Interviews

Second album done and dusted, what was different in the studio this time around?  

This is the first time I've ever written the songs in advance. I wrote quite a few - almost 50. Then recorded and arranged them on my laptop and chose the best 11 to work on in the studio with Leo. It took an awful lot of pressure off not to be writing songs during sessions or on the night before. It meant that the proper recording sessions were a lot of fun.

There seems to be a whole host of people on the record, how do you choose who to work with when creating a new record

I try to be flexible and open to changing my plan if good collaborative possibilities arise. It ends up being a combination of people I've worked with before and me asking people I admire if they might be up for getting involved. I contacted lots of producers with the help of my label (Full Time Hobby) and was very lucky that Leo was interested in working with me.

How are you enjoying life in Sheffield and did the 'Steel City' provide any ideas for the record.

If I'm honest I moved to Sheffield because it's so much cheaper than London and it's not too far away from family. However it turns out I really love it here. Both my wife and I feel there's a very friendly way about people - it's a bit like living in a giant village sometimes. It's lovely being near family and in some ways being here has allowed me to be myself a little bit more.

I think both that atmosphere and a general increase in my own well-being have influenced the album. Plus I can afford to have a room dedicated to songwriting and that makes a massive difference to my creative output. The only song that directly name checks the area is Gentle Morning Song (A dog barks somewhere in Gleadless) but being here has certainly influenced the record.

Do you have much material lying around waiting that may see the light of day?

I wouldn't say that exactly but I do have loads of ideas. I'm hoping to win the lottery so I can build a little studio and get cracking on them!

The band plays The Lexington in London on 21st January are there any other dates or musical adventures planned for 2015?

There are a few European dates not long after The Lexington and then I'm open to seeing what offers come in. It would be great to have some adventures!

Are there any particular stories you would like to share behind the songs on the new album? 

Gentle Morning Song is all about getting to the age where you find yourself lying in bed on a Saturday night instead of being out on the town and you listen to people coming home from the pubs and clubs in the early hours. You're in that twilight state between sleeping and waking and you're also in a place where you can relate to both being young and growing old. There's great comfort in the safety and security of home and family and yet there's also a small part of you that would quite like to be in the pub.

What was the idea behind the art on the album cover of Chromatics and who designed it?

The artist is the wonderful Chrissie Abbott  - She's done all the Diagrams artwork to date. When we discussed the album we talked a lot about the mind and how it's the main filter through which we interpret the world and our experience of it. This led to Chrissie's idea of the mind as a magical box that we pull our existence out of and the artwork came from that.

How do you step away from music and is the spark of a new song more likely to occur on or, off the road?

I'm not someone who lives music all the time really. I love to read (popular science / psychology / good fiction / poetry) and I find exercise to be brilliant in keeping my head above water - I tend to find I drift towards and into anxiety and mild depression without it. Seeing friends and family is the best thing really. When writing I do get idea on the road and everywhere else but I prefer to sit down quietly and focus on them at home.

Do you think it is important for new artists to find a label in 2015 or should they take the DIY approach?

I think it makes a lot of sense for any artist to begin with a DIY approach. There are of course a few artists that get picked up by major labels and developed but in my experience smaller labels don't really have the budget to try lots of things until they get it right with a new artist. If you've got lots of ideas yourself then try and put together something that you think is release ready and then perhaps a label might be interested in helping you cross those final hurdles to get it out in the world. I certainly think that a good label and all the contacts, experience and assistance that they bring can do wonders for an artist just starting out. For many artists similar to myself it's a gradual process of moving from self-release to small label to medium label over a period of several years. 

What music did you particularly enjoy listening to in 2014

I loved the Sweet Baboo album  - especially the wonderful song Wild Swimming.

Full Time Hobby

Tour Dates

23rd Jan - UK, London, The Lexington

11th Feb - France, Paris, Le Point Ephemere

12th Feb - France, Lille, La Paniche

13th Feb - Germany, Berlin, Comet Club

14th Feb - Germany, Hamburg, Molotow Club

25th Feb - UK, Manchester, The Ruby Lounge

26th Feb - UK, Bristol, The Lantern

4th Mar - UK, Leeds, Brudenell Social Club

Third album done and dusted, U.S. Tour on the horizon, how does it feel being a musician in 2015?

That’s a good question, kind of a funny question – I don’t know if there’s anything else quite like being an independent musician in this day and age, in this society. So much of what it is is so nebulous and indistinct, fleeting and non-repetitive in a way – which, in that way makes it seem like a perfect metaphor for the quintessential human life actually. You definitely have to be (or become) pretty good at defining meaning for yourself, which is something I’ve worked on my whole adult life. I was just reading something written by a music publisher, he was talking about the so-called de-valuing of music, which is something I’ve certainly thought about. Talking about how, like, if you walked into a Bentley showroom and said, “hey can I just pay what I want for this blue one?” – you know, how that would go over.

How the term file sharing is kind of a joke, a real cop-out, a gloss-over, like it should really be called willful copyright infringement or file stealing, and I just had to laugh. All that is so far from my daily reality. I mean, on one level all that stuff is true of course, and is obviously very pertinent to my specific life, and if I really started to think about it I’m sure I could get pissed off about it – but really, when I talk to myself it’s much more like “well, I’m just fine. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to spend a lot of my time doing exactly what I want to be doing, and growing at it and in other areas, moving in the direction I want to move in.” You know, and I have this very long-term view of things anyway. I always have. That’s a good thing for a contemporary indie musician to have. Well, for me it is anyway.

It's been written that your new album is a significant change of direction that has come about since you entered your thirties. Is that something you can expand on?

Well, as far as I can tell, there have been marked shifts in both the content and the sound of the music from my first two albums to this one. And as far as me being in a different stage of my life, I think that pertains primarily to the lyrics, or what the album is “about” on a textual level. If I think about the kinds of thoughts, ideas, feelings, observations that I was having during the course of writing this record, I would agree that the sensibility, overall as well as the specific kinds of problems I was trying to work out or address in these songs, are those of my life in my thirties, and much less about the specific things I was worrying about in my twenties. Of course, I think there’s certainly a degree of overlap – me being the same person, just a bit older – but I would agree this is a document of a slightly more matured person, and mindset. And with respect to the other part, the musical, or more formal half of the record, I’d say it’s only natural to want to change as an artist. I certainly wanted to on this one, and I intend to on every one. I’m really looking forward to doing something very different on the next one in fact.

What was different in the studio this time around and how long did the process take from writing the first song to the album hitting the shelves?

It was a very different process this time around. The largest difference was that Godfrey Diamond and I rehearsed the foundation of the band, the rhythm section, before going into the studio to cut basics. On the first two records, it was my voice and acoustic guitar that made up the bed tracks on top of which everything else was added. And the other huge difference was having the Alomars (Carlos Alomar, Robin Clark, Lea-Lórien Alomar) and Gordon Grody create this family feeling when we did the background vocals, which are the other crucial part of how the record turned out. That was something incredibly special, and totally unique to this album. I wrote the first couple songs a good while before I wrote the rest of the album, and probably a solid two years between that first writing and the album being released. It’s always my wish to close that gap. My dream is to someday write something and record it immediately.

How does the spark of an idea arrive that drives you to write a new song and what comes first, words or music?

Generally speaking it’s music then words for me, although there have been a number of exceptions to that rule, including three or four of the songs on this record. Accordingly, the initial impetus for a song can either be a musical figure, or a lyrical one. Occasionally they’ll happen simultaneously.

Do you ever write music with an eye to whether it will sell or have popular appeal?

No, I just think that the music that has always touched me the most happens to be somewhat conventionally song-structured songs, and probably mostly those with great, personal melodies. I also think that as I do get older, I’m really drawn to the idea that the best music, the best anything for that matter, is possibly that which a two or three, or maybe five or six year old could most naturally relate to. You know, less thinking, more feeling. That’s after all what made me love music in the first place. In any case, my music doesn’t sound to me like anything I’m hearing on the radio these days anyway.

Any chance of any U.K. dates this year?

Well I would very seriously love to but not surprisingly it’s going to come down to finances. Another one of those “real” realities of being a contemporary DIY indie artist. You have to make decisions like “branch out into new touring regions, or promote the new album.” But it is among the highest items on my list to get over there already. Please let your club-owner / show-booker readers know that if they are willing to cover my expenses, I am there.

Who designed and what was the inspiration for the cover of the album?

I designed it, and I think a good bit of the inspiration came from the notion of moving (sometimes expressed as driving), which is a theme dealt with throughout the album, in some songs more than others. Songbird, which starts out the album, is probably the most concrete example of this, and that probably also has something to do with why I put that imagery together in that way.

Do you have any downtime away from music and if so, how do you like to spend your free time?

Not much in the way of down time, per se. When I’m not doing music in whatever form, I work in film and video in a variety of capacities, have done just about everything over the years – shoot, write, edit, direct, produce. And as far as free time, the best of all is when I can get away with my wife, anywhere, as long as we’re alone together. And during my solo free time, whenever and wherever that is, I write songs. I also love to read and do so a good amount. I think this has definitely increased in my thirties. Oh, and movies. I’m obsessed with going to movies in the theatre. I go by myself all the time.

What one piece of advice would you give to anyone starting out on a music career in 2015?

Do what you’re drawn to the most, what excites you the most, and do it as much as you can. And surround yourself with good people!

What was your favourite record during school/college time that you still play today?

There are a few but Peter Gabriel’s Us always seems to stick out. Increasingly, as I get farther away from the time when I listened most intensely, which was in college and the couple years after, I’m struck by just how much that period of his career heavily influenced my relationship to music and songwriting at a very crucial stage in my development, and to me those influences still show up regularly. That record and period of his had a profound influence on me.

David Bronson – Questions is release on 13 January via Big Arc Records

Second album done and dusted, what was different in the studio this time around?

It was very different in that we hardly used a proper studio as such. On "Woodditton Wives Club" I recorded the whole thing at Press Play Studio in London, which is owned by Andy Ramsay of Stereolab (he produced too). Spent the best part of ten days in there and it was a great experience.
 
For the new record we didn't spend much time in "proper" studios at all, just to record some drums really. A couple of days was all we had. The rest of it was either sent to me via the wonder of modern technology (Robert Rotifer's electric guitar parts from Canterbury, the horns from the USA, Laura J Martin's in Liverpool, John Howard's piano in Spain, etc, etc) or in my little home studio, which isn't very high-tech at all.
 
Putting this record together was like a jig-saw that Bear (The producer) & I had to piece to together. It was a really interesting way to work actually. A bit like a sculpture appearing out of a big piece of rock. We just did whatever we fancied doing on any given day.

 
 
You have lived in both Liverpool and Cambridgeshire; does either location inspire your music?
 
Absolutely, you can't escape your roots (and I wouldn't want too) so Liverpool never really leaves me wherever I am. I suppose that's how most people feel about their home town. It's a very musical place you know..
 
The countryside in which I live now though, the space, the peace, the strange people who live in the village (all lovely of course), how could it not....

 
 
How would you describe your songs for people that have not heard your music yet?
 
That's a difficult one. Something I always struggle with. I'm into writing songs, I'm not really that bothered about the genre or whatever. I just like to follow my nose, not force things, amuse myself.
 
There are a million artists I admire but this album has been compared to people like Sufjan Stevens, The Miserable Rich, Nick Drake, Tim Buckley but then again I've also had Field Music and even Charlie Chaplin.
 
There was a review the other day that said one the songs sounded like "Prince"!
 
I'm not sure. I suppose deep down I'd like be like Harry Nilsson. He just did whatever he liked. When they asked him what his style was he said "well they're just songs, you know..."

 
Are there any stories behind any of the songs on the new record that you would particularly like to share?
 
There's stories behind most of them but I think it's best to let people listen to them and work out what they think.
 
I did have this idea when I was making the record that these were the thoughts rushing through someone's head as they were about to die. I put it together like that. Then when I realised how pretentious that sounded I stopped mentioning it!

 
Who designed and what was the inspiration for the cover for the album?
 
The album cover was designed by my friends at Design Friendship, extremely talented people who have helped me with all sorts of stuff over the years. They're absolute diamonds. The photo, however, was taken by another very good of mine Frank Van Delft in Holland. He took me to a museum of old computers and typewriters and just took loads of shots. They're virtual reality glasses circa 1993 I've got in my hands!
 
Do you ever write music with an eye to whether it will sell or have a popular appeal?
 
No I don't. I wish I did, maybe I'd have more money.
 
Just how difficult is it to earn a living wage from being a musician these days and where would you say your strongest fan base is domiciled at the moment?
 
It's very difficult but the flip-side is anyone can get out there and make records nowadays. There's not so many gate-keepers and if people like what you do they can generally stumble upon you. That's what's happened to me, it's all been a bit of an accident. I was meant to have given up any ideas of a music career when I moved to the country a few years back. It didn't quite work out like that.
 
I don't do it for money, which is just as well.
 
I think probably most people know of me in Holland, where my first record went down quite well. They're lovely people the Dutch.

 
Do you have any downtime away from music and if so, how do you like to spend your free time?
 
I spend most of my time looking after my kids so I don't get much downtime, and when I do I normally seek out my guitar! If I'm not doing that I'm probably watching Everton lose on the TV.
 
How important do you think it is for new artists in 2014 to find a label?
 
I don't know. It would be handy for me but then on the other hand I get to do what I like. You can do it either way, I suppose the difference right now is you don't NEED them. Although saying that, I wouldn't mind having some big label behind me, it would take the pressure off financially that's for sure. EMI? Sony? I'm here if you need me.
 
What was your favourite record during school/college time that you still play today?
 
There are so many. David Ackles eponymous first album. That was a very important LP to me.
 
What are your musical plans for 2015 and how far do you actually plan ahead when it comes to your musical activities?
 
I don't really plan anything, maybe I should! I'm going to Holland to play some shows in a few weeks, then I'll be going back over later in the year. We'll be recording a new album for release hopefully in the autumn.
 
I'm hoping to tour in the UK too. Anyone out there interested in having me come play do drop me a line : )

Both of Alex’s albums are available via Bandcamp so you can have a listen for yourself HERE

 

Has the musical year of 2014 been kind to you, what are your highlights?

Yeah, I'd say so. It's been a year of hard work, lots of writing, touring, and studio time. I'd say the highlights were making a record with my best buds and touring in England.

New album and tour early next year, is it time to kick back and relax over the holidays?

Yes! I have this whole month of December off, so I get to spend some time with my gal and my family.

Where are you spending Christmas this year and do you have any traditions for this time of year, that make you think, 'this is Christmas'

We will be going to Dallas, my hometown, this year for Christmas. My family's Christmas tradition is not having a tradition. One time we had Chinese take-out for our Christmas meal. I actually quite enjoy how laid back we are over the holidays. 

Where did you record the new album ‘All These Dreams'' and how long did you spend in the studio?

We spent 10 days total recording at The Casino, which is a studio in East Nashville run by Eric Masse.

Was there anything different about the recording process this time around or, ideas you tired out for the first time?

I think this time around the process was more thought out than anything I've done before. The producers (Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson) and I put a lot of work into the arrangement of the songs. We also put strings on all but two songs, which was a new and very cool thing to witness in the studio. 

Any particular stories around any of the songs on ‘All These Dreams' that you would like to share?

Suwannee County, the last track on the record, was based on a conversation I had with an old man at gas station in Florida about fishing and spirituality... two things that share a common thread, for me at least. 

How important do you think it is for new artists in 2015 to find a label and how is life at Loose?

For me, finding a label home at Loose has been gratifying. They have supplied ideas and connections I would never have had before. 

You are touring with Justin Townes Earle in January/February. Do you know each other well or, do you normally just get acquainted as the tour progresses?

I got to know Justin when I was "tour managing" Caitlin Rose on some dates she supported. I say "tour managing" because I was really just hanging out. Justin is a super talented guy. I'm looking forward to opening up his shows.

What music did you listen to during school/college days that still send a shiver of greatness down your spine today?

Everyone I discovered and fell in love with during that time of my life are still my all time favorites - Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Jackson Browne, and Leonard Cohen come to mind. 

How do you step away from music and is the spark of a new song more likely to occur on or, off the road?

I step away from music by going fishing. To answer the second question, I almost never write on the road. I might gather general ideas, but I'm too distracted to sit down and try and write. 

 

Tour Dates 2015

18 Jan    GATESHEAD, Caedmon Hall

19 Jan    MANCHESTER, Band on the Wall

21 Jan    OSLO, John Dee

23 Jan    STOCKHOLM, Sodra Teatern

24 Jan    GOTHENBURG, Pustervik

25 Jan    MALMO, KB

26 Jan    BERLIN, Grüner Salon

28 Jan    HAMBURG, Nochtspeicher

29 Jan    AMSTERDAM, Paradiso

30 Jan    GRONINGEN, Oosterpoort

31 Jan    ROTTERDAM, Rotown

01 Feb    UTRECHT, Tivoli Vredenburg

03 Feb    LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club

04 Feb    NOTTINGHAM, Glee Club

05 Feb    BRISTOL, The Tunnels

06 Feb    LONDON, Union Chapel

 Andrew's new album ‘All The Dreams” is released on Loose Records on 26th January 2014

Photo by Melissa Madison Fuller

Andrew's Website

How did the band come together and with what ambitions?

The band came together as all significant historical meetings of great minds do in a pub in Shepherds bush. Our ambition was to fulfill our lifelong dream of starting a Screamohardcoretechnoindustrialdeathmetaldrumnbass band. We wanted to create a sound that could kill a man or at the very least inflict the brown frequency. But that didn't work out. So we settled for melodramatic French pop instead. oui.


How do you go about creating new music, do you have to been in a certain space, mentally or physically or, is it, when the spark strikes?

Well usually it goes a little bit like this...

Turn off the lights.
Light a candle.
Pour a little rum.
Dust off the piano,tune the guitar.
Refill our rum.
Say a little prayer to Apollo.
And hope for the best.

Marketing an album sung in French to global market, did you think that was risky from a sales perspective?

We always knew singing in French would make life a little harder for us but it's also what makes us feel a little bit different (in London anyhow). Also the French language seemed to compliment the music far more than English did. So to hell with the consequences to sales!!! By the way our next album is in Latin.

Are there any particular stories you would like to share behind the songs on the record?

No particular story to tell about any particular song on the album but I will tell you this.... That WHOLE record was created from fun and frolics with friends and music. Something good came out of those daft winter nights.

There seems to be some modern band influences to your sound, Tindersticks? Elbow? Are there any bands that you particularly draw inspiration from?

Well that's a strange thing. All the Bonbons have very different tastes in music from each other yet we seem to find a common ground in the music that we make. But there's one thing that unites us all!!..  None of us listen to any other music that sounds like the music we make. I think that's odd and unexplainable.

Where did you play your first gig?  Any particular memories?

Our first gig together as Les Bonbons was held where all great significant historical debut gigs are held in a pub, in shepherds Bush. The same pub where we first met in fact. Not the same night tho. I remember Fred Bonbon was very very very scared. Not because it was our first gig but because it was Halloween. Ha!

If the band could choose to be on the cover of a magazine, which magazine would it be?

Playboy  

How will you be spending Christmas this year and if you had to choose one album of 2014 as your favourite, what would it be and why?

Finishing our second album this winter......... and learning Latin.

Favourite albums of 2014?

Our two favourite albums of the year are: Mick Harvey - Intoxicated Man and Pink Elephants      Double LP re-release (Mute Records)  and Goastt - Midnight Sun (Chimera Music)

Joyeux Noel to everyone ! xx

Les Bonbons self-titled debut album is out now via Ciao Ketchup Recordings and is also available on itunes