they get no respect in this town, their hometown of london, but we still think they’re one of the best local bands around. they debuted some new songs from their forthcoming album at st giles church smack in center of london last weekend, that’s the album that’s out 8 may with a tour sure to follow, strings by louis philippe, recorded in nashville TN by mark nevers, mixed at bark studio with brian o’shaughnessy. alasdair “al” maclean is practically a member of our family so we forced him to answer some questions for a silly mini-interview. do read on please…
what was it like recording in nashville?
we flew there from new york at the end of a 6-week tour, which had culminated in everyone going on the rampage in an almost unprecedented way, to the point of me getting the horrors and swearing never to leave my front door again, so it was good to recuperate mentally and physically. the main thing I remember from the sessions is watching a lot of watching ‘touche turtle’ in the back room and living in a little travel tavern, where however banal and hungover we were the staff considered us the most charming and intelligent people they had ever met, just because of our accents. I had comparatively little to do with the way this record was arranged and recorded and I think it worked out better as a result.
what’s it like working with louis philippe? Is he like a headmaster? I imagine he makes you do takes over and over.
on the contrary he’s very laid back and pleasant. If it isn’t working he’ll just move on, come back to it later. when you try to sing in key and you can’t, a headmasterly approach only makes things worse. and he’s full of ideas, it’s great just to watch him spin.
what’s the album called? what does the cover look like?
it’s called god save the clientele and the cover is a collage of painted, coloured card that I made over the course of three days lying on the floor with a paintbrush, it depicts owls, rabbits, leaves etc. all coming together in a mysterious sort of conflagration under a moon made of gold leaf.
how does it fit in with your other albums? is this your tribute to the monkees? or what?
everything we’ve ever released is a tribute to the monkees. I don’t understand why people sneer at the monkees, for me they’re the greatest band of all time. if I could be a tenth of what the monkees were I’d die happy. does that answer your question? probably not, so i’ll add that this album is happier, poppier, funnier, faster and slower, simpler and yet infinitely more complex and recorded with a sound that is truly magical. and yet there’s a strange undertow, this feeling of total failure.
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photograph: gail o’hara