So Rob always has his top ten Brighton albums of the year and it’s always very good and there are usually one or two overlaps with Jon’s but they’re never the same, so in the spirit of diversity and a reflection of the excellent year 2016 has been for music, Jon thought he’d drop a few Rob failed to mention and which happen to be top of his list. Continue reading
This particular part of BMB tends to be a bit of a Grinch this time of year and would be minded to bury any band who recorded a Christmas song deep deep deep in the cold cold snow. But this year the little cockles that warm must have reached my heart because there have been what even I consider to be some very fine seasonal offerings from the local Brighton crew. The BMB mainstay will be back to restart his best-of-the-year list shortly, but in the meantime, here’s some jingle jangle sweetness for you.
We mentioned the Random Acts of Vinyl xmas EP a few weeks ago, but it’s so good we’ll mention it again. This time we’ll feature the Delta Bell, with Kate’s beaut of a 60s Phil Spector-influenced song Hey Santa Claus!
Next up are our favourite bentcousins, with an anti-Christmas break-up song. It’s simple and endearing, perfect for this time of year really if you’re sipping brandy alone and wrapping presents for one. .
Danny Green was a longstanding Brightoner, part of the Willkommen team and a regular feature on this blog thanks to two outstanding albums until he upped and moved to London earlier this year. However, as Laish he is still one of the finest writers of songs of a Brighton persuasion and he has just released a seasonal EP, with sad confessional songs that recount a depressing stay in a freezing Berlin, inform us that we are unlikely to get a present from Danny this year, and in his annihilation of Silent Night, a reminder that the usual drunken debauchery will probably end up in fighting. I love this a lot.
Finally we have a new upcoming release from electro-pop Becky Becky, out on Monday. it’s the usual dirty disco weirdness that we enjoyed on their album this year and you’re bound to love it. Here’s taster track, Bells Ringing, which should give you a flavour of what we’ll get on Monday.
On the 9th of April at the Komedia, Brighton’s Laish plays support as Melting Vinyl bring Simone Felice to town as part of his current UK tour promoting his new album Strangers.
Simone is known for his unique folk music, and Laish should be the perfect complement to the main act. Tickets are on sale now for £12 + bf.
Also coming up is a new single from electronica act Anneka. So far, Big Bad Change is only out there as a live video on YouTube, but it’s getting a proper release later in the month, which we’ll give you more details about as we hear about them:
We’ve got a seasonal round up for you this week, with festive tunes put out by local artists, some modern takes on traditional tunes, some new compositions. Hopefully this will get you all in the festive spirit:
Catherine Ireton – Christmas My Baby Is Blue
Jacko Hooper – Silent Night
Crayola Lectern – SFXmas
Nick Hudson – I Forgot About Christmas
Laish – Silentish Night
The Boy Who Kicked Pigs – The Christmas Song
Becky Becky – Bells Ringing (Xmas again)
Chris T-T – A Child Is Born (Chris T-T’s previous Christmas tunes are also up on Bandcamp)
Thomas White – White Christmas
Curxes – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Us Baby Bear Bones – Santa Claus is Coming To Town
Last weekend’s gig pick post was all about quality not quantity, and we promised we’d be back this week bigger than ever. We’re still not scrimping on quality but we’re probably featuring more gigs this week than we ever have done.
We’re going to kick things off with a couple of gigs happening tonight. Normally we treat Thursday as the start of the weekend, but when two of favourite bands are playing we’d be fools not to give them a mention. IYES play their first ever headline show at the Prince Albert, which we’re very excited about. We’ve been huge fans since we first heard Lighthouse at the end of the year, and they haven’t disappointed since. Best of all it’s a free gig! Elsewhere, down at the Blind Tiger, Brighton Music Blog favourites The New Union are supporting Let’s Buy Happiness.
Thursday night is where we normally start our weekend gig round up, and the weekend proper is starting strong with Calico headlining Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. Support comes from 900 Spaces and Blackwell, and it’s four pounds to get in. Meanwhile, Normanton Street are playing at the Mesmerist.
On Friday some more of our favourite bands are supporting at the same gig. Pawws are supported by the fantastic GAPS and Dog in the Snow (as well as Saint Savanna, who are local and new to us). And it’s a free gig – Green Door Store, you do spoil us. There’s also a free gig at the Blind Tiger, headlined by Transformer, with support from Eagles for Hands, whose new EP we love.
Saturday night’s big gig is the Physics House Party taking place at Sticky Mike’s. As well as the awesome Physics House Band, AK/DK, Alphabets Heaven and Suffer Like G Did are also playing. Over at Fitzherberts, Speak Galactic and Soft Arrows are playing at a night called Ruff Stuff, where Owen from Speak Galactic and some of his old bandmates from Cinemascopes are unveiling a new project called Merlin Tonto.
Rounding off the weekend nicely at Sticky Mike’s, Esben & The Witch play the Brighton leg of their national tour promoting Wash The Sins Not Only The Face. At the Green door store, there’s an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Gram Parsons early death in 1973, aged only 26. There’s loads of local bands getting involved – the list includes The Self Help Group, Dollboy, and Amy Hill plus various members of Laish, The Repeat Prescriptions, Super U, The Standard Lamps, Woodland Blue, The Pooh Sticks, Lolly & the City of Flies, Redlands Palomino Company, Englemann Spruce, and Lost Dog. Get there early enough and you’ll also get to see Pete Wiggs from Saint Etienne DJing before the live acts.
This is not a live album. But this might just be the best album of songs you will hear all year. It’s certainly one of the most fun and enjoyable.
This is not a live album although it was recorded live in a single 5 hour session at the home of Dave ‘the Well’, somewhere near St Ann’s Well’s gardens in Hove. Danny Green’s band had just come off the road after a successful tour and were on the top of their game, sounding as tight as tight can be. So basically, what you get here is a top band with an inventive neu-folk sound running through their full live set, ostensibly for a Simple Folk Radio session but without the annoyance of an audience or sub-standard recording normally necessitated by the ‘live’ environment. In fact, with Dave ‘the Well’ at the controls you’re getting a totally crisp and fresh re-working of a terrific collection of songs, some of which haven’t made it on to a Laish release before. I guess this is what recording the Beatles First LP was like (yep, and the sound here is definitely that good).
And it really is a terrific collection of songs.
The set starts with a reworking of ‘Visions’ from their new Obituaries album, and like many of the songs from that excellent album it is sounding new and refreshed here, clearly benefitting from time on the road and the crystal clear recording facilitated by the Well’s studio.
Second song ‘Warm the Wind’ is a Brighton Music Blog single of the year – a brilliant and hilarious song about a desperate man’s attempt to warm his partner’s heart, to little avail. Love is an object it says, something to make.- and he wants to make some. The ironic soft soothing backing vocals from the girls in the band are joyful, the playful whisps and turns of the backing musicians immaculate. Where else do you get to hear James Joyce mentioned in song?
And so it goes on. You get ‘Carry Me’, the song of the brilliant video about the penguin and the horse and Danny Green as some sort of guitar-playing hedgehog. Other songs from the Obituaries album (Vague, Discipline etc) have been reborn through touring and sound fresh and original in Dave’s recording. From the first album, ‘In the morning’, one of the most perfect love songs that wasn’t written by Neil Young. The marvellous ‘A Happy Accident’, about the chance in birth and life (that song about a hole in a condom) with the reaffirming refrain “I don’t know what to do with myself, I should probably just give up and try somethng else” (but no, don’t).
‘I am enraged’ which has featured in the Laish live set for some time but never made it onto a recording until now is probably the best song about Lewes or rather anti-Lewes, as a symbol of the compromises we have to make in life. The interplay between the band is electric. And then there’s the beautiful ‘We Speak the Mantra’, a perfect song for today’s austerity times, about being poor and staying strong. I guess Danny thinks he doesn’t do politics, but this is a very good political song, wrapped up in warmth and love and (as the song Vague declares, typically of Green’s songwriting) “full of pathos”.
The last song ends on a note of optimism, with a reminder that “we always have a choice”. You have a choice. Listen to this album or miss out on one of the most vital vibrant songwriters currently at work in Brighton or anywhere.
Buy Live at the Well at the Laish bandcamp site – out today.
Before we get onto this weekend’s gigs, we’re going to remind you all about Record Store Day. Hopefully you all know about this Saturday already, but did you know that as well as Resident getting involved, Borderline, Rarekind, Cult Hero, One Stop Records and RK Bass records will also be stocking some of the RSD exclusives. It’s sad that Rounder are no longer around to fly the flag, and a warning that you shouldn’t just go and support your local independent shops just one day of the year!
Anyway, onto the gigs. On Thursday we like the look of Tiny Dragons and Rotait on the support bill for Johnson and the Believers at the Green Door Store. If you fancy a bit more of a grand setting, Mountain Firework Company are on at Saint Georges Church in Kemptown.
Friday night’s pick is Brighton Music Blog favourite Laish, who’s headlining the Prince Albert supported by Emma Gattrill and Martha Rose.
Saturday Night we suggest you head down to the Blind Tiger where Flash Bang Band will be bringing their unique brand of indie pop to the party. Alternatively Cloud, Becky Becky and Kellar play at the Green Door Store.
We’ve also got a couple of picks for Sunday night – We’re very much looking forward to seeing Cate Ferris back in town at the Blind Tiger. She’s been on tour for a while and it seems like ages since we caught up with her. Over on the other end of town, it’s Brighton Folk night at the Brunswick, with Mike Newsham, Donna Fullman and Sam Green.
The Source New Music Night is the regular monthyl gig co-sponsored by Brighton Source magazine and the Dome and which features an array of excellent new local bands at a bargain entry price. Last month was psych night, and this month the event had a totally different atmosphere with tables and chairs and candlelight. It was a cool vibe, and the four acts were each different and superb.
First up was Bella Kardasis, an act we’d never come across before but who was quietly impressive, playing some stunning atmospheric guitar tunes, with a variety of finger-picking, strumming and string-tapping style and an engaging in-between song story-telling banter.
Le Juki were a threesome comprising the previously-featured Bunty on vocals and rhythms, guitarist Lee Westwood and Jules Arthur on violin and keyboards. The Le Juki thing is a lively mix of experimental dance-oriented songs. The lyrics seemed to touch on capilleries, Star Wars, being buried alive, insects and food amongst other things. But the experimentation comes in the music, which included Bunty playing drums on an up-turned picnic box and Jules picking his violin like a guitar amongst other things. It was sonically inventive and interesting, and ended with the threesome getting their ‘name’ t-shirts in order to sing an acapella song out front of the stage.
After the break we had a solo set from Danny Green, without the rest of his band Laish. Laish are currently launching their excellent new album ‘Obituaries’ which has been garnering 4-star reviews from all and sundry. Danny opened with the brilliant song ‘Warm the Wind’ from the new album, and then played another, but the remainder of his set comprised new songs which have not yet been recorded. It’s a sign of how excellent Dan’s song-writing is, that these too sounded like long-time classics. Dan’s voice has a lovely authentic northern warmth and his lyrics are down-to-earth yet beautifully uplifting. Tonight he was on-fire with a gorgeous guitar sound that was well above the standard sing-songwriter. Laish are one of the finest bands around in Brighton and well-worth checking out.
We interviewed Danny recently and you can read his insightful thoughts on songwriting and music-making here.
Headliners tonight were another Source favourite Jennifer Left, the band fronted by northern chanteuse Jennifer Dalby. Starting out a little nervously for their first song, Jenn then decided to kick her shoes off and from then on the band came alive and played a set of cabaret-infused pop-folk full of great songs, including their singles Black Dog and Diggory, and their stunning interpretation of New Order’s Temptation.
So, four bands for four pounds and another great night of inspiring local music.
Next month we’ll be into a noisier selection of bands, and I doubt there will be candles. But it will no doubt be great all the same. Check their facebook page for more info.
Words and photographs by Jon Southcoasting
Normally our weekend gig picks have events from Thursday night onwards, but with the weekend starting a day earlier this week thanks to Easter, let’s kick things off from today.
Tonight Rizzle Kicks headline the Dome in a charity fundraiser for Audio Active. We wrote about the opportunity for a local act to support them – congratulations to Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn who won that honour. Alternatively, at the Green Door Store Abi Wade is support at the launch of Charley Bickers album Our Frail Hearts.
On Thursday, it’s the monthly Source New Music night with Jennifer Left, Laish and Le Juki. This month, rather than being at the Dome Studio Theatre, it’s at Church Street Bar, which will offer cabaret style seating. Our other pick for Thursday Night is The Beautiful Word, who are playing a hometown show midway through their national tour which is hosted by Communion.
We’ve also got two picks for Friday Night. The first is Les Enfants Terrible – a new monthly night being held at the Blind Tiger bringing you new Brighton talent. Bands on for their first night are We Spies, Lion Bark, Animal Language and Girlfriend. Our second pick takes us up to the Green Door Store, for their regular Pelirocco Platters night. New Street Adventure, Tiny Dragons and The Chances are on the bill.
Saturday sees Fragile Creatures at the Blind Tiger, supported by Garden Heart and Land of Youth, and on Sunday we’d recommend heading up to the Green Door Store where House of Hats and Jacko Hooper are supporting Tom Staniford, or over to the Blind Tiger where Sweet Sweet Lies are supporting Louis Barabbas.
Laish’s new album Obituaries is released on 25th March. It’s another terrific collection of songs, with all the usual wit and pathos we’ve come to expect from one of Brighton’s finest songwriters.
Laish head honcho Daniel Green met up with our own Brighton Music Blog resident songwriter from the Hiawatha Telephone Company to talk about the story of Laish, the new album and the art of songwriting.
HTC: So where did it all begin? Have you always written songs?
DG: I remember writing songs from pretty much the minute I learnt to play a few chords. I used to write songs with my brother (comedian Matt Green), he’d tend to write the lyrics and I’d write the chords.
HTC: Were they funny songs?
DG: No they weren’t, they were teenage angst songs about vague mythical women. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really remember writing songs, they kind of happen when you’re not really there and then you find a box full of papers and ask yourself how did you do that.
I remember finding a box of songs and lyrics I’d written when i was about 14 or 15 so I have been doing it for that long but I don’t really remember them and I couldn’t play any of those songs now.
HTC: So when did you start performing?
DG: Pretty early. I was at a school where there was a music teacher who was enthusiastic and encouraging to anyone who would pick up an instrument, and I was playing drums and electric guitar so he said you’ve got to form a band and I remember singing some covers, at the age of 15, and singing a Manic Street Preachers song at a school assembly.
But there was quite a gap between that sort of thing and Laish. I went to university at 18 and stopped performing music pretty much. I had a guitar and a 4-track recorder with me, so I occasionally made a few hideous demos but nothing very serious and music wasn’t an ambition at that point and I got more into drama and the usual university shenanigans. Music didn’t seem like something serious that I could do. I didn’t have any friends who had done that.
Then after university I went to India for a year. Just before that I’d been to the Green Man Festival. Bonnie Prince Billy was headlining. And I just remember picking up a guitar and trying to remember songs around the camp fire. It was when the festival was still small and the bands used to hang out around the campfires and sing songs and it was all very jolly and I just remember a few people listening to my songs and saying “You’re quite good at this, you should probably do this some more” and up to that point I had never really thought of it as something I could do. So, it all started at the Green Man Festival.
And then I went to India, travelled around for ages. and bought a cheap guitar and got quite excited out there, just playing simple stuff. I don’t think a single India song has re-surfaced in Laish, it was all drivel (laughs).
HTC: It wasn’t going to be the Beatles’ White Album?
DG: No. Then I came home and started a band in Newcastle and we played a few gigs but I decided to move to Brighton and Laish was born there.
HTC: Was it just you initially?
DG: I just decided to make a name for better or worse, and I still can’t decide if Laish is a hideous name or a good name (Ed note: ‘Laish’ is a Hebrew word meaning the tribe of Dan), but I remember putting an advert in Edgeworld Records looking for band members and about 4 years after I put that advert up I was still getting phone calls from people asking if I was still looking. Did no-one else put an advert up in there?
HTC: And then it closed down. (Edgeworld)
DG: Yes. So I decided I was going to start recording music under this name Laish and I guess I thought it was like the Bonnie Prince Billys and the Smogs of this world who have this name but it’s not really about being a band or solo and you might see them as either but there’s always going to be a core songwriter there and that was what I was going with. And funnily enough that’s exactly what happened.
HTC: So when did you move to Brighton?
DG: I think I moved to Brighton in summer 2007.
The initial band was a guy called Bob, a girl called Fiona and Jess – who now plays in Fear of Men.
HTC: Another good Brighton band. I’ve been listening to their album of early singles and extras, and like it a lot.
DG: Well Jess was part of the foundation of Laish. But that kind of fell apart. The band who made the first album was Cathy Cardin singing, her voice is on the first album a lot, and Ben Gregory on bass, Mike Miles on drums and Jo Burke on violin. And that was a fairly stable line up until it also kind of fell apart and I started again from scratch.
There was an interlude when I found Jen Rouse. We had a tour coming up and Cathy couldn’t do it so I thought we’d get someone else in. I think we found her through Gumtree. Jen’s great, still a really good friend – I went to her wedding – but at that particular time she’d only just moved to Brighton, we went on a tour and it was all very stressful with big gigs and headlining, shit like that. It was very intense and then suddenly it wasn’t. And the band went pfft again. Ben was off on tours with other bands and doing some tour managing. Mike was off with his other band and Jo was on tour with the Medieval Babes in America for months. I was literally left without a band anymore, they had all just buggered off.
So I started doing a few solo gigs and then gradually Emma from Sons of Noel and Adrian decided to join, and we asked Martha and then Patrick was living with Dan the drummer and that all happened within about two weeks of me thinking Laish was finished. Suddenly it’s not!
HTC: But it’s a funny kind of band, because everyone in the band does other things. Most bands, the members are in the band and that’s all they do.
DG: That seems to be a Brighton thing, there’s something in the air, people can’t bear to just do one thing.
HTC: You drum with the Sons of Noel and Adrian, Patrick’s in the Sons and Emma as well, and Emma does her solo stuff and plays with Mariners Children. It must be a logistical nightmare?
DG: And now Martha lives in Berlin. Dan (the drummer) is the only sensible one who just plays in Laish.
HTC: I thought your last UK tour was very economical, where you had Emma and Martha as your support acts.
DG: Yes, we’re going to do that again. Martha and Emma always go down well because Laish are on the cusp of folk and they probably fit more into the folk side of things so it’s a nice kind of crossover to have at a gig. It just gets progressively louder as the evening goes on. If you come to one of those gigs it’s like you get to meet the girls first, one at a time, and then there’s the full band.
.HTC: It’s kind of like an introduction. And it’s a nice contrast, with your slightly northern, masculine element and then the two girls. It makes for an interesting combination.
DG: I guess I’ve always liked that combination of male and female voices. It’s basically Leonard Cohen, that’s what it comes down to. He’s the archetypal model for that sort thing. I don’t think he was an influence when I set out making music but as I’ve listened to him more I can see he’s obviously a big influence in terms of the sounds we create.
The fact that Emma and Martha were in the band meant we could suddenly experiment with that. It wasn’t like we wanted a band with two girl singers, it just happened.
HTC: And they definitely add something to the presence on stage because they’re very comical…
DG: Yeah, they upstage me the whole time!
HTC: …but the songs are good enough so that doesn’t matter! And although you’ve got more rocky of late, your songwriting still has lots of soft sides. It’s not folk but it’s not ‘rock’ either.
DG: No it definitely isn’t. I think I’m veering towards being a bit noisier. But I find I’m always caught between the idea of writing a song for the stage and writing a song for an album and I never know which one i’m trying to do at any given moment. Often I’ll write a song sitting in a room by myself and I’ll pick out some nice finger-picking and it’ll be a quiet folk song, but then I bring it to the band and it becomes a massive rock song and so maybe it’s nice for the recorded version to be different. It’s a trick used by many bands – when you go and see them live, they turn it up. I’m interested in that, but it’s not really rock music is it?
HTC: No, but it’s not folk music either.
DG: I think Martha’s violin gives it that feel, but it’s not folky. I just read a review today that started by saying we’re known as ‘indie folk’ like it’s some hideous brand…
HTC: Mumfords all the way…
DG: But then they described us as baroque rock, and I thought that’s not really what we are, and they said we sounded a bit like The Miserable Rich, another great band from Brighton, but I just don’t see it. I guess the fact that there are strings and there are songs…
HTC: There was a phase a few years ago, when there was like you, the Mariners children, the Sons, Shoreline – all these bands with similar sounds and sharing players and it was almost like there was this one sound…
DG: The Willkommen sound…
HTC: …whereas now it’s pretty diverged…
DG: I guess everyone got lumped together with the Willkommen Collective thing. I’m sure it’s been useful to us in terms of generally spreading the word, and on a social level and it got me a band, although we could have done that without the label, we didn’t need to give it a collective name to be friends or to play together, but I don’t know what it means now. We’re all still here, still making great music but it has definitely changed. The label doesn’t exist anymore, but we still put on gigs, and we all make music. We still like each other (laughs)
HTC: So it gives you a resource, and if nothing else a good mailing list. I wanted to come back to the masculine-feminine thing though because the sound is one thing, but it’s also there lyrically. I’ve always loved the humour in Laish songs, the tongue-in-cheekness, and an immense positivity which is really different from the charicature of an indie band ‘look, the world is terrible and we’re really depressed’ but Laish isn’t like that.
DG: I often find myself at gigs thinking all my lyrics are a bit miserable and depressing. Like “I don’t know what to do with myself, maybe I should just give up and go try something else…”
HTC: But that’s a perfect example. Because the traditional thing is “I just don’t know what to do with myself” full stop, a bit morose, whereas yours is humorous, “maybe i should go and try something else” whilst performing in a band on stage! It encourages a wry smile, but you don’t feel that?
DG: Not for that particular song. Obviously there are joke lines in some of my songs and I guess inspired by the Leonard Cohens or Bill Callahans of this world, that kind of deadpan straightfaced humour in song, where you have to think about it and realise that he’s taking the piss. I guess it’s a bit like that when I sing “I’m a serious man” and you can kind of feel like everyone’s thinking ‘no you’re bloody not’.
HTC: There’s a lot of Laish songs like that. One that I really love is the last song on the first album, ‘A happy accident’, about being born due to a hole in a condom. Where did that come from?
DG: That was written at a point when quite a few of my friends started having babies and I wasn’t really up for the idea at the time and I just remember thinking about one particular couple, well I didn’t really think it but the idea came into my head, that you wouldn’t put it past her [to make a hole in a condom], you know what I mean?
And then I took that idea and wrote it from the perspective of this child that had grown up because of a mother’s deceit and a slightly wet father that doesn’t really know what’s going on but just goes along with it.
HTC: It’s a brilliant song. And when it’s sung it always sounds like it’s completely about you and so personal because…
DG: I know and I feel really bad about that, because my parents come and see me play and the fist line is so brutal about my father, a father. Sorry dad, but it’s not really about you! I mean I’m sure my father is a troubled man, but not in that way. Just as troubled as anyone else is.
HTC: It’s interesting that when you put ‘a father’ and ‘a mother’ in a song everyone will immediately think it has to be personal. I have a song like that (‘Child is father to the man’). It’s such an intimate relationship, it’s like ‘Why would you write about something that intimate about somebody else’s father and mother?’
DG: I don’t know. The ‘I’ in a song is always open to suggestion. That’s a whole other conversation about the autobiographical element in song, but to me it’s completely irrelevant, it doesn’t really matter.
Or even the lyrics alone, it’s the whole package not just the words, but what’s going on with the music as well.
HTC: It’s the difference between autobiographical and literal. Every song comes up through the songwriter’s experiences somehow, but it doesn’t mean it’s all accurate and true. The song ‘Obituaries’ is kind of interesting from that perspective…
DG: How do you take it?
HTC: Well, I used to love reading obituaries because it was like a whole life story in a couple of paragraphs, and they were usually really interesting because to have an obituary written you’d think the person would have to have had something interesting about them otherwise why bother. It was that idea of capturing a story in this tiny space, a bit like a song….
DG: That’s my answer!
HTC: …but it’s obviously an important song for you. Not only are there two versions of it on the album but you named the album Obituaries.
DG: I already regret that – I’m worried that people will think it too miserable – but everything you’ve just said is relevant, I like the idea of songs as obituaries. I mean everything is contained in them, but nothing is contained in them. You can tell a story but you condense a lot into it.
HTC: I used to introduce my own song Richard and Liz sometimes as having ‘the whole of life in it’ which it kind of does, as it references love and death and gangsters and movie stars, but it’s that idea of having all of life in that little contained space. But why two versions and then name the album after that song?
DG: I don’t know. I guess I like the idea of the live version and the recorded version, it seemed like one of those songs it was interesting to rework. We’d done it before to other songs but then not always recorded the alternate version, and the original idea was to begin and end with it but that didn’t really feel like it was working and also once we’d recorded the slow verison it didn’t really fit anywhere on the album so we thought either we cut it, or we stick it on at the beginning, and then I thought that would be quite nice as it gives you a sort of dark brooding introduction that draws you in, and then boom – hit single – track two! (laughs)
I guess with all of these decisions there’s never really a master plan, it’s just a case of trying to put all the pieces together in a shape that makes sense and that makes a sort of narrative out of different songs that are in reality about different things. There’s a thread I suppose, I mean a lot of the songs are about death and a lot of them about sex and it’s about trying to reconcile the two, so yeah… (laughs again)
HTC: Have you read Georges Bataille?
DG: No. Sex and death? It’s the oldest trick in the book isn’t it?
HTC: We should talk more about the album. It seemed quite a long time in gestation because i remember you talking about it being ready a while ago.
DG: Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve been doing this for five or six years now, from start to finish, and I guess the more I do it the more I can see that being a musician is a very seasonal thing, like there’s a time for writing and recording, and there’s a time for going out and playing gigs and the season for touring is February to May-ish, festivals in the summer, September to November for another bit of touring and then anytime inbetween is kind of dead time where its either too cold or too sunny and so you have to work around those constraints. And then there’s always going to be distractions, there’s always going to be life that gets in the way but the music’s always ticking over, I’m always thinking about the next thing.
I’m already thinking about the next album although we haven’t started recording it yet, I haven’t really decided which songs although there’s lots of new songs kicking around. It just takes a bit of time and I have to do it in whatever time becomes available and then it kind of happens and you just know when it’s ready. It takes as long as it takes. It wasn’t like there was something that delayed us, it just took as long as it takes.
I’m always amazed by bands that can knock out an album a year, or even more. You think ‘well done, great’ but it takes me about two years to do an album. And because it feels like we’re more of a band now, rather than the Daniel Green show, we spend more time on the arrangements and then everyone else’s time becomes important too, and they might be off doing other things, like Emma’s playing with the Mariners and Martha’s in Berlin so it’s tricky. After this interview, I’m going down to the studio to meet Dan and we’ll work on some new stuff, just me and Dan, guitar and drums. Normally there’s all of us, but when there’s only the two of us I’d rather get together and play than sit around at home.
You think you take two years to do an album but how much time is there really available? One session a week when you’re working? How much can you do in that? You might rehearse one song, but then you won’t nail it in one go, so one song can take three months before you’re even ready to record it. It’s a lot of work.
HTC: The new album’s a lot richer sonically compared to the first one. The recording’s a lot richer. The first album sounded more folky whereas the new one sounds more produced. How did that come about?
DG: The found sounds were always something I liked to do when I was recording, you know if I had a bit of space in a song I’d stick a microphone out of the window and see what happens. Get some sounds of some birds or some rustling paper or whatever. There is still that on the first album but it was still me coming to grips with how to record stuff, where I was learning but not fast enough. With this one I knew a lot more but the difference in sound is a lot to do with Mike Steer who mixed it. He really knows his stuff and he really spent a lot of time on it.
Basically, the album was recorded at home but then handed over to Mike to make it sound good. As I was recording it I was mixing it but as I was mixing it I realised how incapable I am at mixing because, well… you go – the guitar sounds good, to my ears, the drum sounds good, to my ears, and the violin sounds good and everything sounds good but then I’d put it all together and it sounded like shit and I don’t understand why.
Luckily I met Mike at a gig where he was doing the sound and he said if I ever needed anything doing… and so I said ‘Yes, I need an album mixing right NOW. Will you do it?’
So I gave him a track and he mixed it and I sent it back because I absolutely hated what he’d done with it and I was going to ditch him when something in me said that even though I hated it I could tell that what he’d done showed he really knew what he was doing, he just hadn’t done it in a way that I liked. It was a taster but I didn’t really like the direction he went in, but when I got him on the right track then he was away. It meant it came out more pop than it would have done because I’m just not capable of that. Not that poppy I suppose, just a bit more accessible.
HTC: The first track I heard that made me aware of that difference was the Obituaries single released last year because it sounded so different. Partly that was the new band I suppose, but also the arrangement, the way the song was constructed, different…
DG: I do think that song is a bit of an anomaly for us though, I don’t really think there are many other songs that sort of sit with that song. It’s a bit of an oddball in a way.
HTC: It felt to me more like a statement of intent. That Laish weren’t going to be in that old folksy mould anymore.
DG: I just wanted to make some noise. Like when the drums kick in, what you hear is white noise and that’s what I wanted to be there. I didn’t want it to be like a folk band playing a bit louder.
HTC: Are you going further in that direction with the new stuff? Is there going to be more change?
DG: There’s definitely going to be more change. The constant pull between writing delicate folk songs and pop music. I’m not quite sure where we’re going but everything’s changing and I’m not yet sure what direction I want to take it in. The only thing I’m certain about is that I want to make music that’s suitable for a bigger stage.
I think it’s clear Daniel Green and Laish are set to play on bigger stages.
The new album ‘Obituaries’ is available on March 25th. It can be ordered via their bandcamp site and should be available in all good music stores.
There will be plenty of opportunities to see Laish in the Brighton area before they head out on their next national tour. First of all Danny is playing a solo set at the next Source New Music Night at the Dome studio theatre on 28th March. There’s a small in-store to accompany the album release at Union Music Store in Lewes on April 13th (3pm), and solo support slots for Danny and Emma at the Six Toes gig at the Prince Albert in Brighton on April 14th.
You can catch the full 5-piece band at their headlining show at the Prince Albert on Friday April 19th which kicks off their tour.
They also play Meadowlands Festival on 26th May and the End of the Road festival at the end of August.
So go forth. Enjoy the Laish.