Max Jury

My Interview with Max Jury

The new album is out today – June 3!

This was a really fun interview to do – sometimes you feel like you could just keep talking about anything with someone.

Max Jury is an old soul. There’s something about his music that conjures up a sense of time and space, fading photographs and late-night diary entries. Call it the measure of things lost, or the sonic equivalent of broken down signposts on an empty highway running through a landscape that no one visits anymore. But the songs aren’t about the past. At age 23, Jury reveals a restlessness and a sharp new vantage point on emotions that hurtle through us in life like love, loneliness, and confusion. Winning praise for his careful weaving of melody and lyricism, Jury has been touring the US and Europe, supporting musicians like Lana Del Rey. Now his first full self-titled solo album is coming out in June. It’s a collection of intimate songs, describing a view of the world that’s both bruised and hopeful, born out of the experiences and observations of the Iowa-raised Jury. Northern Transmissions was able to catch up with the singer-songwriter as he began a tour of the UK and Europe. Alice Severin talked to Max Jury about songwriting, recording, and finding inspiration.

Northern Transmissions: How are you and where are you?

Max Jury: Good. I’m in London. I got back, maybe about a week ago? I can’t remember, it’s all blurred together, but yeah, I’ve been here for about a week.

NT: And you are based over there now?

MJ: I mean, kind of. I’m stationed here for the time being, at least for the next couple of months. Just while I’m touring the UK and Europe. I’m just renting a room right now, kind of living the transient life a little bit.

NT: And you’re heading over to Paris as well.

MJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

NT: And the new album is out June 3. How are you feeling?

MJ: Good, you know. I’m happy that it’s finally done, and finally getting out there. It’s been kind of a long time coming. I’ve had the idea to cut this record for probably three or four years. So it’s surreal, that the whole process is wrapping up and about to enter the world, and be open to, you know, all the various praises and criticisms. (laughing) Yeah, it’s exciting though.

NT: You released a couple of EPs before. And you’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. You have this wonderful sound. I’m not going to say the word retro, I’m throwing that out.

MJ: Oh, thanks. You can say whatever you want. (laughing)

NT: There’s a really lovely spaciousness to the sound, which is a wonderful thing, because so many albums are just so…excessively produced.

MJ: Well, thank you.

NT: Do you think about production and finding space? Is it something that comes naturally to you, or is it part of the way you write songs?

MJ: Yeah, that’s a great question. And absolutely. I think, ever since I started writing, when I first started writing, I always liked playing with space. And not necessarily emptiness, but leaving things open and giving certain instruments and certain lyrics and certain melodies a chance to breathe and shine. So I guess when I am in the studio, I am very cautious not to overdo it or produce it. I tend to think that the simpler is better, and then add things on until it sounds right, as opposed to just trying to put everything you possibly can into it. I like music that is sort of, I don’t want to say basic, but just well-performed and very emotional, but not too busy. That’s the kind of music I grew up listening to and loving, and I guess I wanted to reflect that in my record a little bit. So yeah, totally.

NT: The album does have this soulful feel. And you started out recording it at Electric Lady Studios in NYC, but I guess there was a bit of a mishap there?

MJ: Yeah, there was a minor hiccup. Yeah, something like that. We had a candle wax incident. But you know, it ended up turning out all right. I think in the end, it was probably for the best. I think the time I spent there was certainly really inspiring, and I guess I just learned so much about, I don’t know, the production process, and I guess I was able to take that with me, take it home to finish the record. But that was a great experience, just to be in a studio with all that history, all that musical heritage, and just like, you know, stand on the same floor as some of your heroes. That was really cool, and something I never thought would really happen.

NT: That’s true – so many amazing musicians have worked there. But then you went to North Carolina, and you met up with these local musicians, who seemed to give you a lot of inspiration.

MJ: Yeah, yeah – it’s a funny story, actually. So basically, we had four or five songs from Electric Lady, and we were going to go do it in North Carolina, because my friend and bass player, Stacy, he has a home set up there. And it’s a really nice home set up, you know, I don’t want to undersell it, because his dad is an avid musician himself, in his free time, and he’s recently retired. And his retirement project was setting up this home studio, so he could play around and record some stuff. So they opened their doors to me and I went down there. You know, I can play piano, and a little bit of guitar, and Stacy can play drums and bass, and all these things, but we really couldn’t finish the record just the two of us, you know. We didn’t have, I guess, everything we needed. We couldn’t pull that off.

So we were looking on YouTube for just like random people in the area who might be able to help. And we came across this guy named Jackson Russell, who basically was the musical director of a local church just outside of town, in a really small town. And we saw him play guitar and sing, and it was very religious music, but you know, he was really amazing. So we reached out and were like, would you want to come and maybe play around a bit and see if this is something you’re interested in and we’re interested in, and maybe we can schedule some time. So he came over, and played guitar, and we were blown away. And then he was just playing around, and he gets on the drums, and wow, he’s really good at drums too – a lot better than Stacy – shoot. And then he gets on the piano, and it’s like, oh shit, he’s really really good at piano, a lot better than me, maybe he should just play everything. (laughing) But he came and he really helped tie the album together and play the parts we couldn’t quite figure out. And he’s like, yeah, I’ve got a couple of cousins too, do you want them to come sing? So he came with his two cousins, and together we worked on arranging some vocal harmony parts and they just really glued the record together. You know, I think without him it certainly wouldn’t have been possible to make sense of what we did at Electric Lady and then what we did in North Carolina, so it was just a lucky thing.

It’s funny – it’s really fascinating to me, that obviously at Electric Lady, if you hire session musicians or whatever that they recommend, they’re going to be top notch players, but you know at the same time, there’s just this guy who’s a musical director at a church in small town North Carolina, and he’s just as good, and probably better. It’s just kind of crazy that people like that exist outside the limelight. He was just such a force, you know, he just lived and breathed music. It was really inspiring to work with him, so that was a real treat.

NT: That’s a brilliant story. I think it really underlines something so true, that anything creative, particularly things like music, it’s a different set of skills than what it may take to get ahead. So it’s not necessarily the case that the best musicians are always the ones in city centers, though that frequently is the case.

MJ: Yeah, exactly. That’s kind of why I thought it was interesting too. It’s like – he just has it in him. And maybe he doesn’t have it in him to go play guitar with John Mayer, but he’s definitely the best musician I’ve ever worked with. It was amazing.

NT: You had musical training – you went to Berklee. But apparently you were also thinking about being a writer, and that seems to come up in the lyrics. Do you think you approach the lyrics differently because of that background? There is a line in “Grace” that I really liked: “Stuck yourself in a world that doesn’t care for you” a way of shaping something that a lot of people experience.

MJ: Well, thanks.

NT: What comes first, the lyrics or the music?

MJ: You know, sometimes the lyrics come first, and sometimes the instrumentation or the melody comes first. I feel like, I don’t want to say the really good ones, but the ones I feel most proud of, kind of all happen at the same time. They feel a bit more like a gift than something you had to work on. That’s the best feeling. I wish I knew what caused that, I’d do it more often. But that’s the best feeling. And I think, I’m pretty particular, I guess, with my lyrics. I definitely spend the most time on them, revising them, and making sure that for me at least, personally, that they sound right. That they roll off the tongue nicely, but that they also have, you know, some sort of depth, or are attempting to be kind of poetic. I don’t know, you know, just doing my best. But definitely that’s where I focus a lot of my energy. And I guess I don’t think a song’s finished until I’m really happy with the lyrics. So I definitely approach songwriting, I think, from a lyrical perspective. Because, you know, a lot of my favorite songs, even if it’s something like “Idiot Wind” by Bob Dylan – which I’ve been listening to a lot lately – it’s just 8 minutes of lyrics. I think my favorite part of songs are the lyrics, definitely.

NT: You talked about Joni Mitchell being one of your favorites as well.

MJ: Yeah, she is one of my heroes. I love her writing style, and I love the way she kind of shifted from Laurel Canyon kind of folkie in the early 70s, then she got jazz fusion-y and then on The Hissing of Summer Lawns she got weird a little bit. And I really like that. And lyrically – I idolize her. Amazing.

NT: There’s a real intelligence in your lyrics that is a bit rare nowadays.

MJ: Well, thank you, that’s nice of you to say. I do think about it a lot, so that’s nice to hear.

NT: I know I’m one of those people who listens to something, and I may like the song, but then I’ve got to close my ears to some of the lyrics.

MJ: Yeah, totally. I think that’s what I was trying to say earlier. Maybe the chords aren’t right, or whatever, but if the lyrics strike you as off, or wrong, it can turn you off immediately. Totally.

NT: You are going to be doing a lot of touring. How do you like playing live, and what is your setup for the tour?

MJ: The set up varies, but for this tour it’s mostly a four piece, so I’ll be on keys, and acoustic, and I’ll have an electric guitar player and a drummer and a bass player. And then on some of shows in the bigger cities, like London and Paris, I think we’re going to have some background singers too. So that’s going to be the setup for the full tour in May. But I play shows every once in a while by myself. Like last night I played with Big Moon and Mystery Jets. Just went up by myself and started things off for them, which was really fun, you know? Both really great bands. So I do both, it depends on the situation and all that.

NT: What made you start playing piano? There’s something about piano that has both rhythm and melody that makes it the perfect solo instrument.

MJ: Yeah, yeah, I agree. I started, you know, because my parents made me as a kid, and I probably wanted to be doing something else, like playing basketball, or going to the mall or something. But they made me, and I reluctantly did it in my childhood, and then when I turned 13 or 14, I was getting a bit moodier – I really want to be a songwriter. I fell back on that. So I’m really grateful that they made me do that. I can’t read music, so I always struggled taking piano lessons as a kid, because my brain didn’t really work that way, so I always felt I wasn’t very good or I was behind because I just couldn’t read music for whatever reason, and the other kids could read music. And then I guess I discovered this concept of learning by ear, chords and jazz lead sheets, and kind of figuring out melodies by ear, and learning different chord charts, and how to accompany yourself if you’re writing a song. For whatever reason, that connected with my brain more, and I was able to pick that style of learning and playing up a lot quicker.

NT: If you don’t read music, then obviously you’ve got a fantastic ear. In some ways, maybe that’s better – because you’re listening all the time, rather than reading.

MJ: Yeah, a lot of listening and studying songwriters, and their little tricks. How they build songs from a structural standpoint.

NT: You grew up in the Midwest. Two questions really – what do you think influenced you in a good way from growing up there, and do you think your next record is going to reflect more of the changes and travelling you’ve been able to do?

MJ: Oh, cool questions, yeah. Yeah, I think the first record is influenced by where I grew up and the kind of music I was surrounded by. Whether it was the kind of bands I was playing with, or sort of the people I looked up to on the local scene, you know, just a lot of Rolling Stones, early Bruce Springsteen, The Byrds, it’s just what was going on and what was popular and what I was influenced by. And also, you know, maybe even geographically a little bit. We talked about spacing earlier, and there’s just so much, where I’m from, open space and nothingness in Iowa. And if I want to get a little cheesy, it could get into the music a bit. That bareness of the landscape. And the second part of your question about the next record – I’ve started writing a little bit, but I think it will sound different. I think it’s just inevitable. You hear different kinds of music, you’re with different kinds of people. I think at the core it will be similar, still be my voice and my style, but I think it will be different. I don’t know how yet, but.

NT: You’ve got a great vocal range. And at times it sounds as though it could be male, it could be female, which is really interesting.

MJ: Thanks. Yeah, it is kind of androgynous. You should have heard me before I went through puberty (laughing) I sounded like a little school girl. Yeah, I’ve always had a higher voice. I don’t know why that is, but I guess I’ve tried to embrace it, you know, and not try to sing like the guy from the Crash Test Dummies or something. (laughing)

NT: Your voice seems to match what you are singing about lyrically too. It follows it musically, lyrically. When it’s vulnerable, your voice sounds vulnerable, and things that seem more serious, or harder edged, or that deal with suffering, your voice seems deeper, lower.

MJ: Yeah, I guess I think about that a little bit, and try to suit the content of the lyrics with how I sing. And that’s something I felt I hadn’t done a very good job of up until the record – dynamics within the recording, and I wanted to make sure that this record had a large range of dynamics, both in volume and in tempo too as well.

NT: Are you going to come back and do some touring in the States?

MJ: Yeah, I think so. I think we’re doing stuff in September, and possibly a few things this summer, like residencies or showcases in New York and LA, but definitely September we are planning on a US tour.

NT: And five albums that you return to.

MJ: Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan. That’s definitely one that’s really important.
Call Me – Al Green.
Court and Spark – Joni Mitchell. It’s hard to pick a certain record, but if I had to pick one it would probably be that one. It’s one of my favorites.
After the Gold Rush – Neil Young.
Talking Book – Stevie Wonder. Or just that period of Stevie Wonder in general. It’s something I could listen to all day and never get tired of.

Interview by Alice Severin

Link to Max Jury website

Interview with Fred Macpherson of Spector

A very enjoyable interview with the affable, sharp, and nicely bittersweet Fred Macpherson, who also wins a prize for his Twitter tribute to the great Alan Rickman. 

 

Spector. The Guardian described them as being “somewhere between Roxy Music and The Strokes”. Enjoy It While It Lasts, their first album, stormed through the UK charts. “All the Sad Young Men”, the first single off the second album, was Zane Lowe’s hottest record in the world. They’ve played Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds. How to follow up? Well, August saw the release of Moth Boys, album number two that takes all the promise of the first and builds from there. Sharp and witty lyrics that unveil a laser vision of life burn through a mix of pop and rock that frequently soars, showcasing a clever reworking of 80s influence. Spector, and their front man, Fred Macpherson, deliver hook filled choruses and melancholy moments with a decisive boldness. When they arrived in New York City a couple of weeks ago, Spector played a storming set at Mercury Lounge that saw the usually tough crowd seduced by the sheer energy and verve of the singer and the band. Northern Transmissions wanted to hear from Spector about their year. Alice Severin talked to Fred Macpherson about the album, his influences, and plans for the future.

Northern Transmissions: Hi, how are you doing and where are you this morning?

Fred Macpherson: I’m good, thank you. I’m in London, in my house. I’m trying to meet my cousin online. Which is quite a good way to waste the morning, especially if you could see the weather in London right now. But I imagine New York isn’t much better.

NT: It’s not too bad here. And you’ve had terrible weather over there. Big storms.

FM: Yeah, it’s not great.

NT: Over here, we’re just having global warming. So it’s 60 in December. So thanks so much for doing this. I saw you at Mercury Lounge – was it just last week?

FM: It was, yeah. This time last week.

NT: How was it for you, and how was the New York trip?

FM: I really enjoyed it, actually. We very much enjoyed it. That night…we were in celebratory mood after the gigs, it was our last gig of the year. And then kind of…the wheels fell off a bit later in the evening and I ended up…I don’t know what. (laughs) But it was a great night. We really enjoyed the show. The NY crowd was quite sympathetic. I thought people might be, one of those cities where people can just kind of stand still and you really need to convince them. It seemed like people were quite warm, actually.

NT: I think that can definitely be true. I thought you were quite convincing though – there was a tremendous amount of energy that you all had.

FM: Thank you very much I think so much of gigs just depend on the people who are there really. Like we played in Brooklyn on Tuesday and it was a completely different vibe. It was fun. But Thursday it felt quite special, I guess. Like what one would want for your first gig in a city like that, or a country that you’ve kind of grown up knowing a lot about and being a big fan of. It was exciting.

NT: It’s a huge thing. I always think it’s kind of fascinating because you come over from the UK, you’ve played big festivals, Reading and Leeds and then to move to a small club. What does that feel like?

FM: It’s quite good. We have the same thing like when we go to other places, like countries in Europe where we don’t play to that many people. So we’re kind of used to playing to bigger crowds and small crowds. And actually sometimes it’s more humanizing and more real just playing to a small room without a big light show. Because it makes it more about you and the music and it’s fun to have to prove yourself to people rather than just being complacent and resting on your laurels.

NT: The new album – Moth Boys – I wanted to ask you more about that. But first of all – is it going to be released over here?

FM: It is. We’re just kind of working out what’s going on with what we’re going to release where, as in which label. So we just need to sort out the boring stuff, and it will get an official release. I think it’s on iTunes and Spotify now. What we might do is a kind of compilation of some of our best songs from both albums, which might be something cool to do to kind of bring people up to speed.

NT: Yes – because your first album was fairly huge in the UK.

FM: Yeah, it was quite big. I don’t know about huge, but it seemed to…people were aware of it. I think this album is a nice step on musically, and so we just need to keep working to get people hearing our songs. I think especially a song like “All the Sad Young Men” which is the first track on it, and probably the best song we’ve done, so. We just need to keep working hard to keep getting the music out there, and get people hearing it, I guess.

NT: And Dev Hynes co-produced the album with you.

FM: He did, three or four songs. He co-wrote a song on it called “Cocktail Party”, he co-wrote a song called “Decade of Decay”. He kind of had an influence on it production wise, and writing wise. But we also worked with two producers in London called Duncan Mills and Adam Jeffrey, who we had met through various people. But the thrust of a lot of the production was done by ourselves at home. It was quite a long journey from beginning to end and often we were kind of carried by ourselves which was good, and there were great influences from people like Dev along the way.

NT: How do you go about the process of it all? Does it depend on the song?

FM: Yeah, it does, because we, especially on this album we have more of us writing songs. But my process generally is working on instrumentals at my flat in London under my bed where I have a very, very small studio set-up. I don’t even know if it could be described as a studio, but a computer and speakers and microphones and a piano. And I kind of just start making bits of music, and then I persevere with the ones I like. And then I write loads of lyrics all the time on my phone. And when I feel a song is worthy of completion, then I start putting lyrics into it and vocal melodies. It’s a slightly disjointed collage-y kind of process. I don’t sit down with a guitar and write a song from beginning to end. But I think the style in which we write suits the lyrical content and mood, fragmented, momentary thoughts or musings on different bits of what life is.

NT: Your lyrics are quite unique in a way because you incorporate regular, day to day phrases and things that people say in this way that’s very ironic and witty.

FM: Yeah, I think that’s been influenced by things like Twitter, and text messages, and the way I communicate with people on the internet. And the phone stuff. Because it creates a kind of, what’s the word for it – aphorisms – little one liners, trying to say things, like quips, kind of thing. And that, as I grew up, even before I was making music, it was always kind of jokes and one-liners that were what I got the most of joy out of. So I think it’s just taking that approach of like kind of how people make jokes on the internet or how they communicate with each other on the internet through these kind of short, witty lines. That’s kind of what’s been as big a lyrical inspiration as lyricists and musicians I love.

NT: Some of the lines…it’s almost a little like Oscar Wilde in a sense, but very modern.

FM: Yeah, and when you read something like Oscar Wilde now, it sounds a stupid thing to say, but you can see how much he would have loved something like Twitter, this outlet for smart, funny one-liners. And for me, lyrics don’t always have to be one-liners, but it’s just a good chance to say something honest. And if you say it in a funny way, sometimes that makes it something – like with dark subject matter, you get to engage with it.

NT: You grew up in London.

FM: Yeah, I was born in London, I’ve never really lived anywhere else. It’s probably about time I should.

NT: What was it like for you growing up there? Do you think that coming from London, gives you a certain world view?

FM: Potentially, yeah. I think I didn’t realize when I was young that I guess growing up in a city like that is quite a unique thing, or potentially privileged. It gives you, doesn’t it, a certain outlook to what a lot of people have. And now, being this age, I realize how few people who I know were actually born in London, who live in London now. But I think England has had a bigger influence on me than London, although obviously being amongst the kind of… It’s so densely populated and so many buildings, there’s been a kind of urban influence, but for me, the influence is really England and its humor. It’s the most important thing to me about being English and a kind of ability to laugh, even in the darkest situations, and a kind of irony and just a sense of humor that I think helps carry the whole, everyone, through all sorts of situations, going back to world wars or whatever. Sometimes English people aren’t as emotional as they could be, maybe, but I think it’s definitely shaped my world view. I know I feel that more when I speak to American people. And you realize that even though on paper we’re so similar and we speak the same language, we have the same culture in terms of a lot of the music and cinema and stuff. But actually England is quite is kind of unique place. Not without its problems, obviously, but I think I like the kind of attitudes that we have here.
NT: So are there plans to come back over here and do some more touring?

FM: Yeah, I think it’s just…depends on who wants to see us and whether it’s cost-effective and everything, because I know English bands who bankrupt themselves touring America just for the sake of doing it, just to kind of prove something to themselves. And I think we’re quite keen, it took us a few years to get back to America. We’re just conscious that we only want to go to places when people want to see us rather than necessarily kind of forcing ourselves upon people. But we’ve got visas now, so I hope we’ll be back in America next year.

NT: Tell me more about the album and writing the songs. Is there one song that was particularly easy or difficult that stands out?

FM: Some come really quickly. There’s a song called “Don’t Make Me Try” which is one of my favorites and one of the most honest songs on the album. And that I wrote in a few minutes – it just came out. Like a few chords, and all the lyrics came pretty much immediately. Then there’s one’s like “All the Sad Young Men” where we wrote the music of it quickly but the lyrics we agonized over and were still changing single words right up until the last couple of days of recording. And then there’s a song called “Lately It’s You” on the album, that it ends with, that I’ve had in kind of fragmented forms for years, even before our first album. These bits of kind of electronic choir chords and stuff, and melodies. I’d been writing all these bits never really knowing what to do with them. And I had the idea to put them all together, because I felt that lyrically, it could act as a good conclusion to the record. So it’s a kind of boring thing to say, but sometimes songs come really fast and sometimes you have to agonize over them. I think the way we write isn’t always very helpful, because we don’t have someone writing a song on guitar and then taking it to the band, saying let’s learn the song. We are kind of sometimes slowed down by our songwriting process being quite blocky, in terms of building things up from lots of different strands of ideas and samples and drum loops and stuff put together on computers and then almost kind of deconstructing them. Our writing style is quite digital, you know, the lyrics are all quite personal. We don’t write as a band and we don’t write in the traditional way, guitar piano, but maybe we’ll begin to absorb a bit more of that as we go on and make it, make the process a bit more human. Because the process always has a big effect on the vinyl thing.

NT: Are there influences that you think of, or does everything come together in a big melting pot?

FM: Well, I mean, there’s influences, but I think some of our influences we don’t necessarily sound like. You have Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits – those kind of lyricists, but also modern, more pop hip hop stuff like Drake and Kanye West. I like characters in music, where any song you listen to you feel like you’re tuning in to some part of the story, whether it’s them telling their story or someone else’s story, more in your Nick Cave and Tom Waits’ case. But someone like Drake, I feel like every time he puts a song out he just gets another angle on his life or another piece. And that kind of inspires me. Even listening to Frank Sinatra, whose subject matter was essentially the same for fifty years. It never worries me, writing songs about the same thing because I think there’s always another way to say it. It’s kind of not what you say, but how you say it. My biggest influences are artists who kind of have careers that feel like they just continue to unfold even when they are singing about the same stuff.

NT: It’s a progression. What you’ve learned.

FM: Yeah. Variations on a theme.

NT: Your stage presence is very interesting. And the image is obviously different from the standard front man, out there. But you also have these elements of intimacy and theatrical intensity. I wanted to ask if you had any background in theatre at all.

FM: Well, a lot of my family are actors. And two of my cousins are actors. My grandparents both worked in films. I was never planning on doing it but there was kind of always a sense of just showing off in our family. And entertainment. Especially growing up. I had four cousins and my brother, and we kind of just spent a lot of time trying to entertain each other and trying to create these kind of …as I’m sure a lot of kids do, you’re making films or putting on plays, making bands and writing songs, even going back to when we were like 4 or 5 years old. And I guess some people grow out of that, and maybe I didn’t. But also the people I love on stage, once you bring that kind of theatricality, people like Nick Cave, where it really feels like you’re getting more than just a band playing songs but someone trying to tell a story, physically as well, I guess. So it was never kind self-conscious, that there would be a theatrical influence, but I think that’s just where my style fits naturally. Like I don’t think I’m a kind of “sexy pop star” so I can’t really play it in that way. I think it’s more, I think I have strengths in other places, more just kind of trying to work out how to tell the story in a way that’s personal to us, and human.

NT: It’s funny, I saw Nick Cave playing solo, a show at Town Hall, and he’s definitely one of these people who has presence, even simply coming out onto the stage. When I think of theatricality, that’s what I mean. And I think you have that. You come out and the stage gets smaller – and you get bigger.

FM: Haha. Well, that’s nice of you to say. You were lucky to see us at a good gig. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. I do see a concert in a sense as an event, especially if people are paying for it. And also especially when you’re on tour, you’re offstage 23 hours a day and you’re onstage for one. So it’s kind of like your only real chance to exhibit the things you believe are the most important in the world. So it’s not an opportunity that you really want to waste. That sounds a bit pretentious. Obviously it’s still entertainment, but if there’s an hour in every day to entertain then I think, yeah, you’re going to try and take the bull by the horns, as it were.

NT: You had said, which I really liked, ‘it’s the journalist’s job to theorize about the musicians, and not the musician’s job to theorize about what the journalist is thinking.’ It seems now that artists are asked to do everything. They’re going to do their own PR, they’re going to tell their own story, their own meta-narrative to the whole thing. Do you think that the constant stream of comments that’s out there makes it trickier to be creative?

FM: I think it makes it trickier for the audience to take the creativity at face value. Because it’s been filtered through a constant stream of comments. I think it only makes it more difficult for the person being creative if they’re aware and they engage in that stream of commentary. And in the past, I’m sure we’ve been guilty, as many people have and will be, of kind of tuning into that stream. And when you do, that’s dangerous. Undoubtedly, we, and many artists, will be at their most creative when they’re at their most disengaged with all the feedback. But that’s what’s getting harder and harder to do. Especially with the all the technology that’s at our fingertips the whole time. And so my goal for the next year is to just try and disengage a bit more with that whole stream and engage more personally with the creative element and not…kind of almost not be hearing that feedback the whole time. That background noise. Because it’s can be pretty tough to take if you try to engage in it all. It’s like in The Man Who Fell to Earth, when David Bowie watches like 10 TVs at the same time. It’s too much. It’s like, you should never google yourself because you just fall down a kind of rabbit hole. The opinions of your friends and family and a critic or something that’s personal to you, what they say might mean something to you. But how can everything that everyone thinks about you hold meaning? It would be like saying everyone has a right to define a color in their way. Or a flower, or whatever. Everyone’s going to see it slightly differently. And that’s a great thing. And it’s great for audiences, in some ways, to be able to communicate their feelings about music and art, because it allows underground things to really spread as well. But, yeah, I’m trying to engage in that less, even though I find the internet so addictive.

NT: It really is. I agree with you. Because everyone’s got a different opinion, you can’t possibly take it all in. It drives you mad. And gets you further away from what you were thinking on your own, which is what got you there in the first place.

FM: Yeah.

NT: Are you working on new music at the moment?

FM: Yeah, we’re writing now. And next year, depending on what we wrote, we’ll work out what and how, where, and when it will get released. But I still kind of feel like there’s still work to do on this second album to spread the songs. But yeah, we’re writing and we’re starting to think about what direction we would move in and what the next thing we want to say is, I guess.

NT: And five albums that you return to.

FM: Alright.

Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden
It’s one that…I just think it’s one of the best albums of all time and it chills me every time I listen to it. And I hear something new in it and it feels very human and very joyful and very painful. That’s the sort of album that makes me think it’s worth keeping making music, to try and get closer to something that feels that honest and true, I guess.

The Strokes – Room on Fire
I would say Is This It, but it’s kind been almost overplayed in my life and is too associated with certain times growing up, it makes me feel uncomfortable to listen to, whereas Room on Fire, it’s kind of like the underdog of those two albums but I think it’s as good, and it’s one that I return to more because it’s less harrowing, in terms of…it’s less like a trip down memory lane. I can just enjoy it more on a surface level. All those first few Strokes albums are just classic.

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
It’s an album, there’s so much in it. It’s like going to a party every time you listen to it. If I ever need reminding why life is worth living, that’s now my go-to. It’s one I completely love.

Nick Cave – Push the Sky Away
It’s one of my favorite albums, probably my favorite album of his. And he’s my favorite artist, one of my favorite artists, and so it’s great to have a desert album that’s so recent by him. I can go back to it, and just lyrically, it’s just a masterclass, it feels like he’s on the top of his game.

Throbbing Gristle – 20 Jazz Funk Greats
If I want to listen to something slightly more for the mind, and just be challenged and remind me when art should be challenging I guess. An album that was one of the first albums that really proved to me that it’s worth pushing boundaries, especially knowing that that was made around the time when there were all these three chord punk bands. And Throbbing Gristle were making something genuinely uncomfortable and transgressive, in the sense of fun and irony at the same time.

Interview by Alice Severin

 

 

Link to Northern Transmissions page – Spector interview

Mew Band

Johan Wohlert and the return of Mew

Mew image

Jonas Bjerre, Bo Madsen, Silas Graae, and Johan Wohlert, otherwise known as Mew, are releasing their first album in six years on April 27 on Play It Again Sam. Titled +-, it was recorded in Copenhagen with Michael Beinhorn sharing production duties with the band. It’s a sweeping, anthemic display of their particular musical sensibility, combining nuance and sheer energetic expansion. Back as a four member group for the first time in a long time, it’s another example of their unique sound, one that’s won them fans all over the world. The first two tracks to be released, Satellites and Water Slides, showcase their appeal. There’s a video to accompany Water Slides, an edgy and moodily romantic dark vision that is a perfect match to the music. Northern Transmissions wanted to hear about the new album. Alice Severin contacted Johan Wohlert, who recently returned to the Danish band. He talked about what brought them back together, and the Mew vision.

JW: I think we searched a bit on our second album Half the World Is Watching Me, but then with the Frengers album we became the Mew that we all know and love.

More Mew this way…

My interview with Gary McClure of the band American Wrestlers

American Wrestlers. With a title like that, it’s hard to know what to expect. And for quite a while, when the songs were first released on the internet, there was no information as to how they came about or where they were from. Then the quality of the music began to attract attention, and eventually, the story emerged. American Wrestlers is the creation of Gary McClure, a musician originally from Glasgow, with a number of previous projects to his credit. The most well-known of these was a Manchester-based band called Working for a Nuclear Free City, described as “a flawless lucid-dream trip through a thousand fantastical influences”, who released a couple of critically acclaimed albums. After McClure put out a solo album, Wreaths, which didn’t find the kind of response he’d hoped for, fortune intervened when he met his future wife, and followed her to America. Waiting for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn so he could work here, McClure thought he’d while away the time writing a couple of songs. A local pawn shop sold him a bass and a Tascam 8 track recorder, and his front room became the studio. Result. The warm, emotion-infused mix of songs starred through with guitar hooks and wry pop influences triggered a wave of record company interest. Now, the self-titled album is due out at the beginning of April. Northern Transmissions was curious. Alice Severin spoke to Gary McClure about living in another country, songwriting, and what it’s like to record without being linked to the internet.

And I was getting the feeling as well that – I don’t think this era is any different from any other era, I think it’s always been that way. But a lot of songs and a lot of music is about – look at me, and here’s me, and the music is really a vehicle to promote the person as some kind of star or something, or a weird character. A lot of people do that kind of thing, but – you know songs are things that people sing. That’s what a song’s for. And it’s not about the person who writes it, or being famous or something, or making some weird artistic statement. It’s supposed to be something with a common idea, that everyone can understand, so everyone can sing it. That’s what a song is. And it seems such a simple, stupid thing to say but it’s almost like people have forgotten that.

interview this way…

My interview with Until the Ribbon Breaks

Until the Ribbon Breaks is a new band comprising Pete Lawrie Winfield, James Gordon, and Elliot Wall. Right now, they are all in the studio, rehearsing for their upcoming tour, to support their debut album, A Lesson Unlearnt. Begun as a studio project, and heavily inspired by the cinematic due to Winfield’s film school background, the album borrows from different genres. Hip hop features prominently, weaving its way through the songs, and they managed to score the guest participation of Run the Jewels for one of the tracks. Now with the album about to drop, they’re attracting a lot of attention. So the band which claimed to have gone into the studio with a piano, a drum machine, projecting film clips for inspiration, is taking the show on the road. Northern Transmissions wanted to know more about what was behind the scenes. Alice Severin was able to talk with the group and discover the backstory behind this latest big feature.

It started as a studio project, which brought us together to make a record that we loved in the studio, and then other people liked it, I suppose. And that evolved into us deciding that we should probably entertain the idea of it being a band. And then it turned into a live band, and here we are.

the interview is here…

Deers band

My interview with Deers – NOW HINDS!

The buzz around the Spanish duo of Ana Garcia Perrote and Carlotta Cosials, who are the core of the band Deers NOW HINDS, has been like a warm evening breeze stroking your face as you take another sip of the local libation. Their lo-fi charm mixed with the wavy beach sound of the girl groups of the Sixties, not forgetting the nod to the Velvets, is an enthusiastic mix of potential and wish-fulfillment. Listening to their music offers a sparkly and simple cassette tape joy that adds up to way more than the usual garage flavored sound. Now a four piece, touring with Ade Martin and Amber Grimbergen, they’ve got friends all over and plans for an album that should make any type of lounging, whether on the beach or in a bar in Brooklyn, feel like something that should be filmed.

You can’t not like a band who releases a song called Castigadas en el Granero which translates as “Punished in the Barn”. Or who notices a boyfriend can’t be that hungover if he’s busy classifying his cassettes.

Tap here for the interview…

My interview with Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods

Tiswas. That’s certainly what Sleaford Mods have created. For those of you who need a little brushing up on your British vocab, a tiswas is “a state of anxiety, confusion, or excitement.” It’s also the name of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn’s forthcoming EP, which is handy. It’s rare that you see so many people tripping over each other to come up with the definitive statement on a band. If it isn’t praise for the intensity of their live shows and admiration for the way Jason spits out invective like a dart straight to a bull’s-eye, it’s worry about what it all means and where they can go next with their stripped down sound. Maybe the most ironically funny responses have been the ones whose judgments reek of shocked and confused. It’s loud, it’s working class, it’s misguided, it’s too simple, it’s too angry – dear me, you’d think it was the start of punk all over again. Never mind the bollocks, Sleaford Mods have made a big splash.

It’s a form of expression that had been forgotten, actual accents have been snubbed out by stylized vocals and sexualized images.

And they performed a seriously brilliant show at The Wick in Bushwick, Brooklyn last Saturday.

More interview this way…

DNKL

My interview with Claes and Jonatan of DNKL

DNKL is three musicians from Gothenburg, André Laos, Claes Strängberg and Jonatan Josefsson, who started DNKL in mid-2013 and the band has become one of Sweden’s most anticipated exports. The Guardian praised DNKL’s music and described it as having a “crackling electronic surface.” Yet the music flows, buoyed on the hypnotic rhythms and drums that are the depths under the crisp edge of the synths. Over it all, the warm yet precise honey tones of the vocals whisper ideas in your ear. Then the realization strikes that you’re lost in the midnight fog and have no intention of finding your way out. Pressing repeat, it might seem as though you were meant to be there all along. The new EP, Wolfhour, just came out, and Northern Transmissions was able to speak to DNKL about their music. Alice Severin talked to Claes and Jonatan about darkness and light, the Swedish psyche, and the creative process.

DNKL is three musicians from Gothenburg, André Laos, Claes Strängberg and Jonatan Josefsson, who started DNKL in mid-2013 and the band has become one of Sweden’s most anticipated exports. The Guardian praised DNKL’s music and described it as having a “crackling electronic surface.” Yet the music flows, buoyed on the hypnotic rhythms and drums that are the depths under the crisp edge of the synths. Over it all, the warm yet precise honey tones of the vocals whisper ideas in your ear. Then the realization strikes that you’re lost in the midnight fog and have no intention of finding your way out. Pressing repeat, it might seem as though you were meant to be there all along. The new EP, Wolfhour, just came out, and Northern Transmissions was able to speak to DNKL about their music. Alice Severin talked to Claes and Jonatan about darkness and light, the Swedish psyche, and the creative process.

Northern Transmissions: Hello! How are you doing? I’ve just got to say right up front, I’ve listened to the EP, and it’s wonderful.

Claes Strängberg – Oh, that’s nice to hear.

Jonathan Josefsson: Thank you. I’m glad to hear it. We haven’t released the EP yet, so we are still pretty nervous about what people will think of it.

NT: But you’ve been playing quite a few big festivals this summer. How has that been?

JJ: Yes, we played the Roskilde festival in Denmark, and a big one in our home town, Gothenburg – the Way Out West festival, there was a Boiler Room session. So it was quite nice, I guess.

CS: And there was the Nordic by Nature showcase at Berlin Music Week. So there’s been quite a few good shows. Without releasing anything. (laughs) So yeah, we’re grateful. It’s been very, very nice. Me and Jonatan and André played for many years in different bands and projects. It’s mostly just been really, really fun to do this on a bigger stage. To start off at this point has been amazing.

NT: I read somewhere that you like to play instruments on stage as well as having the electronic music, computers, going on. Is that true, and what do you play?

JJ: We talked a lot about it and we were kind of tired of artists just using a laptop, and then some vocals. It’s so boring. (laughs) It’s good sounds, but it’s really boring to watch. And since me, and Claes and André can play a lot of instruments, then we have to try and use them. I guess.

CS: Yes, it’s not only boring to watch, it’s really boring to play. (laughs) Just standing with like a laptop, or a sequencer of some kind, and vocals – I mean. We are grateful to have the experience of playing different instruments live for many years, so for us it’s really natural to do as much as possible live, so that in every song, in every section, everyone is busy doing something on a real instrument.

NT: The sounds on your songs seem like there is a lot of thought put into the tone of things, and how it all mixes together. Do you think you try and choose different types of sound? What is important to you when you are putting together a song?

JJ: Oh, that’s a tricky question, because it is so different from song to song. And I mean, I think for all of the songs on the EP, maybe except for Hunt, it’s a pretty massive sound. Wolfhour, Battles, and Warm Dark Nights, they are pretty massive. There are maybe not that many layers on all the tracks, but it’s a huge balance in the mix that we need to consider. And I think that for many of the newer songs that we are working on right now, maybe it’s more airy, for some of the tracks. So it really depends, from track to track. It’s like balancing on a thin thread.

NT: And after being so close to it for months, how do you decide when it is finished, that you’re happy with it?

CS and JJ: (laughing) That’s a big issue.

JJ: I don’t know if any of our songs that we release are finished. You always want to change something, but…

CS: You come to a point where you think that you have to say stop, because otherwise you’re just going to grow tired of it, or…

JJ: And add more and more layers, and then it sounds like crap.

NT: Then you lose the initial feeling.

JJ and CS: Yeah, exactly.

CS: And it’s been quite a challenge, the first year, to progress in the songwriting, and to get to know how we work, the three of us, in the studio. And to prevent damage to the project through overworking it? So we are actually currently exploring different ways and different routines to bring the best out of a project, where all three of us can be part of it. Because it’s not as easy as it seems. I mean, sometimes it’s easy, but you can fall into the trap of overworking and put on too many layers and never be happy with anything, so that’s actually a pretty good challenge for us.

NT: I wanted to ask about the drums on the first song – Wolfhour. The drum sound is so up front – it’s huge.

JJ: Yeah, we worked really hard with the kick drums on that song. That’s like the main thing.

CS: And the kick drum is in harmony with the different chords in the song – it’s tuned. So it’s a really nice flow.

JJ: I think it’s really different kick drums, and all of them are working together – it’s hard work but it’s worth it now, because it sounds amazing.

NT: It sounds incredible. I think in some ways it almost sums up your sound at the moment, you have drums, you have electronica, but you have the melodic, but it all fits so well together.

JJ: Yeah, nice. We tried to have that mixture like blend everything in, and work with the drums. I’m a drummer so I have been inspired by different beats. We like rhythmic stuff, even if it’s with a synthesizer. We really like to work with arppegiators, and stuff that moves. And that’s a big part of DNKL I guess.

NT: There is a line in the song Battles – “We start to remember who we were when we were young who we turned out to be”. It has such intensity and little bit of regret, maybe, at the same time. How did you come up with it and what do you think it means to you?

CS: The whole song is actually about realizing, or seeing through all of this individualistic, like career – endeavor – progress – that everyone is, especially in our generation maybe, a part of. Like this whole constant struggle to progress, of going to the next step. Do you get what I mean? It’s tough to describe it in English. But the whole song is about like seeing all. It’s about realizing who we really are, throughout these struggles, about who we wanted to be and who we finally became in the end, and all of the price that we have to pay for all of these trips, basically. And realizing this, and that basically coming to the fact that we need something bigger, something more than ourselves to put our hopes in, and to rely on. And that is what the song is about so, I think that specific line that you mentioned, it’s pretty much describing all of this in a perspective when you look back at what you’ve done. So maybe not just lyrics about us as a band. It’s more of a description of the situation of a whole generation, a civilization, probably.

NT: I can see that – people being pushed into a certain path and losing themselves. And that struggle to be authentic and to find what is really important.

CS: Yeah, exactly. And we spent years and years chasing the next step, and sacrificing a lot to go to the next career move, or whatever. And then, twenty or thirty years later, when either you have everything, or you don’t, and you’re bitter because you didn’t have anything, there comes a point where you just realize that most of your life just disappeared into something and then you have a like a crisis of existence. (laughs) I don’t know. We spend too much time and energy thinking about progress and forgetting what life is really about on the way.

NT: I tend to agree – especially living in New York. I think most people here have forgotten everything.

CS: I would like to keep the meaning of this song and these lyrics as a pretty personal way of speaking of peoples’ lives, and not generalize along history and politics and stuff. But I can tell at the same time, that Sweden has done a – like the generation before us had a completely different way of thinking, like another mentality when it comes to what am I going to do with my life, etc. People were thinking more of doing something together, or doing something important, and then I think kids from the 1980s and on are much more individualistic, much more don’t care about anyone else but themselves, about their own career, and their own self-fulfillment. It’s a pretty big crack in the whole Swedish mentality between these generations, which is interesting. And I kept that in mind, writing these lyrics.

NT: That’s surprising to hear, because Sweden has, and certainly compared to America, such a reputation for caring about society as opposed to the individual.

CS and JJ: Yes.

CS: I mean, it still is in comparison to America, I would say, in many, many ways. But something is actually changing, and I wouldn’t say it’s because we’ve had a right-wing government for eight years. That doesn’t matter at all, basically. What really matters is that people just stopped caring about other things that are not important to them and themselves or their career. And that is actually creating…that is the main reason that things are actually changing here. I wouldn’t say it’s all for the good.

NT: I was reading about Sweden and there’s something called the Allemansrätten – the Right of Public Access. (It allows the public to roam freely, even on private land, to camp overnight and to pick mushrooms and berries.) And I thought that was so fascinating, that everyone has the right to enjoy the land, but of course it brings responsibilities with it, and I was going to ask you if you thought that made a difference to people and how they view the world, art, everything.

CS: I’m really proud of having that – I mean, those laws didn’t come out of nowhere. I mean, it’s human rights in real life – it’s not just on a piece of paper. (laughs) It’s actually a reality that the air and the woods and the lakes and everything – it doesn’t belong to you because maybe your family owns this land – it belongs to everyone and everyone has the right to use it in a responsible way. I think that perspective on life and what life is, when it comes to culture, that it’s something that should be like the human right to explore and recreate themselves. But that’s just like sounds like pretty words on a paper, unless you can make it real in policy. Otherwise poor kids grow up and they can never even consider being part of a play, or playing an instrument, or starting painting because they have to take care of their financial situation and they can only dream. Then it becomes something like culture is something that only belongs to those who are rich enough. And I think as a society where we take care of each other, I want to be a part of a system where it shouldn’t matter if your mom and dad are cleaners, or carpenters, or CEOs, if you’re born into a world where you have the same chance of exploring yourself and all of those kind of things, then I think that is freedom for real, and not just this pretty picture on the wall.

NT: I did want to ask you about the title Wolfhour because I thought it was such an evocative, interesting title. How did you come up with it, and did you choose it for a particular reason?

JJ: I think Claes has a great story about that name.

CS: Ok, alright. It’s got different meanings. First of all, why we chose it for the EP, simply because the lead track is called Wolfhour. And we thought it is also describing this whole nocturnal mood of the whole EP. Wolfhour – in Sweden we call it “vargtimmen” – it’s not only like the early hours after midnight, where you are in the depths of the night, it’s also got a deeper meaning. People used to use it to describe something bigger as well, when you think of a heavy moment, like a struggle, or something. Maybe we didn’t think about it that much, but then together with the song Wolfhour and its meaning, and the nocturnal feeling of all the other tracks, we thought it was pretty funny, because me and Jonaton, when we first started to visualize the band and the project, we had a playlist where we put in music of different artists and different bands, where we thought they had a really interesting atmosphere. And we called this playlist “vargtimmen” – wolfhour. And that was just basically the description of the sound that we felt – we didn’t think about it that much at all. And then it felt that for the first EP of this band – it felt like it wrapped it up pretty nicely. It was like a fun side story to it. But then of course it’s the lead track, and that song says something about itself that is pretty powerful, I think.

NT: Your music is darker, but in a good way, the good qualities of darkness – depth, power. Not depressing and heavy, but thoughtful.

CS: Yeah. I think there are two reasons why DNKL is a great name for this band. One, because it’s a nightmare to name stuff, to put it on a box, to put a brand to it. And DNKL, meaning just darkness, is as close to a blank, untitled name as possible. It leaves so much out. On the other hand, I think in darkness, where it’s misty, that is where a little source of light is the strongest. Within the darkness it becomes so much stronger…ah, I suck at English, how to describe this. When a room is dark, the light is strongest there. And there’s a thing about optimism to it, as well, not just seeing the dark side of it. Some people think maybe it’s depressing, but to us it is pretty natural. We’re three pretty happy guys, actually. But it is a natural way of creative expression. In a country where there are eight months of pitch darkness. (laughs) It affects all of your mood in a deeper way. Not ‘oh I feel sad’. It’s not about that. It goes deeper than that. So I think that is why people think Swedish music in general has this sentimental touch to it. To most Swedes, it’s not sentimental – it’s just a natural heritage of everything. It’s got different depths.

NT: That balance between darkness and light.

CS: Yeah. If you come to Sweden in January, and if you come in June, it’s like two different planets. You wouldn’t believe you were in the same place.

NT: Are you influenced by art and film at all? The video for Hunt was interesting – a bit film noir, a bit silent film inspired. Did you have input on that at all?

CS: Actually it was a short film, that a German director had in his portfolio. We fell in love with it and thought it would be so fitting for the music. So we contacted him and asked him – hey, here’s the song, and we’d really like to use your beautiful film. It was a short five minute film, with lots of strings and we asked him. And he was fine with it. So we made another cut with him, and then used it as a video. And we’re really grateful for it, because we feel it suits the song.

JJ: We basically didn’t change anything. It fits the song so well – it’s perfect. When we found the video, we were like we have to have this one – it’s perfect.

NT: It’s such a collection of images, and the twist to the story.

CS: And the other video, we let the director do their thing – more than we want to direct, we think it’s more interesting to let someone interpret the song and present their idea and story about it, rather than we are both musicians and film directors. Actually right now there is a young director from Sweden who is going to try to make a video for Wolfhour. But we don’t want much to do with it, like the story, and we just want him to let him have his way with it, and we could do some small edits in the end. But I think that’s it’s a much more fun way to work, combining creative ideas than just ah, let’s make a music video.

NT: And five albums that still inspire you, that you return to.

CS: That inspired DNKL, or us as people?

NT: That’s a good distinction – you could mix them up.

CS: The sound of DNKL was inspired by some artists, then us as songwriters were inspired by different things. I think I need to think about this. I’m just browsing through my library.

JJ: Cheating!

Claes and Jonaton chose:

Radiohead – Amnesiac

Trentemøller – I Break Horses – Hearts

Holy Other – With U

Genius of Time

Interview with Alice Severin

 

And then, twenty or thirty years later, when either you have everything, or you don’t, and you’re bitter because you didn’t have anything, there comes a point where you just realize that most of your life just disappeared into something and then you have a like a crisis of existence. (laughs) I don’t know. We spend too much time and energy thinking about progress and forgetting what life is really about on the way.

Interview here

Single Mothers - band

My interview with Drew Thomson of Single Mothers

Not many musicians moonlight as gold prospectors hunting for the real thing, instead of the number of units sold variety. But Drew Thomson did. Of course, that was before he came out of the north woods and rejoined his band, Single Mothers. Now they’ve released a new album, Negative Qualities, a punk whirlwind of shouting dissatisfaction and sarcastic criticism moored to energy-filled rhythms and little moments that stick with you. It’s an album that feels a whole lot like the start of something. Northern Transmissions wanted to catch up with Single Mothers before anyone had a chance to be tempted away by the lure of the quiet forest, and Alice Severin was able to talk to Drew Thomson about the music and where the feeling comes from.

Yeah. I think being on stage is great because it’s not like…I think part of it is you’re getting all that attention but the conversation is one-sided, right?

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The Vaselines

Interview with Frances McKee of The Vaselines

When The Vaselines formed in Glasgow, back in 1986, Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly certainly didn’t imagine that they’d split up right as their first album was being released, or that Kurt Cobain would cover their songs. And they probably would have laughed at the idea that quite a while further on in the future, they would still be recording and wind up making one of their best albums. But it’s all true. V for Vaselines has great, deceptively simple fun songs and sharp lyrics. It’s more than an excellent follow-up to 2010’s Sex with an X, it’s a fast ride all on its own. The Vaselines are now out on tour, and Northern Transmissions threw on a motorcycle jacket and raced to catch up. Alice Severin talked to Frances about the new album, the image, and who should cover a Vaselines’ song.

We have known each other for a long time and The Vaselines is like our unruly child that needs disciplining once every few years.

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