As Yet Untitled

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Coral

Two things generally come up when discussing The Coral. One, they're young. The band itself is nearly ten years old, but the boys who comprise it -- Nick Power, Bill Ryder-Jones, Lee Southall, Paul Duffy, and brothers Ian and James Skelly -- are only pacing it by another ten. The other is their wild musical style: nothing is verboten, everything is music. Their debut EP, 2001's Shadows Fall, featured what sounded to be Russian folk dance crossed with American ragtime. And, inconceivably, it worked.

England loved it. The hype was such that by the time they released their eponynomous full-length, it debuted at number 5 in the UK charts and 24 hours after its release was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. While America still doesn't know what to do with them, it hasn't slowed the band down. They've just released their newest album "Invisible Invasion," another stellar collection of off-the-wall influences and unbelievably catchy songs. I caught up with organist Nick Power, right after he got off the phone with his mum.

1 Comments:

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Tyson said...

I'm guessing you just came off another interview.

No, no. That was me mum.

How is she doing?

She's doing alright. She's getting along.

You hail from Hoylake. I'm in the US, which makes me generally ignorant of British geography, so where exactly is that?

It doesn't get written on maps. It's not big enough to be written on map. It's so small, that in fact our whole county doesn't get written on maps. That's how important we are. It's near Liverpool. But there's no significance culturally to anywhere on earth.

Fair enough. Now The Coral are doing marvelously well in the UK, but you're not getting much play here in the States. Is breaking into America something you want to do, or just something that would be great if it happened?

I'd like to, like anyone, 'cause you want people to hear it. But it's so hard to break America. It's unbelievably hard. At the moment we haven't had a plan on how to do it. We've just been going out and touring every state in one tour, where there's been about forty people at gigs. And you're never going to get anywhere like that. I think the thing to do is probably break it state by state, and then that would take about a year to do anyway. If we could get on the radio, somehow, but I'd only go back over if we generally had some interest, and we haven't actually got that much interest in America.

Why do you think that is? Why is it so hard for British bands to break American airwaves?

"Cause it's so set in its ways, isn't it? You know you've guaranteed listeners with a certain type of music. Some stations are alright, but I've found out that people who like us in America like British bands anyway, so they'd like us if we shit on a plate and sent it over. You know what I mean? People who like British music generally like us; we haven't really reached the other... a lot of our fans probably couldn't tell the difference between us and Cast. I want to do it. It's our fault, really. It's our record company's fault, 'cause we haven't done it the right way, our record company, Sony in America. Mean, why would they want to back us when they've got like fucking J-Lo making them shitloads of cash, what are we going to do? Seven scruffy lads.

You've talked in the past about how Sony seems to screw things up for you. Why are you still with Sony?

Shit, do we say that?

You've mentioned that Sony hasn't treated you that well, or maybe it's just with the music industry in general that you don't really agree.

Yeah, Sony treats us alright. We give them too much of a bad rap, really. They treat us well, it's just when we try to get creative, that's when we fail. If we try to get a hand in...'cause you know people who work for record companies are straight out of a media course, likes a bit of a party, enjoys music but isn't really into it, and likes a few lines of coke. And that's the worst recipe for any creativity, some of the ideas they come up with are unbelievable - but they treat us good. We've got some qualms about the promotion, but otherwise we get treated fairly well. We get creative control over everything.

When you say you have qualms with promotion, do you mean interviews like this?

No, no. Yeah. I'd rather give a positive interview. We've had too many interviews where we just moan. We're coming across as moaners now.

All right. So let's talk about your age. A lot has been made of your youth, your collective youth. You guys are pretty young for what you do. Does that affect your writing, interviews, when it becomes about your youth and not the music?

No, it's all right for interviews and songs, 'cause we are young and that's an advantage in a way. Sometimes you're not taking it seriously in business matters or whatever. No it doesn't really affect us at all. It's good, it's an advantage. We've got one up on everyone who is older than us. At least I think so. I don't know. You've got a better outlook.

Along with that, most of you attended college and then left. Would you like to go back, and try school again?

No.

(laughs.)

I don't think we could now, we're too used to the lifestyle. Sometimes I think night school, when I'm about thirty. Do an English course.

Have you thought about doing anything other than music, or, if you could, would you do this the rest of your lives?

I'd drive a forklift truck.

In Hoylake, would you?

No, in Zimbabwe.

(laughs)

Do they have much call for forklift drivers in Zimbabwe?

Oh yeah, yeah, there's been a major call for forklift drivers for that crisis over there. They're looking for forklift drivers to come over. So that's what I'd do, I'd rescue the crisis.

There you go. Your newest album just got released in the states. You excited about it?

Yeah. I love it, yeah. It's been out here for a while, so I'm not really that excited about it anymore. I'm looking forward to playing it live on the next tour. Really excited because we've got light shows and projections to go behind us, so, yeah, I'm looking forward to it.

So has the touring gotten bigger for you guys?

Yeah, well we've always kinda had that. Except when we been to America, we haven't had the money or the support to take it over, so when we play England, that's the full-on show.

Are you going to do a tour in America for this album?

Depends really. It's out of our hands, to be honest. We're definitely doing Europe and England, but it depends on how much demand we get.

You're well known on your albums to be wildly eclectic. What happens when someone brings in a simple pop song. Is there pressure to trick it out?

Depends on how good it is really, and how it fits on the album. We record loads of songs, but you've to pick an album on how it flows. It's quality control really. If it's good enough, it doesn't matter what it sounds like. If it makes it, it's good.

So, for instance, on your last album, how many songs didn't make the cut?

About 12.

Are those full-on recorded songs or just demos?

They're all recorded. We record them all in the same way we do the album. Some of them are B-sides, and some of them never see the light of day.

Have you guys started on your next album, or are you just focusing on the tour?

Yeah, we've always got something. We've been doing that today. When we rehearse new songs, it's like rehearsing for the tour, 'cause it gets you tighter. The set we've been playing, we've played it so much this year that we don't need to rehearse it that much.

It's been mentioned that your influences include the Beatles, Neil Diamond, Oasis. Who influences you these days?

It's a lot broader than that. Moreso we're influenced by Lee Perry, Can, Nick Drake, Van Morrison, The Fall, Gene Pitney, Burt Bacharach, Echo and the Bunnymen, Pink Floyd, Butthole Surfers, Frank Zappa, and The Beach Boys.

That's a hell of a list.

I could go on if you want me to do.

(laughs)

I think I get the idea. Is there anyone current? Most of those artists have stopped recording, stopped releasing anything new.

Out now? Devandra Banhart. I like his songs. He's got brilliant style. Who else? I can't think of anyone. The White Stripes. They're brilliant. We're not retro freaks, we like new music. We're not just retroists, some people think we are, but that's more for record shop owners.

How do you classify yourselves?

(sighs) I don't know, I can't really say anything without saying something dead cliche that every band says. Like outcasts, but every single band says that. Scientists. That'll do.

That will do. You guys have talked in the past about how good you are. Is there anyone you're looking to beat these days, to be better than?

Our last album. Every time we want to make a better album than the last one. We know how good we are but we've never captured it fully. And we want to, we need to, we've got to do it. We've never got down how good we actually are onto an album. We've made good albums but we've never made a classic. We're moving forward all the time, so you can judge us by what's coming up, rather than what's been.

Why do you think you haven't been able to record that classic album yet?

'Cause we're still learning. Each time we go in and record, we learn something new. We know we can do it, but we've got to put the right amount of time in, not too long and too short, and focus. Pick the right songs. We could of done it, but we're young and it was new to us. But we're coming to the peak.

Next album, you think?

Yeah, maybe, yeah. I've got a feeling, but I don't want to give it the kiss of death.

When can we expect the next album from you guys?

I don't know. I'm not sure. We haven't recorded it yet. We're probably going to take next year to record it. Depends on when the time is right. A year or so. Have you heard the new album yet?

Not the whole thing.

You'll probably like it. It's like Krautrock, some of it. Like Can, or some weird German machine music. But some of it's quiet, quite folky.

One last question: what songs do you want played at your funeral?

I don't know. I don't want to think that far ahead.

Ok. So how about if you went out drinking tonight. What would you want to hear?

No, funeral would be better. Funeral would be sleazy lounge music. Tom Jones live. I'd go out in a pink sweatsuit with foil trimmings with Tom Jones live.

There wouldn't be a dry eye in the house.

No, it'd be a celebration, because I've fucked off forever.

 

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