From the Funky Mofo archives: Funky Mofo talks with John Parish, musician/producer extraordinaire.
First of all, can you tell us what the Funky Mofo you’re doing in the Loire Valley? Sampling the local Saumur white wine?
Working actually – that’s not to say no wine has been drunk over the past two or three weeks, although I generally drink red – in a studio called Black Box, full of great vintage gear & a lot of animals. We usually have to chase the chickens out of the drum room in the morning, yesterday there was a bat asleep in the main recording room for the whole day – we left the door open last night and it was gone this morning.
You worked with Eric Drew Feldman who himself has worked with dEUS another Belgian band and you produced a soundtrack for the film Rosie (a Belgian feature). Could you explain how you came to work with Thou?
I got sent a cd of theirs along with a recommendation from a Belgian record label friend of mine. I thought it was great. Bart & Does (the singer/writers of the band) came over to Bristol for a couple of days. We got along well and decided to make a record together – That was ‘Put us in tune’ which came out in 2000. This is the second album we’ve done together.
The Thou website advertises ‘Elvis or Betty Boop?’ as their new album, are the band back in the studio already? And if so, why choose the black box studio in Angers, France to record?
‘Elvis or betty boop’ is their last album, although I guess it’s not that new now – it is great though, and I highly recommend it. The choice of studio was mine – I’d heard good things about (and from) this place for a number of years but had never had a chance to work here – it was always booked whenever I had a project thatmight have worked here. There was quite a lot of notice for this record so I booked the studio nice and early.
Keeping with the European vibe, what’s your view on Sweden deciding against joining the Euro currency?
I have mixed feelings about this. as I travel a lot, having fewer currencies would be easier and cheaper for me. I think that a lot of people are more hostile to the idea of relinquishing their own currency because it feels like losing part of their national identity as opposed to any specific economic argument against a single european currency. As far as I’m concerned money is paper & tokens that you exchange for goods. I’m in France now and it certainly doesn’t seem any less french or any more say german now they have the euro. Apparently things did get more expensive though…but I guess that’s what you’d expect. That was a general european summary as opposed to Sweden which is what you asked..sorry.
You seem very au fait with the European scene, we want to know what it is about people like Françoiz Breut or Dominique A that makes you tick?
It’s funny how we all (and I include myself in this) automatically refer to a Europe that does not include Britain… but knowing you mean the big bit of land to the west of us [we think he means east, ndr], what I like about a lot of french & belgian (and other) bands is that they seem less fashion oriented/concerned with self-image than their british peers and that makes their music more honest, more genuinely emotional, less respectful of borders. that’s not to say britain doesn’t produce great bands obviously. Historically Britain’s been leagues ahead, but in the past 8 or 10 years I think there’s been more interesting music coming from outside.
What would you recommend to the readers out there who want to expand their musical horizons beyond those Anglo-Saxon barriers? It is not necessary to be fluent in any foreign language to appreciate its musicality, this we don’t say enough!
For sure. well, as you already mentioned – you could do a lot worse than start with Dominique A & Francoiz Breut – together or seperately. I particularly recommend the first Francoiz album, and the record I made with Dominique – Auguri. Without wishing just to promote stuff I have been involved with (actually I had nothing to do with the Francoiz albums) I’d also recommend the forthcoming Cesare Basile album which I mixed in Sicily earlier this year – Gran Calavera Eletrica. It’s out on Oct. 10th – your only hope of getting it in the UK is via the web of course…
Music doesn’t always need vocals and/or words to tell a story and yet it is possible to create beautiful soundscapes as you have on ‘How Animals Move’, and those who have had the fortune to experience it live, like I have, would agree with me. How do you compose and what input do musicians like Jim Barr, Ben Shillabeer, Jesse Morningstar or Clare McTaggart have in the making of the music?
Although I wrote the music – melody & chord structure at least – all the musicians played a vital role – and most of the music was written specifically with those players in mind. The band that recorded & toured ‘How Animals Move’ was split pretty much in half between those who played the framework of the pieces (generally Clare-violin, Aaron-cornet, Ben-guitar/keys, Jim-bass, Tammy-drums) and those who created atmosphere/colour around the framework (Adrian-guitar, Jeremy-slide guitar, Jesse-treated violin/percussion)
On a final note, what’s your favourite colour? Er, sorry, really – what more (more! more!) have you got in store for us?
After the Thou record my whole family is temporarily relocating to the desert in Tucson, Arizona for the winter. My wife Michelle will be writing a book. I’ll be producing an album for swiss band Magic Rays , finishing the new Giant Sand album which we started in Denmark earlier this summer and trying to stop the kids getting stuck on cactus spikes…
Jo Whitby & C.B Lux