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Interview with Chris Wade of Dodson and Fogg

29 May

Purple Dog Records is based in the US but we certainly don’t limit ourselves to a specific region when it comes to discovering independent musicians.12750544779bc5e91347700601 I was recently made aware of a band called, Dodson and Fogg from Leeds led by the very talented, Chris Wade.   Their second album, Derring Do hooked me immediately with a beautiful acoustic introduction. The whole album continues heading steadfast toward prog folk perfection. The word, “chill” is often overused in describing music but damn it, I can’t think of anything else to call it. It’s just so good. With songs like “The Leaves They Fall”, and “What Goes Around” it’s hard to tell in what era they were recorded. Chris Wade’s musical style gives the impression of a man who could have been friends with John Lennon, but by no means is he repeating the sound. Each song had a timeless quality and a brand new feeling attached to every guitar lick and yes, even trumpets (trumpeting?). I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris about his band’s new album coming out this July among other fun tidbits of information.

PDR: Have you written and performed music prior to Dodson and Fogg?

CW: Yeah, I started playing music when I was really young. Me and my brother started learning guitars early on. Before I had a guitar I remember making one with rubber bands and an ice cream tub. I was always obsessed with music. I remember my first favourite c wadebands were Nirvana when Kurt was still alive, when I was 8 or 9, and Black Sabbath, who I was totally obsessed with, and who I still love to this day. I started collecting their vinyl and saving pocket money to go to Relics in Leeds to get the records. We started writing songs then, me and my brother… well, I say writing. My dad has some tapes of them and they are grotesque haha. In my late teens I had a 4 track tape machine and used to make demos in my bedroom whenever I got home from work, back then I worked at a toy shop which was a fun place to work. And in my early 20s I had a band with my friend Shawn and my brother, which then turned into a band with my brother and my sister, and that “line up” did some gigs in Leeds where I live in around 2007 and 2008 I think. But that was more straight forward punk rock really, not like what I am doing now which I prefer. We were playing in some really ropey venues sometimes, but family and friends always came along and made parties of these gigs. That fizzled out though, and I started  writing and illustrating in about 2009 and left music for a while until last year when I made the first Dodson and Fogg album. I firstly wanted to be a fiction writer, and did some really weird broadly comic novels that were made into audiobooks, narrated by Rik Mayall and Charlie Chuck, but there was no way I was going to be able to get that into a proper direction. Some of them stories were just mental, haha. This is different though, and really satisfying.

Chris Wade and Rik Mayall
*Editor’s note – If you are a fan like me of that complete bastard, Rik Mayall then you’ll love “Cutey and the Sofaguard”.

PDR: Who are some of your main influences? 

CW: Well I love Black Sabbath and I also listen a lot to early Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Incredible String Band, early Leonard Cohen, Kinks and especially Donovan, who I think is just a brilliant artist. There’s loads of stuff I listen to. I really like Goldfrapp at the minute, been listening to Air as well, and Amy MacDonald, alongside Yes, and early King Crimson, the first two albums in particular. But I don’t know how much they have influenced me knowingly. When I make music it comes out naturally and I know I am happy with a track when I feel I could put it on myself and listen to it for pleasure. So maybe musical tastes just seep in for any artist subconsciously affect what music they record. I basically like to record music I could listen to myself I think. That’s why I never understand the bands or artists who can’t listen to their own songs. It’s questionable, like almost as if they’re in it for the money really, as Frank Zappa might say. But I will say that any band recording and mixing music these days, and paying close attention to it, HAS to be influenced by The Beatles, even if they don’t know it…

PDR: One of my favorite songs of yours is “All Day Long” (featuring Celia Humphris of Trees) off of the debut album. How did she become involved?

CW: Thanks, glad you like the song. My dad has always been a big music fan and he was into Trees when I was a kid. First he had two of their tracks on these old samplers, one of which was called Fill Your Head With Rock (a classic compilation that anyone reading this should check out) and then he finally got a hold of their two albums, On the Shore and Garden of Jane Delawney. I was a fan right from then thanks to my dad and I interviewed Celia in 2009 or 2010 for my Hound Dawg Magazine (which was a free online PDF then, and now it’s a print magazine) and asked her about the band. I hadn’t stayed in touch with her though, but in around May or June last year I sent her some tracks to see if she was interested in collaborating and I could not believe it when she said she would sing on them! That’s when I took this project seriously and dived right into it. She is one of my favourite singers, her voice is a proper instrument in itself, and on Derring Do she is doing all sorts of amazing things I wish I could do with my voice. On All Day Long as well, like you say, her voice on that is fantastic. I used three or four of her harmonies on that and mixed them all together. Worked out great I think. 

PDR: Do you have a preference of one song over another? I can imagine it’s almost like playing favorites with a child though.

CW: It’s weird answering questions about your own music. It’s funny because the Dodson and Fogg first album was only released last November, and most of these songs are pretty new to me really, so it’s hard to look at them in a retrospective way. I will say though that Meet Our May, I wrote that when I was about 18, ten or so years ago and All Day Long comes from a melody I had in my had for years and never did anything with. So them two, and Crinkle Drive off the first album with Nik Turner of Hawkwind on it, I do have a soft spot for them chappies. To be honest though, the next album has my own favourites on it so far. I am really pleased with it.

PDR: You also have a solo project released, titled, “Moonlight Banquet”. How does this differ from your work in Dodson and Fogg?

CW: That was a side thing really, because I had these instrumentals that didn’t quite fit with Dodson and Fogg and my girlfriend said ‘why don’t you release them?’ So it isn’t really a major project or anything but it is a nice way to use some ideas I really liked and never got round to releasing. They’re longer and more progressive I suppose, with extended solos and worked out sections. Fun to do actually, but Dodson and Fogg is definitely staying as my main focus. Working at home though, and with music being my hobby as well as a job type thing, I have plenty of time on my hands to try all sorts of things out. 

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PDR: Finally, do you think of the third album, “Sounds of Day and Night” as a continuation of the last two or are they all completely separate concepts?

CW:Well the third one is kind of following a concept, different characters so to speak and situations from the morning to the night, all kinds of scenarios and set ups, but it sounds similar to Derring Do, with the instrumentation and production. But it also sounds a little different too. It’s hard to describe it, but I kept working on it, rewriting songs and getting rid of certain tracks, then bringing in new ones from around January when I started recording it (just before Derring Do came out) and it was last month or so when it actually started sounding like a step on from Derring Do. I’m finding myself listening to the albums and thinking that if they sound like a progression from their predecessor I am doing something right and pleasing myself. Then I think, well if I am happy with it, the folks who liked the other two albums might be up for it too. You have to not think about the whole process too much, as you know as a writer, because if you look too far into it  you end up taking it too serious or you risk over analyzing your stuff and taking the fun out of it all. So while it is a little different in some of its moods, it is also like a continuation, but broadening the scope hopefully. That said, Celia is going to be singing on it again so it is nice to have her on board, and there are some other possible guest artists, but I won’t say who just in case it doesn’t happen. Also, my girlfriend Linzi Napier is a painter and she has done the cover art for the next album, one of my favourite pictures of her’s. She has an exhibition in July which we are both excited about and some of the work for this next album will be on display.

Thank you, Chris for taking the time to chat! Be sure to check out Dodson and Fogg’s latest album “Sounds of Day and Night” coming July 2013. Let him know what you think!

Article and interview by Erin Gavin

Steven Wilson’s Raven: Haunting and Brilliant

17 Mar

Album-cover-with-titlePorcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson has a long history of surprising music releases, blurring genre boundaries and showing fans sides of him they’ve never seen before.  Just when it seemed like there was nothing new left for him to do, Wilson has released The Raven that Refused to Sing, a collection so mysterious and beautiful that it nearly defies description.

The haunting stuff doesn’t come right at the beginning, though.  To say that Raven takes the listener on a journey would be an understatement.  It starts out as a straight-up heavy prog album, with hints of Yes and King Crimson in there, but by the time you get to the sixth and final track, you’ll wonder how you were carried so seamlessly into Radiohead territory, and marvel over the steps that got you there.

And big steps they are, too.  As you might expect from a progressive rock album, Raven is light on track numbers but heavy on track duration.  The shortest track comes in at just over five minutes, while the longest (“Luminol,” the album’s opener) comes in at just over twelve.  This means that there’s plenty of space in each song to explore and experiment, which is where Wilson excels.  What may come across as aimless wandering in the hands of any other musician appears as a clearly articulated path when Wilson is the one leading the way.

Although the first five tracks are certainly essential components in the overall picture, there’s no doubt that they also serve as a framework to support and highlight the brilliance of the sixth track.  It’s no accident that Wilson saved the title track for last, and from the first dissonant strains of strings punctuated by unusual piano chords and floating vocals, it’s obvious why this song couldn’t have played any role other than finale.

There’s so much near the end of the album that’s reminiscent of Radiohead right after they shifted gears in 2000, but in a timeless rather than a dated way.  Melodies that are as passionate as they are sad are combined with rich musical arrangements and lyrics tinged with despair.  It sounds depressing, and it is somewhat, but there’s also a strange sense of hope that the future holds something brighter.

All in all, this is a beautiful album, and worth buying the special edition simply for the gorgeous work of artist Hajo Mueller, who lent his talents to the album design.  This is definitely one of Steven Wilson’s finest releases, if not the finest, and any rock fans will find something here to love.

-This article was written by BJ

When she’s not busy seeking out new music and artists, BJ spreads her love for music across the web as a blogger and small business marketer.

Upcoming Band Terne Looks Promising in 2013

12 Feb

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There’s something exciting about finding a really good genre-crossing band that only has a handful of fans and hasn’t even completed an album yet.  You never know if you’ve stumbled upon the next Queensryche or Metallica, or whether the band will just remain a hidden gem that you can enjoy on your own.  There are quite a few promising bands that are looking to have a good year in 2013, but there’s something about Terne in particular that is attention-grabbing.

They only have four uploads on their YouTube channel, but Terne keep mentioning that these are demos and that they’re putting together a full, polished album.  What’s interesting is that the demos themselves are pretty great, and even though they range from nu-metal to grunge and even dubstep, Terne has a sound that doesn’t suffer from an identity crisis.  They take a little from each genre, mix it all together, and out comes an entirely new sound, which they rightly describe as being specifically geared toward 2013.

Terne also refer to their music as “metal without screaming,” which not only makes a nice change from most nu-metal, it also opens a lot of doors for the band in terms of where they can explore musically.  The vocalist is quite versatile, and given the tightness of the band as a whole, they can really pull off just about anything they try.  Their song “Stick To” is a metal song with elements of hardcore rap, while “Wherever You Are” starts out sounding like electropop on the verses, and then after a minute or so glides effortlessly into a Skrillex-style dubstep metal chorus.

It sounds like an odd mix, and it is, but it would certainly be interesting to hear an album from this band, which apparently is in the works and coming out sometime during the next few months.  According to the Terne YouTube page, the focus of the album is going to be mostly metal, with elements of the other styles that influence them, and an overall “dark rock” feel.

The important thing with any new band is good songwriting coupled with strong playing skills, and Terne have both.   If they can get a little more of an online following going, their album could be one of the surprise success releases of 2013.

-This post was written by BJ, our newest PDR blogger. Let’s give her a warm welcome and say it together “Hi BJ!”

Artist of the Week: Mechina

20 Dec

From the band’s facebook page –

For the last 5 years, one band has defied the norm of metal and continued the progression of musical originality logo1_1288578578throughout the Midwest. Music that bombards every sense, creates every form of emotion, and reinforces the new age of modern metal. With the mixture of precision inspired rhythms, orchestral melodies, creative and unorthodox lyrical content, and a plethora of intriguing and intense atmospheres, Mechina has created a unique presence in the future of metal.

 

Artist of the Week: Water On Mercury

12 Dec

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From Water On Mercury’s official site:

Water On Mercury is the instrumental music project of guitarist Tim Gavin. Tim is a family man with a day job as a CPA, but he has an undying passion for heavy music. This project is the culmination of years of writing and producing music at home.

Tim was a key member of the now defunct Dominion from Chicago, which also featured former Otep drummer, Brian Wolff, and current Gemini Syndrome vocalist, Aaron Nordstrom. Dominion was a force to be reckoned with on the Chicago metal scene. Tim brings the same intensity and musical intelligence to his new project. Having been compared to Scale the Summit, TesseracT, Opeth, and Cloudkicker, the similarities do not end there. His influences are many and balanced to form a truly unique sound.

 

Water On Mercury’s new album will be released soon.

The Life and Times of a Vinyl Junkie

10 Dec

ImageHello world and welcome to my first blog post! My name is George, and I am a vinyl junkie. That may sound like an introduction at an AA meeting, but I don’t see this addiction as a bad thing. I just want to share my passion with the world.

I have always loved music, and found vinyl to be the best form of listening to it. I have lost quite a few albums through the years, but I still own the first album I ever bought with my own money (Hamilton Jo Frank and Reynolds). Sure….. back in the day I bought my share of cassette tapes, even owned lots of eight tracks, but vinyl is what lasts. When CDs got started, I held out as long as I could before I bought any of those. It wasn’t until I couldn’t find what I wanted on vinyl that I started buying them.

The size of my collection is currently around 4,000 albums, give or take. What I am most proud of is not the size, but the diversity. If you were to visit and wanted to hear some music, chances are that there is something you would like. Most of it is classic rock, because that is just what I like the most.

Now the “junkie” part I gave myself, because it is like an addiction. I love my collection, but the thrill really comes in the search for new, or as I like to call it, new-to-me records. I have driven as much as 700 miles in a weekend just to shop for records, and I have gone to yard sales in my own neighborhood. It’s all in the hunt! Another plus is that most record stores these days are “small” businesses, so when you go to buy records you are helping the local economy.

There are as many different reasons to collect vinyl as there are people to do so. It is a growing business, and there are a lot of good investments out there. Now I don’t know what a lot of records are worth, but I really don’t care. My collection is listened to, almost daily. I do own a couple of Beatles records that were appraised at over a thousand bucks, and I listened to them once then framed them (to both protect the covers and show them off).

I have been given many records by friends who just wanted to get rid of things they no longer wanted or needed. Kind of the whole “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” thing. If I came upon something I had not heard before, I would give it what I call the side one test. I listened to side one before I passed it on or kept it. I have found quite a bit of good music that way. So if you are just getting started in collecting vinyl or you have been doing it for years, don’t pass a record up if you don’t recognize it, you may lose out.

 -lucky g vinyl junkie