INDIE ROCK MUSIC Features

Live4ever Interview: After a turbulent decade, Badly Drawn Boy returns with new album Banana Skin Shoes

Posted on 25 May 2020 at 7:06am

Damon Gough is in demand this sunny Wednesday afternoon.

England may still be in a sort of lockdown (based on the official advice, who knows), but our trans-Pennine phone call is one of many he’s taking, a fate he was long resigned to when operating as a one man band. “My mates (the platinum selling, Mercury nominated) Doves always ask me how I do it,” he mock laments good naturedly. “There’s three of them and they share the interviews around.”

Such, we agree, is an occupational hazard of the setup, but despite flitting between podcasts and endless chats with German media (‘I reckon this record is the only one being released over there this week’), he’s a happy man as the hullabaloo means that his solo venture Badly Drawn Boy is back.

It’s been eight years since Being Flynn – a movie starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore which was soundtracked by Gough – an age in music terms, but there were compelling reasons for the absence. Indeed, the singer is disarmingly open about them, preferring to tackle the break-up with his partner of fifteen years and mother of his oldest children, depression, alcoholism and struggles with Crohn’s disease head on, being refreshingly frank and without any hint of self-pity. Alongside this, he adds, in the background was the constantly building mental pressure to get back to resurrecting an on-hold career.

The picture now is brighter, the focus sharp. A successful period in rehab during 2015 came after he met his new partner; they now have a three-year-old son, and for the first time in nearly a decade there’s an excellent Badly Drawn Boy record, Banana Skin Shoes, ready to go.

Live4ever Interview: Lockdown with Tim Burgess – Twitter Listening Parties and new album I Love The New Sky

Posted on 13 May 2020 at 8:06am

Some people are gluttons for punishment.

Whilst a great number of us have been making the most of this free time, the world still turns in our absence, and musicians still have work to present. Tim Burgess is one such soul, and while his Twitter Listening Parties are taking up most of his time (more on those later, inevitably), his fifth solo album I Love The New Sky is released at the end of the month too.

It’s ostensibly a follow-up to 2018’s As I Was Now, but the two records couldn’t be more different. For one thing, their gestations had completely different lifespans; Burgess sat on the previous album for the best part of a decade, whereas the new one was recorded in just a year. “As I Was Now only took about five days and I released it unmixed,” Burgess tells Live4ever in an exclusive interview. “And some of it was unfinished, but I just felt it was a really nice release. It was a good story and a nice archival release for Record Store Day.”

Tim is talking to us after a couple of false starts; “I was going to speak with Live4ever at South By Southwest. That was the first thing that disappeared. It’s amazing though, we would have been talking about completely different things.”

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Live4ever’s Interview With Crispin Hunt, Part 2: Streaming, royalties and the #BrokenRecord campaign

Posted on 08 May 2020 at 7:00am

There are many bitter ironies about this new world we inhabit after COVID-19 entered our lives.

The saddest of all is, of course, that those best placed to treat the virus are those that have the greatest exposure to it, our NHS staff and care workers bravely soldier on (if you’ll forgive the disingenuous war analogy one more time), doing their best, which is all any of us can ask.

Further down musicians are, perhaps unsurprisingly, showing themselves to be increasingly creative. Live-streams on Instagram and Facebook were already commonplace, but in the last two months the rise in this content has been meteoric. The sight of artists in their own homes (fortunately not against a backdrop of educational tomes) has already become the most familiar one of 2020. This fascination surely peaked during the Global Citizen ‘gig’ as Elton John inadvertently provided memes for the rest of the year whilst The Rolling Stones, always the savviest cats in the game, decided that 50% of the band performing would suffice.

Every night Tim Burgess hosts listening parties on Twitter, Noel Gallagher and The Libertines (among others) are taking the opportunity to clear out their cupboards, releasing treats in the form of demos or live recordings. Radiohead have taken things even further, putting entire gigs from their career on YouTube.

For the Jaggers and the Gallaghers of this world, these are little more than (appreciated) gestures of good will. For those further down the food chain still, the situation is much more severe. Their main source of revenue has simply stopped, with no clarity as to when, or in some cases if, it will resume. An ever-evolving beast, the music industry has long been financed by live performances. Gone are the days when an artist or band could get by on record sales alone.

Despite the rebirth of vinyl, sales of the physical music product have fallen through the floor because of streaming services. For £10 per month or less, the consumer has access to virtually the entire recorded history of music. Unfortunately, owing to the antiquated contracts recording artists are bound to, the creators receive negligible financial reward in return.

Via Spotify, the market leader, an artist can expect to receive £0.0004 per stream. It takes 2,500 streams for them to earn £1 – figures, whilst more lucrative, that are comparable across the various streaming services. In early, April Tom Gray, a director of PRS, tweeted some comments and stats outlining this very problem. In summary, even before the pandemic, musicians were in trouble. Gray’s tweets made over a million impressions and has transformed a conversation into an awareness campaign: #BrokenRecord.

Crispin Hunt, now Chair of the British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors, knows better than most about the dire straits the industry is in. A long-time advocate of parity for songwriters, Hunt knows immediate action is required.

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Live4ever’s Interview With Crispin Hunt, Part 1: Longpigs, Britpop and the reissue of The Sun Is Often Out

Posted on 05 May 2020 at 8:11am

In part one of our interview with Crispin Hunt – one-time frontman of the Longpigs and current Chair of the Ivors Academy – we look back on the Britpop peak of the band upon the re-release of their debut album The Sun Is Often Out on June 5th…

Live4ever Presents: The Lounge Society

Posted on 22 Apr 2020 at 8:22am
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Music Will Save, Like It Always Does

Posted on 20 Mar 2020 at 10:07am

A lot of words are flying around at the moment, the main one being ‘unprecedented’.

Whilst being apposite, it also fails to do justice to the situation the world finds itself in. In the UK, despite the depressing outcome for much of us, the general election and then Brexit at least brought a certain amount of clarity and near-relief after three-and-a-half torturous years. Things were just starting to normalise, in as much as they could.

Now this. Now it turns out all that instability was just a starter to COVID-19. You’re all reading the news, changing every day, but to focus on all things music: one of the first warning shots was the postponement of Coachella, more serious the cancellation of SXSW. This in itself was a devastating blow: the festival is a showcase for newer artists and bands, many of whom rely heavily on the exposure and promotional opportunities it brings. But again, these were naught but teaser trailers.

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Live4ever Interview: Andy Crofts talks The Moons, Paul Weller and solo albums

Posted on 10 Mar 2020 at 10:12am

Andy Crofts needs some tips on self-promotion: “It’s by no means anything to do with what my actual album will be. I kind of wish I hadn’t done it! You know when you’re trying to be spontaneous? You can’t be spontaneous when you’re putting something out, it just doesn’t work like that. I had to tell people about it a bit. It’s just a collection of songs that I did on my radio show. No frills, quite rough. The recordings are really raw and some of the levels are up and down.”

The songwriter is speaking to Live4ever before his acoustic show at the Louisiana in Bristol, the second night of a mini-tour he’s doing for fun, certainly not to showcase his ‘new album’. As the frontman of The Moons has explained, he’s recently released a covers album just for the hell of it, comprising a number of songs he’s performed on his regular Boogaloo Radio show. “There’s a charm to them, so I just put them together for an album,” he tells us.

“Just for the hell of it, because I didn’t like the thought of those things being wasted. They’re all covers: Wings Of Speed by Paul Weller, Ghosts by The Jam, Don’t Let Me Down, Waterloo Sunset, I Love You by The Bees. I asked the listeners to pick a song every week, then I’d cover it. Then I just put them all into one space. It’s just digital. It’s not going to stay up for long. I’m having a very limited run of CDs put together, but that’s it.”

‘Trials and travails’: A Live4ever interview with Deja Vega

Posted on 05 Mar 2020 at 7:51am

Deja Vega are the latest in a fine tradition of great bands from the north west of England; a power trio in the most literal sense, they combine the adrenaline of Oasis, the grandeur of The Verve and the widescreen soundscapes of the much-missed Exit Calm. Yet such musical ambition and dexterity belies the trials and travails that they, like many of their peers, have gone through.

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‘The long way round’: HMLTD talk Live4ever through debut album West Of Eden

Posted on 28 Feb 2020 at 8:03am

HMLTD have taken the long way round.

Active for five years, the six-piece have learnt the rigours of the music industry and manipulated them to their benefit. Initially signed to a major label after generating a huge amount of buzz back in 2015, things didn’t pan out and the band sought pastures new.

Yet the extra spent time formulating a strategy enabled new ideas and sounds to formulate. Their debut album, West Of Eden, was released in February, one of the most eclectic and ambitious you’re likely to hear all year: synth pop, Madchester house, euro pop, western…it’s all contained within.

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Live4ever Presents: The K’s

Posted on 20 Feb 2020 at 8:31am

The K’s seem destined for big things. Without releasing an album the band are already becoming a must-see on the live circuit and have a fanbase on social media that’s growing by the day. Only a handful of singles, the latest of which was released on Creation23 last year, are all singalong anthems. Judging by the crowd reaction for the new songs performed recently at the long-running Department S club night in Bristol, many more are to follow.

Jamie (singer, guitars), Dexter (bass) and Ryan (guitar) all live in Earlestown, with drummer Jordan making the effort to travel in for rehearsals from Blackpool. Live4ever caught up with the band a week after their biggest gig yet, a sold-out show at the Ritz in Manchester…

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