There’s been a gap of 6 years between Sing Along With Acid House Kings and Music Sounds Better With You. I read that it was due to be released in 2008. What happened along the way?
Niklas: Well, for us, it’s not that long actually. It was five years between our first and second albums and then another five years between the second and the third. When it only took us three years to record and release our fourth album Sing Along With Acid House Kings, that was some kind of creative outburst. A record we will never beat.
Still, the original plan was to release the album in 2008 or at least 2009. But, we suddenly felt we were going the wrong way. Acid House Kings have always been about pop melodies, nothing more, nothing less. The album we scrapped in 2008 was a less melodic, a tad darker than we wanted. And, maybe more importantly, not good enough. Some time in 2010 we suddenly felt we had a classic three-minute-pop-song-five-songs-on-side-A-five-songs-on-side-B-every-song-is-a-single type of album on the way. After that, we were actually quite fast.
Johan: I listened a lot to French pop music from the 60’s last year and I think that really inspired me to start working with Acid House Kings again. Rhythms have become increasingly important to me over the last years – nine out of ten songs I write start with the rhythms – and I think people like Serge Gainsbourg opened my eyes for new ways of combing that with straightforward pop songs. I know a lot of people think Sing Along With Acid House Kings and Music Sounds Better With You sounds almost identical, but I feel there’s a quite big difference. Music Sounds Better With You is more advance of course.
“Would You Say Stop?” is one of our favourite releases this year. It’s a tremendous pop song. What are your hopes for it? I noticed it was available as the Free Song of the Day on Amazon. Does chart success mean a lot to the group in these years of declining record sales?
Julia: I am so happy that you like it. “Would You Say Stop?” is actually one of my favourites as well. Our hope is that as many as possible will hear it and love it. I am one of those people who still listen to songs and records that I loved 5 – 10 years ago. If this song still would be played in 5 – 10 years I would be euphoric. Amazon has a lot of customers (me included) and a chart success therefore means a great deal.
It’s also got a sad penguin video which I’ve not been able to stop watching. What were the ideas behind it?
Niklas: Well, that was more or less the idea: Julia as a sad penguin. It’s really difficult to make videos that are worth watching, especially when you don’t have a gigantic budget. You need a simple, visual idea and the penguin outfit was ours. Philip Ekström, who directed the video, did a great job. I think it’s beautiful, funny and a little sad. I still watch it myself. I think the video captures Acid House Kings more than any other video we’ve made.
Joakim doesn’t appear in the promo video or on the album cover. Has he left the band?
Niklas: He hasn’t left the band in some dramatic way or so. We live in Stockholm and he lives in the south of Sweden, so this time around he wasn’t around for the recordings. He wasn’t involved in Mondays Are Like Tuesdays and Tuesdays Are Like Wednesdays (2002), but he played on Sing Along With Acid House Kings (2005). An on and off relationship, I guess. Maybe his back for our sixth album some time in 2018…
How did your live comeback at Debaser in Stockholm go on 8th April? Were there a few creases to iron out or did you manage to hit your groove straight away considering you’ve not played live together for 5 years?
Julia: The energy was high and it was straight up awesome. We had a slew of loyal fans that literally sang there hearts out to very word. There was also a lot of dancing.
How is the current live line-up of the band shaped? I noticed on a recent Swedish TV performance there were 7 of you. Will that be the line-up to tour the LP?
Julia: The band consists of me, Johan and Niklas and four lovely friends. To be honest we can not perform a concert without them. They are the best! Hopefully all of us will tour together in the future.
Although Julia is primarily the lead singer, sometimes vocal duties are split. How is that decided? Do you do different takes in the studio and see which vocalist would best suit a particular song, capturing the right feel?
Niklas: We have an unwritten rule that says I sing half of the songs and Julia sings half of the songs. We always decide before entering the studio who is going to sing it. Often the choice comes very naturally.
Do you have any plans to play European festivals this summer? Are you familiar with Indietracks Festival in the UK?
Julia: We don’t know yet. Some festivals have contacted us but we haven’t really decided yet. I have not been at the Indietracks Festival yet, but hopefully one day!
Moving on, Johan, what’s happening with Club 8 at the moment? Can we expect anything soon? I loved The People’s Record from last year.
Johan: We’ll have a new album out next year. I’ve been writing quite a lot of new Club 8 songs this year and we have about twelve songs that we both feel are really great. But we haven’t started doing proper recordings and versions yet, so I’m sure a lot of them will fall off as we start recording after the summer. It’s taking some new interesting directions and I’m not sure how it’ll sound in the end. It’ll be a more experimental, darker and more electronic album than The People’s Record I think. But who knows…
What’s happening with all of your other side projects at the moment? Are they on hold until the promotional run of Music Sounds Better With You is over with?
Johan: We actually finished the debut album with Pallers yesterday. Or maybe it’s 99,9% finished. It turned absolutely amazing if I may say so, it has a very three dimensional sound which I really love. We’ve only released two singles before. Three if you count our Christmas single “Arctic Hymn”. The album will be out late September I think.
Is the Acid House Kings home for you? Does it feel like going on holiday when you play with your other bands, being able to explore different musical avenues that might not necessarily fit within the Acid House Kings style?
Johan: I’m on holiday with Acid House Kings! It’s such a rare thing that we get together and make and album that it feels a bit like time off from other bands. But at the same time, it’s a home as well. We’ve been playing since I first learned to play guitar, its family and it’s something I keep returning to.
Many of your songs tend to be snappy 3 minutes and all of your albums are around 30 minutes. Most of my favourite LPs tend to be that length. I think it can capture a band wonderfully, like a snapshot of a group at a certain time. Is that your ideal? To get your message across crystallised within a perfect pop song?
Johan: I love 3 minutes pop songs and albums with 10 tracks. For pop albums, it’s the perfect length. But I don’t really have an ideal, because it depends on what kind of music I’m making. Sometimes album should be more like long stories, with completely different passages and episodes that spans over a long time. The Pallers album has 10 songs and it not super long – its 40 minutes – but it’s a completely different build up. There’s light and shorter instrumental pieces, dark suggestive noisy drone ambient, 7 minutes slow pop songs… there’s even music you can dance to. At least if you’re OK with slow dancing…. anyway, this is just as much my ideal as the 10 hits and 3 minute pop songs we’re doing with Acid House Kings.
Despite breaking the mould a couple of LPs ago, will you be reverting to your original 10 year plan to release an album every 5 years? Was that inspired by Felt who released 10 albums and 10 singles in 10 years?
Johan: Yep, we stole their plan and adjusted it to Acid House Kings and we might very well do it again!
Our Indietracks Special fanzine is now available. We talk to Herman Dune about their set plus Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, Crystal Stilts, Math and Physics Club and Milky Wimpshake.
If you would like to order a copy it costs £1.50 plus P&P.
Our Spring fanzine is now availbale. The lead interview is with the Swedish indiepoppers Acid House Kings whose new album Music Sounds Better With You is, in our opinion, the best of 2011.
We got talk to a number of bands who are playing Indietracks this mont. Butcher Boy tell us about their forthcoming third LP and Help Stamp Out Loneliness give us a track-by-track guide to their eponymous debut album. Plus interviews with The Felt Tips and Horowitz.
Inside you’ll find a write up on Read and Shout by organiser Matthew Stead, Edinburgh’s best indiepop club night Unpop and as well as Librarians Wanted and Stolen Wine Social Club. If that wasn’t enough you’ll get all the latest release news from Pebble Records and KinGem and an epitaph of The Go-Betweens.
The fanzine comes with a free compilation from Fortuna Pop! called Weekend Dreams –
1. Comet Gain – The Weekend Dreams
2. The Grave Architects – Love TBC
3. Herman Dune – Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
4. The Loves – O! My Gawd
5. Bearsuit – Cut Loose
6. Evans the Death – I’m So Unclean
7. The Primitives – Need All the Help I Can Get
8. The Mountain Movers – Bombshelter
9. The Pipettes – Captain Rhythm
10. Tender Trap – 2 to the N
11. Crystal Stilts – Silver Sun
12. The Lucksmiths – Good Light
13. Ladybug Transistor – Breaking Up On the Beat
14. Darren Hayman & the Secondary Modern – The Green and the Grey
15. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The One
16. The Chemistry Experiment – Leo the Magician
17. Club 8 – Football Kids
18. The Aislers Set- Summer’s Reprise
19. Milky Wimpshake – Eyeball to Eyeball
20. Airport Girl – Clock Tower Lights
21. Allo Darlin’ – Dreaming (DJ Downfall Redub)
22. micktravis – Up From the Minors
23. Would-Be-Goods – The Morning After
24. Jeff Greene and the High Barnets – Dreams of Me and You
If you would like to order a copy it costs £2 plus P&P.
I’ll be playing records at the Crystal Stilts gig at XOYO tomorrow night. 1990s and Still Corners are supporting to complete an excellent line-up. There are still some tickets available at WeGotTickets or come and pay on the door.
The stage times are as followed –
8pm – Doors
8:30pm – Still Corners
9:15pm – 1990s
10pm – Crystal Stilts
There will be a limited number of our Spring fanzines on sale at the merch stand if you want to grab your copy.
How did Chariots of Tuna become Onward Chariots?
Onward Chariots was born at the end of 2008. We had a band called the Infinite Orchestra that played these elaborate, theatrical compositions. But I wondered what would happen if I pulled out a couple of shamelessly melodic songs I’d written a while ago, wrote some new songs with an indiepop focus, learned to sing with a sweet, gentle voice, and asked these great players from the Infinite Orchestra to record with me. I did, and they bravely agreed! Dan, our drummer, was starting to get interested in home recording, and so we got together in his tiny Brooklyn studio and recorded two songs in a couple of hours, using the old-fashioned way where everyone plays their parts at the same time. Those two songs were to become “War Hero” and “Save Me Maryann”. We never guessed that these home recordings would go so far!
Tell us about your new single “Save Me Maryann”. We hear it’s going to be released on limited-edition white vinyl!
I started writing “Save Me Maryann” after meeting a wonderful Norwegian girl named Marianne while visiting Bayreuth, Germany. I was travelling around Europe on my own, and after I had to leave Bayreuth and continue the journey I really missed her, and I kept calling her from various places in Germany… the whole experience was quite lonely and intense and I began to write this impossibly complicated song. It uses all sorts of musical and lyrical tricks to try to be as exciting as possible all the time – it took months to work it out. Unfortunately I couldn’t really sing and play the song without making a mess out of it, and it took the talents of Dan, Shawn, and Rus to make the song make such sense in Onward Chariots!
Do you have plans to release an album on Elefant next year?
It’s funny – that’s something we’ve barely thought about. Certainly Elefant has been absolutely excellent so far, and of course we’d love to do more with them! But right now we just want to focus on recording new material that builds and improves on what we’ve done before; it honestly seems that when we put our hearts into our music, people find it. Our other next goal is to get back to the UK, and also this time to visit our new friends in Spain!
Does each band member bring something different musically to the group?
Rus, our bassist, is an expert on modern jazz and says he rarely listens to rock music. When playing with Onward Chariots, he simply tries to imagine what would fit with what’s happening around him. He happens to also have a fantastic melodic sense, an amazingly dry sense of humour, and a collection of hip-hop from the Dirty South. Shawn, our guitarist, knows hip hop and classic soul music backwards and forwards – he is a contributor to rapgenius.com – and, as he plays bass in much of the rest of his life, he brings a tasteful restraint to his guitar parts. Dan, our drummer and sometime guitarist, records and produces all the group’s music, and as such is heavily involved in creating the band’s aesthetic. Keith, our touring drummer, is a recent transplant from Austin, Texas, where he played with more country bands than you could shake a stick it, even if you were inclined to shaking sticks at country bands.
I started out as a classical pianist and composer, transitioned to the world of punk, and then gradually discovered the joys of making gentler music. I’m a music nerd and when I hear music I like, whether it’s The Beatles, Sonic Youth or Puccini, I take it apart and try to figure out how it works, and then I wish I’d started a band like that. Right now I’m listening a lot to The Drums and wondering how it would be to write songs that played singing off of repeated melodic keyboard or guitar lines. And “Seven Miles Away” was inspired by an obsession with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. And listening to groups like Peter, Bjorn and John helped inspire the creation of the band.
You lodged a fund raising appeal to help pay for your flights to play at Indietracks this year. Did you enjoy the festival?
Even after our fundraiser, the trip to the UK still cost us gobs and gobs of money, but it was worth it. We felt incredibly fortunate to take part in an amazing, DIY festival where we met so many pleasant and talented people. For a new band like us to get to play at Indietracks, to drive around England and Scotland and play for appreciative audiences in places like Glasgow, Nottingham, and London, was a complete dream come true – completely unreal – and we can’t wait to come back to the UK!
You also played at the Athens Popfest this year. Do you prefer playing festivals to your own shows in Brooklyn?
We’ve been lucky to start this group in an era when it’s so easy to share music across the world. We love playing shows and we have indeed been known to play here in New York, but it’s honestly a lot more exciting to our music has made it to places like the UK, Brazil, Spain, and the Phillippines than to find out someone’s listening to it down the street.
We love playing Popfests because they give us an excuse to visit new places, because they feature bands we’re eager to see, and because we meet lots of nice people. We will be playing at the much closer Popfest! New England this weekend. After that, we’re going to focus on recording new songs and continuing to see what friends we can make internationally thanks to the Elefant single and our video. My goal right now is to find someone to help with European booking!
The last MJ Hibbett & the Validators release was the B-side compilation Forest Moon of Enderby. How did you come to choose these 13 songs from your vast catalogue?
We asked the following questions of all candidates: Is it currently available on a CD album? Does it only feature me? Is it a cover version? Does it concern itself with Christmas? If the answer to all four was “NO” then it got on – and if the only “YES” was to question two we stuck in on Hibbett’s Superstore, the additional album that comes on the CD extras which features, in the words of the Validators “all that rubbish you did without us.”
Do you have plans to put your cover of Allo Darlin’s “Dreaming” on any future releases? We think it’s awesome.
Thanks very much – I absolutely bloody love the Allo Darlin’ album, so recording that was an absolute joy! We do plan to do a whole album collecting up our covers some time (I am nothing if not tidy minded about my back catalogue) and “Dreaming” will definitely be on it. It’ll be a while yet before we do it though, there’s a big queue of things to get out of the way first!
Are you currently writing new material for your next studio album?
At the moment I’m working on the sequel to Dinosaur Planet, but there are a couple of possible Vlads songs seeping out. I don’t really have a “writing process” as such, I usually get an idea at the most inconvenient moment possible and then desperately rush to scribble it down, get it to demo stage within the next couple of days, and then spend several years tinkering with the lyrics. I put huge amounts of effort into getting the words exactly right… and then tend to record it in one or two takes!
You embarked on a tour promoting your “rock opera” Dinosaur Planet in August. How did you come up with the storyline?
I saw someone doing a terrible one-man version “War of the Worlds” once, thought “I could do better than that!” and decided to dig out this very vague idea I had for a science fiction blockbuster. All I had for a story was an astronomer whose Grandad was a disgraced archaeologist, and the rest of it gradually emerged through a combination of the “writing process” above and me thinking “What would be the coolest thing that could happen next?”
What plans do you have for the forthcoming shows across November and early 2011?
We’ve got all the travel and accommodation already booked for most of the remaining tour dates and so we’re basically planning to have efficiently, reasonably price travel to a range of venues where we hope to give a well rehearsed performance (with admittedly a bit of me dicking around) of a show we’ve come to thoroughly enjoy, before having a few more drinks and retiring. Don’t worry though – next year the Validators will be touring Dinosaur Planet and so we’ll be back to exploding venues, getting arrested on Autobahns and lock-in gigs 100 miles away from the nearest city!
You’ve been doing Totally Acoustic for a little while now. What was the idea behind putting on only acoustic gigs?
A few years ago I happened to do a few gigs in a row where the PA was so rubbish it was better not to use it and found myself suddenly liberated from soundchecks, dodgy PAs, shit sound and soundmen. It’s so much more fun to play without the artificial encumbrances of normal venues, the fact that there’s nothing between you and the audiences reminds everyone that you’re all in the same room, and it’s surprisingly easy to do – acoustic guitars are designed to be the right volume to go with the human voice, and the size of rooms you can do this sort of thing in are more than adequate to contain my audiences! Our last one of the year is Tuesday 21st December when we’ve got Andy Pocketbooks and Chris T-T playing. Next year I’m planning to do another run around March time.
You also run the Artists Against Success label. How did that come about and do you have any upcoming releases?
AAS was originally a way for me to get a couple of other people – Mr M Whitaker and Mr R Fleay – to help me put out a single. We had so much fun doing that (mostly due to our regular Board Meetings in the pub) that we decided to carry on and help other people put records out too. That was fantastic for several years, but then various life changes (not least my move to London, out of range of Board Meetings) made it less practical so we decided to jack it in while we were ahead. Now AAS is mostly back to its original function – putting out my records! Thus the next thing we release will be the next Validators album, the soundtrack for Dinosaur Planet.
Lastly, how’s your annual Christmas song coming along? We hear you’re making a stop motion animation video!
Yes, I spent all day yesterday moving tiny cardboard figures in very, very small increments, it did my head in! It looks lovely though, so hopefully it’ll be worth it. The song’s called “The 29th Day of December” and it’s a bit more traditional, less poppy, than previous years’ songs. It’s all about the day when you can finally relax and enjoy the time off work, once all the Christmas business is concluded, and I’m getting people to record their own voices for a mass choir. It should be out a couple of weeks before Christmas, along with a re-release for ALL of our Christmas songs on the bandcamp site called either Tipples and Nibbles or A Christmas Buffet from MJ Hibbett & the Validators. I told you there was a big queue of stuff to get released!
You recently released “Life Returns to Normal” as a limited edition 7” single. Tell us more about the track.
The track is originally from our debut album Criminal Art Lovers which we released earlier this year. It’s a lush guitar track with quite a nice guitar theme, which Michael who plays drums in the band has written. The lyrics are pretty straightforward. I don’t know exactly which song it was but the inspiration for the guitar intro came from The Clientele.
On the B-side there’s a cover version of the 80s Cliff Richard hit “Some People” which was recorded for a project called Rewind some time back. The track has been remixed for the 7”. The idea of the Rewind project was that a number of bands including us were asked to record a cover version of our own choice only condition was that it had to be from the 80s. We did consider quite a few different songs, including Blondie’s “Picture This” – but then we found out it was released in ’79 so we settled with Sir Cliff.
You were signed by Matinée just two months after the band formed. That’s pretty impressive, how did it come about?
Well, it happened quite straight forward, actually. We’d recorded three tracks and put them on a MySpace page. When Matinée Recordings contacted us, there had already been some interest from a couple of German labels, but since we hadn’t reached any agreement we went along with Matinée, which we’re of course very pleased with. It’s a remarkable label.
How pleased were you with the critical reaction to The Fallen Aristocracy and Napoleon Sweetheart EPs?
We were really pleased because we hadn’t expected anything. Both EPs got some enormously kind words thrown after them. And when I occasionally get exposed to some of the songs I actually think they sound quite charming. So hopefully the people who liked them when they bought them haven’t grown too tired of them.
How is the song writing divided within the band? Was it an easy process writing and recording Criminal Art Lovers?
I write most of the songs and Michael who plays drums has contributed some nice songs too, amongst others our latest single. Most songs are written during the recording process, I mean, we don’t normally have a complete song with guitar themes, lyrics, even melody when we start recording. The normal thing is just to have some guideline melody parts and then build it from there. This is somewhat different from when I used to write songs earlier where I would write complete songs before doing anything. Recording Criminal Art Lovers, or rather finishing the record was a slightly long and heavy process because it was done on some rather primitive equipment in a bedroom.
What is the rest of the Danish musical landscape like currently? Are there any other standout bands?
The musical landscape in Denmark in general is rubbish. There’s not a single band in the charts that I can even bear listening to. There are however some very nice indiepop bands around; Ampel, Sockpuppets, and the Roadside Poppies. If you’re interested in Danish music, I’d definitely go for something a bit older. My recommendations would be: Kliché, Lars Hug, Gangway, Love Shop, Trains and Boats and Planes, and The Poets.
The designs of your record sleeves are extremely aesthetically pleasing. Is it something that you take great care over?
Thank you. Well, the sleeve for the first single seemed obligatory: The man covering his face is an infamous Danish killer who shot four police officers in the 60s. Apart from that he’s known for being the person in recent Danish history that’s spent the longest time in prison. One day just before forming Northern Portrait I was standing just in front of him in a supermarket line, and I went home and found this photo, which I find quite intriguing. It’s of course no celebration, just a nice photo. For the Napoleon Sweetheart EP we used a face too, this time a local beauty. For the album we thought it would be nice to have a modernistic building because we’re all quite into architecture (actually, two band members are architects and one has two architect parents). For the latest single Jimmy Tassos from Matinée Recordings designed this very nice sleeve based on the Volvo line from “Life Returns to Normal”. So I suppose we do try to make them look nice, yes.
When you DJed for us at the club in September your set was a mixture of 80s indiepop and mid-90s British bands. Is that where your influences lay?
The musical highlight of my life was probably the nineties when it was business as usual to go and see Pulp or some of those other brilliant groups or buying Sleeper’s new album. The whole Britpop thing was probably a bit of an over statement but if I were to take 10 records to a dessert island, I guess more than half would be from that era. So basically the mid-90s British bands are probably my main influence, both musically and aesthetically. And I still regard my first time seeing Pulp as the best concert I’ve ever been to. Indiepop is of course another major influence on me. These days that’s my main musical interest.
Speaking of that occasion, you had just got off the train after playing a solo set at Nottingham Popfest. Had you played in Nottingham before?
It went very well indeed. I’d played a solo set the night before in London too. Unfortunately I didn’t have very much time in Nottingham but we have been there before with Northern Portrait. It’s a really lovely town, and since I’ve now been there four or five times and stayed some days I think I’m beginning to find my way round town.
In the early days of the band Viv Strachan sang whilst you were on guitar. As the band’s main songwriter, how did the transition to lead singer come about?
It came about because Viv quit the band quite suddenly. She had never been very comfortable singing live and decided that she didn’t want to do it anymore. When it happened we had two gigs in quick succession so I stepped in. I hadn’t ever sung in public before so I pretty much thought that we’d do these two gigs, everyone would hate it and that would be that for me and the band. As it turned out it went better than we expected, I decided to write a whole new bunch of songs that suited me and my voice as opposed to Viv’s and it really went from there.
John Peel was an early supporter of the group. What was it like playing his sessions? I’m particularly interested in the Christmas special you played.
The Christmas special was our third or fourth Peel session. We had played in Berlin a couple of days before and had bumpy flights both ways. We flew back into Stansted late at night and drove through the snow to a hotel near Peel Acres. The next day we drove through snowy countryside to the house where we met up with John and Sheila, their family and friends, Laura Cantrell and her husband and guitarist. We basically convened in John’s study/studio at one end of the house to the record the sessions, and moved along the hall to the front room to record the Christmas carols. It was an incredibly happy night, warm, friendly and filled with good food and drink. It is hard to describe it beyond that, but it was one of the best nights of my life.
How did David Shrigley come to design the artwork for A Guide for the Daylight Hours?
Elizabeth McLean has designed all of the Ballboy albums and we were putting the artwork together, but didn’t have a central image. I’d spoken to a student from the Edinburgh College of Art about using a photo image of the interior of a train, but she wanted over £1,000 for its use and we couldn’t afford that so I wrote to David to ask about the possibility of putting a wee booklet of his drawings inside the album. I’d had no reply and had just about given up when I got an email to say that we could do it. Elizabeth pressed me to cheekily ask whether we could use an image on the cover too and he very kindly agreed. He was incredibly generous.
In 2008 you composed the soundtrack for the Traverse Theatre Company production of Midsummer (A Play with Songs) by David Greig. Was this something you’d always wanted to do?
It’s not something I had planned. The opportunity came up to collaborate with David and we just took it from there. We developed it in small chunks over time alongside the two actors and the stage designer and then it had its premiere in November of 2008. It was a totally different way of working from being in a band and I’m as proud of it as I am of any of my albums. It has gone onto do great things and is about to return to London for two months through December and January at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.
You put out an album under the name Money Can’t Buy Music with Maja Mångård last year. How did you come to collaborate with her? What were the ideas behind forming the band?
I wanted to explore home-recording and electronic music, but wanted to stay close to what I knew which was songwriting and spoken word and so I started to learn how to use Pro-tools and Reason at home. The Money Can’t Buy Music Project was an extension of that really. It was a case of testing myself to write, record and mix a project from start to finish and I roped in Maja and a couple of other people to help along the way. I would like to do another one, but between Midsummer, Ballboy and everyday life I don’t know when that may be!
You were recently involved in the running of Edinburgh Popfest 2010. How did you come to be involved?
We just decided, after being lucky enough to play at the London, New York and San Francisco Popfests that we would put on our own version and get people to come enjoy our city and put on some great bands. It went really well and we had a great time and both the bands and the crowds seemed to enjoy themselves. Standout moments for me were seeing the Suburban Kids With Biblical Names again and Bobby Baby’s acoustic set on the Sunday. My one regret is seeing less of the bands than I could have because I had to go help out at three Midsummer performances as our lead actor had lost his voice and couldn’t sing the songs.
You play live sporadically. Do you have any upcoming gigs planned?
We are playing a Christmas show in December with the fabulous Kid Canaveral and then we’ll start to plan next year. We are busy writing the new Ballboy album at the moment so that takes priority.
When can we expect a new Ballboy LP?
Next year, but I can’t say when. For the first time since the first Ballboy album I’m not setting a deadline. I am just enjoying writing the songs and thinking through the broad scope of how the album will sound. I know that sounds a bit like I’m saying wait and see, but, well, wait and see I guess!
On your new album Losing Sleep, you collaborated with The Cribs’ Ryan Jarman and Johnny Marr, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy, The Drums and Aztec Camera’s Roddy Frame. How did that come about?
Ryan is in my studio all the time, he’s like family. He did the very first collaboration. The Franz Ferdinand lads, I know them and bumped into them at a festival and we arranged to get together. Roddy is my oldest friend, from Postcard days. Romeo and I know each other. We’re on Heavenly together and The Drums became friends with my son, Will first. They like early Orange Juice and we decided to do a song together. And Johnny was the last thing. He had a song idea up his sleeve and also the title, “Come Tomorrow, Come Today”.
You won an Ivor Novello award last year for your song writing. How did it feel to be recognised in that way?
I loved it. What a day, what an honour. It’s special because it’s for songwriting and comes from other songwriters. I’m proud of my songs.
The Byrds, Chic, Motown and The Velvet Underground were all mentioned as influences on Orange Juice. Who are the influences your song writing these days?
It’s all from my head, from my experience, no particular influences are needed. There is so much music in my brain.
Tell us about the seven-disc Orange Juice box-set Coals to Newcastle. Was it something that you helped put together with the rest of the band?
Mostly it was done by Kris Gillespie of Domino in the US. A labour of love, he had to track down all the masters, piece it all together. We own the recordings, so that makes it easier.
Domino are also re-releasing the Orange Juice back catalogue in 2011. Will the albums be put out in an expanded version?
Not sure, but Domino always do things in a gorgeous way, extra things that people want, all of that.
Do you look back at the bands time on Postcard Records fondly? What was it like alongside Josef K, Aztec Camera and The Go-Betweens?
I do, but it was a long time ago. I love all the records, I have my memories, but I’m not much of a nostalgist. The future is what matters to me, getting on with it.
With such big hits as “Rip It Up” and “A Girl Like You”, which of your records are you most proud of?
Usually the last one, the one I’m promoting. Especially Losing Sleep though, as I thought I couldn’t write or perform again. It’s a miracle record to me. I hear it and I think, “I did it. I’m back.”
After watching the Home Again documentary [which detailed Edwyn’s recovery from illness] illustrating seemed to help you in many ways. You had your first book of illustrations released last year. Tell us more about that. Is it something you do on a daily basis alongside music?
Yes, daily, when I am at home or my life is less busy than it is now. I love to draw, it’s therapy for me. I’m developing and changing all the time. I had to relearn, to teach my left hand.
Looking back on your career, do you have one defining standout moment?
Yes. The night I stepped back onstage at Dingwalls in London, during the BBC Electric Proms, for the first time since my illness. I was scared as hell at first, but the audience was willing me on and by the third song, I could feel it. I can do this, it will be fine.