Sunday, January 29, 2006

Less Arguments And More Biscuits...

Today sees the release of bravecaptain's latest album 'Distractions', and not only is it damned good, but you don't have to pay a penny for it as it's available to download on bravecaptain's website for absolutely diddly squat...
How smart is that?

bravecaptain is of course a certain Martin Carr, formerly the songwriter and guitarist with one of my favourite bands of all time, the ever brilliant Boo Radleys.
So when I recently got the chance to interview him I was a tad worried that I might come accross as a bit of a fan boy, nowt wrong with that, but I think you might get a little bored with questions regarding string usage etc so I passed the interview over to Joe, who I also know is a bit of a fan, but he's better at putting the wordy things in the right order and knew he'd do a better job of it than me... when you read it you'll see that I made the right choice.

Anyway, once you've read the interview and digested the couple of tracks here I strongly recommend you get yourself over to bravecaptain's site and download the whole brilliant album, and while you're there check out all the other free mp3's from his previous releases....

Anyway, that's enough of my waffling.....

Take it away Martin and Joe....


bravecaptain - Oh You

bravecaptain - Jerusalem (Featuring Akira The Don)

Joe C: Hi Martin, thanks for sparing the time to answer a few questions for Spoilt Victorian Child. What is your current mental state, and to what do you attribute these emotions?

Martin Carr: Knackered. I'm trying to do too much but I don't have anyone to help me which is kind of my fault.

JC: Who or what are your key influences outside of music? How have they shaped you as a person, songwriter and musician?

MC: Robert Hooke, Banksy, Charles Bukowski, Tony Benn
Outsiders I guess. People who stand up and say what they feel, however unpopular it is or they are. Maybe not Robert Hooke, I like him because he was everything in his time, artist, inventor, astrologer, rampant experimenter, diarist. Check out 'Micrographia' on the web. Imagine looking at that halfway through the seventeenth century. He mapped London after the great fire of 1666, he designed Bedlam and Monument. he was mates with Halle and Wren and Boyle but not that wanker Newton who stole his ideas about gravity, fuck him. He also used to drink children's sick to see what would happen; blimey.
Banksy is a genius and he makes me glad that I live in these times at this moment.

JC: On meeting somebody for the first time, what book would you give him or her to read in order that they should get a flavour of who you are and where you're coming from?

MC: Tough one. 'Ham on Rye' maybe, Bukowski, er, 'Death on the Installment Plan' by Celine or Mr Meddles Muddles.

JC: They say never meet your idols. I met you and the rest of the Boos when you supported Ride at the Oxford Apollo back in the day. I was star struck and expecting a profound encounter; you were all merely interested in whether I could sort you out with some speed. Have you ever been left with an empty feeling after meeting with a hero?

MC: No because I've never expected anything from them. I can't actually think of anybody I've ever met who I would consider to be a hero. I met most of the people who I'd heard of after I was in the band so I knew that people like myself were no different than anyone else. the first and only time I met William Reid he asked me if I had any speed. It's the law.

JC: The Boo Radleys' initial output was extremely noisy, with everything swamped in layers of distortion. Listening back now, it strikes me that underneath the noise there were simple pop songs struggling to escape, as demonstrated by much of your later output as a band. Was the reliance on feedback and distortion a result of where your heads were at at that time, or was it down to a lack of confidence and studio time?

MC: That was our sound. It was an ethic in which we, certainly I, firmly believed. I don't think that those songs were anywhere near as good as the ones I started to write later on. I've started to become interested in it again recently. Nobody really does it now, everythings too mannered, too tuned and quantized.

JC: The compilation of your early material on Rough Trade is accurately titled 'Learning to Walk'. A mere five or so years on from these recordings, you released 'Giant Steps', and were the musical equivalent of Olympic sprinters. To what do you attribute this incredible acceleration in the quality and complexity of your song writing?

MC: Well, it wasn't five years. Giant Steps was recorded two years after our first album came out. Being able to leave work and having the freedom to hang about with other musicians and listen to record after record certainly helped as did never wanting to repeat anything. As soon as we mastered something (at least to our, admittedly limited, standards) we were off somewhere else. I'm still like that now. Then people would say 'I love this record' i love the way you always change and then we'd make another and the same person would say 'but you changed! i like the last one'. which is fair enough y'know. Most bands I like I only like up to a certain album and then I lose interest. That's just the way it is. Very few people have stuck with me since 1990, very few; but that's cool, nobody owes me anything.

JC: 'Everything's Alright Forever' is my favourite Boo's album. It means an awful lot to me and every time I listen to it, I am transported back to a very specific time and place in my life. How does it make you feel when you hear that your music has played such a huge part in people's lives? What albums are important to you and why?

MC: Yeah, I love that. I don't understand that album at all, it means nothing to me and it's the only one but the fact that it means so much to somebody else makes me proud. As the years slip by more and more people show up with stories about how our records collided with their lives, how fucking wonderful is that? Albums that are important to me, that transport me to a different time would include the first Violent Femmes album, 'Isn't Anything', 'Yr Living All Over Me' and early eighties pop records, Human League, Duran Duran, XTC etc Stuff like that.

JC: For some reason, I never got around to buying the Boo's swansong album 'Kingsize'. Did I miss anything?

MC: I think so yeah, for many people that was our best album. Creation didn't even bother with, they'd given up. It was partly our fault, we could have spent a lot less money making it. After the dust settled though it turned out to be a great record with some of the best songs that I wrote fror the Boos.

JC: You chose to sign bravecaptain to Dick Green and Wichita. Did McGee try to tempt you over to Poptones? And if so, did you decline because you'd had enough of working with him by this point?

MC: I was always going to do whatever Mark Bowen (wichita) was going to do. He was my best friend and I wanted to stick with him. We always worked more closely with Dick than we did with Alan anyway. He had his groups and Dick had his. I would work with McGee anyday, he's got this indefinable spirit that draws you to him.

JC: I'm currently reading John Peel's autobiography and have come to the conclusion that although life goes on, the music industry in Britain will never see the likes of him again, and as a consequence of this, will never be as good. What are your views on this? Oh, and make me jealous by regaling me tales of your encounters with the great man.

MC: Yep, I just read that. There is no chance we'll ever see his like again. I was very sad when he died, it was so unexpected. John Peel was there at the beginning and at the literal end. When we had finished our first record in 1990 we sent loads of letters to Peel, pretending to be fans of the band and asking if he would play the new record (which we didn't even have copies of yet). This went on for some weeks until finally we had a copy which we sent him and he announced on the radio that he'd been getting these letters which he suspected were all written by the band (ha ha ha ha) and that he'd played the record and it was 'actually rather good' and then he played 'Catweazle'. We were living in separate flats in this big old Georgian house on Huskisson Street in Liverpool 8, I was listening to Peel with Tim in his room. While 'Catweazle' was being played at full blast I was jumping up and down on the bed, the girl from across the hall knocked loudly on the door and shouted that there was a phone call for me on the payphone in the hallway. I picked it up and said hello and there was Peel telling me that he was playing our record and would we like to come in for a session? We went out and got good and drunk that night.
Years later I read an article by Peel somewhere and he mentioned that he used to buy his NME at this newsstand in Hamilton Square. I used to work in Hamilton Square in the late eighties and had bought my NME from the very same stand. I thought it was a good idea for a song and 'The Old Newsstand at Hamilton Square' appeared on our next album 'Kingsize'.
Some time after that Sice and I made an awful journey up to Liverpool to tell Tim and Bob that the band was to break up. Shitty, bleak day, really sad. As Sice drove us back into London we switched Peel on to cheer us up. When we reached Junction Road in Archway near where I lived he told the story about him buying his NME at this little place in Birkenhead and started to play 'The Old Newsstand At Hamilton Square'. We parked the car in a side street and listened without a word.

JC: Imagine you are appearing on BBC2's 'Dragon's Den' and you have to convince the notoriously hard-to-impress and withering panel of scary business-types to invest their money in the future of bravecaptain. Go for it...

MC: I would say invest it in something worthwhile, I don't need your money. I'm a musician not a businessman. Music is free, it's in the air. If I was rich I would give all my records away but I'm not, I'm poor, so I have to give all my records away.

JC: Tell me about how you work now in terms of writing, recording and performing your music as bravecaptain. How does the experience compare to being part of a band?

MC: I don't have any system I just sit in front of my computer with my guitar or my piano or a drum machine or a noise and just start to record. It's completely different from being in a band. There are less arguments and more biscuits.

JC: Last year you released one single every month via your website. How did it go? Is it something you would consider doing again?

MC: I wouldn't do it again, at least not in the same way. It did ok. I still haven't decided what to do this year.

JC: You have definitely been embracing the internet as a way of getting your music out to a wider audience without having to bother with the clumsy machinations of the traditional music industry. Your new album 'Distractions' is available to download for free from your website on the Monday 30th January. Explain the reasoning behind this and your recent comments that you don't plan to make anymore bravecaptain albums for Wichita.

MC: The album is free because people like free things and i like giving things away and I need the exposure. Wichita would release my records but they would do it out of some sort of loyalty not because they really believed in me and I wouldn't wish that upon anyone, especially my friends.

JC: The album is truly incredible. Tracks like 'Ocean' and 'It's What Me Make It' totally blew me away. While I was listening to it, I kept thinking that if John Lennon was alive today and had embraced technology, this is the sort of music he'd be creating. Either that or working with McCartney on a rock opera about otters. Is Lennon still a big influence for you, or do you think you have moved on from such obvious reference points?

MC: Was Lennon a big influence on me? I never really singled an individual out in the Beatles, they were, they are, a single entity to me.

JC: You evidently love your fans as you are willing to give away music of this quality free, but you surely can't survive by working in this way forever. There's so much money in the business and most of it is being trousered by undeserving tossers - don't you feel that you should be claiming what is rightfully yours?

MC: I would love to make money from this, hopefully I will be able to sell records directly to the public so that they know I'm getting paid and I know they're not getting ripped off. I can't believe no bands of any note are doing it. I might have to sign another deal before it happens because I'm flat broke but if I could incorporate selling my own records through my site then it would be worth it.

JC: The last track on 'Distractions' is a collaboration with Akira the Don. How did you two hook up? What's it been like working with him?

MC: I wrote to him last year, when he put up 'Thanks for all the Aids' on his mailing list. I thought it was the funniest, most origianl thing I'd heard for years and I told him so and we became mates. We have the same ideas about life and like alot of the same music. I didn't meet him until recently, ages after we'd finished the track (i did my bits in Cardiff, he did his in a hotel room in New York). We get on well, we've dj'ed (is that how you spell that?) together and have planned an album maybe for this year, he's a very busy man. He gives shit away all the time on his site. Stuff that is light years better, has more ideas, more humour and more originality than anything you have to pay twelve quid for elsewhere. Record companies and music shops are making massive profits and all their music seems to be aimed at twelve year old girls, like television.

JC: The track with Akira, 'Jerusalem' is a damning account of modern life in Britain (I love Akira's verse, "Visiting the country, when I found myself surrounded by my countrymen, the colour of their shirts was white with these bald red heads, like Right Said Fred, filled my ass with dread") and the state of the world in general. Steve Mason (formerly of the Beta Band, now King Biscuit Time) said after the release of his latest single 'C I AM 15' that there weren't enough artists willing to air their political views on a record and speak out against the government. Do you agree with this? You've never struck me as being an overtly political artist, so what's the catalyst for a track like 'Jerusalem'?

MC: Much of my bravecaptain output has been politically inspired even going back to Kingsize (even 'Lazarus'). I was on holiday last year and I couldn't get Blake's poem out of my head; 'until we have created jerusalem', people were blowing themselves up in london and even though it wasn't what Blake had intended it did indeed seem that modern day Jerusalem had been created in this green and promised land. I wrote to Akira and said that I was writing a song around this theme and he came up with this.. thing that he does and I stuck my bits in and mixed it and here we are.
It's very difficult to be political without coming across as preachy and most people don't give a fuck anyhow, they really don't. You might and your friends might but you can't think that any kind of majority does. When you're trying to fit profundities into tight little lines that have to scan and rhyme it's difficult to sound natural and convincing. If I could rap I would, there's much more freedom and space. When I rap my cats fall down laughing.

JC: "The downloading of music has led to a generation of people who do not seriously appreciate songs or performances. Easily accessed tunes mean many music lovers are no longer excited at discovering and playing unfamiliar work. Consequently, music has "lost its aura" and is seen as a commodity."
This is a quote from Dr Adrian North who recently conducted a report into the human relationship with music. It's been the subject of much debate on the Spoilt Victorian Child mp3 blog – what's your opinion?

MC: Utter bullshit. Absolute corporate monetarist bollocks. He is calling up, down and saying black is white. Music has lost it's aura because it is a commodity, because record companies market everything to little kids and affluent middle aged couples who think that U2 are 'edgy'. I love the music you get on the net, that you can download from hip hop sites or artists websites or stuff that doesn't have a home, no label, nothing. It's the music that is exciting, not how much it costs. I wouldn't be surprised if that guy is subsidised by Sony.

JC: Sice has a new band now called Paperlung. Have you heard any music or seen them live yet, and if so, what are they like? What are Tim and Bob up to these days?

MC: I've seen them twice and I really enjoyed it. They're big pop songs with a big voice from a little fella. His band are great, all jumpy around and young. Tim is a teacher (head of IT mind) in Ireland and Bob is in Manchester doing fuck knows.

JC: Help generate some excitement about music in 2006 without talking about Arctic Monkeys. Who are you tipping for greatness? What are your plans for the coming year?

MC: Why?, Akira The Don, Mothboy, bravecaptain, Max Tundra, MF Doom.
My plan is to not lose my house and feed the cats.

JC: Which five websites do you, without fail, visit every time you are online?

G Mail
Akira The Don
Cocaine Blunts

JC: Do you have an ipod? If so, press shuffle and reveal the name of the first 10 songs that come up (and don't cheat!). If you don't have an ipod, randomly select 10 slices of vinyl from your collection with your eyes shut.

MC: ok, ipod...
secrets of the sahara - ennio morricone
fourth time around - bob dylan
fuck the hip hop police - papoose
i sell rhymes like a dime - mf doom
martin's story (cool!) - minutemen
freefall - spektrum
heavyweights (tolerate) - freestyle fellowship
the gravity car - the olivia tremor control
playboy - marvelettes
trim body - roots manuva

Right, I'm going to have to have a kip after that. That was the longest fucking interview I ever did do.
Thank you, speak to you soon



Buy - bravecaptain from bravecaptain
Buy - Boo Radleys from Amazon
Visit - bravecaptain
Visit - bravecaptain @ MySpace
Visit - Akira The Don
Visit - The Boo Radleys
Visit - The Boo Radleys 'Giant Steps' 10th Anniversary Mini-Site

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