001)

"A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead." - James Joyce

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Shannon McNally

An Interview with Shannon McNally
by Alexander Laurence
This interview was done a few years ago. Shannon McNally has a new album
out called Geronimo. She is playing at the Hotel Cafe on July 21st.

Shannon McNally is a mover. She grew up in Long Island, has lived in California, and is now living in New Orleans. At 27 years of age, she just released her first solo record Jukebox Sparrows. The songs are whiskey-stained with slide guitars running wild. Her soulful songs blend rock and country into a new stew.

Shannon has a dynamic voice and a sexy presence. She has been touring America most of this year since her album came out in January. This summer she will be the opening act for John Mellencamp.

I talked to her in the offices of The House of Blues. During our interview, Shannon ate a lot of food. She had an appetite. I sensed right away that she had been a model at some point in her life and was now making up for lost meals. For some it may have been intimidating talking to someone as talented and as beautiful as Shannon, but I am used to hanging out with models and beautiful people, so it was just another day in the life.

If you like roots-revivalists like Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch, you might like her music. You can go to her website and listen to her music right now. Or go see her on tour this summer. Or you could do it the old fashioned way and simply buy the album.
AL: You were on Late World with Zach the other night. After you played a song, he stood next to you and made a joke seemingly at your expense. Was he making fun of you?
Shannon: He's just a strange act. I wasn't sure where the punch line was. I've found that with a lot of things lately. Satire doesn't exist anymore because life has gotten too goofy. It's hard to tell where the parody starts. At least that's what I thought when I saw Britney Spears on Saturday Night Live. There's no standard form to what anyone does. People don't know the differences between different forms of comedy or acting. It's all this lowest common denominator knee jerk reaction. People just sit back and watch. It's pretty lame.
AL: Did you listen to music growing up?
Shannon: I love music. Music is an elixir: you can add just about everything. We all have hearts. We have an organ in us that beats. If you listen, it makes sounds. While a human being is alive you are making sounds all the time. That is basically music. Music is just sound.
AL: What about the spirit? Do you have a spiritual background?
Shannon: Yeah, I do come from a musical and spiritual background. To me they are the same thing. This has always been a part of my life. I do like gospel music. What is gospel music and what is secular music is not always so clear cut. There is a lot of gospel in all music. When someone is reaching for some truth there is always something gospel in what they are talking about. Life is to be celebrated. It is a gift.
AL: When did you get involved in music and when did you decide that it was something that you wanted do?
Shannon: My parents played music. Music is everywhere. I was doing it long before I thought that I could make a living doing it. I had singing lessons. I was in the school chorus and school orchestra. I was in school plays. I like to be onstage very much. I like what happens onstage. I like the interaction of people. I like the interaction of musicians, and the music that comes out of that, and the breath that you share. I like how the energy flows between the performers onstage and the audience.

AL: Already you are getting compared to other singers and songwriters. Are others figuring out that you are unique and doing your own thing?
Shannon: I think that people are getting it. I think that people don't always have the words to describe it. Therefore they usually gravitate towards dominate female figures. There are not that many of them. So it does seem rather obvious when they choose to compare someone else to me.

I think that people feel it when they hear it whether they know what to call it or not. Whether they want to call it "country" or "retro" or "rock and roll" or "blues".... Whether they think it's like Bonnie Raitt or Sheryl Crow or Stevie Nicks.... I have a vague idea of what they are trying to get at. I don't think that what I am doing is only comparable to what other women are doing because I really follow an esthetic that some great male songwriters have lain down before me. I follow a songwriter esthetic. As long as people pick up on that, what they call it isn't really important to me.
AL: Do you think that it's weird that a person your age today can pick and choose from the history of music and all the great bands of the past and incorporate that into what they are doing?
Shannon: Do I think it's weird? We live in the age of information and technology. What good is it if we don't know how to sift through it and choose what we like regardless of what era it was made in? As human beings we repeat ourselves infinitely and endlessly. There are no new ideas. There are not any new songs because basically there are no new concepts. It's just a matter of what we call it this week.

It's not the norm for a first time artist because the industry has become the focus rather than the music. I try to focus on the music first and the industry second, but I take both of them into account. I enjoy music to the point that I am fascinated by other people's stories. I read about people and listen to sounds on records and I pick and choose. That is what art is about.

If you put a magnet in a pile of lead shavings, some stick and some don't. That's the way it happens with people, ideas, and music. If you open yourself up to music and you listen to it and give it proper consideration, some of it will stick with you. Just because a lot of young artists don't do that means that they have all this information at their fingertips but they are not going home and doing their research. People don't look back to the source. If a twelve year old looks at Britney Spears and asks where did she come from? If she gets to Madonna and asks where did Madonna get all her ideas? I take it a few steps back and go as far as I can. Things are not that different. The only thing different is technology.
AL: How long did it take to write this album and how did you go about it?
Shannon: Some songs were written a long time ago. I wrote most of the songs in about a year. I had a lot of ideas and I knew what I wanted. I had never produced a record before. I worked with Josh Grange and Ron Aniello. We all produced the record together. I knew what I wanted. It was a big give and take between the three of us. I could have done it but I needed some help.
AL: Did you play in other bands?
Shannon: Yeah. I was in a lot of bands. I have done solo acoustic and duo acoustic.
AL: How do you write songs? Do you have books of lyrics and then you fit them into songs? Do you just strum things on guitar?
Shannon: It happens in different ways. Sometimes I will sit down and play the guitar and that will inspire a concept and the lyrics will write themselves. Sometimes it will start out as a poem. Sometimes I will sit down and play an instrument that I don't play very well like a piano and come up with something. I can get creative there. I can handle basic stuff but I am not a piano player. It challenges your brain and makes you use another part. It unlocks a nice little cavity that you didn't know was there. There might be a gem in it.
AL: What about the song "Jukebox Sparrows?" That reminded me of Tom Waits.
Shannon: I love spoken word and the Beat Tradition. I think that in a way it's a wave to Tom. I like all the Beat Writers. I was reading Jack Kerouac at the time. That song was the reason I made the record. I was acknowledging all the music that I liked and moved me. I was giving them a name.
AL: What are some other things that you do besides music?
Shannon: I do yoga. I am a soccer player. I like the American women's team. They are no joke. I like traveling. I grew up in New York and have been a vagabond ever since. I love gardens. I love things that grow. I am going to play with John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson this summer. I have opened up for a few bands. I am looking forward to headlining myself soon.
AL: This record took a long time. Maybe you have another record of songs ready to go?
Shannon: A couple of records maybe. I worked out some songs onstage. I haven't really made a demo yet.
AL: How did you write the song "Colorado?"
Shannon: I was sitting in a room with Barry Reynolds. He is a brilliant songwriter. He started playing this beautiful little riff. The song wrote itself. I had the chorus and verse. I took it home and wrote a bridge. It's a song about a woman who flips out at a bank and craves open space.
AL: Are all your songs narratives?
Shannon: I think so. Most of them are.
AL: What is "Now That I Know" about?
Shannon: It's about getting up in the morning. The reasons that you get up. The things that you look forward to. I wrote the song about two years ago.
AL: I notice that on several first records recently that there is some cover song. Did the record company suggest that you do an obscure song by The Rolling Stones or Gram Parsons?
Shannon: No. But I do play cover songs. I do "When I Paint My Masterpiece" which is a Bob Dylan tune.
AL: Do you have any advice for young girls who want to be musicians?
Shannon: Don't sleep with people for favors.
AL: I guess if you live in New Orleans, Halloween must be a big holiday? What costume would you wear on Halloween?
Shannon: A bellydancer. I have been a bellydancer for Halloween in the past. I haven't dressed up for it in a while. I like Saint Joseph's Day better.
AL: Most people who live there like Jazz Fest.
Shannon: I'll be there tomorrow afternoon. It's the second weekend.
AL: What do you love about music?
Shannon: Music extinguishes a certain uneasiness. It relieves it. It keeps depression at bay.
AL: Is rebellion important to you?
Shannon: What you rebel against is important. If you rebel in positive form, like Gandhi or Martin Luther King or John Lennon, that's important. How they rebel is important. Thinking is probably the most rebellious thing you can do.

Upcoming shows >>

Mon, Jul 18, 2005
Fez Ballroom
Portland, OR

Wed, Jul 20, 2005
Cafe Du Nord
San Francisco, CA

Thu, Jul 21, 2005
Hotel Cafe
Los Angeles, CA

Fri, Jul 22, 2005
The Mint
Los Angeles, CA

Sun, Jul 24, 2005
Belly Up Tavern
Solana Beach, CA (San Diego)


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A Girl Called Eddy

A Girl Called Eddy is lovely music about experience and knowledge. Taking her past as a musical palette, A Girl Called Eddy has come-up with an extraordinary debut record full of romance, elegance, sophisticated melodies. Born Erin Moran, Eddy grew up in the small New Jersey town of Neptune, close to Asbury Park. The mechanism for her own songwriting came when her mother fell ill and died in 1997. This was an experience that directly inspired the song "Kathleen." This great loss inspired a self-belief in her own songwriting. Around this time Eddy started playing shows in the New York area. An EP appeared in America in 2001, which brought her to the attention of various independent labels all over. Soon she was off to Britain to work with producer Richard Hawley of Pulp and Longpigs.

Eddy went to Sheffield in the middle of winter to work with Hawley. The album also features the band that made Hawley's recent album, Low Edges. Hawley and Eddy really got along.Ê She put out this record last fall. It was one of my top records of the year. I finally got to meet her at Noise Pop 13 in San Francisco. She just was in the midst of her tour with Keren Ann. As we were talking, Joanna Newsom was playing in the main hall at the Swedish American. Eddy was curious and we interrupted the interview to watch Joanna Newsom play a little bit.

* * * * * *

AL: You have been playing for a while. You don't have a lot of records out.
Eddy: I did an EP a few years ago, with Le Grand Magistery. Now I did this full album with Anti. I started seriously making music in 1994. I started writing songs in 1996. I didn't get a deal until 2000. I didn't play a lot of shows before that. I got a publishing deal in the UK first and things started after that.

AL: You are known more in the UK than here?
Eddy: Yeah. People know me in the UK and Europe through this first album. People might think I am English because I worked with Richard Hawley. I recorded the album in Sheffield. I actually lived in Manhattan for several years.

AL: How did you get from New Jersey and New York to Sheffield in the winter?
Eddy: I couldn't find the right people in New York. There are a lot of good musicians, but not anyone who understood what I wanted to do. I heard Richard Hawley's music and thought that I found what I was looking for.

AL: You are talking about his solo albums, Late Night Final and Lowedges?
Eddy: Yeah, his solo stuff. I didn't know who he was until someone from Setanta Records turned me on to it. That was his label at the time.

AL: What did you think of it when you heard it?
Eddy: I thought it was amazing. I heard the first few bars of Late Night Final and thought: "Oh my God!" That record had just come out at that time. I loved the esthetic of it. I loved the beautiful cinescope quality. It was very rainy and melancholy. When I got there I realized that it wasn't brain surgery. It was just him and his band. It was the studio where they got that sound. It wasn't any pyrotechnics in the studio. It was the way that they played. They were able to play my songs while I sung them. It was fairly easy.

AL: How did you figure who was going to play on the album? Was Hawley always going to play on the album?
Eddy: Yeah. He's so good. He is a songwriter and a singer and a producer. Hawley can do it all. A guy who is playing with me tonight also played on the album. Shez Sheridan is also in Hawley's band. He is really the only person from the album that I have on tour with me. In a very paired down way, we are presenting the tiny essence of the album. We have the lap steel at the end of "Golden." We have 12-string guitars pumped through a hot rod amp, and it sounds old school. We are recreating some of the sounds on a small scale. There are three of us.

AL: Can you play all the songs properly?
Eddy: I can't recreate the album without the whole band. It's strange. The record label can't give me much money at this early strange to do that.

AL: Has Hawley joined you onstage for any of the UK shows?
Eddy: No. Disappointingly No. I asked him to come on, come onstage, and he shows up late for sound check. He does that on purpose. It hasn't happened yet. It would be nice.

AL: I don't think that Hawley has come to America many times to play. Maybe with Pulp and Longpigs he did, but not as a solo artist.
Eddy: He is crazy not to. I think that he would do really well. I think that Nashville would love him. I think that the big cities would love him. He is very hesitant. He had down so much touring with Longpigs that he had had it in America.

AL: You are a big Anglophile. You were really into The Beatles and Monty Python?
Eddy: Yeah. When I was a kid. Big time, yeah. I have always been into all the British movies.

AL: Did you go to England a lot?
Eddy: I went once when I was fourteen. I saw that I would come back as a popstar. I didn't think it would take twenty years. I am still not a popstar there though. I love going to England though.

AL: How do you write songs yourself?
Eddy: It can start with a variety of things. It could be a nice chord pattern. It could be a melody only. It could be a title. It could be a combination of those. It's never really any pattern.

AL: "Kathleen" started with a title?
Eddy: No. That one started out with some chords. It was ding-dong ding. It was supposed to be very much like The Beach Boys. It ended up being something very different. I was talking to someone about The Wondermints the other day. I was looking for someone to do the new album with. I saw the Brian Wilson Pet Sounds and Smile tours. I thought that band was absolutely unbelievable. I was talking to someone about it, and they were saying, "I know someone in that band, and I'll get your CD to them." IT would be a dream come true.

AL: What are your songs about generally? Are you just telling stories or creating moods?
Eddy: "Did You See The Moon Tonight" was about a boyfriend in Paris, when I was living in New York. So it's pretty self-explanatory. I was wondering whether he was looking at the same moon that I was looking at. Very corny.

AL: It's kind of like the Metaphysical Poets. They always had poems about the alignment of stars and that was like perfect love.
Eddy: The stars and the moon have been fodder for a long time.

AL: How many shows have you played?
Eddy: I have toured in England and Europe a lot over the past year and a half. Over here this is my first tour in the States. I am doing about a dozen shows here in America.

AL: Have you played some festivals?
Eddy: Yeah. I have toured with The Cure. I did a few shows with Rufus Wainwright. I have played with The Beautiful South and The Divine Comedy.

AL: How did you get involved with The Cure?
Eddy: Robert Smith heard my album. We share the same publisher. He liked my album. He just asked if I would do it. And I said "yeah." Wow. He was a fan. He told me that he does the washing up listening to my record. That visual of Robert Smith with rubber gloves listening to me I can't get out of my head.

AL: You think of him as some dark lord.
Eddy: Personally he is a sweet guy. He is a nice guy. He has been married forever. He is not like what you would expect.

AL: How has the tour been going so far in America?
Eddy: It has been great. The two LA shows were surprising. People were really getting it. I had no clue that anyone knew who I was. It was nice that people came.

AL: This coming summer you are going to play some festivals?
Eddy: Yeah. In June I am going to play Glastonbury. I am going to play a songwriter festival in France with Regina Spektor.

AL: She is a quirky piano player.
Eddy: A lot of that going around (points towards Joanna Newsom). I need to get a shtick. I need to be more quirky. I am not as quirky as I should be. Maybe I should put my hair in braids. Maybe I should wear lederhosen.

AL: I wasn't sure what you looked like.
Eddy: I just broke my glasses. You can tell everyone that I have a real sexy look. I showed up wearing geek glasses with tape on them. Inside the CD booklet there is a photomontage. That is my sexy boudoir photo.

AL: When you recorded this album did you record the album live?
Eddy: Two songs were done live. Those were "Somebody Hurt You" and "Did You See The Moon Tonight." We were all in the room together. I just walked in and sang Dusty Springfield style. Hawley's band has been playing together for twenty years. They have a great understanding of music. They heard the songs and just went right, and played them. That was it. The rest of the songs we laid dow n the basic tracks and I did the vocals. We add in string and other things.

AL: Do you do a lot of vocals?
Eddy: I only do two or three takes at best. It's not because I am so great. It's just because I don't like overdoing it. If I get it, I get it. I don't like going back trying to make it perfect.

AL: What are some of the music that influenced you?
Eddy: All the obvious stuff. It's obvious just listening to my record. I like Burt Bacharach, The Carpenters, David Bowie, The Beach Boys, and a load of stuff. I like Kraftwerk. I love Paul McCartney, Gilbert O'Sullivan, and Prefab Sprout. Melody is probably the most important thing for me. If a song has a good tune to itÉ. If a song has lame lyrics, it's okay because I like to sing it. Melody can make you feel happy or sad.

AL: Do you prepare before a show?
Eddy: I do absolutely nothing. In fact I am a bit sore right now. I have just been doing the shows and giving it my all. My voice is really resilient. I don't do any of that "la, la, la" stuff. I feel like that I am listening to the Peter Pan soundtrack. I swear to God. I am just curious to see what that is all about.

AL: Well we can have a peek. (Intermission). We are back from seeing a bit of Joanna Newsom.
Eddy: It seemed lovely. It looks like it could be interesting. It almost sounds like someone is strangling her, but it is also quite sweet.

AL: It's very precious.
Eddy: Yeah. I will probably end up liking the record.

AL: You have been over in the UK a lot the past two years. What do they think of Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart over there?
Eddy: She is quite popular over there. People are really into other people who are just really bizarre. So maybe it's a bad time for me.

AL: Did you ever meet Jarvis Cocker?
Eddy: He is actually a fan of my stuff, through Richard. So yeah. I have met him once or twice.

AL: Did Richard work on the Relaxed Muscle record?
Eddy: Yeah. I think he did.

AL: What was up with that?
Eddy: I don't know. I haven't a clue. I haven't heard much of it and I am quite frightened by it.

AL: You will be working on your next record soon?
Eddy: Yeah. I want to finish it by the end of the year. I have about twelve ideas for songs. I am looking for people to work with. I love Jon Brion. I like the guy who produced the last Thrills record.

AL: His name is D. Sardy. Maybe this new record will be The Wondermints playing with Jon Brion producing?
Eddy: It might be a West Coast thing. It could be a touch warmer. I listen to the first one and think, "That is sophisticated." I would like to do more singing and more harmonies. We'll see.

Alexander Laurence

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