Review: Mosh – Unbreakable Wall

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“Unbreakable Wall” is a debut release from Mosh, an Israeli musician who “pours the human experience in all it’s rage, sadness, and happiness into his music as he explores universal themes of inner conflict, relationships with others and relationships with government.”

Speaking of the sound of “Unbreakable Wall,” it has a very solemn, jazzy feel that is brought some brightness in the form of Mosh’s vocal melodies. Due to amount of range Mosh possesses he is able to single handedly change the mood, or evoke some otherwise unseen emotion, in the various points of his songs. The effect of this is seen excellently on the track opening song “Keep on Moving,” where he begins the song with some low-register singing and then during the chorus he extends himself into a melody that would trip most vocal chords of the average rock singer. Throughout the song his constant change of singing, to all out bawling, to quiet talking makes the mood of the listener swing with the hymns. The instrumentation on the track and throughout the song is also superb and helps create the perfect backdrop for Mosh’s vocal expertise. Of special effect to this is the harmonica solo, courtesy of Roy Rieck.

Passionate performance on the lead single “Fish Us” sets the tone for the more mellow and emotional delivery both vocally and instrumentally, what tells about how far “Unbreakable Wall” goes when it comes to diversity. The mood of “All I’ve Got” is a fair bit optimistic than the previous song. The song has an acoustic guitar in it, and some other instruments. Mosh’s awesome voice shows in this song and his guitar abilites do as well. “One Way Out” is a mood-changer; stylistically it almost borders with the 1970s funk music; it comes with a catchy groove that makes it one of the highlights of the record. Warm vintage sound of electric piano in “You’ve Reached My Arms” and psychedelic vibe evolving around Mosh’s and Zoe Polanski’s vocals bring “Unbreakable Wall” to new heights. The instrumental work in “Save Me” serves as such a beautiful background for Mosh’s vocals, leading to some of his best performances on the album.

Overall, “Unbreakable Wall” is a pleasant listen, and perfect alternative rock offering from a musician that clearly knows what he wants to achieve.

Bad Elephant keep on surprising…..

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It seems no sooner have I cleared the  (self-created) backlog than bad Elephant add more interesting releases to this years schedule, which means there will be a couple more to add to this site in due course, it also means of my journey to work on the bus is enlivened by interesting new music, and odd toe tapping and finger drumming, which must be a delight to all the other passengers. Still at least I don’t play this loud through a tinny speaker in my mobile phone…maybe I should. Have you ever noticed that the worse the music, the louder it is likely to be, and the most likely it’s going to be coming from a smart phone?  Anyway, I digress, I shouldn’t let my mind wander as it’s not old enough to be out by itself.

I may have mentioned before that the earlier part of this year has involved moving, and so from March to the middle of May we were living out of boxes and struggling with finding what we needed, never mind anything else, I don’t think my stereo system was set up until the end of May, luckily I could still get to my laptop where the releases from Bad Elephant kept coming through thick and fast, and blimey what a diverse and eclectic release schedule they have had so far this year.

A well-known outspoken progressive rock ‘character’ has been quite forthright (again) this week on Facebook about how modern prog is dull and boring, or to quite his words ‘Prog is Bog’and how there’s no truly progressive bands out there. I think that Robert John Godfrey could do with joining the BEM fan page on Facebook, and then he’ll be able to see which bands are doing the creating and where the new voices in prog are coming from. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but to slate an entire contemporary genre, which some could argue is leaving him behind, without putting in the hard yards and listening to large chunks of what’s out there does him, and the genre he’s supposed to be part of and has been a champion for in the past, a great disservice. God there’s a whole chunk of music out there I haven’t heard yet, but as any good reviewer knows, your mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is opened. Anyway I’ll put away my little book of reviewing clichés now and crack on with another batch of music from those Elephant boys. I hope once you’ve had a read you take the time to investigate some of this music, which is at the cutting edge of contemporary prog.

Pardigm Shift

Paradigm Shift – Becoming Aware

 

Released back in June, this début album from North London 4 piece mix the best of contemporary prog, with nods towards prog metal and electronica, taking a broad musical palette that brings to mind so many different bands that is hard to know where to start.

Paradigm Shift aren’t shy about covering heavy topics and Becoming Aware is chock full of them, drawing inspiration I imagine from the darker world that we are currently living in. However if you’re expecting the album to depress you and bring you down then you’re wrong, the topics may be heavy but the mood set here isn’t.

A lot of that is down to the musical prowess of the band, the taut musical ability of this four piece who were founded back in 2007 by Ben Revens (vocals & keyboards) and Reuben Krendal (guitars) joined by Bryson Demath (drums) and Leon Itzler

(Bass). Moving through styles and moods with dexterity and grace, and with some fantastic piano pieces from Revens.

From the opening power of A Revolutionary cure, with its sampled speeches about freedom and slavery, topics that recur throughout the album, as the band are interested in the ideas of politicians telling the people what to do and the counterargument that these ideas fail, and it is this that drives A Revolutionary Cure, this and the powerful guitar and keyboard combination of Revens and Krendal, whose versatility taking in what some would describe as classic prog tendencies, mixed with metal, and running the whole gamut to some finely textured jazz piano means they are covering all bases musically, and to do so with such aplomb and self-assured confidence is great to hear.

The fact that these guys are so young gets forgotten, as this album builds and builds, with some amazing guitar work throughout. The album flows organically each track leading into the other, and it shows a lot of care and thought has been put into the programming and running order, which is wonderful to hear, an album designed as such.

There are certain traditional prog sensibilities on display here, from the epic 14 plus opener, to the two beautifully performed instrumentals, The Void, segueing nicely into the Shift, here Revens piano playing is to the fore, and it’s an instrument that helps define their sound, as integral to the album as the drum and bass combo of Demath and Itzler who provide real power and momentum on tracks like the closing two epics of Masquerade and Reunification.

With 4 tracks all clocking in at over 8 minutes, they give the songs room to breath, room to expand and grow, and yet nothing seems or feels superfluous, the tracks are this length because that’s how they are, no padding or waffle throughout.

This is an assured and confident début from another strong young prog band with plenty to say, and believe me it’s well worth you listening.

Nine stones close

Nine Stones Close – Leaves

 

Founded by guitarist Adrian Jones, five piece Anglo Dutch proggers Nine Stones Close released this, their fourth album in May, and see’s the band build on their legacy and a few line up changes, as the band has coalesced round Adrian Jones, drummer Pieter Van Hoorn, Aio O’Shaughnessy on impressive vocals, Peter Groen on bass and stick and Christiaan Bruin on keyboards. With the new line up comes a change of direction as well, although as this is the first album of theirs I’ve heard I can’t really comment, although I do know that Aio’s vocals are of a very different style to previous vocalist Marc Atkinson.

There is a lot of power here, and it’s hard to imagine on tracks like Lie that there’s only 5 men performing, as the intensity and groove they build is fantastic, as the instrumental precision and power here builds and builds as Adrian’s guitar work matched with Peters bass climbs and climbs in intensity and power and pulls you in.

The only short song on the album is the 5 minute opener Complicated, which eases you in gently before the power of the album kicks in, and what power, with some amazing musical work throughout the album it’s difficult to say which one of the 5 songs is my favourite, although I am edging towards the 16 minutes plus epic Spoils, where the symphonic textures and guitar create a tension that simmers throughout the track, with Aio’s fantastic vocals shining throughout this track, he has impressive range and a subtle skill in moving through light to dark, reminiscent of great singers like Dio or Bruce Dickinson, whilst the musical symphony that the band creates is fantastic, and the acoustic interludes and musical riffing throughout are superb.

This is a rather amazing record, which ends with the title track, Leaves, when you consider the power and darkness that has been on display throughout the album the title track is almost a counterpoint to what has gone on before, with an ambient undertow and almost minimalist playing until it builds to a hauntingly beautifully climax.

There is a lot going on with this album, and a complex sound that echoes long after the record has finished, this is definitely a left field album that is pleasantly surprising.

Konchordat

Konchordat – Rise to the Order

 

Third album from South East based prog 4 piece Stuart Martin (vocals and guitars), Neil Hayman (drums), Steve Cork (bass) and Neil Watts (keyboards) unleash, after much delay, their third album on an unsuspecting public through the Bad Elephants, and after having started out as a studio project, the current line up has evolved into a popular live band, and the power of a live band is reflected in this album.

Moving to a heavier sound, with the opening Like a Heart Attack kicking straight in and grabbing you by the throat with its heavy sound and driving keyboard work, you know you’re in for a treat. Operating firmly in the more traditional end of neo-prog, and adding symphonic touches to the sound, reminiscent of Threshold the sound they make is mighty and on Nowhere left to Go there is a wonderful driving Hammond influenced vibe. With the shortest song clocking in at just over 6 minutes, the rest of this material has room to grow, and plenty of opportunity to show off their power and skills. The bass and drums of Steve and Neil (Hayman) anchor the sound and allow Stuart and Neil (watts) to go nuts in guitar and keyboards, giving us a rich and warm sound that is a delight to listen to.

Konchordat are purveyors of prog that sits on the heavier side, but unlike other bands who throw the baby out with the bathwater and focus on the technicality of the metal and lose the soul, Konchordat have the songs to pull it off without it ever drifting into a technical bore fest, they have remembered the key part of any album is starting with the songs, and as a consequence have created a well crafted album that packs both a musical and emotional punch which rewards listen after listen.

Heliopolis

Heliopolis – Epic at the Majestic – Live at Rosfest

 

American prog band Heliopolis mark their new relationship with BEM by releasing their set at last years American prog landmark festival Rosfest.

The 5-piece band, Jerry Beller (drums and backing vocals) Matt Brown (keyboards, lead & backing vocals) Kerry Chicoine (bass and backing vocals) Scott Jones (lead vocals) and Mike Matier (guitars and backing vocals) perform their 2014 album, City of the Sun in its entirety.

Again this is my first introduction to the band, and from playing it I like what I hear, there’s plenty of old school prog tricks throughout the album, with some of the wonderful harmony vocals shining throughout, particularly on the uplifting and elegiac New Frontier, listening to the audience’s reaction to the band’s performance it’s clear that they are loving the bands performance, and it is a confident and strong performance, as the band take the audience with them and treat them to some barnstorming performances, Scott Jones vocals are excellent throughout and he reminds me in part of Steve Hogarth crossed with Geddy Lee, whilst musically Heliopolis are a traditionally old school prog band, with plenty of epic keyboard pieces like the soloing in Take a Moment, and with some fantastically powerful drumming. There’s even a hint of Yes in Mr Wishbone/Optical Delusion, whilst Elegy has a gentler piano driven vibe to it that nicely counterparts the more complicated songs with a simpler sound. Live albums are always a different beast to their studio counterparts as they show the evolution of the songs and how the music has grown to fill a live venue, and I am sure that if I sat down and listened to City of the Sun I would be able to play spot the difference, as a live experience is something to be treasured and for those lucky enough to be at Rosfest would have enjoyed this performance, and this is an excellent souvenir of a one-off gig, and for those who couldn’t be there, this is a fantastic document of a band playing to their strengths and an incredibly supportive audience.

Under a Banner

Under a Banner – The Wild Places

 

Lets not forget that Bad Elephant don’t just operate in the prog world, they are home to such songwriters as Tom Slatter, jh, and Mothertongue, all of whom are operating in totally different genres. As anyone whose spoken to David Elliott knows, he loves his prog but he also loves his folk rock music, and Under a Banner from the midlands are definitely operating in the rock end of the folk scene.

Following on a long line of political bands from this scene, like Billy Bragg, The Oysterband, The Levellers amongst others, Under a Banner have been plying their trade for around three years.

The band Adam Broadhurst (vocals/guitars) Jake Brooks (guitars and backing vocals) Simon Hill (bass guitar) Tim Wilson (drums,percussion, backing vocals) and Kat Davis (keyboards) are a powerfully tight folk influenced rock band with a mighty mighty sound.

From the opening In the End, you are drawn into the story telling that Adam weaves around the superb music from the band, his distinctive vocals draw you in, and the power of songs like Birdsong hit you from the speakers, the big choruses and elegiac quality to tracks like Sunburst leave you blown away.

I confess to having a loving of folk rock and the whole political movement behind the bands, with folk songs literally being the music of the people, the oppressed, the dispossessed, the downtrodden, the ones who want to see a change, and lord knows the way the world is at the moment we need a change, and it is refreshing and pleasing to know that there are bands like Under a Banner out there documenting today’s struggles, with some passionately played and relentlessly driving folk rock, the guitar solos on Snow Song, complete with it’s harmonic vocals and instrumental piece building until the guitar sears through the sound is particularly amazing.

I have had this album in my lug holes as I ride the bus to work, and each time I listen reveals new and intricate sounds and the sheer power behind the songs is superb. No overtly complicated arrangements, and certainly no 20 minute epics, instead the whole ‘less is more’ ethos works here in spades, and as new folk rock crusaders go, these guys are one of the best of the bunch. It’s an album that leaves you wanting more, and I cannot wait to see this brand of fiery anthemic folk rock performed live, with the connection that you would undoubtedly get between the band and the audience.

I cannot recommend this release enough, buy it, put it in your ears and let it live!

All albums are available as always through the Bad Elephant website www.badelephant.co.uk

Chris Wade aka Dodson and Fogg: An Interview

Chris, first I would like to thank you for sparing some time (again) from your obviously busy schedule. You’ve just released your second album this year and also written two band biographies on The Incredible String Band and Black Sabbath. This is also your third interview in less than a year by Progarchy with the other two by Craig Breaden to be found here:

https://progarchy.com/2013/02/10/steamfolk-the-derring-do-of-dodson-and-fogg/

https://progarchy.com/2013/06/30/sounds-of-day-and-night-by-dodson-and-fogg/

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Now I’m not normally a folk music listener but after reading a number of positive reviews of your first three albums and listening to them on numerous occasions, you’ve definitely converted me. Not only is there a special beauty to the music you write, but Craig made an important observation in an earlier interview which resonates with me deeply:
“The impulse to go long, as his folk and other prog rock predecessors might have done, is also resisted – there are few wasted notes or words. Less is more sometimes, and service here is done to Song.”

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The Call is your fourth album in a very short space of time. Your first two albums evoked classic 70s folk music but your third album, Sounds of Day and Night, developed a dreamier, slightly psychedelic sound with Eastern vibes in places. There was more use of the electric guitar and the arrangements were slightly more complex. What can we expect musically from the new album?

I’m not sure how to describe the sound, because developing from album to album is more of a natural, gut thing really. I write a song and colour it in with different sounds, and keep going until I have a set of songs, say 12 or 13, to fill an album. Then I usually carry on recording and there’s a process of elimination, where new ones come in and replace the older ones, until I am happy with it from start to finish and happy with every single note. It’s really concentrated work, and I love the mixing and producing part as well. I work on it every day. And while four albums in a year and half may seem quick, to me that year and a half has felt like forever. It literally feels like ages since I did the first CD. But this new one is by far my favourite, even though I keep saying this every time. I would say the album is full of unusual sounds blending together, it definitely has a vibe to it, quite surreal maybe and for me “songs” are very important, i.e. something with a subject, an approach, a hook, a chorus and then I think about the best way to colour the song in. I like to make interesting music that surprises and hopefully takes the listener away on a nice trip. it’s hard to describe your own work without sounding like a frilly coloured fop.

Lyrically you appear to be focus upon mellow reflections on life, love and nature. Does The Call follow this path?

My lyrics are always whatever comes to me. A phrase might come up and I elaborate on that. The lyrical content on The Call seemed to follow the same path. It’s all about awareness, being aware of your life, what’s going on around you, the people who are in your life with you and understanding what they have or have not done for you, and not forgetting that. I didn’t purposely explore this as a theme; it just seems to have developed that way. It sounds pretentious to say, but it does have a theme to it; it’s about not wasting time and appreciating the things that are here now, and may not be here in the future.

What inspires you lyrically and what comes first, the music or the lyrics?

It differs really. Many songs have been written on an acoustic guitar. I find a sound or a chord and then get a melody going, and like I say, a phrase might come into my head and it goes on from there. I love getting a different chord progression or guitar sound as a starting point and then I decide what else to do. Lyrics are becoming more important though with each album. I’m not into the idea of obvious lyrics, like openly complaining about the government or work, or the plight of the everyman, and if I do ever sing about it, it isn’t blatant. Also it’s good to write about a real issue or a feeling but not ram it down the listener’s throat. It’s good that people have their own meanings and thoughts on songs. Lou Reed once said that he didn’t like to tell people what his songs were about because it might disappoint them, and they may have attached the song to something precious in their own mind. Sorry I am waffling on now…

It’s not waffle to me Chris! – I know exactly what you mean about lyrics. Lyrics resonate with people in different ways; they become very personal and sometimes finding out the real meaning from the artist himself can disappoint.

Chris, you’ve introduced Chloe Herrington on saxophone and Ricky Romain on Sitar on the new album. Guest artists appear an important ingredient to your output. How important is the collaborative process in producing the music of Dodson and Fogg? 

It’s mostly important for me because I listen to a track and think ‘this might sound good with a sax here, or a sitar there.’ Sometimes I think if you’re a one man band (not like the fella that sung Rosie with the bass drum on his back) you do need character and colour from elsewhere. Celia Humphris of the folk band Trees (one of my favourite bands) appears on the new album again, and I feel her voice is very important. There was one song I wasn’t quite happy with and then she did her vocals and I loved it. So it can be really important. Coming up with the idea of the specific musician though can be quite random. I discovered Knifeworld on the internet a few months ago and loved the sax on a track, so got in touch with Kavus of that band to see if Chloe, his sax player, would be interested in playing on a track. It can be like hearing someone and then imagining them on my song. It’s a great part of it. But save for one trumpet part on Sounds of Day and Night, I was the only musician on it. So it’s not essential all the time, but I love the process of hearing what someone else has done and putting it into the song.

Chris, it’s a big understatement to say your multi-skilled! – you play so many instruments and write books on both music and surreal comedy. Do you have a first love?

Definitely music. I have played, or attempted to play at least, instruments from a really young age and always collected records as a boy. I used to dream of having a band, and I did have one with my brother and sister when I was younger and we did gigs for a while, but it fizzled out so I turned to writing, something I had also done since I was a kid. At first I got into the surreal fiction when I did the audiobooks of my stories with Rik Mayall and Charlie Chuck, but I soon found it too be quite limiting and turned back to music eventually last year, thank god, with the first Dodson and Fogg album. I didn’t expect the feedback to be so good, so I carried on and I’ve been learning more about music, releasing music and everything that comes with it. Music is definitely my main thing now and the main focus in my work and hobbies. With my music going reasonably successfully and with such a great response to it, this is the first time I have felt a proper direction, so it’s great. But I can’t take any of it too seriously, because it is still ridiculously fun!

The increasing production of music in vinyl format has attracted a lot of interest over the last few years. I read that the first album was to be released on vinyl but haven’t heard anything. Have you any more plans for vinyl releases or is the production cost too prohibitive?

Yes a company called Golden Pavilion is releasing the first album in a run of 500 next year and I will have around 50 copies available from my website, unsigned or signed, whichever is preferred. I should add though that a signed copy might add an extra value of 3 pence to the item, so I suggest the latter.  I would love to have the others on vinyl too one day, and it might be possible, so fingers crossed.

You appear to be at a creative peak replete with musical ideas. What’s next on the horizon for Dodson and Fogg, a live tour, another album?

I’ve been writing more songs, but then I tend to write songs all the time now and some never get finished and others get put in a scrap folder. But for now I am going to promote The Call and start work on more tracks after that. I don’t have any other projects lined up at the minute, so I’ll think about the next D and F album. I would love to do some gigs but I haven’t found the right musicians for the gigs yet.

Once again thanks for your time Chris and good luck for the future.

For those who would like to purchase the new album  “The Call” please visit Chris’s website here:

http://wisdomtwinsbooks.weebly.com/

or you can purchase from Bandcamp here:

http://wisdomtwinsbooks.bandcamp.com/album/the-call

Steamfolk – The Derring Do of Dodson and Fogg

ImageThere was a fairly determinate point in the British folk rock movement of the late 1960s/early 1970s where a second string, following on the heels of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, made a bid for eternity.  Trees, Mellow Candle, Mr. Fox, and the chamber folk musicians, like Nick Drake or John Martyn or Roy Harper or Michael Chapman, bent their axes in a more idyllic, often trippily electric, singer-songwriter direction, creating everything from full-out jazz improv to fairly quaint hippy platitudes.  The rarity of some of the LPs these artists produced is legend — it took the internet to demystify them, and reconnect listeners to a wellspring of achieving, often remarkable, sometimes dated, music.

As a touchstone for inspiration these records are nearly without peer, independent and uncompromising.  But having a Vashti Bunyan album in your collection and making music that you make your own is another thing.  Chris Wade, who leads the project Dodson and Fogg — as well as being a rock writer in his own right — has done that with Derring Do, the group’s second album.  Derring Do elaborates on the first, self-titled Dodson and Fogg record, while taking a leap forward lyrically and musically — the limitations of a home studio have become strengths, the writing delivering songs that fit together.  Wade has achieved this by understanding the tools he’s working with, and by having a deep respect for his inspirations while retaining his artist’s eye and ear for what does justice to his songs.  So he’s able to coax graceful backing from two of British folk rock’s great singers — Celia Humphris (Trees), and Alison O’Donnell (Mellow Candle) — while maintaining a focus and direction of his own device.

There are traces on Derring Do that listeners might find familiar, the floating-down-a-river sound of Nick Drake or James Yorkston, the pop folk of Iron and Wine, the simple melodic invention of Syd Barrett, and the more pastoral forays of T. Rex and the Kinks.  The lyrics are simple and unfussy, straightforward, working with the melodies rather than overly concerned with poetics or narrative.  Unexpected touches appear, such as really tasteful, brief guitar solos that work — there’s an ebb and flow that occasionally needs breaking, and Wade has the feel and chops to put some crunch in the right places.  There are trumpets, spare percussion, flutes, and Wade’s voice, dwelling at times in the lower registers, can range from a kind of glam-punk bite to the breathy approach that’s come to be so associated with Nick Drake.  The remarkable thing about this album, though, is that no voice dominates within each composition.  The impulse to go long, as his folk and prog rock predecessors might have done, is also resisted — there are few wasted notes or words.  Less is more sometimes, and service here is done to Song.

“The Leaves They Fall” is a video Wade put together for Derring Do, which gives a good general idea of the album’s direction

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=diKQgjmnk0I

but I think most representative (and beautiful) is “To the Sea,” with its on-fire electric outro:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fywm2bUM0D0

I caught up with Chris Wade the other day — after hearing the record, I wanted to ask him some questions, which he graciously consented to answer.  I think he tells Dodson and Fogg’s story best, plus he reminded me I need to read more Dickens.

I’ve read you spent a lot of time in your teens with a guitar and a 4-track.  That kind of intimate warmth is present on Derring Do.  It’s loose, not precise, something so tempting in our digital world.  Describe your recording process — are these home studio recordings?
Yeah, these are done in my home studio. I knew that with a simple set up, a microphone miking it all up like in the old days, it would make the record sound like it was perhaps from my favourite era of music, late 60s, early 70s. I basically start with an acoustic track, which I might double up, then do a bass track, then start on the vocals, then anything else comes in after that. On Derring Do I definitely got this down to a proper functioning way of doing it. You do need to have a plan when you’re recording and producing yourself. The great part is when other people send their things for the mix, that’s when it comes to life, especially when Celia [Humphris] sends some of her vocals over.

What’s the inspiration for the name Dodson and Fogg? (I can’t get out my head Lindisfarne’s Fog on the Tyne.)
Dodson and Fogg were two lawyers in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. I thought it had a cool ring to it and I like the fact the name has caused a bit of confusion. Some people have gone in assuming it was a duo, but it’s me really with guest musicians. I love Lindisfarne as well, funny you should mention them. I just did a piece on them for my magazine Hound Dawg and all surviving members contributed text for it. Great band.

Anyone familiar with the history of the British folk revival will recognize some of Derring Do’s contributors.  How did you come to work with Judy Dyble, Celia Humphris and Alison O’Donnell? How about Nik Turner of Hawkwind? Is that his flute I hear?
Yeah, Nik is great on the flute, he did some amazing stuff on the first album. It was a matter of emailing them to ask if they’d be interested. I’ve always thought ‘you never know until you try’ and I have been a bit of a cheeky git in the past. But Nik and Judy did their bits and emailed them across to me. But Celia is very much more involved in the whole thing. She contributes a lot of vocals and puts in a lot of time to this, so I am really grateful of that. She’s done loads of good stuff on Derring Do, given the album a real nice touch. I still can’t believe they took the time out do it and as a big fan of trees and Celia’s voice, it’s amazing to have her on the songs. her voice is stronger than ever too, she really is very very talented.

I love how you use horns (thinking here of What Goes Around and Too Bright).  Can you talk about your approach to arranging your songs?
I’m glad you like the horns. Arranging a track, I like to record what I think is a decent simple acoustic and vocal track, and then think of an instrument or a sound that may make it a little bit different, unusual, but it has to fit just right. Colin Jones, the trumpet player, did some brilliant things on the Derring Do album. He’s a nice bloke as well. I see mixing a track like doing a painting, without sounding pretentious (which i probably just have sounded) because you lay sounds on, mix them around, put them in one speaker to balance it out, turn them up, turn them down, and sometimes delete them from the mix. I love that process, I could do it all day (sometimes I have been doing that actually).

Nice lead guitar and solos – is that you, or who’s responsible? Can you tell us something about choosing your tones?
Thanks, yeah that’s me on electric guitar. I love playing the guitar, it’s always my favourite part of doing a track, writing and playing the solo. I just play naturally really, whatever I feel should come out. I use a Tanglewood SG on the albums. I mike the amp up, make sure there’s a lot of treble on the guitar and that’s basically it. A reviewer said it was shredding and a sharp sound. I like to use the electric every now and then, and not necessarily on every track, because it has more power when it comes up then. I’ve been playing since I was a kid, but I don’t think i really started understanding that sometimes less is more and that a solo should be a properly structured piece of music in itself rather than a random improvised noodle, although i do like them, just not in my own songs because I’m crap at them.

Can you describe your vocal approach (I notice on the first record you double your vocal a lot, less so on Derring Do — which I like).
I like to sing within a range that is comfortable. One thing I don’t really like is loud, high singing, because I have a low voice and if I try and go higher i sound like my balls are in a vice or being chewed by a rabid hound. So I like to keep it comfortable and also easier to listen to. No one wants to hear someone struggling with high notes, not much of a pleasant experience really. But I like the voice to sound strong and loud in the mix, so you can hopefully hear all the lyrics. The cool thing is having proper singers with you on the songs who really can use their voices, when Celia’s voice comes into the mix I sometimes have to pinch myself. It’s brilliant.

I hear a musical leap between the debut and Derring Do, which seems, musically and lyrically, far more focused.  Am I hearing right, and would you elaborate if I am?
Yeah i think there is a leap. I’m not a seasoned pro with proper writing and recording so I guess i am still learning and developing a style, which is really exciting and I’m really glad you recognised the shift in styles. I started recording Derring Do before the first one was out and knew I felt like expanding the sound a bit. When I recorded the first one I was kind of testing what I could do on this set up and a lot of it is safer in a way. With Derring Do I wanted it to sound fuller, more elaborate at points and also more varied, like an album with lots of moods, styles and shades, which is quite a progressive approach. But a lot of the time anyone recording music is just doing what they feel like doing that day and going where the song is taking them.

There’s a lot going on in these songs, threads of past and present.  Who are some of your influences, and who of your contemporaries do you follow?
I mostly love music from the 60s and 70s, but wasn’t born until 1985. I always love listening to Donovan, Jethro Tull, The Kinks, Cat Stevens, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Trees… I am not sure how they influence the music but some reviewers have heard bits of Trees, Tull, Barrett and Crimson in the music, but you never really know yourself do you? I don’t really follow modern music really, only bits and pieces, although I know I should.

How would you describe (I hate to say it, but “categorize”) your own music?
For the first album I just thought of it as a folk rock album, but found that a lot of folk sites and shows didn’t think it was pure folk enough, and then people started calling it ‘acid folk’ which was a term I didn’t know until then. I thought they were accusing me of being a spaced out acid head or something. The only thing I have in excess is malt loaf (mmm… malt loaf). But people have also called it ‘progressive folk’ which I like. it seems to work under that category i think.

You’re a busy man, a writer, musician, visual artist — what excites you most about what you do?
I’m most excited by the music now, it’s really took hold of me and I love putting the work into it. I love the fact I get to do the mix, sort out the artwork, royalties, promo, everything. If it’s your job then why not make it your proper job and put full time work into it. That’s what excites me, and also the thrill of creating something you’re really enjoying. I’ve done a mix of things, like the audiobook with the comedian Rik Mayall  but it doesn’t come near the enjoyment of making music. I don’t like having to deal with egos and awkward people who are more interested in their images than the work you’re creating. It isn’t the best way of spending your time. I have a working class ethic to it, it’s a job and you fund it and do it yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you.

On the pages of Progarchy we regularly (short-lived as we are) hear from artists who struggle to find reward for what they do.  What’s your perspective on this? Can a musician be just a musician anymore? What’s the easiest way for someone not familiar with Dodson and Fogg access your music?
Luckily for me I have quite a lot of projects that are out there, so the music is just one of my things available, if you like. I think it might be hard to survive on royalties alone these days, but then again I am really new to the “music biz” (business I mean, not poo) so I don’t really know too much about it. I’m still learning. The CDs are available from my website, where all my stuff is available, but you can also download from bandcamp and also Itunes, Amazon and all the digital stores. But the easiest way is to type in Dodson and Fogg to the Google search and the top result is my website. All the info is there.

What’s next for you?
I’ve got some promotion to do and sorting things out for the album, and also doing some articles for the next Hound Dawg magazine. After that i think I’ll start on album number three, which will be really fun!

Thanks to Chris Wade for such generous responses. Check out Dodson and Fogg’s website here:
http://wisdomtwinsbooks.weebly.com/dodson-and-fogg.html

and online back issues of Chris’s Hound Dawg: http://wisdomtwinsbooks.weebly.com/hound-dawg-magazine-online.html

Craig Breaden, February 2013