If you check out MusicRiot regularly, you’ll know that our contributors have one thing in common; they’re all passionate about (maybe bordering on obsessed by) music. All of the Riot Squad (John Preston, Louie Anderson and, most recently, Klare Stephens) love music of all styles and the reason we do this is because we want to share our passion and maybe get a few more people to listen to the music we love, whether it’s live or recorded. Also, because music is such a personal thing we like to bring that element into our contributions; opinions are always subjective, but at least we’re upfront about it. Often it can feel like shouting in the dark: then you have a weekend like the one I’ve just had.
Last week I published a review of the excellent album “Closer than you Know” by The Kennedys and I was invited to review their gig at Kings Place in London on Friday. I also had a gig lined up for Sunday night, going to watch the Billy Walton Band in High Barnet with some good friends. Both gigs were superb in very different ways; you can read The Kennedys review and previous Billy Walton Band reviews here on MusicRiot and work out for yourself that I’m impressed.
The live performances by these bands, however, are only part of the story. All of the musicians at these two gigs (Pete and Maura Kennedy, Billy Walton, William Paris, Rich Taskowitz and John D’Angelo) are extremely gifted musicians who love what they do and love to interact with their audience personally and online. Both bands mix with the audience when they aren’t actually performing (and sometimes when they are; yeah that’s you Billy and Rich) and have a huge amount of respect for their fans, fellow musicians and songwriters.
Both gigs were superb in different ways; The Kennedys stripped down their songs to arrangements for two acoustic guitars and two voices while the Billy Walton Band played raucous r’n’r (and blues and soul and the rest) in the way that bands from New Jersey do. Both bands were happy to play requests from the audience regardless of the setlist they had prepared. Most importantly, both bands were obviously having a good time. So far, so good, but excellence is pretty much what I expected from these two bands and this weekend was about much more than that.
I’ve been reviewing gigs in London and elsewhere for MusicRiot for six years now and sometimes it can be a bit depressing; you watch incredibly gifted bands and artists performing to audiences which just scrape into three figures and most of them are friends of the band. I’ve been to blues gigs where the majority of the audience at least twice as old as the musicians. It was great to see two very different gigs this weekend where the ages of the audience ranged widely and everyone was there to hear great live music and have a good time. And that brings me on to the reason why we all contribute to MusicRiot.
We don’t ignore the established bands at MusicRiot; we had two reviews of the Daft Punk album last week and we’ve reviewed albums by Bruce Springsteen, Scissor Sisters, Lana del Rey and Saint Etienne in the last year or so. We also love to discover a diverse range of bands and artists that you might not have heard of and tell you all about them so we’ll carry on telling you all about artists like The Kennedys, the Billy Walton Band, MS MR, Sally Shapiro, Tomorrow’s World, Lilygun, Stoneface Travellers, Dean Owens and many more. We’ve even got some pretty good photos for you to look at.
If there’s one lesson that I’ve learned from six years at MusicRiot it’s this; whatever you hear on daytime radio, there’s always good music out there if you know where to look and that’s why the Riot Squad do what they do. And thanks to Richie Taz for the title.
It’s beginning to look suspiciously like the start of summer, what with the rain stopping and the sun appearing at last, but the Riot Squad don’t care about any of that (apart from the fact that we can wear our shades now without looking ridiculous). Anyway, we’ve got a busy few weeks coming up with plenty of live and recorded music to tell you about.
I’m finally going to get to see Anna-Christina’s live, unplugged show “Pretty Little Lady?” this week and I’ll be telling you all about that next week. The highly-acclaimed New York duo, The Kennedys, are touring the UK and Ireland to promote their latest album “Closer Than You Know” and we’ll be telling you all about that later this month. Then, at the end of the month, I’ll be going to Edinburgh to see Modern Misfortune whose first EP is out now.
John’s going to be reviewing albums by Little Boots, Alison Moyet, MS MR and Daft Punk and I’ll be having a listen to The Kennedys album. I’m also trying to get hold of a review copy of the debut Federal Charm album which is out in June. I’ll keep you posted on that.
We’re also kicking around the idea of a monthly Riot Squad podcast to let you know what we sound like and what we’re up to each month. It’s going to be an interesting month.
So, what’s coming up now that we’re well and truly into 2013? Well, I’m glad you’ve asked because we’re going to be very busy over the next few weeks. We’ve got some tour schedules for you from some of our favourite artists, including Anna-Christina from Lilygun doing an acoustic mini-tour and Dean Owens visiting everywhere from the far north of Scotland to the south of England.
John Preston has reviews of Tegan & Sara, Sally Shapiro, Major Lazer and Laura Mvula coming up and I’ll be reviewing anything that pops into the MusicRiot inbox, including the new Martin Harley Band album and many more albums and gigs. Anything else? As it happens we’ll be bringing you updates on the progress of the Radio (in my) Head project which is motoring along at the moment as we get closer to the release date.
And just one other thing; we’re working on a new look for the website with loads of new visuals and presentation ideas which we should launch within the next few months. Apart from that, it’s all a little bit quiet really.
Well, Happy New Year everyone. We’ve already decided that 2013 is going to be great year and we’re expecting plenty of great recorded and live music. And talking of live music, we’re featuring loads of gigs this year starting with some of our friends from Bandhouse Studios as the Radio (in my) Head project approaches its launch date.
We’ll also be talking to Lilygun’s Anna-Christina about her new unplugged project “Pretty Little Lady” and we’re hoping to have a look at that live towards the end of January. Keep an eye out for that because it’s looking very interesting indeed.
My New Year’s resolution is that I’m going to watch as much live music as I can this year. Artists are finding it increasingly difficult to make money from sales of recorded music for many reasons which I’m not even attempting to address here, but we still have a thriving live circuit if you know where to look. Over the next year, we’re going to try to help you find some great live music wherever you live and, if you miss it, we’ll try to tell you about it.
Have a great year.
Well, we’re coming towards the end of the first MusicRiot High Fives season and we’ve got one last guest contribution. If you’ve visited MusicRiot at all in the last 6 months, then you might have noticed a few pieces featuring Lilygun; ok, I admit it, you couldn’t miss them if you tried. The reason why we’ve featured Lilygun so much is really simple; we think they’re a great band. The album’s great (it’s in my High Five), they’re stunning live and they are a great bunch of people to have a beer with. And they were happy to share their favourite five albums of the year with us; so here they are, in no particular order.
“MMXII” – Killing Joke
“MMXII” is Killing Joke’s fifteenth studio album since the band’s formation in the late 70s, following on from their 2010 release “Absolute Dissent” and sees the original line-up back in action again. The album is characterised by end-of-days and environmental themes and has been positively reviewed across a wide spectrum of the music press. “Rapture”, a song about the Killing Joke live experience was available earlier this year as a free download and “In Cythera “ was released as the lead single from the album.
“Choice of Weapon” – The Cult
The Cult haven’t been around quite as long as Killing Joke, although both bands are usually labelled as post-punk, although they moved in different directions after breaking through with The Cult filling a more mainstream niche. After claiming in July 2009 that The Cult would never make another album, founder member Ian Astbury announced in January 2011 that the band would be recording a new album. The lead single from the album “For the Animals” was released in March 2012 via a stream on the Rolling Stone website.
“Lonerism” – Tame Impala
If you’ve been on another planet for the last six months you might not have heard of Tame Impala; we won’t accept any other excuses. There’s a very good reason why this album has been all over the NME and 6 Music and everywhere else that celebrates contemporary music; it’s very, very good. This is the second album (following “Innerspeaker” in 2010) from the Australian group led by Kevin Parker. The track “Apocalypse Dreams” was the first single from the album and is the first song to be co-written with band member Jay Watson.
“Bag of Bones” – Europe
I suppose it’s appropriate that in this supposedly apocalyptic year we should have an album released by band responsible for “The Final Countdown”. This is another band which originated in the late 70s and “Bag of Bones” is the ninth album in a career which began with “Europe” in 1983. It’s great to see that the album is available in CD and vinyl formats as well as the obligatory download. If you have any doubts about the credibility of the album, you might be interested to know that there’s a guest appearance from the legendary Joe Bonamassa on the title track.
This is the first album since Manson ended his deal with Interscope and is released on his own Hell,etc. label. As always, the album polarises critical opinion but if you’re already a fan, you’ll love it. If not, then there’s still a chance; it’s an interesting concept (whether villains are born or created by society and whether villains are more interesting than heroes) which is worth exploring. The singles released so far are “No Reflection” and “Slo-Mo-Tion”.
Thanks to Belle and Anna-Christina for your sharing your choices with us and many thanks to all of our contributors for helping to put this piece together. Have a great Christmas everyone.
We’ve heard and read a lot this year about the death of the album as a format. Well, we’re having none of that at Riot Towers; as far as we’re concerned the album is still alive and kicking (and none of your download nonsense either). The site contributors have all put together their favourite fives of the year and we’re sharing our choices with you as a little festive thank you. As the most senior (oldest) contributor, I get to open the batting for the Riot Squad 2012 favourites. I can’t even attempt to rank these so here we go, in alphabetical order by title. You can find reviews of all of these albums on the site.
This is one of two debut albums in my Top Five for 2012. Natalie’s a superb singer and a great piano player but the songs are something else. Some are observational such as the superb “Old Rock” while others appear to be very personal (“Uncomfortable Silence”); what they have in common is that they are all superbly-crafted songs which work equally well when orchestrated on the album or played live with a smaller drums/bass/guitar/piano set-up. You should really make the effort to see Natalie Duncan live in 2013.
Paul Carrack has been one of my favourite singers for longer than I care to admit so I approached this with a bit of caution; there’s always a chance that an album like this can disappoint. I didn’t need to worry because this blend of originals, songwriting collaborations and covers is absolutely superb. His voice is as stunning as it was 40 years ago and he’s great keyboard player and good guitar player; it’s sickening really. It’s worth buying for the voice alone, but there’s so much more to admire here, particularly the Nick Lowe song “From Now On” and Springsteen’s “If I Fall Behind”.
Another debut album, this time from a band that defies classification. I still don’t know whether this is indie, goth, rock, emo or any combination of the above. What I do know is that it’s melodic, inventive, dynamic and original and the band is great live as well. My first contact with Lilygun was a review of the single “Moonlight” and I’ve seen quite a lot of the band since. This is an album where you don’t shuffle the tracks; it’s programmed to tell a story from the first to the final track and that’s how you need to listen to it. Also featured on the album is the live favourite “Scum”.
This seemed to come out of nowhere in the autumn of this year. All of the band members have been doing their own thing for years and the only motivation for this project was love of the music. Ricky Ross provided the strongest set of songs he’s written in years and they were recorded live in the studio; the result was an album which was fresh, immediate and memorable. I know you can’t rewrite history, but I wish this had been the second Deacon Blue album rather than the slightly bombastic “When the World Knows your Name” (and I’m not saying that’s a bad album). The songs here are much more personal; “Is There No Way Back to You?” and “Laura From Memory” are written in the first person and the ironically- titled “The Hipsters” (the best summer song of 2012) is neatly counterbalanced with the more accurate description of “The Outsiders”. However you look at it, it’s a great album.
This was the soundtrack to my summer this year. I’ve always loved Saint Etienne but I hadn’t really expected to hear any significant new material from them; This was quite a surprise. It’s the perfect package; great songs which are nostalgic but never mawkish with enough references to satisfy any pop trainspotter and the best artwork of the year. From the scene-setting opener “Over the Border”, the album explores the soul of the music obsessive through the great settings of Wiggs and Stanley and Sarah Cracknell’s perfect voice. As with every other album on this list, there isn’t any filler here but, if I have to pick a few standout tracks then “Tonight”, “Answer Song” and “Popular” should do nicely.
Ok I said Top 5, but I also need to give a mention to Dean Owens who released 2 great albums this year (“New York Hummingbird” and Cash Back”) which were both reviewed as 4-star albums. Nobody else managed that particular feat. So, does anyone still want to tell me that the album’s a dead format?
OK, I apologise in advance; this isn’t just a Lilygun review although, if you want me to cut to the chase, they were great and even better than the first time I saw them a few weeks ago. The gig at “Upstairs at the Garage” on Sunday night highlighted issues with today’s music scene that we all need to think about. But I’ll tell you about the gig before I get on my soapbox.
The four bands on the bill all have female singers but that’s just about all they have in common. The first two bands, Cryogenica and Riot in Paradise, didn’t really do anything that I loved instantly but they got a good audience response, so fair play to them. Your Army livened things up a bit with some good songs and energetic playing and powerful lead vocals. Their set moved the night up a gear towards Lilygun’s headline slot.
I know this is a Lilygun live review, but I’m not actually going to say too much about the show. I’ve reviewed the album and interviewed Anna-Christina and if you’ve read those, then you’ve got a pretty good idea about what’s going on. The band are dynamic, well-rehearsed and on top of their game. The set is basically the songs from the album and when the band play this well, they’re a force of nature. The line-up is a bit of a surprise tonight (if any Lilygun line-up is ever a surprise) because Aaron John has taken over lead guitar duties while David Ryder Prangley plays bass and Belle Star (of course) is drumming. The personnel change certainly doesn’t have any negative effect on the band; if anything, they’re a tighter more focussed unit because all of them have already been involved at some stage in the band’s history.
It’s difficult to pick out any highlights because the band was on fire, the songs were great and there was a bit of an edge to the performance as well. You can see “Sunlight Dream”, “Conversations” and “Diamonds” here but my personal favourite was “Scum”, the song which disses all the haters, with an even more personal edge tonight (especially when Anna-Christina made a point of asking Aaron to introduce it).
So why wasn’t the venue absolutely packed out? Four bands to see at a pretty good price; even on a Sunday night, I was shocked at the low turnout. When Lilygun play bigger gigs, they always go down well so why isn’t that audience turning up to a smaller show?
It certainly isn’t because of a lack of commitment on the band’s part. I’ve met Anna-Christina a few times and I’ve never met anyone more passionate about and committed to their music and getting people to listen to it. Maybe it’s London, maybe it’s the recession, maybe everyone’s staying in to watch Downton Abbey. Let’s get real everyone; if we don’t go to these gigs, they won’t happen.
OK, rant over; back to Lilygun. They have a great set of songs with a wonderful sense of dynamics, they’re playing really well as a unit and Anna-Christina is an incredibly charismatic leader. They’ve done the album now and they’re ready to take on the world. All it needs is one little spark and the whole thing will lift off. One synch opportunity, one radio play in the right place or one well-placed support slot is all they need to launch them; they’re ready.
We’ve got some exciting things going on in the near future with some exclusive reviews and releases from some of our favourite artists. Here’s the Riot Towers guide to what’s happening over the next few weeks.
September 10 – Lilygun album release date. Review here.
September 10 – Amanda Palmer “Theatre is Evil” release date. Review here.
September 10 – David Byrne & St Vincent “Love This Giant”. Review here.
September 17 – Nelly Furtado “Spirit Indestructible”. Review coming soon.
September 24 – Dragonette “Body Parts”. Review coming soon.
September 24 – No Doubt “Push and Shove”. Review coming soon.
September 24 – Deacon Blue “The Hipsters” album release date. Review here.
September 24 – Paul Carrack “Good Feeling” album release date. Review here.
September 30 – Lilygun live upstairs at The Garage. Review coming soon.
October 8 – Ellie Goulding “Halcyon”. Review coming soon.
November 2 – Billy Walton Band UK tour starts.
And more pix soon as well.
On a warm August night in downtown Norbiton, I met up with Anna-Christina and Belle from Lilygun to talk about the release of their debut album. As you can see below, it went in quite a few other directions as well.
Allan Exciting times for the band. How does it feel now that the album’s only a few weeks away from release?
Anna-Christina It feels really exciting.
Belle A relief.
Anna-Christina A relief as well. Even though it’s coming out in a few weeks, it’s still in the middle of everything somehow. There’s still so much admin going on and organising the cover. It’s probably really late to be faffing about with the cover, but we are.
Belle It happens like that sometimes.
Anna-Christina I don’t think we’ve really appreciated it yet. Maybe once, we get the actual CD and seeit..
Belle We haven’t actually seen the finished product yet. It’s just mock-ups of the sleeve and things like that. It’s been a long time coming.
Allan It’s a bit strange because I got the link for the review and burned it to a CD, but it’s not the same as having the cover in your hand is it?
Anna-Christina No, it’s not really.
Allan And is the online release at the same time, September 10th?
Belle It might be 2 weeks later; you got us there.
Allan Was Lilygun something that you always wanted to do?
Anna-Christina Yeah. Basically this band’s been going for a long time. This line-up’s really new but the band’s been going for many years and it’s had a lot of changes, been through a lot of down times, a lot of personal health stuff has come in the way. So in some ways this album, the amount of success it has or doesn’t have, it’s almost like success in just having that album alone. It feels like that is victory in itself because so much bad stuff has happened and it seemed like it wouldn’t ever happen, that album.
Belle Anna, it’s a milestone, I would say. Would that be right?
Anna-Christina Definitely, yeah, without a doubt.
Belle She’s been through the mill a bit with band members leaving and whatever.
Allan So, from when you were young, was this what you wanted to do?
Anna-Christina Yeah, it’s weird because I started playing piano first and I started off writing songs like The Carpenters. I was a big fan of Karen Carpenter which probably explains why I sing low a lot of the time because really I’m actually a top soprano and I’ve forced myself to sing low for years.
Belle I didn’t know that.
Anna-Christina So I wrote songs like that and as I got more dark and depressed and sinister and started getting annoyed with situations and people, the songs got heavier and heavier and before I knew it I was writing rock songs but it wasn’t a conscious decision, now I’m going to write rock songs, it was just a natural progression. Then, yeah, I started playing guitar and it went on from there.
Allan So we sort of touched on this already, when did Lilygun start to take shape?
Anna-Christina I think it took shape when Aaron John, this amazing artist, came in and started playing guitar with us and that was around 2008 when he played on a demo. He was the first guitarist that really formed the sound that you hear today. All the weird sound effects and tinkly little bits and bits of magic, we kind of wrote them together and that’s when I think it became more than just rock it went down a different avenue, slightly more of an alternative, edgier kind of thing; more imagination was going into it. So I’d say around 2008 when Belle started playing with us as well.
Belle Yeah, it’s about that time isn’t it.
Allan I said in the review that it kind of reminded me of Skunk Anansie, what they were doing in the early ‘90s with a powerful female lead vocals and a really good technical guitarist doing interesting stuff with the songs as well.
Belle Yeah, well spotted.
Anna-Christina It’s very guitar-driven isn’t it? There’s a lot of interesting guitars, more so than maybe other rock bands that just keep it grungy and straight down the line rock’n’roll kind of thing. There’s other aspects going on which is why I think it’s got that Goth tinge to it as well. I think you can hear the Cure influences here and there, the delay sounds and the sweet melodies that come from them as well.
Belle But it’s not obvious, is it?
Anna-Christina No, it’s very subtle.
Allan I think the strummed, clean Telecaster gives it that sound as well.
Allan How have you dealt with the challenges of getting your music noticed? It’s a different business these days, isn’t it?
Anna-Christina We’ve just been in our own little world up till now. This is the first time we’ve been this exposed really, isn’t it?
Belle Yeah, it is. It’s just been a question of forming the music really and getting all the bits in the right places. It’s only been relatively recently that we’ve had a fair number of gigs close together. It used to be a bit sporadic..
Anna-Christina While we were switching the line-up…
Belle While we were switching the line-up, fiddling around with all sorts of stuff. It’s only been the last year really if that it’s been more consistent gig-wise and there’s been a bit of a foot on the accelerator going on.
Anna-Christina More of a plan…
Allan You can see it coming together now. I check out the website and you can see the new stuff going on there.
Anna-Christina There’s a lot going on actually. It’s surprising; it’s almost like every week there’s loads of news and new stuff and we’re getting loads of interviews now and people are starting to take notice and that’s fantastic.
Belle There’s a little story developing, isn’t there?
Anna-Christina It almost feels like there’s a little buzz. People saying: “What’s this band called? They’re alright. How long have they been going for? ”
Allan Do you think that the way the music business has gone over the last 10 years, with no more 5-album deals or anything like that, no more huge advances, do you think the fact that that helps you to bypass the retailers has helped you or hindered you?
Anna-Christina I think in a way it’s helpful, because you can stay independent. Financially it’s more difficult because you have to pay for everything on your own and doing an album costs a lot. There’s a lot of other things involved that you don’t calculate when you’re preparing for it; other costs that come into it like sending out press packs and stuff like that, it does become very expensive. Even paper and ink and envelopes and little things like that just add up.
Belle If you weren’t independent, you’d have access to all of that.
Anna-Christina Exactly, but on the other side of the coin, you’ve got more control and you don’t have someone coming in messing up the songs and messing up our image and saying “You can’t wear that” or stuff like that.
Belle The independence thing, it’s great for control freaks.
Anna-Christina Yeah. What are you trying to say?
Belle Well, it is…
Allan One of the earliest interviews I did for Music Riot was with an American singer who broke through in the ‘70s and he’d been through the mill with the music business and told me about being asked to deliver an album to a deadline and delivered it to the deadline, on the nose, and the label made them wait 6 months for the artwork before they would release it. You can imagine how frustrating that is.
Anna-Christina It kind of loses energy in a way when you have to wait. We had that with our EP; it just took so long to finish it and get it done that by the time it came out, the excitement and the energy had gone.
Belle Yeah, that’s very common for that to happen, very common.
Anna-Christina But with this album, we did take our time but I think we needed to do that because…
Belle Somehow we’ve got round it and it still feels ok. Even though it is a while it doesn’t seem to have lost its energy for some reason, which is a bit of a miracle.
Allan I’ve heard artists talk about life-changing experiences but you really did have a horrific experience. Can you tell me about that and how it changed your life?
Anna-Christina Yeah. Before that I was ruthlessly working as a song writer towards certain goal and it kind of knocked me off track because I was so ill afterwards: I had a brain haemorrhage and it took me a long time to recover from it even though my operation was a success (I had 2 operations and the first one didn’t work and the second one, it worked and I was very, very lucky to come out of that). It was such a shock to experience something like that so young and to be in hospital, in intensive care, and see things that you can’t imagine and you can’t even explain to other people how awful it really is. It’s a real reality check, something like that. It really knocks you back down to earth and afterwards, it took me a long, long time, quite a few years actually, to get over it because I was just sick all the time. I was trying to do Lilygun, trying to progress but my health was a real issue and it was a battle, it really was, and I also think that’s why it’s taken so long for us to get to this point. Every time it felt like it was ready, I’d just be constantly ill, I’d have to pull us out of gigs because I couldn’t perform and I think also, I couldn’t write, I had writer’s block as well. I couldn’t even put into words how I was feeling.
I was so emotionally just a wreck; one minute I was high, next minute I was down. It was such a rollercoaster of feelings and it almost felt like, I don’t know, I wasn’t a normal human being any more. So my attitude towards Lilygun really changed because at one point it was quite dark and I thought I can’t really continue like this because it’s just too much of a battle but then on the flip side of the coin I thought “Look at me, I’m alive, I can still do it, keep going and don’t give up”. It could have been much worse for me and after I went through the whole “Why did it happen?” phase, suddenly it was like I switched and it was like I was alive and this is so amazing and at the gigs I felt more emotional than I’d ever been before because it wasn’t just a gig for me; I’m so lucky I could get back on stage and carry on with this. People have no idea the state you can get into; once you don’t have your health, you’ve got nothing. And maybe when you’re younger you don’t realise how precious that is but when something like that happens to you, suddenly you really, really appreciate life and you learn to enjoy every minute of it.
Which is another reason why the album took longer because we did an EP before and I did a lot of the recording of the album myself and had a lot of struggles with the EP because, as a sound engineer, I was trying to learn as I was doing it and I made a few mistakes. With the album I really wanted to learn the technical aspects of it as well; not just being the performer I wanted to engineer it and learn about drums and recording. I was there at every single recording session to learn; when Belle was recording the drums I stayed there minute so I could absorb like a sponge all the information and experience of it. I was learning as a sound engineer at the same time.
Allan And that’s all part of how the final thing comes together, isn’t it; understanding the technicalities?
Anna-Christina Yeah definitely and also emotionally being able to tap in to the songs. I think, after that operation, with music in general and the songs, I could tap in to the emotions easier than I could before and I think it just went crazier as well. Now I go really crazy and it’s like, calm down. I had to start really working out because I wasn’t fit enough to jump around on a stage like a lunatic and I realised it; I thought I’d better start getting a bit more fit.
Allan And finally what can we expect in the future?
Anna-Christina Who knows with this band? It seems so organised but, in fact, Lilygun is one of the most crazy…there’s so much drama, there’s so many twists and turns, so many different things happen but, one thing’s for sure, it keeps going.
Belle Anything can happen.
Anna-Christina Anything can happen but it just keeps going on and as it goes on it just gets stronger and stronger. I don’t know if it’s the understanding of it or that will and passion that’s still alive and kicking, you know what I mean?
Belle I think mademoiselle has a fantastic spirit and it won’t be broken.
Belle There you go. Never mind who’s in the band or not in the band.
Anna-Christina It just goes on. There’s a lot of musicians I’ve had in the band, they thought that when they left or if they weren’t there it would just stop and I don’t even know how it carries on; it just keeps going on and on like it’s just out of sheer willpower and the love of music and performing as well.
Allan Do you think the line-up’s fairly stable at the moment?
Anna-Christina Well we’re down a bass player at the moment, so we’ve got people coming in and they’re going to come in and jam with and stuff like that.
Belle It’s stable in a sort of, the table’s got 3 legs way but we’re holding it up at one end, way.
Anna-Christina But I think that’s almost become a characteristic of Lilygun now. It’s kind of a joke with our friends and fans because they turn up asking who’s going to be playing today. It’s a nice surprise usually because different players keep it very fresh and it keeps us on our toes.
Belle Every few months there’s a different line-up.
Anna-Christina Maybe that’s just Lilygun, maybe that’s how it’s going to be.
Belle Maybe that’s how it’s meant to be.
Anna-Christina I’d prefer it if was really solid and stable, to be honest. It would save me going grey quicker.
Belle You’re obviously very difficult to work with.
Allan If you can tie down all the other bits then you can go off and be creative, can’t you?
Belle This is it. There’s a lot of faffing about and chasing around, isn’t there?
Anna-Christina There’s a lot of extra stuff that people don’t realise goes on. It seems like it should be easy being in a rock band, doesn’t it? You just get 4 people together that love to play their instruments, who want to play in a band. It should be easy and yet for some reason, even after all these years I still don’t know why it’s not easy. Me and Belle, we’re so easy to get on with. We get on with pretty much anyone that comes in; we’re so laid-back and chilled-out.
Belle Personality is a big thing though in successful band line-ups, as I’m sure you know, and sometimes people just don’t click. There’s no magic way to find the right people, it just happens or it doesn’t.
Anna-Christina And sometime people’s egos as well…
Belle People’s egos can get in the way, can’t they?
Anna-Christina And that’s a shame because you should work together as a unit. When 1 person’s great, it just makes everyone look great. It shouldn’t be competitive. It’s just you moving forward like the Power Rangers or something; you all put your fists in the middle and this bright light comes out. That’s how I think it should be but, for some reason someone complains that someone else’s light’s brighter or something…I don’t know.
Allan I read an interview with a singer who had a 10-piece band (including 4 horns) at 1 time and he said that a band is never a democracy because they can’t even go to a restaurant and decide what to eat at the same time.
Belle There’s got to be someone steering it a bit or at least 2 or 3 people steering it and 1 steering it a bit extra.
Anna-Christina Maybe it’s easier when you form at school then because a lot of bands who formed at school seem to last longer maybe because they’ve got that core friendship. Me and Belle, we were actually friends before Lilygun and he’s never been a band member, we’ve just got a different relationship. He was my friend, we were down a drummer and I said can you come and play and that’s how our relationship formed really isn’t it and it’s never complicated with us. Unfortunately , to find 4 people that are that easy-going and good at their job at the same time is surprisingly difficult.
Allan Anyway, thanks very much and good luck with the album.
Anna-Christina/Belle Thank you.
You can see pictures from the Lilygun gig which took place later that night here.