Wednesday, July 6, 2011

INTERVIEWS: Adam Jones (Peachfuzz)

Peachfuzz are a great Powerpop band from Bridgend in South Wales. Formed back in 2007, through a mutual love of bands such as Teenage Fanclub and The Replacements, Peachfuzz have since released two full length records and have played shows up and down the country (despite not touring!). I caught up with guitarist/vocalist Adam Jones, and talked about growing up in the valleys, the new record, and recording a record on a budget of just £350... (Photo: Adam Hunter)

Okay, so first of all, the most cliche of questions, how did Peachfuzz come together as a band?
I lured Lewis and Jon away from other bands by lying to them about our prospects. Seriously though, we love bands like Big Star and Crazy Horse and Cheap Trick and Badfinger and it seemed to us that nobody was writing those sorts of songs anymore. I’ve known Lewis and Jon forever and it seemed it might be worth trying to write those sorts of songs because it didn’t seem likely that anyone else was going to do it. So we had a go.

The lyrics to a large majority of Peachfuzz's songs read like stories. Are they based on your own life experiences or on true stories? Or are they completely fictional?
Bit of a mixture. Everything anybody writes has a bit of their own life in there, I think. I work hard at lyrics because I think if you’re going to say something you might as well try for something good. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. Ultimately I just try to mangle words together into a sequence that conveys feeling, is interesting to listen to and that I can sing with a straight face without feeling like a complete fucking liar. If it feels like that then I’m happy.

Hardly the most reliable of sources, but I read on a forum that Everything Takes Forever was written as a concept album. What is the concept behind it, and what influenced you to write an album in such a way?
If by concept album we’re talking about a record that tries to tell a story then I suppose ETF is a concept album. I don’t much like spelling things out because when I listen to stuff I like to make up my own mind. However, I will say that we’d done the first record and wondered how we could keep things interesting. The first record was a collection of what we felt were the best songs we had at the time. ETF was written to order. There were no omitted songs. It was written in sequence from start to finish. It was all very deliberate. I enjoyed the discipline of writing like that. It’s good to test yourself, I think.

I heard it was recorded on a budget of 350 UK pounds. Was this simply due to lack of funding? Or was it intentional as a way of preserving the authenticity and raw sound?
We’ve been playing together for a good while and we record fast. As I recall the whole thing was recorded in five days. All of the rhythm tracks and most of the vocals were first takes. The songs were thoroughly rehearsed and we had very specific ideas about how the record should sound. We discussed what we wanted with Eifion Lloyd at NOLEX at great length and he quoted 350 quid. He was good to his word and did the record in for that. NOLEX is a no-frills studio. It’s a big one-room shed on legs at the end of a muddy track. It’s the Mickey’s Gym of recording studios. There’s no heating and no toilets. However, Eifion knows what he’s doing and the equipment is good. I understand why it’s a bit of a novelty that ETF cost 350 quid to make because some bands spend more than that on their fucking haircuts. Really though making records is just a matter of knowing your songs, dangling some microphones in front of some amps and watching the levels. There’s nothing mysterious about it and it needn’t be expensive if the band is well rehearsed.

The record was released on the infamous UK label, Bombed Out Records. How did that all come about?
There were a bunch of labels wanting to put it out but most of them wanted to fuck around with the sound of the record or placed unrealistic demands on the band. Obviously we were having none of that. We knew Steve Jackson at Bombed Out because he had been supportive of the first record that came out on Rat Patrol. We liked a lot of the stuff that Bombed Out had put out. We sent him a copy and he liked the record. Steve’s ethos is that the band makes the record they want to make and then Bombed Out puts it out and promotes it. It’s a very pure and beautiful thing they’ve got going on. I have nothing but good things to say about Bombed Out Records and Steve Jackson.

Much like most of South Wales, Bridgend is a pretty economically deprived area. Do you feel this has influenced your sound at all?
That’s an interesting question. We are from working class backgrounds. I grew up in the seventies in the valleys just around the time the pits started closing. Looking back we were poor but the family was strong. There was no fucking money but there was no shortage of love. I didn’t feel deprived. In terms of musical influence, I will say that music served a very important and specific purpose in people’s lives and that purpose was to provide an escape, a good time. In my experience, people who know genuine hardship don’t want to be reminded how difficult life is when they put a record on. They want to be transported. That’s what we try to do to the best of our abilities.

Going back 10 years ago, Bridgend’s music scene used to be one of the best in South Wales. How and why do you think things have changed in recent years?
I really wouldn’t know. What was happening ten years ago? I was otherwise engaged. However, I’ll hazard a guess that, due to the internet, people have become more selective. Whereas ten years ago people would come out to shows just in case they found something they liked, nowadays they won’t come out unless they know there’s something they like. Plus any music scene is fuelled by pissed-off youngsters whose blood is hot and who want to make a point. I have a sad suspicion that those kids are now buying Guitar Hero instead of guitars.

Peachfuzz are hardly the most youthful band in South Wales (no offence, brother!). Were there any previous projects pre-Peachfuzz?
Nope. Every other band I’ve played in was killing time until this band could happen.

What do you feel is the most rewarding thing about being in Peachfuzz?
We’re hardly the most fashionable band in the world but we’ve managed to put out what I feel are good honest records while making absolutely no concessions. We’re able to do exactly what we want to do at our own pace and there are some people who will listen to it. I’m proud of the fact that none of us are twenty-one anymore and we haven’t run out of steam and taken up golf. I’m proud that we’ve carried the band into our adult lives with all the complexity that adult life entails and still feel excited about playing. I think that’s pretty good going!

For a band that never does massive tours, Peachfuzz are a pretty successful band. Do you think touring is an important aspect of being in a band? Will Peachfuzz ever do a mammoth Euro tour like most UK bands seem to be doing more and more as of late?
I’m pleased that you think we’re successful but I don’t know what yardstick you’re measuring success by. I suppose I’d say that touring is important if a band really wants to tour. We actually turn down very little and I’m sure we’d love to do a big tour if it came up and was at all viable but we have wives and children and mortgages. I’m not going to jump into the back of a Transit with my three pairs of jeans , eat goulash in toilet cubicles for six months straight and come out ten grand worse off. Fuck that. I’m sure that Jon and Lewis would say the same.

You recently revealed that you are working on a new “bastard of a record” called We Are Solid State. What can we expect from it? I heard something about pianos and female vocals...
It’ll be another Peachfuzz record but there will be more lyrics and a broader range of sounds. We’ll have lap steel and piano and acoustic guitars. I want to get some female backing vocals. I’m obsessed with what Emmylou Harris did on Grievous Angel and Nicolette Larson did on Neil Young’s seventies records. I love Neil Young and Gram Parsons and Gene Clark and Townes Van Zandt so we’ll be digging into that stuff a bit more. We’re trying to figure out how to work it in without sounding forced or fake or derivative and just tap into the essence of that good stuff.

Everything Takes Forever was pretty well received! Does that put more pressure on you in regards to your next output?
I was pleasantly surprised that ETF was received as well as it was. Just as I was with the first record. But I feel no pressure whatsoever. It’ll be what it’ll be and it’ll be the best that we’re capable of. I have absolute faith and trust in the rest of the band and the other people who are contributing to the record. I’m excited about the songs and finding out how they end up sounding. I felt exactly the same when we were putting together ETF. Pressure would be being unable to feed your kids or keep a roof over your family’s heads. Peachfuzz is just good fun and that’s exactly how bands should operate.

Do you feel that people’s opinions and reviews should matter to a band?
I am truly grateful if people find something to enjoy in our stuff. That really is an amazing feeling. It’s why bands bother in the first place and we’ve made many good friends through the band. That said I couldn’t give two fucks about negative opinions or reviews. I’d have to be a moron to believe that somebody else’s half-baked opinion about our band carries more weight than our own. Nobody is forcing anybody else to listen to our records. If you don’t like it you can fuck off and listen to something else. Life’s too short to worry about that bullshit!

Other than a new full length, is anything else in the pipeline for Peachfuzz?
Aside from the split with Dividers? Somebody approached us recently about making some videos for songs off ETF. I was a bit sceptical but having spoken to them at length about it I think it could be good if it’s handled right. We’ll see. And more shows of course. Other than that it’s about the new record.

Anything else you'd like to add? Are there any new bands that we should be listening to?
I’m in no position to tell anyone what to listen to and I’m possibly the worst person on Earth to ask about new bands. However, I would like to say thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions. Cheers!

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