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tasty 17 - interviews


- Chumbawamba
- Ant Harding
- The Reverse

 

 

Chumbawamba
Tasty takes a brief chat with Alice Nutter, mainstay of the veteran tubthumpers, as they release a free single and umpteenth album..... 

What’s your general reaction to the Jubilee. Do you think the left can or has counteracted the monarchy in any useful way?
I think when the Queen Mother died it was quite different from when Diana died. This time it was all false sentiment, mainly perpetuated by the media, yet there were no voices of dissent. I find it very odd that we can celebrate and pay tribute to people who don’t give a shit about us, and have never done a days work in their lives to help anyone. 

And so why have you not released the single more widely (it is available only to those who have signed up to their e-mail list via the band’s website).
We’ll, we’re as opposed to silly novelty records as anyone - we didn’t want to come across as some kind of alternative Sex Pistols by releasing a record just because it’s the Jubilee, we’d rather do other things. We’re doing a free republican party in Leeds, for example. However, we do think it’s important to do free things and give things away for free - we didn’t want to do benefit gigs for example, and when we asked Rob Newman to do it he said he wouldn’t come along if it was some kind of benefit. I like the ideas of the Reclaim the Streets people - they take some space and have a party in it. 

That’s fine, but let’s look at the politics behind the subject. In the last issue of tasty Billy Bragg said that we shouldn’t be celebrating the Jubilee, we should be celebrating Englishness and what it means to be English today. What do you think we should be celebrating instead of the Jubilee?
There are so many things to celebrate about our culture which are never properly recognised, truly revolutionary things such as Punk, Dance music, and lots of English comedy like Brass Eye - even Alistair McGowan. I’m quite suspicious of multiculturalism - people are split up by their economic situation whether you like it or not. 

And so, do Chumbawamba still hold great faith in anarchism?
We see ourselves as part of the anti-capitalist movement, and we like to judge people by what they do, not by what they say they are - especially as we’ve all grown older. If we want to get down to specifics, I’d say I was an autonomous Marxist - but I’m especially inspired by groups like the Zapatistas and what’s going on now in Mexico and Argentina, and by people like John Jordan and Reclaim the Streets. 

But closer to home, what do you make of the Socialist Alliance?
I’ve worked with some SA activists on our anti-jubilee plans, and generally they’re good people, but I think that chasing votes is more important to the Socialist Alliance than addressing the lack of democracy in the country. They need to offer a more radical form of democracy for ordinary people, not just come along each election and say, ‘Vote for me, I’m nicer than the other fella!’. I think a decision is needed as to what the Socialist Alliance wants to be. 

But what future do you see for the left?
I don’t think it’s a case of just looking at the ‘left’. I think this is a fantastic time to be part of the anti-globalisation movement and we’re in a period which will be seen as a great leap forward.

If you take this period and stand it up against the 1980s when kids were involved in simple, single issue causes then this period wins hands down. I think the anti-capitalist movement is much more educated about wider issues now, and that can only be a good thing.

 
 

Ant Harding
A one quarter of the heavenly Hefner, Anthony Harding, aka Ant, can do no wrong. But the blighter has gone and outdone himself by releasing his second solo album, ‘A Long Way To Blow A Kiss’. tasty talked to this most charming man..... 

What's different about making music on your own and with Hefner? Which do you prefer?
Making music on my own is basically that! Recording at home on a portable studio whenever I feel the urge. In the kitchen or the living room! Now and again asking a friend over to play on a song. With Hefner it's very much Darren's baby. He writes all the words and music so we just contribute our bits to the instrumentation and arrangement. As we all have our own "let's try one of my songs now" competitive streak you might find in other bands. We had a great time and made some great records. But there's only so much enjoyment you can get from a small set of drums! So I definitely prefer doing my own music. I get to make all the decisions now!!

Your songs seem incredibly personal - is this a conscious decision, or a more organic process of songwriting?
When I write a song I'm not thinking about who's going to hear it or what people will think of it, I'm just writing about something that's happened to me or something I'm feeling at the time. It's not until it's finished and recorded that I begin to get self conscious about its content. But that's what I do. My muse has always been my relationships or my lack of them. So it is very personal, but then a lot of the stuff I grew up listening to had lyrics about love/relationships like The Fieldmice, The Smiths, Prefab Sprout or The Wedding Present. So I guess I found it natural to want to express myself in that way.

Do you see an end to Hefner, or will the group always exist in one form or another do you think?
Well there's only so far you can go when you don't sell enough records to please the record company! I think it would be a shame if it all ended for good. At the moment it's all up in the air. Darren and John are working on some electronic stuff in a studio in London, very secretive! And Jack is releasing his wonderfully folky album soon, on an American label. I don't think we will ever return to doing Hefner full time, I think we did all we could do, but it would be nice to make another record one day. Who knows.

What music were you listening to when you were making the album?
The album was written and recorded in dribs and drabs between winter 1999 and winter 2001. So I guess quite a lot! But the main influences I can think of around that time, were Sandy Denny, Tim Buckley and David Bowie. The Sandy Denny box set "Who knows where the time goes?" is one of my favourites, full of seventies soft English folk. Also the Buckley box set "Morning Glory". Both folksters but in different ways. Also "Bowie at the Beeb" reawakened my love for the thin white duke. Other faves at that time would have been: Tom Waits' "Mule Variations", Stina Nordenstam's "This is...", Vic Chesnutt's "Left to his own devices", both the Mark Mulcahy albums and the magical return of Leonard Cohen with his "Ten New Songs".

You've currently left
London to live abroad- do you think that this will help you as a musician and songwriter? If so, why?
Of course. Any new situation or surroundings are great for new inspiration. Especially if you are experiencing a different country and culture. I'm hoping that being here in Sweden will help shape the sound of the next record. There's certainly a lot more space here and being close to the sea again is great. It's a totally different atmosphere from London. I'm currently learning to play the violin. So maybe that will make its appearance on the next album.

What's your favourite Hefner song, and why?
I think probably "I Stole A Bride". I think it's a beautiful song and it always gives me a chill when we play it live. I remember when Darren first wrote it. We were sharing a flat in Walthamstow at the time and Hefner was in its very early stages. I remember reading the lyric and thinking it was fantastic then. Years later we did it for a John Peel session and that version was so good it made its way onto our second album. One of Darren's best songs ever I think.

Are you looking to work with anyone else in the future?
I have no plans to drum with anyone else at the moment. It's nice to have some proper time to work on my own songs and records. But you never know what might come along. I would like to work with some different musicians on my next album. My keyboard playing is a bit limited! Let's see who I can find out here in Sweden.

 

The Reverse - Sex With Kylie at All Tomorrow’s Parties?
Mmm...they wish, instead this London foursome will have to make do with producing some of the finest maudlin pop music around.

Tasty talked to the rutting-mad young tyros... 

Tell me a bit more about how the band came together.
Jason (drums): To start with it was Nathan and my good self with just guitar and drums. Sam then came onboard to help with recordings ‘n stuff and through stealth merged into the band proper. Joe is a life long friend of  Nathan’s and when he joined the circle was complete. 

Sam (guitar, keyboards, beard): Well i knew nathan through his likkle sister, and i started helping nathan and jason out with some engineering when they were recording some of their tracks - and bit by bit ended up becoming a fully fledged member. that must be 2 and a half years ago now. we did our first gig as a full band, what, 2 years ago? 

Nathan (vocals, guitar): For quite a while it was just Jason and myself, Sam began by recording us, though it wasn't long before his input became more involved and he joined the band. I'd known Joe for years and aware that he'd played bass in the past I'd suggested he might like to get involved. He'd declined numerous times until we sent him an early demo, really because he was producing a fanzine at the time, however he loved the demo, realizing we still needed a bass player offered his services and within a week had gone out and bought a bass! 

Joe (tha bass): Erm, think the others have explained his one... nothing earth shatteringly interesting I'm afraid...  

If you could name three equally as diverse influences, who would they be?
Jason: My Mum, Steve Gadd and Bruce Willis… umm…

Sam:Tricky, The Verve, Voix de Bulgares (not sure about that spelling

Nathan: Leonard Cohen, Fela Kuti, Pavement

Joe: Here's 3 bass players: Steve Querault (Ride), Billy Sheehan (Mr Big), Flea (RHCP, you gotta love im) 

How would you describe your music?
Jason: Fookin great! Like a million cascading colours swirling around one another, creating a new colour no one has ever seen before. Hang on my joint’s gone out…

Sam: moody but jangly, like an angry morris dancer

Nathan: Probably through a hesitant and stumbling monologue where I attempted to describe our sound without using any obvious reference points, instead relying on more oblique adjectives like spiky, warm, beige? ultimately I'd give up, gaze at the floor for awhile, mention the words alternative and Bob Dylan and offer to send the person asking a demo.

Joe: Unwillingly to be honest. People ask me all the time and I always come out with the usual "Erm, sort of indie... guitary... erm... some keyboards... erm", which says absolutely nothing. But for PR purposes we've used in the past, "The Reverse combine pure velvet vocals, twinkling guitars, and a juggernaut rythmn section to devastating effect." Equally non-specific, you might say... 

What do you want to achieve with the band?
Jason: Everything that my mind and body will allow.

Sam: I want to be sat on the sofa of a studio listening to a brilliant album that we've just spent months toiling over - I'd love to tour as well.

Nathan: Everything.

Joe: True and lasting happiness, preferably by being able to make the kind of music we want to make and not have to work shitty jobs. 

Who do you see as making worthwhile music these days…apart from yourselves?
Jason: U2, Beck, Radiohead, Kylie.

Sam: Manu Chao is fucking brilliant, anything Timbaland produces as well (Missy Elliot etc).

Nathan: Recently been listening to The Bees, Roots Manuva, The Notwist and The Streets.

Joe: Despite what a casual read of NME might suggest, I reckon there are loads of good bands out there if you're willing to look hard enough. Lately I've been listening to a lot of The Jim Yoshi Pile-Up, Shannon Wright, El-P, Explosions In The Sky, Cinematic Orchestra, Nina Nastasia, and Pedro The Lion... amongst others...  

What’s in store for the future of The Reverse, ideally?
Jason: Sex with supermodels, freedom of the World and expensive trousers.

Nathan: More gigs at better venues playing to as many people as possible. Sooner or later Simon Cowell is bound to hear about us on the grapevine. watch out for the reverse reality tv program which involves us auditioning groupies. Ok I'll stop now.

Nathan: Releasing the music we want to on our terms.

Joe: My ideal would be to hook up with some kind of band collective that puts on its own shows - sick of dealing with shitty promoters only interested in takings not music - put out a couple of singles on a small independent, before selling out for a big tour bus and crippling coke habit. Preferably via curating All Tomorrow's Parties at some point along the way. 

See The Reverse’s  website at http://www.thereverse.co.uk

The band can be contacted at thereverse@graffiti.net