Interview with Bell X1

From the Funky Mofo archives.

Where the Funky Mofo are you and what are you up to?

I’m in a dressing room in Liverpool Academy… a simple enough arrangement – a couch, mirrors, Jagermeister (German herbal liqueur).
We’re starting the Aqualung support tour tonight.

Music In Mouth is your first UK release and yet it is your second album – why did you make us wait so long!?

We desperately wanted to get our first record ‘Neither am I’ released outside of Ireland… but it just didn’t happen quickly enough so we started another record. We’re anal bastards in the studio and it took us ages, but we’re here now…

The Irish music scene is blossoming right now but it seems established European acts like Mundy and The Frames still haven’t quite reached the UK shores. What do you think is the reason for this?

I think they gave it a go in the UK and it didn’t really happen, so they fucked off to where it did. There’s a bit of a London-centric thing here, the thinking that one must have success here first and then go tell the world, which is kinda bollocks. Audiences in Europe are really eager and willing to give new things a chance.

You are supporting Aqualung shortly – do you hope to follow in Franz Ferdinand’s (who supported Belle and Sebastian and everything went mad from then on) steps?

We shared a stage with Franz Ferdinand at Reading and Leeds last year, and they were great, they really stood out. A good trouser line goes a long way…
We have a single out in April called Eve, the Apple of my Eye, and we’ll be back touring on our own then, so yeah, it’s always good to play with people who have an audience where you don’t. Hopefully they’ll come with you to the Dark Side!

Do you enjoy your time on the road?

Yea, we do. When we tour in the UK we usually live in this farmhouse just outside Oxford and drive to and from the gigs whilst based there, which is brilliant. This time, because we’re a bit more all over the shop, we’re doing the Travelodge thing, so it’ll be interesting. We’ve got our super-sized plates for the buffet though…
You can completely lose your sense of time and place after a while, it becomes quite spacey and dreamlike, especially in places like Eastern Europe where we were just after Christmas.

Any plans for a live album?

Snoopy (our roadie)’s girlfriend keeps saying that we need to go make another record soon…we’re keeping him away for too long being on the road all the time. We tell her we’re thinking of a live album. But we jest. The Live album will be just before the Greatest Hits.

‘Music In Mouth’ seems to draw from many influences – Talking Heads and Johnny Cash are two that you mention quite strongly. Who else made waves on your stereo during the making of the album?

We were staying in a real Fawlty Towers stylee hotel called The Chiswick, and would come home of a morning, pour a stiff drink and listen to stuff like Television, Loudon Wainright III, Q Tip, Mos Def… all sorts really. The Johnny Cash record “American IV, When the Man Comes Around” came out while we were recording, and we played all the time in the Studio on the Big Speakers Really Loud cos it sounds amazing.

The title of the album is from the poem The Planter’s Daughter by Austin Clarke. Do you all enjoy reading poetry? Does a knowledge of poetry help you in writing lyrics?

There were a few poems that I was really stirred by in school, and I’ve always robbed them blind in my own writing. I haven’t really kept up an interest in poetry, I’m a bit of a crap reader in general. There have been a few things that have grabbed me, but I think poems, like songs, can have resonance with certain times in your life and that can be where their power lies.

What can we expect from Bell X1 in the near future?

After the Aqualung tour we go to America, then to Ireland, then France and back to the UK, playing concerts and shaking hands and kissing babies. Then we’ll have a nice cup of tea, and think about recording a new record.

Jo Whitby

Visit Bell X1‘s website!

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