Friday, October 20, 2017

Video of The Day #349: Queens of The Stone Age

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

"Feel Good Hit of The Summer" was my first exposure to the up-to-no-goodness of Queens of The Stone Age. I heard the song thanks to one of those CDs British music mags used to give out, and I was floored by the black magic, debauched irresistibility of this unrelenting mess of full-on rock. The video fits just right, cartoonish hallucinations causing havoc. Since the very band is in town tonight, it felt like the perfect time to reminisce. So turn it up, take your favorite poison, and perhaps I'll see you out at the show tonight.    

[posted 10.20.17]

Thursday, October 19, 2017

An Interview With Paul Draper (Part the Third)

To recap, we head into the third installment of the interview with Paul Draper having talked about his debut record Spooky Action, hatching a plan for conquering America, Six's impending 20th anniversary, Mansun conventions and cover bands, and a bit more besides. 

But wait, there’s more.

The importance of good fan relations (and Alsatians)? Yes. Things that are currently lighting up Draper's Spotify playlist? Of course. Some of his choices may well surprise you. A Mansun biopic? Why not? 

This was probably the silliest bit of our lengthy conversation, and I confess to having edited out some of the goofiest moments. Let's just say there were quite a few chortles, giggles, and even a guffaw or two.  

As the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end, and here ends the Fuzzy Logic interview with Paul Draper. I hope you've enjoyed this exclusive three-part visit with Paul even a fraction as much as I enjoyed sitting down with the man himself. I know there are plenty of us who are thrilled to bits to see Paul Draper releasing music once again. 

Fuzzy Logic: It’s always seemed really important to you to be fan-friendly. Why is that such a big thing for you?
Paul Draper: Well, you know, when we started Mansun off, we just played in front of like two men and a dog. So fifty percent of our fanbase was Alsatian.

FL: That’s a third.
PD: A third. Yeah, sorry, I can’t add up. So yeah, it was more Alsatians than we had female fans. So we thought…everyone we met, we’d come offstage and meet everyone, and then when our CD came out we’d just go into all the local shops and buy it ourselves to try and get in the indie charts, and then we’d give them out to the audience and sign them. We genuinely didn’t take anyone for granted. And we just tried to make as many fans as possible. 

I think the biggest way we did that was just by supporting loads of other bands. We supported Shed Seven, we supported Sleeper, we supported Suede, we supported The Charlatans, we supported the Manics…you know, just kept building and building and building a fanbase. I think we answered every letter that was ever sent to us, apart from the proper nutters, you know. You just sort of avoid them, written in blood and all that. And we really were a fan-based band, you know. Maybe that’s why the conventions are still going.

And through doing that, we got into the media and then we got into the charts and on the radio and stuff. It wasn’t the other way…we just didn’t have a hit and they played us on the radio. It was the other way around. That’s sort of kept alive in the internet era, you know, them fans who were all part of it they have their own little Facebook group which has now grown pretty big, it’s like 15,000 people on it or something, and they have a good community, and there’s like a rival one, you know. And I go on there and ask them questions and stuff, and have a nose about. 

It is fan-led. Their conventions and things. We put that effort in not to take it all for granted at the start, I think. And I think the fans probably saw something in us as well, they probably saw we weren’t like perfectly-polished pop stars, they saw that we were just having a go, like “how did you get here?” They maybe saw something like that. I don’t know, I don’t know. I think another part of it is we did loads of EPs and loads of b-sides, and people like that. Lots of little elements that made it a thing, not a massive thing, but just a Thing that lasted.

That was it, really. Was that a good summarization of the endurance of Mansun? They’ll make a film one day, won’t they? Who will play me in it, Brad Pitt? The guy out of Harry Potter?

Ben: Jack Black.

PD: Unbelievable. Daniel Craig probably. I think Daniel Craig would play me.

FL: We’ve already talked about this song, but a few years ago you told me that your favorite song to play live was “Wide Open Space.” What would you say to that question now?
PD: Favorite song to play live? I think it’s “No Ideas.” I like that one the best. It’s one of the EP tracks, it’s not on the album. And we played it on the first night and it was terrible, it was a real stinker. So I thought, I’m never gonna get a moshpit going on this, so I’ll just emote a bit more. So I just sort of get more emotionally-involved in the lyrical side of it, and then just stand there and deliver the performance more, and then people really liked it. I’ve met a few people since who have said, “oh I like that one the best, I didn’t like it on the record but now when you perform it live it’s really good.” In rehearsals, that first time, rubbish. Now…I do this riff, like a James Brown, funky riff, and sing it at the same time, and I’m getting better and better. But then when it comes to the end bit where I go all “whooooo” I just stop playing cuz I just think, “I’m gonna fuck up here,” so I just stop playing the guitar and just go all a bit, you know, operatic. To focus on the vocal.

FL: Of course.
PD: No really, honestly, to focus on hitting the notes right. So yeah, that’s my favorite song at the minute because it’s just purely all about vocal performance. And so, it feels like an achievement doing that one live. That’s my new favorite.

FL: So, I have another favorite question…
PD: Gorgonzola. Purple. Gray.

FL: ...of everything you’ve written, what’s your favorite lyric that you’ve ever come up with? Or favorite song…
PD: Favorite lyric…I can tell you my all-time favorite lyric of all lyricists, first. Simon LeBon, “you’re about as easy as a nuclear war.” That rocks, doesn’t it? Noel Gallagher’s “slowly rolling down the hall faster than a cannonball,” that’s up there as well with nuclear war one, isn’t it…I don’t know. Ben’s favorite lyric of mine is the opening of “The Chad Who Loved Me,” what was it, I don’t even know what it is, something about shit.

Ben: Your shit tastes as sweet as mine.

PD: Yeah. The one about the shit. “You can’t deny that your shit just tastes as sweet as mine, sweet Jesus.” My mate’s a vicar now, you know, he really loves that. It’s sort of anti-religious, isn’t it? Can’t go to America and say that, they’ll burn your records. In Alabama they’ll be burning your Spotify playlists won’t they, on a big imaginary digital fire. So, I’m not saying I’m bigger than Jesus or anything like that. That’s Ben’s favorite lyrics. What about the other Jesus one, from Six? “I’m emotionally raped by Jesus?” That’s a good one isn’t it? 

I’ve got all this anti-Jesus stuff. A bit Catholic you see, I’m a left footer, I grew up a bit strict. But I’m really good mates with the vicar of [name redacted] now, and that’s not a TV show that’s the Vicar of Dibley. He’s just round there, round the M25. He wears this full thing, and all that, his robes and that that he does his mass in, but he’s got a drum kit in his vestry and he plays the drums, and he’s a big Mansun fan. He got into the first album, I think someone bought him, you know “Stripper Vicar” and all the Jesus stuff and all like that. So I’ve become really good mates with the vicar of [name redacted]. He actually came to the London gig and prayed for us before we went on. It was a good gig and all. I’m starting to believe it, meself. He’s a really good mate of mine, but he knows I don’t have much faith, and he knows I’ve written quite a lot of anti-religious lyrics…but I think he just likes the rock and roll element of it. He wears earrings and everything.

FL: Is that allowed?
PD: Yeah, he’s a really cool vicar.

FL: What have you been listening to these days?
PD: You know, in the age of Spotify, it moves so fast now that I can’t settle on anything. I used to love an album for like years, now it just lasts for a few weeks and even then only the best tracks on Spotify. So, recently I’ve listened to the new National album. People are mad about them over here. I listen to it, and it’s just like a load of old blokes moaning about stuff, isn’t it? With no tune. It’s like intellectual moaning, isn’t it? If you’re like me, working class, and you moan about stuff, they just think you’re an idiot, but if you’re The National, then you’re a genius. I haven’t really got into The National yet, but I’m gonna give it a few more listens. I’ve been listening to Gary Numan’s new album, really like the single “My Name is Ruin,” but not fully got into the album yet. It sounds like nine versions of the same thing, but then Gary Numan’s whole career is like two thousand versions of the same thing, isn’t it? I love Gary Numan, though. What else have I been listening to…new LCD Soundsystem record, sounds like a load of insipid blips and ambient, wishy-washy drivel, but again I haven’t listened to it enough to give it a real judgment. But that’s what people sort of like these days, isn’t it, The xx and stuff like that.

Ben: What about the Alabama Shakes?

PD: I love the Alabama Shakes album. She’s amazing, that record’s amazing. Some of the Foals records. But, I’m just thinking like recently, this week. Like, something like Alabama Shakes, I’ll just like it and stick it on me playlist, and I just get one massive playlist. And then, like an advert will come on the radio, like a Tom Jones record (Paul goes into Tom Jones voice) “She’s a lady”…it’s mad now, isn’t it, music’s just mad now. You don’t just buy the latest CD and listen to that and then think everything in the past is rubbish like the record companies used to tell you it was. If you’re on Spotify, it’s like you’ve got the whole world there. Anything. I could just listen to something in a pub and Shazam it…

I’ll tell you what I really like, Beak. You know Jeff Barrow out of Portishead. His band, Beak, that’s on Spotify. Listen to that. That’s brilliant. That’s brilliant. That’s right up my street. Sort of like, lo-fi electronic-y, it’s different than Portishead, but Beak. I’m into Beak. Oh yeah, Gizmodo. That’s our latest thing. Mark King out of Level 42, on the bass, Frank Zappa’s guitarist, and Stuart Copeland on drums. One of Talking Heads. And no wonder, like, the Police fell out, because there’s no songs in it whatsoever. It’s just Stuart Copeland just talking over the top, going (in a not entirely awful American accent) “I’m Stuart Copeland and I’m fucking better than Sting, he was a fucking asshole, listen to me, you should have put my songs,” it was like, fucking hell man, these songs are rubbish. But the musicianship is amazing. His drumming is off the clock. And the guitar playing…and I hate Mark King out of Level 42 but that was the only thing I’ve ever liked of his that fits in. It’s like Talking Heads but with amazing musicians. I really liked it. I thought it was Talking Heads but it wasn’t. It was part of Talking Heads.

It’s like the age of the track, isn’t it, it’s not really the age of the album. I quite like one of the new St. Vincent tracks. What else do I like? Loads of stuff…I really like the new Tori Amos single, that’s brilliant. I’ve always been a big Tori Amos fan. Little Earthquakes, her first album, is one of my favorite albums ever. And now, that latest track she did was brilliant. What else have I really liked…we just invent a name, and then see if there’s a band called it, and then we get into it. We were listening to The Crabs. Not The Cramps. The Crabs. They’re better than The Shags, and they were bad. Just look for all sorts of stuff, really.

But yeah, what else…that’s about it, really. Grizzly Bear, I’ve been listening to like one track off their new album. But they’ve got some nice chord changes, but it’s all a bit sensitive lumberjack. And I quite like a couple tracks off the new Liam Gallagher album. I like three of them. The rock one, though, that’s ace. That’s brilliant, that new one. I didn’t think I’d ever like Liam Gallagher, but I actually can laugh along with him now. I think he’s done it. I think he’ll beat Noel in the charts. Noel’s gone all dance, hasn’t he? He’s done an album with David Holmes with no tunes in it. Been liking a couple Liam Gallagher tracks. Of new stuff, just that really.

I’ve got all sorts. I just like classical music on my playlists and all sorts, you know. I just put it on random and then Clair de Lune comes on or something mad like that, and I just like try to then work it out on the piano doing chopsticks. So all sorts of stuff, really. But it is that age, isn’t it? I kind of like Taylor Swift’s new single, you know, the Right Said Fred one? “I’m too sexy…” I like the snare drum sound. I think Taylor Swift’s song’s quite a good pop record. We’re gonna sample that snare, aren’t we, call it Swift snare, and put it on a track. See if you get away with it.

FL: Be careful with her.
PD: No, no, we’re gonna give her a writing credit.

Ben: Not gonna give Right Said Fred a writing credit?

PD: No, fuck them, they’ve got enough cash. I’m gonna go on the news and just say “yeah, so I co-wrote this song with Taylor Swift.”

FL: That’ll beat Martine McCutcheon.
PD: Martine McCutcheon, she hasn’t got good snare drums. Any musician or any producer and all that, they’ll tell you that it’s got a good snare drum, that Taylor Swift record. Got good bottom end in it, nice American kick drum, you know. Boom in it. Good snare drum. I like it. So that’s about it for my musical taste, really.

Oh, like this year, I liked half of the Depeche Mode album. Thought the other half wasn’t that good. Don’t like the new U2 single. That’s a stinker, isn’t it? Played a bit of keyboards on Steven Wilson’s album, you know, the crown king of prog rock. That’s it, really.

FL: In 2008, you said Kate Bush’s song “Man With the Child in His Eyes” was your pick for best song ever written. Still?
PD: Probably, yeah. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. I think “Wuthering Heights” is amazing as well. “In My Life” by John Lennon’s up there as well. But yeah. If I could just go home and just sit at the piano and write that, I’d be happy. I’d just put that on the record, you know. Add a bit of strings in it. Great record that. There’s not really that level of songwriting around anymore, is there? It’s a shame.

FL: We’ve already kind of talked about this last one. But true or false: you’re already working on new songs.
PD: It’s what we’ve been doing today. Can’t get Ben out of the studio. Yeah we are, we’re working on a song for the next album. I think the record company were happy with the sales of Spooky Action, you know, I think we did like well over 30. No, that’s a joke, we did way more than that. I think they’re gonna sign us up for another one. I can’t escape. I’m trapped in it. I’m trapped in rock and roll again and I can’t get out. I don’t know what to write about for the next album. This album was just my vile hatred and disgust for everyone from the past. I don’t care anymore. So, I’ve gotta think of something to write about.

FL: Your disgust of Martine McCutcheon.
PD: Could be. Could be a concept album about a feud between two-bit unheard of pop stars. In the end they could either kill each other or marry each other, and then you could do like two alternate endings to the album. That’d be good, wouldn’t it. We’d sell twice as many albums. We’d have one ending that ends with a big marriage, like an EastEnders marriage, and then another one it just ends where you like stab her to death.

Ben: Or she stabs you to death.

PD: And then you could put them both out and see who wins in the charts. I can feel an idea coming together. Wow, man. This is how our meetings are like. That’s quite long for our creative meetings. Cool, let’s do an album about that. Not about a flying chicken and a dead vicar. Let’s do it.

[posted 10.19.17]

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Video of The Day #348: Death From Above

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

Things I never expected to see in a Death From Above video: a white Pomeranian, a Rick James wig, and overenthusiastic bodybuilders. Things in the Death From Above video for "Freeze Me": a white Pomeranian, a Rick James wig, and overenthusiastic bodybuilders. This little slice of visual surreality fits well with the song, yet another fit of howling, feral ferocity from one of my favorite two-headed monsters.    

[posted 10.18.17]

Good Cover Version: Primal Scream Does Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra

Pulp gave the world the song "Bad Cover Version." But seeing as I'm a sonic optimist, I'm of the belief that there's more likely than not more good cover versions floating around than bad ones. Good Cover Version celebrates the good, and leaves all that bad and ugly stuff alone.

Evil Heat is perhaps not everyone's favorite Primal Scream record, but something about that post-apocalyptic, debauched devil disco music speaks to me. It was on this particular record that Bobby Gillespie chose to include a cover of a song made famous by the dreamy duo of Lee Hazlewood  and Nancy Sinatra. His version of "Some Velvet Morning" takes the song away from the placid, golden sun of Lee and Nancy's Southern California sound to a spectacularly sleazy future nightclub. And may I just say, I don't mind one bit. Kate Moss as Nancy isn't half bad, though as per usual this one is all about Bobby and the beats.    

[posted 10.18.17]

An Interview With Paul Draper (Part the Second)

When we left off, Paul Draper was detailing his plan for certain American domination by way of playing “Wide Open Space” all over the country until the US of A waved the white flag and relented enough to rerelease debut Mansun record Attack of The Grey Lantern. This after also letting me in on his, ahem, chart battle royale with actress/pop singer Martine McCutcheon.

So what’s next, you’re wondering? Plenty. Read on to see how Draper plans on celebrating a rather special upcoming anniversary, and for his take on all things Mansun Con.  

And there's still more where this came from. You won't want to miss the next installment of our conversation, coming soon. For now, sit down and enjoy more Draperian musings. 

Fuzzy Logic: I can’t believe it. Next year is 20 years since the release of Six…do you have any plans to celebrate this monumental occasion?

Paul Draper: Yeah, I’ve got it all planned out. All planned out. On the 20th anniversary me and Ben (Editor's note - Ben plays guitar in studio/on the road with Draper) will be down here in the [name redacted] getting pissed. We do that for everything…

FL: I am starting to sense a theme.

PD: Well, I’m English. You know, this is what you do. It’s like people only know you from the photographs and the videos of you, but when they get behind the scenes, you realize that really all us English people do, or English rock musicians, is just sit in the pub until someone forces you to go on tour or make a record.

So yeah. Six. There’s been loads of legal wrangling over the Mansun records for years, and none of them could ever be reissued. Cuz we all hate each other. Or they all hate me. And I hate them. It’s like a three against one, and one against three. Well no, Andie’s on his own, he’s his own man. So it’s one against two, and I’m not bothered about the other one. So we finally got legally all signed off to reissue the records. It was all over money. So Six is gonna have a big reissue for the 20th anniversary. So as far as I know, we’re issuing it on vinyl, because it’s like 160 quid some copies on ebay, you know, so we wanna let people have a real good remaster of the vinyl on 180 gram, good vinyl like they do these days. And we’re doing a surround sound mix, like a 5.1 surround sound mix. A load of outtakes and studio outtakes, a video documentary, and we’ve also got a concert that we filmed, so we’re gonna put the tour concert out and hopefully try and get a premiere for that in London. So we’ve got a lot of work on that project to put it together, it’s a big project. So yeah, we’re gonna do all that. I think I’m going in to see the record company next week, and we’re gonna make the plan for what we’re gonna do with that record. People still seem to be into it, I don’t know why, they hated it at the time. But everyone likes it now. It’s weird.

FL: I don’t think everyone hated it. Just certain people who wrote about it…

PD: Yeah. The British “Britpop” press, shall we say. Just thought “what the fuck’s this?” You know, they were into stuff like Gay Dad and what else...What was the critically-acclaimed stuff then? Bis and Northern Uproar, stuff like that. I just think we were out of fashion. Still out of fashion now. But yeah, they’re gonna reissue it yeah, cuz a lot of people really like that record. I’ve never listened to it so I can’t tell you. It’s a bit weird, isn’t it?

FL: Never?

PD: I did actually, I did once, when I went to write up a blog about it. So I have listened to it. But I’ve never listened for my own pleasure. We made that record, loads of people liked it. It was like a delayed reaction, everyone just thought, “oh that’s weird” and then eventually liked it. The band’s never gonna get back together cuz we’re not friends, but you know, I might play songs from it live. We might do some shows around the time, next October, and play songs from the album. I don’t wanna be a nostalgia act. So we’d have to see, really. It’s an interesting situation, that one. An unfolding situation. The cover’s shit, isn’t it? Whereas the one before that, was brilliant. The right cover. And then the next album, fuck me. Just like oh, it’s gotta be a big picture of you on the front, and you gotta have this, and it’s gotta be mixed for local radio, and you’re not allowed any silly words in it you’re not allowed any segues, it’s got to be hit records…mad. They’re off their tits. And now they’re all calling me up going, “oh, can you just go be a bit weird again, like Six?” That’s the music industry for you.

So yeah. Doing a big reissue campaign. Should be good. It’ll be something worthwhile for fans, I think. And even some shows around it, possibly, I don’t exactly know how.

FL: This is all good news, from a fan perspective.

PD: Yeah. Well you know, obviously I’ve gonna do my second album so it just depends how much we can fit it, but we’re gonna do something for it. Finally. Oh, they’re having a convention in London as well.

FL: I was just about to ask about Mansun Con.

PD: Ok, yeah, so the Mansun convention is gonna be in London next time, and it’s gonna be for the 20th anniversary of Six.

FL: I don’t know of any other bands that have their own Con…

PD: Loads do! I told you, they just hire like…like Marillion, they just hire like a massive cruiseliner and have their own convention on their own cruiseliner…

FL: That’s different though. I feel like the fans started it…

PD: Oh yeah yeah yeah. The fans, you know…what happened with Mansun was, we worked really hard, toured a lot, became a really big group in a very quick time, and then it imploded. And for some reason the record company wanted to make us into something that we completely weren’t, and then they just decided we were rubbish and got rid of us. But we left a big fanbase behind, who a lot of people thought it was their favorite band. I’ve got no idea what they were doing or why they just wrecked it so brutally and quickly, but what was left behind was a big fanbase.

They had a first convention when the band was going, in 2001, and then after I publicized the Anchoress project, album I produced, that’s when they decided to have a second one. To be honest, I think they just thought it would be a few people in a pub, but in the end it was like 600 people came, from all over the world. Russia, Finland, Canada, the States, Brazil…even a Frenchman came, which was like unbelievable. The rug was just pulled out from under our feet. As far as I know the record company wanted to make a solo album with Dominic Chad, but I don’t think he ever…I don’t know, maybe he’s just spending a long time on it. And that was it, really. I started tentatively making a solo album for Parlophone, and I shelved it and just went into writing and producing. That’s how I ended up here.

FL: So what was it like, to go to that Mansun Con?

PD: Well, I watched the tribute band…I didn’t go in official capacity. The NME just called me up and said “this is all a bit weird, isn’t it, can we do an interview with you but there,” so I went and I just went backstage, I didn’t go into the convention. But I poked me head out the door, and I could see the me fellow on the stage, jumping around in his army shit. And I watched the band and thought they weren’t as bad as all the critics said, this is quite enjoyable. I think there’s like two or three Mansun tribute bands. The next one they’re doing they’re playing the Star & Garter in Manchester, where they do the Smiths night, they’re doing a Mansun night. Taxloss Lovers, they’re called. The UK’s number one Mansun tribute act.

FL: Would you agree?

PD: Well, I can’t get involved in these things. What I would say is they’re one of my favorite Mansun tribute bands out there, you know. I’ve seen a Korean one, some Japanese ones. Go on Youtube. You just see ‘em performing in pubs in Seoul, stuff like that. South Korea. If there was a North Korean Mansun tribute band, now that would be amazing, but there’s not.

FL: There could be.

PD: Wouldn’t it be amazing if Kim Jong-Un was on the bass? That’d be massive. Well it’d better if he was me. He always wears the army gear, doesn’t he, he’s halfway there. His haircut’s a bit weird isn’t it though?

So it’s the fourth one next year. And it’s a guy called Andy Lyth, he was just a big Mansun fan, who organizes it. I think after that they’re gonna do a Japanese one in Tokyo, they might sort of coincide it with if I can get out there to do a gig or something. And they might wanna do a North American one, but I don’t know what the best city to do it in North America would be.

FL: Probably New York.

PD: New York, yeah. Are there any pubs small enough? How many people do you reckon you’d get to the Mansun convention New York?

FL: Probably a lot.

PD: Well that’s probably more feasible than doing a gig out there. I could play myself, couldn’t I? I could be one of the Mansun tribute bands in New York. Yeah, definitely. So next year they’re gonna do London, and then I think they’re gonna do Tokyo and a North American one, if anyone will come.

I’m all positive for the conventions, all up for them doing it. That’s how they come to do it. Andie the drummer’s cool with it, and the other two think it’s rubbish.

[posted 10.18.17]

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Video of The Day #347: The Birds of Night

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

For any number of reasons, the state of Texas is home to quite a concentration of rather good psych rock bands. New on my Lone Star love list is Denton's The Birds of Night, who appeared to me today like the sweetest visage of an oasis in the driest of desolate deserts. I'm a willing Alice when it comes to the rabbithole that is their video for "Blacklight," a whirlwind of color and groovy, graphic shapes and other special things. As for the song itself, it's a burst of impetuous, restless wizardry. Wailing guitars take on an almost shamanic feel, and it's not hard to believe this song has origins in the occult. Definitely not something to be watched just once.      

[posted 10.17.17]

Monday, October 16, 2017

An Interview With Paul Draper (Part the First)

It was a somewhat sunny afternoon in late September when I sat down with Paul Draper at an undisclosed location (i.e. a pub) somewhere deep in the well-heeled, flyover London suburbs. Draper, fresh off a successful short run of live dates in support of his solo record and a birthday just a couple days earlier, was in fine form. He's come a long way since his days at the helm of captivating anti-Britpop band Mansun, a too-brief ride that hit critical highs (and lows) and ended with a rather acrimonious split. Draper's return to performing his own material has made many people (yours truly included) pretty happy. Incredibly entertaining company, Paul had plenty to say about his spooky good solo debut Spooky Action, touring, mistaken identity, and even more, in his endearingly snarky way.

What follows is the first part of our chat. Stay tuned for the next installment, coming soon. And while you're at it, put on Spooky Action

Fuzzy Logic: How does it feel to have finally shared Spooky Action with the world?
Paul Draper: Well you know, obviously the main thing is trying to avoid all the bad reviews. Some bloke thought it was the new Hanson album, he still gave it a 3 out of 10. He thought we’d gone all a bit prog rock.

I once did an interview with a bloke in Italy who interviewed me and thought I was the singer from Embrace. I didn’t even know he didn’t know who I was, and he kept saying to me “how’s your brother?’ and it was just like what are you talking about? And in the end it was like hang on mate, who’s my brother, and he’s like “oh, I’m sorry,” and he just put the phone down and went off and that was it. I think he still printed the interview…as an Embrace interview, you know.

FL: Oh shit. You’re not in Embrace?
PD: No, no. I would like to be one day. It’s my ambition.

FL: Are they still…?
PD: Oh yeah, massive. Got their own Embrace Fest every year. They hire a yacht or something and travel around the Isle of Skye. That’s what you do. It’s got to make money now. Everyone’s after it. Gary Numan, Marillion, Whitesnake…

So yeah, that was the main thing, just to avoid bad reviews, which we pretty much did, and then see if anyone would buy it, so a few people did. I don’t know what to make of it really, I’m not consumed by it all like I was before. But maybe that makes the music not as good. You have to be a bit of an obsessive nutter to make good music really. It depends how many chords you know, doesn’t it really? I don’t know that many.

But yeah, it feels ok. I didn’t think we’d get this far, to be honest. I ran a studio in Acton for ten years, and record companies kept turning up and saying “do a solo album” and I didn’t think I ever had it in me anymore, but eventually you run out of money and think fuck, “gotta pay the bills,” and so we’re here.

FL: I did read that originally there was a longer title for Spooky Action. Why did you shorten it?
PD: Well I just wrote down the phrase “spooky action at a distance” when I read it somewhere, from Einstein, and then someone said to me, “there’s another album called Spooky Action at A Distance,” so I said well just call it Spooky Action then. When I left Mansun, I was gonna make a solo album, and I’d said to people, “oh it’s gonna be called Spooky Action,” so I couldn’t change it, so I changed it to Spooky Action and someone messaged me and said, “there’s someone else got an album called Spooky Action.” The only place I had left to go was either to call it Spooky or Spooky Action At A. In the end we were trying to say should we call it Spooky Action (At A Distance), and in the end it was just just call it Spooky Action. Some guy out of Rammstein or something, I don’t know. It was like, I had my Spooky Action first, and I couldn’t get out of it.

But that’s where it came from, really. I don’t know anything about nuclear physics. I just read it in a book. To make myself sound, you know, like intellectual.

FL: Totally works.
PD: Really works, yeah.

FL: You throw Einstein into anything…
PD: Exactly, yeah. I’m just searching Stephen Hawking catchphrases at the minute for the next album.

FL: You should go older. Ancient Greece.
PD: I’ll find something that makes me look more important than I really am.

FL: The more obscure the better.
PD: Exactly, yeah, that’s why there’s about fifty million albums called Spooky Action, cuz they’re all trying to make themselves look really important. But then it becomes weird because all these Spooky Action albums are all connected over distance by subatomic level…

FL: I see what you did there.
PD: I’m not as thick as I look.

But yeah, I literally read it yonks and yonks ago, and I had a shortlist of album titles, and I just suggested it to a few people…but it was years ago. I couldn’t get out of it. If it was now I would have called it something like London Aquilo or you know, something modern. I don’t know. But yeah, so it sort of stuck really. But then, people ask me that question and I say like, “oh, well it’s to do with the music being connected over space and time in a never-ending gravitational wave bending towards the past with the connection of Mansun and now.” But that’s just a crock of shit, isn’t it? You’re laughing but it is. Musicians are just full of shit. The whole fucking lot of them.

FL: From what I understand, most of this record was put together so long ago, what did you end up tinkering with/tweaking, is there anything in there that maybe wasn’t in the original group of songs?
PD: Oh yeah, a lot of it. Most of it. The best way I can probably describe it is…there’s a three-CD box set that they’ve got on, and they’ve got an outtakes CD on it. In the outtakes is like a couple of demos of the tracks. They were just literally just little ideas that I throw down in an hour, terrible recording quality, just little home demos with me on a drum machine, and that’s where they started. So like “Don’t You Wait,” I didn’t even change the lyrics or anything, that was intact and we just played it as a band. “Grey House,” that was all there and intact as a demo but without lyrics on the verses. “Can’t Get Fairer Than That” was all done but sounded like George Michael. Nothing wrong with sounding like George Michael, I just don’t want to sound like George Michael. But you know, I can’t help it sometimes. But yeah, that was dormant again, that was demoed very close to the original thing. In the end we ended up taking two sections out of that song, but on the outtakes CD you can hear the two sections that are in it and it’s like proper George Michael. They’ve sold out of all the box sets, bit of a disaster really. Cuz we were like number 5 in the mid-week charts, but we’d sold out all on our website, so we dropped down to number 19. Martine McCutcheon beat us by 17 copies. You know her off EastEnders?

FL: She’s singing now?
PD: Oh yeah. Martine McCutcheon lives here. I’m telling you, if I see her on that High Street, I’m gonna have a word with her.

FL: I didn’t know she was singing.
PD: I don’t think anyone knows that she’s singing. I think everyone’s just like…there’s Martine McCutcheon on a DVD just wailing. I mean, I’m furious, absolutely furious, that this town put out two records one week, one of the quality of my record, and then Martine McCutcheon the barmaid off EastEnders and she whooped our ass. It’s disgusting.

FL: It’s all because of Love, Actually.
PD: She beat us! If I see her in Tesco’s, I’m telling you…

But yeah. 17 copies. If I’d have known that morning, I would have gone out and bought 17 copies meself just to piss her off. But she beat us. She got on the breakfast news, as well. Everything she had. Loose Women, breakfast news, the One show. What was I on? Nothing. No one was interested in me. Got a feature in Prog Magazine, though. Good job Martine McCutcheon didn’t do a concept album, or we would have been fucked.

FL: What did you find was different about the recording and release of Spooky Action versus all those Mansun records?
PD: Well, I wasn’t neurotic about this one. Like, when we used to do the Mansun ones, I was like [sharp intake of breath] you know, fear. Would anyone like it, would it go in the charts. And by the third Mansun album, even I thought it was shit, so I didn’t give a shit about that one. But it wasn’t my album. I was just the singer, I was just forced into doing it by the big evil record company, and the other members of the band, and the management…so yeah I wasn’t as bothered about this one, I don’t think. I was just trying to make it a success in whatever way you can measure success in the now of music. Just make your owns fan like it, and buy enough copies so you can do another one. You know, the record company…they won’t just sign you up if they think you’re artistically valid. They just want to make money out of you. So, I think they’ll make a bit of money out of me, but I’ve no idea if they think I’m artistically valid. So hopefully, you know, we’ll be doing another one. So yeah, I’m not as bothered these days. Although I did put a different type of effort in. A more measured…it’s like the tortoise and the hare. I used to be a hare, now I’m a tortoise, the way I work and the way you want to put it together. I still care about it.

FL: Were you surprised about that fan petition to get Spooky Action released?
PD: No, no…I mean, we’d spoke to the fans online and just said, you know…it was just testing the water, really. I said to them, if you want me to do a record, do a fan petition and see if there’s any interest. And there was a little bit of interest. It wasn’t massive, it wasn’t like millions of people, it’s not like trying to stop Donald Trump coming to London or anything. I’m not that popular. But yeah, a few thousand people signed it…what happened was that the Anchoress album came out, which I produced, and as we talked about before there’s a sea of music out there, and how do you get it heard these days…I’d be offered to do interviews loads of times over the years, and the best one at that point I was offered was do a radio interview with Steve Lamacq, on the radio and do the premiere of the Anchoress single, and I knew a girl who worked for the Huffington Post and I did an interview with her, and they put it in the Arts section, saying I’d been away a while and wanted to raise awareness of this new project, and that’s where it all started really. From that point, record companies starting coming onboard…

So the petition thing, that started when I rose my head above the parapet. But I didn’t do it…I never thought we would end up here. I thought we would produce another record. So we just ended up here because this is where it led us. It wasn’t by accident, we were trying to do musical projects. There was a whole sequence of events that unfolded, that it became obvious that after doing the Anchoress record, producing that, that I should do a solo album. One of the big reasons was our studio, where we worked in London, got turned into flats. That’s London, isn’t it, everything gets turned into flats. We were renting it out commercially, as well. We had loads of big stars in there. Frank Ocean was in there for ten days writing on the piano in there, and Pixie Lott, you’ve never heard of her…all sorts of record company bookings in there. When I wasn’t in there, people would use the studio. So when we were turfed out of the studio so they could make way for flats in Acton it was like, do we look to rent a new premises in London and carry on as like writing and producing and running a studio? If I didn’t do that, my options were limited to working on my own, so I did a deal with my engineer who engineered the second Mansun album, a guy called PDub, he lives literally a few miles away from here and he’s got his own private studio. So we started it at Stanley House in Acton, and moved over to Dub’s, so it was just a big sequence of events that unfolded. The fan petition was just one element of it. They could have done a petition and we could have done nothing, but it just happened. We worked pretty hard.

FL: What’s it been like out on the road playing all the new stuff?
PD: It’s genuinely been amazing. Beforehand, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off, then I got a chest virus, so that looked like a good excuse to pull out. But my management wouldn’t let me. They bribed me into doing it. So the first night I went on with a big cup of Lemsip…do you get Lemsip in America? What’s the closest thing – Xanax? Heroin? Yeah, a massive cup of heroin on stage, and it just sorted me right out. I just didn’t give a shit. Yeah that Lemsip man, you just get off your tits. It’s amazing. So yeah, big pot of Lemsip, some honey and lemon, vocal zones, do you know what they are? Like little fruit pastels, sweets…bit like M & Ms but for the throat. Throat M & Ms. A lozenge. Throat lozenges. I had all that and I just about got through it, got the gig over. And all the reviews were good for the gigs. My throat virus went after the second night, and we had a break in the middle of the dates, and the promoters have eased us back in so we only had six gigs and we had a few days gap. And then by the end, I don’t think any of us wanted to come off. The crowds were amazing, gigs were sold out…I think I came back and thought oh wow, I’ll do some more of this. So that’s it. Back out, doing it again.

FL: How many, next time?
PD: It’s tripled in size in terms of how many people we’re playing to, but I think we’re doing 14 gigs, and we’re going to Ireland as well, doing Dublin and Belfast. We’re going back to Manchester and London, we did like 800 people at the Scala but this new venue we’re doing, the Brixton Electric, is like 1600 people so the capacities have gone right up. So, there must be more demand for it. So we’re gonna do it, make the set a little bit longer, learn a few more songs…I was honest with them, I said we’re gonna start with three b-sides, but not because we’re really creative but because we haven’t got any other fucking songs. Which is sort of true and not true really. Paul McCartney did that with Wings. They only had seven songs when they started. They used to turn up at universities and play seven songs, and go “we haven’t got any more so we’ll just play ‘em again.” So you get a 14-song set. I just thought we’d do “Wide Open Space” 9 times and have a big gap between the encores. Everyone loves that one after a few beers.

FL: Related question, of interest to people in the Americas, when might Spooky Action (album/tour) come our way?
PD: Well, you know…I just don’t think anyone gives a shit about me in America. I honestly don’t. Like if we put a gig on in New York, how many people would turn up? By the end of this album, if we can’t get over to America as a band, realistically by the end of this band cycle or in the next few years, we probably could go over and do like New York, Boston, San Francisco, LA, probably…maybe Washington at a push. Maybe Philadelphia. You know, just the Anglophile towns. You could do a few. But that might not be financially feasible. So it might be just a case of just going and doing just a couple of acoustic shows, like a New York and an LA one. And I’m up for that. In my mind, when we finish touring, of course we’re doing this February-March tour and then we’ve got to do the festival season in the UK…we’re really looking in to see if we can do Hong Kong, Tokyo, maybe an Australian gig as well. There was loads of Japanese fans at the gigs, loads of Chinese people as well, which blew me away. Cuz when Mansun was going 20 years ago, it was unheard of for Chinese fans to travel over. But we went to Hong Kong a few times, so there’s people at the gigs from Beijing, Shanghai, you know, it was amazing. So I’m up for doing mainland China, but it’s whether it’s financially viable. We’ve got to see. We’ve got to see. We’ve just put a new single out, “Grey House” now, and it’s like will Radio 6 play it in the UK, will it get radio play, or will they just ignore us like usual? So if they just ignore us, then it’ll just be a case of I’ve just got to carry on playing to you know, my own audience, the audience we built up through Mansun, or people like yourself who discovered Mansun and would have an interest in it. So we’re gonna have to really work it and build it. But who knows? At the end, I might just head over and sit in a corner in Brooklyn and sing “Wide Open Space” 9 times.

FL: That’s a solid plan.
PD: That’s my plan at the moment for conquering America. And I’m just gonna keep singing it at them. I’m gonna get on the Greyhound and go into every town until they just give up and rerelease it.

[posted 10.16.17]

Video of The Day #346: Phoenix

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

The delightful Phoenix is in DC tonight, so let's celebrate this French connection by watching their new clip for the suggestive hip-shaker "Ti Amo." Obviously I'm a sucker for vintage film footage, especially when you add smooching and impressive scenery. If you're heading to the show tonight at the Anthem, you're a lucky duck indeed and in for a hell of a show.   

[posted 10.16.17]

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Newsflash!: Win Tickets to Beach Fossils @ 9:30 Club, 10/24/17

You love going to shows. I love giving you tickets to shows. It's a match made in heaven. Read on for how you can win some tickets.

I've been going to shows at the legendary 9:30 Club since I was a teenager, and have seen some of the best of the best grace that venerable stage. It is a pleasure to be offering a pair of tickets to the following upcoming 9:30/IMP show.

It's been four years since Beach Fossils last put out a long player, but Somersault is out now and the fellows are touring the new songs (and, presumably, some older favorites as well) around the US of A. Somersault is no more replication of their earlier fuzzed up surf vibes, and the songs here beg to be experienced live. 

Speaking of that, one of the stops on the Beach Fossils tour is right here in DC. And you could win a pair of tickets to the show on October 24th. All you need to do is pop me an email and tell me why o why you'd like to see Beach Fossils up close and personal. 

FINE PRINT: Contest is for two (2) tickets to this show. Contest closes at noon Eastern on Sunday, 10/22/17. 

Good luck my little beach bums!  

[posted 10.15.17]

Video of The Day #345: Amen Dunes

There’s a bunch of videos out there. Some of them are good. Some of them are a cut above. I like to think my picks for Video Of The Day are a cut (or two) above.

Sometimes I forget just how much I love the Amen Dunes record Love. It's a masterwork of lo-fi magnetism and penetrating intensity, and "Splits Are Parted" is one of several favorite songs from that gorgeous album (see also: "Lonely Richard," "Everybody is Crazy," "I Can't Dig It," and "Love"). The video for "Splits Are Parted" is electric in its simplicity, visually startling without much clutter, an effect that somehow works with the slow burn of the song. If this isn't part of your record collection yet, do yourself a favor. Video and audio for "Lonely Richard" below.   

[posted 10.15.17]

Live Review: Alvvays @ Rock & Roll Hotel, 10/8/17

I've been smitten with Canadian cuties Alvvays since I first heard their self-titled debut long player all the way back in 2014. Yet somehow, the stars hadn't ever aligned as far as getting to see the dynamic dream popsters live. Until last weekend, that is.

The band was booked in for a two-night stint at the Rock & Roll Hotel, and yours truly went to the second night of that twosome. So sold out was this particular show that I walked into the main room and almost smack dab into a wall of bodies. It was at that moment that I noticed the Hotel's much-appreciated addition of flat screen televisions in the back (obviously put in to take pity on those of us who got stuck in the back for sold out shows and aren't all that tall). 

As the pre-set music played, I couldn't help but notice the inclusion of The Clean's delightful dream fuzz dalliance "Tally Ho." If one was giving out high school yearbook type superlatives, I'd vote Alvvays as the band I'd most want to go drinking and dancing with (dancing to "Tally Ho" being an absolute must). 

Things got underway around 9:30, and the band started with "Hey," from new record Antisocialites. They sounded sweet as can be, though not so sweet that they couldn't make the walls shake - quite a lot. "I'll lay mayhem at your doorstep," blonde bombshell Molly Rankin sings in "Hey," and given how loud the show was she's not whistling Dixie. A roar went up for the sparkling fizz of "Adult Diversion" and the divinity of "In Undertow," definitely crowd favorites.

From what I could see, there was quite a little dancefloor cooking up in front of the stage, and that's exactly how it should have been. With delightfully fuzzy nuggets like "Plimsoll Punks" and "Saved by a Waif" on offer, it's no wonder there was a whole lot of shimmying going on. 

As Molly mentioned early on in the set, the band's setlist pulled heavily from Antisocialites - so much so that only "Already Gone" was kept on the shelf. Song after song flew by, the band hitting it out of the park each time. I give them major kudos for not closing the show with big hit "Archie, Marry Me," and instead closing with my very favorite (at the moment) song, the incredibly swoonable "Dreams Tonite."

All told, seeing Alvvays was as wonderful as I could possibly have hoped. Their infectious combination of effervescent sweetness and grounded, wistful realism is as appealing live as it is on record. If you haven't yet seen Alvvays live, I strongly encourage you do so as soon as possible.

Below, check out a few videos from the two DC shows to get an idea of what you missed.


[posted 10.15.17]

[photo from Youtube]