Marc Riley BBC 6 Music 20th June – Read the Transcript: click here
Marc Riley BBC 6 Music 20th June – Listen Again
M: They’ve only been here about an hour and a bit but I’m delighted and thrilled to say we’ve got the return of The Electric Soft Parade tonight. Hello guys. ESP: Hellooo. M: Really good to see you. Everybody but Alex, I have to say, is a little bit green around the gills. You were on the pop last night. He’s buzzin this lad here, he’s been driving and he’s been on the coffee all day. T: He’s been on harder stuff than just coffee. I didn’t know whether I was allowed to say Red Bull on air. M: Well you’re not but I am. I’ll probably get the sack for it but that’s alright. Of course you’ve taken your shades off now Thomas but I couldn’t help, it was a bit like an expostulation but I just had to shout “proper rock star” everytime I saw you. T: Every time. I’ve taken them off now though just for you Marc. A: He’s an improper rockstar right now. M: Oooh steady it’s only quarter past seven.
M: So you were at Rough Trade weren’t you doing an instore last night. Both: Yes. M: Can you do a trolley dash. Did they let you get a big trolley and just run round and take everything you can get in 10 seconds… A: Back in my day, when we started, that’s what we used to get. You used to get a bit of freebie action. Once you’d finished it they’d go, go and spend your money. Alas no. M: Not anymore no. It’s times of austerity. A: They gave you some water, that was very nice of them, it was very hot so that was much appreciated. M: You can ask for no more. And you were in the mighty Rough Trade obviously. A: Quite right. M: So you’re gonna do four tunes for us tonight. A: Apparently so. M: That’s the good news, the bad news is that we’ve kind of stolen one off Gideon Coe because you didn’t have time to pre-record it before so we thought, we can’t waste it. Sorry Gid. He can repeat them anyway can’t he. So the first of the four tunes that Electric Soft Parade are going to do for us tonight is… A: Summertime In My Heart. M: New single. Fab.
Summertime In My Heart
M: Effortless and really really brilliant, Electric Soft Parade live in session with what is the new single, Summertime In My Heart. Really great. So yeah, three more if you don’t mind fellas.
M: Electric Soft Parade back in the room, hello guys. Proper rock star! What tune are you gonna do now for us then. T: We’re gonna do the first single we put out off this record, it’s a song called Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone. And this one goes out to my class down at Brighton City College. They’re listening in, it’s the end of the course and they’re having a right old party I’d imagine. M: How old are they? T: Around my age, a little older, a little younger. M: They’re old enough to drink then. T: They’re old enough to have a lot of fun on the last day of term as it were. M: Good on you lot and you’ve got a famous teacher. T: I didn’t mean for a second that I take a class. I mean I’ve been going to a class. M: Really? I’m not blowing smoke up yo ass but what can you learn? T: It’s interpersonal skills, helping skills, counselling. Heavy stuff. Lovely class though, this one goes out to you guys. M: OK excellent.
Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone
M: Truly sumptuous, Electric Soft Parade live in session; Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone. So one of you guys, will you introduce the rest of the members of the band please. A: Please do, Tommy boy. M: He’s Tommy boy obviously. T: My name’s Thomas White, to my left we’ve got a mute keyboardist with no microphone trying to communicate something to someone else wearing a pair of earplugs with headphones over the top. M: He’s called humpty dumpty, I think he wants to remain anonymous. Is that what we’re saying. T: Nonsense. Alan Grice here on the keyboards, my dear brother here Alex White on Fender Jaguar, a little midi keyboard type affair and vocals, Heather Urquhart on guest vocals, she’s up with us today singing on a couple of tunes. H: Hi. T: Mr Damo Waters on the drumkit. Longstanding chap of steel Matthew Twaites on the bass guitar. M: He’s very quiet today. A: He’s subdued. T: As you said green around the gills. M: I was specifically talking about him, you’re dead right. T: And Mr Andrew Claridge on various beautiful guitars. M: Yeah absolutely, I’m slightly jealous of his talent and his guitars.
M: OK so the album, Idiots, six years between the albums, a bit of an obvious question, but what does it take to fire up Electric Soft Parade. Is it like you’re sat there in the pub one night and you just go “brother, we gotta make a record”. A: Infact we were gonna call that song “brother we gotta make a record” but we thought don’t be ridiculous. It’s a natural thing, it’s not like we think oh let’s wait 6 years. Things happen, things change and record labels disappear and reappear again and various things like that. Lots of other projects on the go and all that sort of thing. It just felt about the right time, we hooked up with the guys that did the first record, the sort of team around that – the production team, just spent a bunch of time doing it and here we are… it’s just how long it took I guess.
M: You always keep busy don’t you, you’ve been back in and out of the studio with lots of different groups. And it’s called Idiots which I read one of you did say the Idiots in question are you two. A: Well, I think it’s open for discussion. T: You said that didn’t you. A: I think I might have said that. M: It’s not open for discussion though unless your going to have a conversation with yourself. You said it Alex, what do you mean?
A: I think we’re naturally self-deprecating English people, that’s the nature of it and I like that self-reflective thing, it’s all a bit silly and “come on”… I like all that. M: I’m sure you’ve probably beaten Prince to that album title. I’m sure he sits there and thinks “I’m an idiot, I like playing practical jokes on people, word’ll get out eventually, I’ll call my next album Idiots”. T: I said onstage the other night in Bristol, I think we need to establish ourselves as the Stewart Lee of indie, I think that’s a good analogy. M: I think your delivery was slightly Stewart Lee then anyway. T: It’s just the nature of how we deconstruct things… there’s no similarity whatsoever to what we do, essentially.
M: I was talking to Alex before because you being a proper rock star, you were just walking about doing interviews… A: Signing autographs, whatever. M: Alex said to me, one of the touchstones for the album would be, in the concept of the record itself and the sound of it, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, would you agree with that Thomas. T: There’s a little bit of it in there… there’s a lot of Steely Dan on the record, a lot of Chicago, a lot of Robert Wyatt, a lot of The Clientele, they’re a massive influence on a lot of songs I’ve been writing recently. M: ELO get an honourable mention as well. T: The track Mr Mitchell which is obviously about Andrew Mitchell, it’s so obvious… M: Why do you even say it, don’t patronise me mate… T: You’ve met the great Andrew Mitchell, right. So that track, we had Mr Blue Sky as the blueprint for it and obviously it’s a completely different song again, a lot of those references, a lot of that very clean 70’s pop type stuff.
A: I think the Rumours reference, the idea was it was a record that was undeniably a great record, whether you like it or not. M: You’d admire it even if you didn’t sit down and listen to it. A: You don’t have to love Rumours to accept that that’s a great piece of work and important. That’s kind of what we were going for. M: And it’s getting namedropped more and more that particular album, as is ELO, I think it was Jason Lytle from Grandaddy who was the first person to own up and say actually excuse me, I like it… I saw ’em in 1975, just wanna make you jealous probably. Did it work? T: Terribly jealous. A: That’s pre Xanadu… M: It wasn’t the big Beatles sounding stuff but they were good. A: Eldorado’s a great record actually, early 70’s. M: I tell you what I have got in my bag, I shouldn’t say it on air but I’ve got 10cc’s Greatest Hits, I saw them as well, twice in one night.
M: We’ve got Electric Soft Parade live in session, they’re doing two more tunes for us, one right now. So the third tune will be? T: This is the title track from the record, this is Idiots.
Wow that was fabulous, epic. Electric Soft Parade live in session with Idiots, I was going to come out of the end of that and just go “idiots” but I couldn’t, it was just that good, really brilliant… we’ll have one more in a short while, work those suckers to death ‘eh. T: Nice one Marc.
M: So you’ve done some dates already but I’ve just had this through from Mark, fantastic session tonight, only 13 hours til tickets go on sale for their October gig at London’s Bush Hall. T: Well he knows more than we do. A: Can you get us one ‘cos I’d quite like to go to that. M: I can see that you’re playing on the 20th of July, you’re playing at the Truck Festival. T: And the night before we’re playing a very very special show supporting The Levellers on their first Brighton show for about 15 years, which is a big deal. M: On the 20th you are playing the Truck Festival as I say but you’re playing on the Virgins and Veterans stage, where do you fall into the… T: Interestingly enough Al had a period of writer’s block and came out the back end of it and wrote a ton of amazing songs, they were too expansive and long and weird for the new ESP record, if I may say so myself. A: You may certainly, I think you’re right. T: And he’s formed a band around that called Interlocutor so at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon that band will be playing, I play drums. A: We’ll be playing as virgins. T: As virgins and as veterans, ESP will be playing about 9.30 in the evening. A: Literally same stage. T: Does that answer your question. M: It really does, probably a bit too indepth.
M: I noticed before and I never realised because I am a bit daft… T: Bit daft… M: Chris Hughes produces your record or some of them. A: Indeed. The first and this last… T: He did the first one way back in the day, he runs the label that we’re now signed to and produced the new album. M: I didn’t realise we were talking about Chris Hughes, of Adam and The Ants and he’s worked with so many different people. An absolutely amazing producer. T: I think our first run in… we didn’t know him at the time, he produced the first Gay Dad album, they’re a much derided band but for many members of this group myself included, that first album’s just an incredible record. And I think they got tarred with the brush of having a divisive name but actually it’s an amazing record, Chris’s attention to detail’s just all over that record and I think on everything else we’ve done with him. M: Producing Adam Ant pop record’s is pretty amazing, Robert Plant and Paul McCartney. A: And he co-wrote Everybody Wants To Rule The World. M: Did he really, kerching! Much respect is due, great producer and a great record and a great band, I’m blowing smoke up yo ass now. T: You keep swearing, we’re not allowed to swear.
M: Do you wanna do one last tune then? T: This one features our dear friend Heather Urquhart on vocals and I want to dedicate it to me and Al’s friends Duncan and Jadine down on Langdale Road in Hove. M: Don’t give out the number. Good work, ok get to it.
One Of Those Days
M: Bit of class from start to finish, Electric Soft Parade live in session, One Of Those Days. You’re great, thanks for coming in. A: Appreciate it. T: It was worth it.
Gideon Coe BBC 6 Music 17th April
So it’s 6 Music Breakfast and as you may be aware our Breakfast Show Record Of The Week is the new single from The Electric Soft Parade, Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone. During yesterdays programme there was much excitement towards the end as we waited for the arrival of Thomas and Alex from the band. It didn’t quite happen but they are via the power of being here on the Tuesday but actually appearing on the radio on the Wednesday here. How are you doing fellas?
A: Not bad. T: Perfect. A: It’s like having a time machine or something. T: It’s magic. A: It’s brilliant. G: It can be done you see, anything can be fixed. I won’t ask you about your journey here but that was one of the questions from our listeners. I think we should just gloss over your journey here and talk about your first album in six years and it’s a very welcome return. There was a hiatus and sometimes with a band when there’s a hiatus some people think that’s it, you’re not gonna come back… that was never the thought…
A: Hiatus always seems to be a code word doesn’t it. We’re brothers so we’re never really gonna break up in that sense unless we do it legally, I don’t know if you can do that, you can divorce your parents and stuff, can you divorce your sibling? I’ll look into it… T: Wow. G: That was a short comeback. A: Well yeah you know we’ll see what happens. We’ve been doing other things; Brakes and everything else that we’ve done. It just seemed like the right time I guess, we had the songs.
T: It’s kinda weird, I remember we did one last show promoting that record with Sparks – we supported Sparks at Islington Academy. I think we had it in our minds we’d take a little break… kind of just stuff kept happening, we didn’t have a label and stuff. It took for the songs to be there really, for everything to start snowballng again.
G: Did you do one of the Sparks shows at Islington in London where they did each album one after the other? 21 nights…
A: We did the second last one or something. I remember talking to them afterwards and they were just so zoned out, they could barely speak, just glazed over, “we’ve been in the same building for 3 weeks”. G: That was the plan, Brothers Mael. A: Well exactly guys. I think they had a different production every show and different band and things like this. It must’ve been such a headache. G: Charming gentlemen though. A: Amazing. T: Charming is the word. Very polite. Very very well-spoken. A: They’ve got this sort of vision of England in the 70’s when they first came here and they still act like that’s the game.
G: Not that we’re going to talk about Sparks all the time but when they arrived in England, they will always be reminded of it, one of the Top Of The Pops moments… This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us; striking, unnerving… A: Devastating. I must say briefly, just give Tom a little shout out here, Tom actually played guitar on This Town on Jonathan Ross’s show on tele. T: I did a bit of session work for Sparks.
G: Sparks aside, your return was also buoyed by some shows you did with Noel Gallagher. When did they happen. A: Indeed. That was end of 2011. G: Was this road testing the material… T: Essentially we were in a place where we were playing live again and I saw he was doing some shows. Hand on heart, I literally just texted him and said “give us a support slot” and we ended up doing the whole European Tour.
A: Fair play to Noel as well, a lot of people of that stature, the perception from the public is that they can just do what they like and get whoever they want on the bill and actually they don’t have that much to do with who’s on first and all the rest of it. We thought, good for his word, maybe we’ll get it, maybe we’ll get phased out along the way through that process. Actually he was good to his word and got us on the shows.
G: And these were shows with the traditional line up of the band, the studio line up? T: It’s kind of evolved over the years. There’s a core line up of four of us which has been solid since we broke up weirdly, it’s kind of evolved over the years. There’s been a lot of different members; we had Mathew Priest whom you know from Dodgy, he played with us for years. There’s been different people but we’ve had a solid line up…
A: Mr Twaites is our bass player, Matthew Twaites… T: He’s been with us the whole time. A: Since the very first thing. G: I did hear that the EP recorded a couple of years ago was the first time you’d taken that band into the studio. A: Yeah that’s right, exactly. We just did it in Brighton, just real cheap, just on our own really and this little French label were up for putting out seven inches and we just did this thing just around, ‘cos we were working at the time and then that then snowballed to Helium records that are putting out this new record. They heard that and heard that we were about and doing shows and everything and it just slowly and surely came from there.
G: What shall we say about Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone? T: There’s a very heavy influence of a particular song which I heard a few years ago now. A song called Elusive Butterfly by Bob Lind… his work was almost an epiphany, it was like half Tom Verlaine from Television, Richard Thompson, all that kinda stuff then with Nick Drake singing. An odd mix of stuff but it really kind of got me at the time. There’s a big influence of that and Belle And Sebastian. And also the idea of getting all this stuff in a two and a bit minute song. G: Which you managed more than well. We’ll hear it and talk some more with Thomas and with Alex. This is Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone…
G: There it is. T: As if by magic. G: It’s the Breakfast Show Record Of The Week, Electric Soft Parade and Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone which is a beautiful tune and you’ve mentioned the influences on it but it’s very much one of your records. It manages to be – it does contradict itself – it manages to be uplifting and yet quite a sad record to listen to as well. T: I think it’s quite misanthropic and it’s quite bitter in a way but it’s housed in a little chirpy, jazzy pop tune.
G: I haven’t mentioned the album title yet but the album from which it comes, the forthcoming LP, is called IDIOTS! A: With an exclamation mark. G: You have to say it like that don’t you. A: Oh you have to yes. T: It kind of demands a delivery of some magnitude. A: It’s shouting at you. All caps. G: IDIOTS! Why is it called that. A: I don’t know, we messed around with different titles and various things and tried to be serious for ages then just thought IDIOTS! It’s that self-deprecating kind of thing, that’s quite fun isn’t it, I dunno.
G: I wouldn’t trust anybody who hasn’t at some point or doesn’t regularly call themselves an idiot. A: For me it’s a bit like people who don’t like The Office. It’s like, well you are David Brent then. That’s my theory. You’ve got to be able to look at it and go, I’ve just totally done that a million times. I can behave like that sometimes, I’ve also got a blind spot and accept that about yourself. T: If you can’t admit that you can see some of yourself in Brent. A: You’ve gotta say you’re an idiot too… if you look at that and go, we’re idiots, you’re idiots, come on… let’s be idiots.
G: So with the title, did it come into the reckoning during the making of the record. A: That song is called Idiots already, the song Idiots, the title track was called that. It’s such a throwaway, where the lyric comes in in the chorus, it’s not like it’s the front bit of the chorus and it goes hey idiots…
T: A big thing for us is you have producers who purely involve themselves on a musical level but Chris Hughes and Mark Frith who made the record with us, there’s a constant dialogue about the nature of titles and how they define a record. Everyone involved in the record was quite equally involved in that and the way the record grew. There was no overriding concept for it.
G: The way the record ended up sounding, was that as you expected it to sound? T: And so much more. A: I mean some of the songs, the first track, that’s probably the third recording we did of it and that itself has been stripped to the bone and then rebuilt as the recording – really getting every single note to speak the maximum… G: That sounds like really hard work. A: Well it’s dull work actually in a way. You go in a studio and record for a week and you just record your songs and mix ’em, this whole momentum of doing it quickly, which can be great but with this we’ve really had a chance which a lot of groups don’t get to sit on this record, sit on every little stage of it… we’ve done our working week down in Bath with the guys then come back to Brighton, then maybe done couple of weeks off then another 5 days, all that sort of thing. You’ve got this time to sit and listen to it and go, you know what, I’ve listened to it in the car, in the kitchen etc and now I can hear what’s wrong with it. Whereas if you just do a record in 3 weeks you do the work and then 6 months later you realise the first track should be a b-side, that it’s rubbish or whatever – the one you’ve put in the bin should’ve been a single.
T: The pay off for me is listening to the record as a whole. G: Good stuff in the meantime upcoming show, Koko on Friday. IDIOTS! is out in June and the single Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone is available to download now. Thanks for dropping by fellas. A: Thanks so much for having us.
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Thomas White BBC 6 Music Session 28th March: Tracklist: All The Fallen Leaves – King Of The Kingdom – I’ve Seen The Sunrise – Listen Again: bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00qklhk (hear clips from his session tracks and the full conversation)
Here’s the session for those unable to listen through the above link (from the original broadcast with some distortion) Better without bass boost.
Thomas White BBC6 Music 28th March 2012 Part One 12mb approx.
Thomas White BBC6 Music 28th March 2012 Part Two 8mb approx.
M: I’m delighted to say, for how many times we’ve had Thomas White in session over the years I don’t know but Thomas, welcome to the programme.
T: Hello there. M: Always an absolute joy and I can see that you’re a hard task master or “tarskmaster” because you’re sat down but your colleagues, well at least two of them are stood up.
T: They’ve gotta stand. M: They’ve gotta stand haven’t they… they went to get chairs and you just gave them that icy glare. T: I didn’t! I said grab a stool if you wanna stool…
Heather: He’s got a taser in his pocket. M: A taser? It used to be a cattle prod, he’s moving with technology isn’t he. Thomas introduce the rest of the members of your ensemble today please.
T: We’ve got Heather Urquhart here on vocals. M: Where did you get Heather from? T: A good friend of ours from Brighton and we’ve got Adam Kidd here as well on vocals… M: Or sulky kid as he’s often known. T: Sulky kid in the corner on vocals without a stool. I know these guys from Brighton and they’ve been helping me perform the songs from this new album for the last few months. Introduce yourselves.
M: No they don’t need to sell themselves, I tell you what will sell them, their voices when they come in. I was just wondering if you were involved in any other bands that I might know?
Adam: I’m in a group called Fragile Creatures. M: Fragile Creatures, right OK, have you brought a CD? A: I have! M: Well there you see that works, doesn’t it, absolutely. And there is another presence, a weird, eerie presence within the room. T: There’s this dude in the corner, he’s facing the wall. No he isn’t. My dear brother Alex is with us. M: Absolutely, lovely to see you mate. So he’s not trusting you with any harmonies tonight then? (A: No I’m on driving duties) Well you keep clear of the fridge.
M: We’ll get to grips with what exactly Yalla! is all about mate but what’s the first song you’re going to do for us? T: We’re going to play All The Fallen Leaves which is the first track on the album.
M: Thomas White live in session with All The Fallen Leaves and that’s a track taken from the Yalla! album. So you went away, you went to Egypt didn’t you for a while just to get away from things really. Did you go out there with the sole intention of writing?
T: I’d actually shared a flat with a good friend of mine called Claire in about 2004 in London and we kind of fell out of touch and she moved to Dahab in Egypt a good few years ago now and she married a guy out there and had a kid. I’d get the odd email or message online or whatever and she just kept on trying to get me to take a holiday over there and money and other things stopped me doing it and then late 2010 I booked this 6 week holiday. I find it hard having one day off.
M: You’re a very hardworking fella. You do your own stuff and you do Electric Soft Parade. If British Sea Power should need a drummer you do it. T: Well that’s it, I just get extremely kind of nervy and itchy when I have time off. So I arrived there and I’d luckily taken this little travel guitar and my laptop and a little microphone. Going out there I thought maybe I’ll write some stuff, not thinking I’d get anything usable.
About a week went by and I was this weird mix of awe at this amazing new place; incredible weather, wildlife, whatever else but also real mad homesickness. I hadn’t been away, certainly never been on holiday on my own and I was just plonked right in the deep end in this foreign place.
Dahab’s a very small town, very very different. Essentially it was a bit of culture shock and homesickness and all the rest. I started writing. After the first few days these kind of themes were happening. I’d find it really easy… I never want to labour over things I write. If something works, it works and it should be immediate as a listener and also to write it. You shouldn’t have to labour over something for months. It took about a week and a half to write and I initially didn’t think anything would come of it when I got back and I played it to a few people and people seemed to really like the songs. Then a friend of mine, Miles Heathfield from the band Clowns, he put me in touch with this label down in Brighton and essentially made it happen. He kinda got the ball rolling so I have to credit him really. M: You just have.
M: The tune we’ve been playing most on this programme is That Heavy Sunshine Sound which is a really really beautiful song and indeed we played it back to back with Paul McCartney every night and it sounded an absolute treat. You’ve been writing songs for a long time now, how old were you when you started The Electric Soft Parade and indeed writing.
T: I was about 12 and I think Alex was about 14 or 11 and 13, something like that. But I think we’re only just getting good I have to say. It’s not as if you start writing and the first song you write is any good. I feel like we’re only just starting to write stuff I can hold up and go “this is actually any good whatsoever”.
M: Are you trying to tell me then that all the records that I’ve been playing, of yours, over the last however many years have been… T: are absolute bobbins. M: Well you’ve broke that to me gently, I have to be honest, I never even noticed.
T: That’s the point, it’s no disservice to any listener or anyone who’s ever got into our stuff, I just mean on a completely personal level. I feel like we’re only just starting to get good at all that stuff.
M: I know exactly what you mean because when I started doing this programme I was crap and now I’m just pretty crap. T: You’re consummate. M: You’ve gotta get better at things as you go along don’t you really. T: Of course.
M: Excellent stuff. You’re gonna do another tune for us right now then one later in the programme so what’s the next one gonna be Thomas? T: This is a tune called King Of The Kingdom.
M: Brilliant, Thomas White live in session with King Of The Kingdom… Just to other business for a moment if you don’t mind… “Alright Marc, I’m so jealous that you’re in a room with my guitar hero, Thomas White” (T: who said that?!) “Is it wrong to be a fanboy at 47 years old (M: so it’s not me) Can you ask him what’s going on with the Brakes at the moment and more importantly, will they be playing End Of The Road Festival as usual”. That’s from Ian in Cheltenham.
T: Wow. I can almost definitely say Brakes will be playing End Of The Road this year as we’ve played every single edition of the festival so far and Eamon, the singer in Brakes, he’s back over from America next week to play a show with British Sea Power and to do a week or so’s work on the new Brakes record. So it’s coming, it’s in the pipeline.
M: Just be patient. T: Just a bit of logistics to work out but we’re getting there. M: I need to ask you also (can’t go through everything) but Electric Soft Parade?
T: Me and Al have been in the studio for the last 2 weeks up in Bath, we’re working with the production team who made our first record with us, made Holes In The Wall with us and they’re now running their own little label. We’ve got I think 10 tracks down and it’s gonna be a 10 track album so we’re 50-60% there, just gotta bash some vocals on it, mix it and again, that’s on its way yeah.
M: Brilliant. Can I say to you Restlesslist? T: If you can. M: I do struggle, I really do struggle with it. T: Due to doing other things I’ve had to take a break from that but I still do writing with them, I still play on and wrote a lot of the new record. They’ve just finished their new album, Coral Island Girl, which is an extremely elaborate concept record, the kind of record that doesn’t get made these days anymore which I think is admirable in itself but it’s also great even just as a record, it’s an amazing album. They’re playing shows at the moment, playing the entire album start to finish, so if you get the chance, check it out.
M: Right OK, an excellent band… I did mention earlier on, is it right that you played guitar for Sparks for a while? T: I did, a while is a kind of loose time frame, it was only a day. M: Not that much of a while is it but you’ve still played with Sparks. T: Essentially their guy couldn’t do it and they had The Jonathan Ross show booked so I stepped in and played The Jonathan Ross show with them. It was great because they did a medley of their single at the time which was called Dick Around, we did a medley of that and This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us so I think I made my parents happy/proud for the first time ever.
M: You will have to be proud with that definitely mate. Right Ok you’re gonna do one more tune and then you’re going to skedaddle aren’t you with Heather and Adam Kidd. So what are you gonna do next then? T: This one’s called, I’ve Seen The Sunrise.
M: Fabulous, once again Thomas White live in session with Heather Urquhart and Adam Kidd and of course kid Alex on the camera there, you’ve got another career looming large there mate I tell you. Fabulous session, thankyou very much, great to see you. T: Cheers Marc, you too.
Screenshots from the Studio Webcam:
Fan Recordings from the audio stream: Lily and Number One will be on the upcoming EP, ‘A Quick One’, out July 18th – The Corner Of Highdown And Montefiore on the fourth album.
The Session/Interview in 2 larger parts below:
Songs from the recent 6Music session with Thomas on bass, Alex on keyboards/percussion, Damo Waters on drums and Andrew Mitchell (Hazey Janes) on guitar. Originals appear on the new album ‘The Maximalist’. These are 128kbps fan recordings.
The Pipettes – ‘Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen’ – Official Viral Video at youtube here featuring Alex White on drums. Produced by Martin Rushent.
Another fanatical fan blog – but nowhere near as much as Marc Riley (website) Read on for his latest interview + session with Mr White.
Fan recordings posted in the transcript below – individual songs in this blog post
Thomas White interview + session on Marc Riley’s show, BBC 6Music, 10th Feb 2010
I was hoping to subtitle the webcam photos “Thomas models his latest poncho” but unfortunately he never wore it and wasn’t in shot. He managed to get himself captured just before their last song, wearing a white shirt and tie (see below) He played Jerusalem Thorn, Accidentally Like a Martyr and The Weekend. Marc Riley is genuinely one of his biggest fans. Thomas was totally comfortable on the show. The best thing is Alex was there too and you could pretend it was Electric Soft Parade. And why not.
On the programme tonight – optimism costs nothing as I’ve already said tonight. Tom White’s going to be playing live in this room, that is the plan. We spoke to Tom around about 20 minutes ago and they’re just about getting into Manchester now but we’re not sure if that means Greater Manchester and they’re 25 miles away or if they mean Manchester City centre which is a little bit clogged up in itself. Tom White, obviously, Electric Soft Parade, also Restlesslist, also Brakes, occasionally British Sea Power, and now in a solo stylee; 4-piece band, can’t wait to get ’em in the room. Every cloud has a silver lining, because I can tell you infact they’ve just arrived.
I’ve been bigging up Thomas White on the guitar all week – indeed all month. He’s playing bass, isn’t he…
I’m Marc Riley and I’m delighted to say that Thomas White and his mates are in the room. You are mates aren’t you. You’ve been in a van together for like 8 hours, so if you weren’t mates, that would’ve been hellish. Julie’s been on; the marvellous Thomas White – ask him to dedicate his songs to his poor old suburban auntie Julie, that’d make my year – excellent show as usual. So, welcome to the programme.
TW: We’re so glad to see you.
You know what… we’ve talked before about the old guiltometer but I mean the guilt is swinging very very high tonight.
TW: In the red.
It’s peaking at 11. Because you have come from Brighton today and it’s been a pig of a journey. 8 hours in the making.
TW: Snow, traffic, roadworks.
Traffic? Between here and Brighton? You’re joking? The last time I went to Brighton it was just all horses and carts. Are there cars on the roads as well now? But an absolute delight to have you in the room. Introduce the band then first Thomas.
TW: We got Mr Andrew Mitchell from the band The Hazey Janes all the way from Dundee, he’s on guitar – white stratocaster there. Say hello Andy.
He’s a brave man playing guitar in a band with you but anyway… he’s a great guitarist.
TW: Fine collection of shirts as well. Mr Alex White, my dear brother on the keyboard there rocking up the old sampled mellotron sounds, also rocking up a nice shirt and Mr Damo Waters, Muddy Suzuki on the drumkit.
Now then. Do you want me to call you Thomas all night? I will if you want.
TW: I’d love that.
Right OK Thomas. I like your hair.
TW: It’s very silly isn’t it.
Well you know, it’s hard to describe really. If you were to stand to your right, it would look slightly like you had a mohican but certainly skinhead down the side. But if you look the other way, you’re normal. Normal Thomas on one side… are you a bit of a schizophrenic person anyway?
TW: Oh dear yeah, heading that way. Let’s not do that.
Right, Ok. There’s a webcam so we’ll try and catch you on there a little bit later on.
TW: Both sides…
I’ve been bigging you up as one of my favourite guitarists and there you are with a Rickenbacker bass.
TW: I couldn’t resist. It works for singing. I’ve got to say onstage, it’s so much easier because you don’t have a big guitar amp behind you and you can hear your vocal and it works… Sheryl Crow, she plays bass live.
But so does Sting and I don’t like swearing on the programme…
TW: Sting Sting Sting Sting Sting…
I thought, Alex, you’d be playing drums and you’re on keyboards. You’re just messing me about you lot.
A: It’s to keep you interested basically you know.
I’m always interested in what you guys do, you know that. You’ve got a solo album; is it out yet?
TW: No, 15th of March.
And what is “A Maximalist”?
TW: I guess the easiest way to describe it is the opposite of a minimalist. I direct anyone wondering to Wikipedia.
Or the Viz Profanisaurus.
TW: Oh dear.
I tell you what. Do a tune, why don’t you. What’s this one called?
TW: This is called Jerusalem Thorn.
Me: I can imagine Morrissey singing this, though I haven’t heard the original yet, it has echoes of his lyricism/vocals and I wish the lyrics accompanied the album (if not, they should) I’d play it on repeat if I wasn’t doing this transcription… Towards the end I can also hear echoes of ESP playing live, on KCRW in America. They had been travelling for considerably longer when they did that session though.
Strike a light, that was super. Thomas White, live in session with his mates and that was a track called Jerusalem Thorn, which is to be found on the album, the opposite of minimalist. Try saying that after a couple of pints. Well, thanks for coming in.
TW: Thank you.
You can go now… only joking. We’ll have 2 more of a similar ilk in about quarter of an hour’s time. That was magnificent.
We’ve got a dedication to be made. Drummer, please.
Damo: It’s my Dad’s birthday today. I think he’s er… 60-something. We won’t go into details but anyway happy birthday Dad.
Do you know when you said that you weren’t going to go into details? I think you just did really.
At this point the interview buffered and cut a bit out but Marc obviously asked about the album sleeve.
TW: It’s (by) a legendary American modern artist called Keith Boadwee who we know. He lives in San Francisco and the last time we were over there, we stayed with him. He put us up for a couple of days, or rather put up with us for a couple of days.
I was going to say that myself – very good.
TW: He’s a lovely chap. He’s a big Electric Soft Parade fan which is how we initially met him, he followed us around California when we toured there and we’ve got to know him and he kindly let me use that. I saw the shot on his website and just fell in love with it. His art’s very mixed; loads of different kinds of media and he does a lot of photography, a lot of performance art. He’s fantastic and he kindly let me use that for nothing and he’s a very nice chap.
Well we’re talking about it as if people can see it but they can’t. I’ll describe it. Mainly it’s a man’s face (TW: it’s his face) and there are raspberries are they?
TW: The piece is called Berries and it’s basically him pushing berries into his eye sockets: keithboadwee.com
So, it really looks like he’s actually poking his own eyes out, doesn’t it.
TW: It’s a rather fetching image I think.
It’s quite dark but suitable for the music.
TW: I think it suits it just right yeah.
So, you’re going to do another song now. What’s this one?
TW: This is called Accidentally Like A Martyr and it’s a Warren Zevon song. It’s off the record; I kind of like to do a cover on each album. A little nod to people I like. And he was a great songwriter.
OK mate, well take it away then.
Me: The Lyrics are in this blog post along with a different version of the original, which is far darker than this one, if that’s possible.
That was really wonderful. Accidentally Like A Martyr. A Warren Zevon song there which is taken from The Maximalist, Thomas White’s album, which is out on the 15th March. The next tune you’re going to do is quite long so if you don’t mind, we will do it in the last half hour. Just to continue the conversation for a short while. It sounded to me like it could have been a Derek and the Dominoes tune.
TW: Is that a good thing?
It is absolutely and the way that you delivered it. Ironically you’re the only one who could never in a million years, by the look of you, have been in Derek and the Dominoes. But the other three, quite plausible.
TW: Checkered shirts…
Yeah beard. Plenty of stubble and all that. Is any of you wearing flares.
A: Not quite, no.
Not that you’d admit on air. I’ve just come through to your own Myspace Thomas, and the picture of you on there is a great picture. If I was in a pop quiz, I’m rubbish right. If I go to a pop quiz, people say, he shouldn’t be allowed, he’s on the radio. And I say, just give it 5 minutes and you’ll find out I know nothing. The only thing I can ever do is the picture round. And if they’d showed me that picture of you, I’d never in a million years have guessed.
TW: It’s fairly striking.
I think a career in male modelling looms large.
TW: Oh dear.
That’s none of my business.
Thomas White back in the room. I have mentioned it on air before, obviously you know, but there’s Electric Soft Parade and Brakes and Restlesslist, which I still don’t like saying…
Clowns, which I need to hear.
TW: It’s a cracking band. We’re recording our album at the end of February.
Fabulous and also playing with British Sea Power from time to time when Woody was poorly.
TW: Yeah, beginning of 2008, I stepped in for a tour.
You, probably, have been in more than anybody else (for a session) Alex, you haven’t been in with Restlesslist, have you?
A: No, no.
(Me: At this point you wish he’d asked Alex what he’s been doing i.e. his soul band Soul To Squeeze)
Do you know what happened earlier on? The last time that you came, you immediately started looking round going “where’s the kid” and you weren’t happy, were you?
TW: He’s back, or is it a girl? He’s on the piano anyway.
Somebody had put it in the fire escape. Isn’t that shocking.
A: Thanks for that, cheers, that’s our mascot.
So tomorrow night you’re playing at the Slaughtered Lamb in London.
TW: We’ve done a little residency, this is the second one.
On the 12th you’re in Brighton at The Prince Albert.
TW: Yep. Same deal, kind of residency thing. These are our first two headline shows as a full band. So it’s fun and interesting – FUNTRESTING.
Very good, he’s just absolutely with it tonight, isn’t he.
The Prince Albert, you know they have signs hanging up outside the pub, what have they got a picture of?
TW: They’ve actually got a massive mural of John Peel on the side.
A: Also, an original Banksy; the one with the two policemen kissing.
TW: That’s the one. Which now has perspex screwed over it.
Because people start paintbombing them don’t they… That sounds like a cool place and it certainly will be a cool place in a couple of nights time because you’re playing there. So, one last tune then, but it’s a whopper.
TW: This is called The Weekend.
Go for it…
Me: This could be an ESP track, sound-wise. It makes me happy that Alex is in the live band. It’s the ambience they create together… The spoken word section really sets it off.
Strike a light, that was tasty. It was all brilliant, but drumming – top notch (Damo Waters) Just absolutely brilliant, so for the last time tonight, Thomas White in session, with his mates, as we say in the trade.
TW: They’ve actually got a name. It’s Thomas White and Travelodge. If they’ll let us use it.
I’m sure they will. I’m sure they’ll be honoured. That was amazing fellas. Thanks for coming in and I’ll see you next time, then…
Marc Riley Brakes were on 3 times throughout the show performing songs from their live album Rock Is Dodelijk (i.e. Rock is deadly or lethal) One of the session tracks – What’s In It For Me – is the crazy rock out version from the live album.
Comma Comma Comma Fullstop + Porcupine Or Pineapple: Part One here
Don’t Take Me To Space (Man) + What’s In It For Me: Part Two here
Leaving England (TW on backing + spine-chilling guitar) Part Three here
Marc put a fans question to the White Brothers, resulting in Alex mentioning his love of the band Chicago – “everyone I know has a story about, that was the last time I saw you, you were just banging on all night about Chicago” – and TW’s reply that “we don’t really believe in ‘guilty pleasures’ – if you like something sincerely, that’s fine, it doesn’t matter what it is”
He also asked Tom about his other projects; Restlesslist, Clowns and his solo album got a mention. TW: “I got a record coming out in March. Infact I was a bit cheeky; when we were recording the last Brakes record and these 3 guys were mixing it in the control room, I snuck into the live room and started recording and then ended up with an album – and I’ve just signed to Cooking Vinyl – so as we’re writing the new (Brakes) record I’ll be promoting that”
Marc then plays a few seconds of Restlesslist (Tom says the album’s coming) Marc: “And you’re in another band called Clowns. Bit greedy isn’t he?” TW: “I don’t like days off”. Marc asks Marc from Brakes what he’s doing and he says “me and Alex, I think we’re going to join our friend Matt Eaton, he’s got a new album coming out and we’re going to be his rhythm section”
After ‘Leaving England’, Marc Riley exposes his inner TW fan: “that was staggeringly good, that, not that I think you’re rubbish normally, but that was just something else. And that guitar playing…”
Alex said they’re staying with Official Secrets Act… there’s footage of him playing keyboards with them on youtube – before that he was their stand in drummer.
Screenshots from the 6 Music webcam… aka Thomas models his latest suit.
Here’s to a Brakes Session Album one day (it will sound much better than my fan recordings at least) And after all this can you even imagine what the next ESP record will be like… they’ll return one day, with melancholy Music and Lyrics and it will be Out Of This World. Til then watch this space 🙂
Brakes had a session on BBC 6 Music (29th April) They also talk to Cerys Matthews.
Brakes BBC 6 Music Session – Tracks: Hey Hey and Why Tell The Truth (When It’s Easier To Lie)
There’s some brilliant live footage from Brakes tour on youtube especially What’s In It For Me, from Oxford, 23rd April: watch here