Thursday, April 08, 2004

Bonemachine

To complement an interview with a band from my current home in Leeds, here’s one with some old friends from Portsmouth who performed some great live shows between 1999 and 2001, and released countless CD-R’s, before effectively disbanding. We find them now, rejuvinated and with a record deal with Hackpen under their belt, on the cusp of releasing their debut single proper (‘Another Day Over’ on April 5th) with an LP to follow (‘Vent’ on May 4th). It is the culmination of a lot of hard work and their constantly developing sound looks set to enchant a new legion of fans. VP spoke to Simon, James and Stuart from the band. More info is available from www.bonemachine.co.uk.

>How did Bonemachine come together?

Stuart: in a series of chance meetings in bedrooms circa 1997-9, and yes it is as sordid as it sounds, I was seeing a lot of live gigs around that time and nothing was inspiring me it was all fairly dull and formulaic. I was dragged along to a gig at the Wedgewood Rooms to see a band called Death In Vegas, they opened with a track called Dirge, seeing multiple musicians on stage using drum loops and conventional instruments (bonemachine have used Harmonica, Double Bass, Acoustic Guitars and mandolins as well as loops and programming) made my jaw drop. I literally went straight home to devise a plan for a new band. I went round to James place and played him a track that I had recorded on my Tascam 4 track, which was basically a few drum loops, he then recorded some heavy guitar over the top. A hairy fella from the room next to him heard it and started playing some strange Mick Karn style bass and Bonemachine was born. Of cause I was singing then and I am pants so luckily Simon stepped in and the rest was history.

>Please introduce yourself and your associates, what qualities do you each bring to the band, musically and otherwise.

stuart: loops and programming weird musical ideas and arrangements.

simon: vox, melody construction, musical direction, realist and a sense of calm.

ade: groovy bass funkin' and bass riffs that would make jaco pastorius proud.

james: rock guitars, a sense of irony and plays the ivories lovely like.

>What inspires you, musically and lyrically?

James: drink, emotions, injustice and hypocrisy (in that order - i.e. usually after a few drinks)

Simon: Mood and texture. I build on the aural background painted by Stuart. These original musical "sketches" are very inspiring to me when it comes to adding vocal melodies and phrasing.

Stuart: I agree with James, most of the original bonemachine songs were about the evils of drink, mainly because I was on a self-destruct at that time of my life. I still get inspiration from life experiences, sometimes I go for months without being able to write anything, when I do get inspired and I am writing a track that I feel strongly about its very satisfying. I like music that challenges the listener, most people make snap judgements on what a song or the lyrics are about, I like to turn that on its head. For instance using the Axis of Evil speech at the beginning of our track ‘the message’ we have had comments (from people that didn’t really listen to the song properly) that they don’t approve of our pro-bush comments, later in the track there is another sample from the first recording Hitler made referring to his ‘weapons of mass destruction’ I was not comparing Bush to Hitler but merely raising what I think is a worrying pattern.

>On a Bonemachine curated festival bill, who else would play?

James: really difficult to select a few here but if we had to narrow it down then this lot would all be in there somewhere; godspeed, you black emperor, cardiacs, new model army, the fields of the nephilim (old version), pink floyd playing comfortably numb, an orchestra playing sibelius violin concerto in D minor (Op. 47), senser, tricky, ben folds, radiohead, mercury rev, alice in chains and about a million other great bands.

Stuart: I would love to play on the same bill as Tricky, Flaming Lips and TheThe.

Simon: Radiohead and Toupe.

>What motivates you to record and gig? You effectively split up a while back, what made you reform?

Simon: The need to be liked and appreciated by strangers

James: we were able to play and record stuff we wanted to. it was difficult getting gigs outside of portsmouth and when the guy from hackpen just phoned stuart out of the blue and said he loved the stuff it was like a shot in the arm and we realised that maybe it the music did reach people in the way we wanted it to. so we started gigging again.

Stuart: I prefer recording to gigging, I get a real rush from creating new tracks, although I do like the look on peoples faces when we start playing, especially if it’s a young audience who are there to see a punk band etc. For me bonemachine never really split up, we were all still recording stuff using the Myth of The Elite Brigade side project name, we decided not to play live for a while but concentrate on recording the tracks WE wanted to hear, most of the early Bonemachine stuff was very industrial and dancey, and we started to realise that we had pigeon holed ourselves, this new album was bonemachine at their most honest. I also get very motivated by artists such as Tricky, he constantly surprises me, a very underated man in the UK.

>If the musical world was ideal, it would…

James: driven by creativity - rather than money and the one global monopoly deciding what 'the people' should hear and defining therefore what music 'is'.

Simon: Pay Bonemachine enough money for them all to leave work and do it for a living.

>Why should people buy your forthcoming LP?

Stuart: because it is a great record to get lost in, one of the main factors of the Bonemachine sound is that we have inputs from many other musicians, if we have heard someone and really liked what they are doing we have invited them to contribute to our recordings, on four of the album tracks the backing vocals are supplied by Sylvia Wood (from Voodoo Bomb) we loved the way her voice synced with Simons, we have also had input from other diverse artists such as QHIXLDEKX, Andrew Morrison from Euthanasia and the DJ Simon Heartfield, having other people inputting their ideas to the songs means that we don’t get too formulaic, this stretched to having a musician I had heard of and admired (Brendon Veale) come down from Bristol just to do the orchestral arrangements on the final album track, the final result was perfect. Although this album is more accessible than our earlier offerings we haven’t changed our outlook towards the essence of our music, if you take time to listen to the lyrics you will realise that each song has a message, most are about losing someone, whether through death or the breakdown of a relationship. We felt that each track should compliment the following one, the album was mastered so that it starts mellow and builds into a wall of sound only to close with four minutes of strings and spoken word, I strongly believe that the album should be listened to straight through.

>Suggest a publicity stunt to increase the Bonemachine profile in the UK.

James: celebrity hunting - basically like 'the running man' but with celebrities - bonemachine would be in a car chasing them with guns, harpoons, the lot.

>What do you consider your best achievements in music?

Stuart: confusing people, and getting signed, although it was a pleasure playing with Sigue Sigue Sputnik who were the maddest band I have ever seen.

Simon: Being signed and the forthcoming album. I'm actually very proud of the new material.

>What more would you like to achieve with your music?

Stuart: I would like to record that killer tune, like Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Jealous’ or David Sylvian’s ‘Nostalgia’ basically to write a song that holds pure emotion, I would then be able to die a happy man. Strangely I would also like to play a gig at the Astoria, and just once have our own dressing room with sandwiches on a doily.

James: just get it out there and give people the chance to 'get it'

Simon: Some recognition and for people to enjoy the music (and some money)

>If you weren't in a band just what would you do with your evenings?

Stuart: I would like to think that I would spend my time painting or writing a novel, although I expect I would still be pissed in the Wedgewood Rooms bar.

Simon: Spend more time with my family.

>What are your future plans for gigs and recordings?

James: get the single and album out there and then a mini tour to support it.

Stuart: we are also due to release a music video of the first single ‘Another Day Over’ its being created as we speak by motion graphics wizards called Agent 8, apparently they are all ex MI6 spies.

Simon: being signed has really motivated us, and we have been recording some cracking new stuff, this time we will try the new tracks out live and then record them, its all quite exiting at the moment.

>What, with regards the UK music scene, upsets you?

James: the fact that there is great music out there but that there seems to be a reluctance on the part of the industry, radio etc. to take it seriously

Simon: Dare I say the way NME has become a tabloid music paper - scary!

>What do you think of the Portsmouth music scene at present?

James: peaks and troughs. some great stuff going on but people (including ourselves) have really got to get it off the island somehow.

Stuart: we have recently had a remix of Another Day Over included on a cd compilation of electronic artists from Portsmouth, it really opened my eyes to the fact that there are some great bands around who I had never knew existed, particular highlights being 107 debutantes and Rusty Sheriff. I think that the Portsmouth music scene could be one of the most vibrant in the country but we don’t seem to have a central source of information that is being used, we have the superb pompeymusic.tk but its criminally under used, and don’t get me start on why most people are so apathetic they cant be arsed to drag themselves out to see bands, maybe its all down to a lack of café culture…

>Please name your 6 discs for a Desert Island?

James: Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here, New Model Army – Thunder And Consolation, Cardiacs – Sing To God pts 1+2, Metallica – …And Justice For All, Radiohead – Greatest Hits (ok - I know there isn't a greatest hits album yet ... but I'm not planning on being stuck on a desert island any time soon either!)

Stuart: David Sylvian – Everything and Nothing, TheThe – Naked Self, Notwist – 12, Swans – Soundtracks for the Blind, The Cooper Temple Clause – See through this and Leave, Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

Simon: Radiohead - The Bends, Ben Folds – Live, NMA – Purity, Bonemachine – Vent. And another 2!

>3 Books for a desert island?

James: War And Peace - I'm going to need something long to keep me occupied, Catch 22 and something by Iain M. Banks

Stuart: Lord of the Rings, M Gira’s ‘The Consumer’(for those angry moments) and anything by Ian Rankin.

Simon: How to Survive lonely isolation on a desert Island - R. Crusoe. How to skin a white man - Man Friday. The best of Urban Udders - Various Housewives.

>1 Luxury Item for a Desert Island?

James: Guitar.

Simon: Yup, my guitar.

Stuart: A lifetimes supply of red wine, and when the boys have got bored of playing Led Zep riffs they can come and get pissed with me on the beach.

Any other words of wisdom?

Yes remember E + R = O, the event plus your response equals the outcome. Here endeth the lesson.

www.bonemachine.co.uk

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