Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Four men on a farm.
We've travelled westwardly across the country, along stretches of tarmac and stone, through tunnels and traffic jams, passed road signs, roundabouts and rest stops, all in search of some lusher more naturalistic way of living. The time came to reverse the phone call fury,laptop living london life that we know too well, and find out exactly what it is that attracts people to put on mud flecked wellingtons, rise and shine at the crack of dawn and massage the udders of a cow in need of milking.
Lifes all about surprises, trying things you'd never imagine and putting yourself in precarious positions. For some that can mean sky diving or back packing across jungly terrain, for others it might simply mean purchasing the new jack penate album (which sounds like it was made in jungly/tropical conditions and packs more of a surprise than both of the last two things just mentioned) For us its meant taking ourselves and all our musical equipment to a secluded corner of south Cornwall, deep into a valley that times forgot, and ensconcing ourselves in music, chicken feeding and various other country pursuits.
Picture bubbling brooks, and breezy meadows, knee high grass thats as springy as a trampoline, and views that belong in the pages of Country life or on the yellowing paper of an old postcard. Imagine winding lanes, and blind driving through tunnels made by the branches of trees, grey stone cottages and road signs with words like “trevallick” and “Wartha”, it would be easy to think you were in a totally foreign country, with a language as nonnegotiable as dutch, but this is the english country side and this is where we are! A small cottage with a garden and a large stretch of grassy land has become our home from home, and we share this space with three sheep, six (now five) hens and a cat. Each member of the band has taken on different duties to keep our country venture running smoothly, and i think its fair to say we've each blossomed into a right bunch of country gents. Kapil looks after the hens, rising in the early morn to scatter seed and mumble warm sentiments to his feathery friends. Blaine shepherds his sheep, which requires very little effort as they munch away on the grass in the field, totally unaware of his attempts to befriend them. Kai has become the resident chef, cooking up omelettes, pasta dishes and our morning porridge, and with his bleach blond head of hair, one could easily be persuaded they were being cooked for by a younger less tantrum prone Gordon Ramsey. As for me, my duties are to feed the resident cat Daisy, and do my best to keep her happy. She is generally a very happy cat, but i've noticed in recent evenings a certain cruel streak in her. She brings these tiny little door mice into the kitchen, and bullies them till they are so scared they can't even muster the will to move. Then she kills them.
Speaking of violence, there also happen to be two cockerels couped up with the other chickens and its been quite a revelation living in close proximity with these very male creatures. For a start they cocka-doodle-do their little heads off as the suns beginning to rise, which, seeing as England 's going through a rare summer of sunshine, happens to be very early in the morning, and secondly these gracious and elegant looking cockerels are continually proving that appearances deceive, by viciously attacking myself and blaine between intervals of humping the life out of their poor hens. One of them, who we nick-named “Randy”, was so keen on his fighting that he soon began to turn on the other male of the tribe, pecking at his little red face, and leaping on him when he wasn't looking. The spectacle was at first quite amusing, we all gathered around these two fluttery fighters like we were at an eighteenth century cock-fight, some of us with fists in the air chanting “Randy, Randy!”. It very quickly however, turned into something pretty horrific and scary. Blood was trickling off the ends of their beaks, and streaking down their feathers, a strange almost-growl was emitting from their throats as they lowered their heads to butt each other, and the general feeling that something was very wrong spread among us. Like a bunch of useless referees we did our best to keep them apart, reasoning with them and attempting to establish some sort of peace, but they were having none of it and the bloodshed continued. Eventually we managed to get one of the cockerels back into the coup, where he was out of the others way, but with continual cocka-doodle-dooing coming from the pair of them, it didn't look like the battle was over. Later on that day,a local farmer dropped by, and told us in the nicest possible way that there was only one thing to do. Eat one of them. It was hard to imagine that this living creature, full of energy and running around in a field, might be in our bellies in a few hours time. It was something none of us had ever come close to dealing with. Coming from London, or any other town or city for that matter, food isn't something we tend to think too much about, it just needs to taste nice and be reasonably healthy depending on what you're into. Out here, we were at the top of the food chain, staring down at poor Randy, whose chances of ever growing old and having grand-children looked increasingly slim. Eventually the farmer did the deed, and Randy became a taste on our lips and a subject talked about in the past tense. None of us felt we had the courage to kill this wild bird, and in a way that is the one thing i regret. If you eat meat, it is important to know where it comes from and how its killed, and i think in an ideal world we would all kill the things we ate, that, if anything, justifies it.
Musically speaking we have managed to be quite prolific down here. We've honed and chiselled away at nine new songs, and feel confident that we are taking steps in a new direction. It would be very difficult for me to summarise where we are heading too, as each song seems so different to us, having its own miniature universe of influences and references, but a word thats being thrown around the rehearsal room a lot is “Widescreen”. I think we are trying to spread the sound out, give it a sense of landscape, make it more visual perhaps, but saying that, what you intend your music to be, often isn't how it turns out to be, so without filling you up with too many words that will only mislead, heres a list of whats been dominating the ipods.
Erol Alkan's Disco 3000 podcast.
Diskolos smylonylon: (Anything and everything from Todd Hart's Blog, Oxfam Dalston shop)
Blur: Modern life is rubbish
ELO: El Dorado
Robert Wyatt: Old Rotten Hat
Cocteau Twins: Treasure
Sparks: No.1 in Heaven
John Cale: Paris 1919
Lissy Trullie: Self-taught learner
If you manage to get yourselves to any festivals this year (Benicassim, V fest, Field day, Under age festival) you might well catch some scratchy versions of new songs like “2 late 2 talk” “The girl is gone” “Jesus turn the other cheek” and “Flash a hungry smile”, if not, have a nice summer whatever you find yourself doing.
All our love,