This is the blog of music journalist Andy Welch. He's music editor at The Press Association and writes for NME, The Smith Journal and whoever else will have him, all the while hating referring to himself in the third person.
Here’s the transcript of my recent interview with Guy Garvey.
I went up to his house in Manchester, where over the course of an hour or two we talked about Elbow’s relatively newfound position as the go-to band for the big occasion. It’s been written about before, but I wanted to hear about that ascension direct, and how it feels for them now they’re there.
I also wanted to find out about the added pressure heaped upon Guy’s shoulders as the recognisable face of the band, plus his perceived affability. I mean, surely he’s not really as nice as everyone makes out?
This is another piece I wrote for Australian magazine The Smith Journal, this time on Eric Valli.
He’s a French photographer and explorer, now based in Paris after more than 20 years living in Tibet and various other places around the world.
He’s perhaps the most interesting person I’ve interviewed, and even though I spent a whole day with him at his home, I could’ve easily spent days and days talking to him about his work and philosophy. The piece is 3,500 words, but a 60,000-word book wouldn’t do this man’s life justice. Some of the stories I had to leave out sounded like Tin Tin adventures.
Every now and again you come across someone whose outlook changes the way you see the world yourself, and Eric is definitely one of those people. I found him at quite a strange time in his life, having lived a relatively normal existence in a beautiful Paris suburb for the past two years On the surface, he has everything one might want; a beautiful wife, four lovely children and a fantastic house. His work has paid well and it shows, although his possessions mean nothing to him. He has contempt for his own sedentary life. The spirit of adventure that’s driven him so far is still alive and well, and if his wife would let him, he’d give up everything he has tomorrow for one last mad excursion.
Anyway, here’s the piece. I really enjoyed writing it.
I recently interviewed Bat For Lashes - Natasha Khan - about her third album The Haunted Man. She’s a fascinating character, seemingly vulnerable and really steely at the same time, and completely committed to and wrapped up in her artistic vision.
Just after I spoke to her, she was going to be travelling to a lighthouse on England’s south coast to film a promo video. The wild, untamed, typically English location would be a perfect environment for the album, which was written and recorded in similar surroundings in West Sussex.
I did a write a feature from the interview, but I thought I’d post the full transcript as Natasha explaining the album’s creation in full is far more interesting on its own, without me.
I recently went up to Sheffield to meet Richard Hawley. As the piece below explains, we met at Forge Dam in Fulwood, a place of huge significance for Hawley. Walking along with him, he knew all the dogs in the park and their owners, the man who owns the cafe there, everyone. Detractors might have him down as some sort of professional Yorkshireman, but he really does love, live and breathe the place.
I asked him about his relationship with his hometown, and why he keeps writing about Sheffield, and he explained it’s not to be exclusive, or to make hyper-local music, he’s just sticking to what he knows.
“I’ve never lived in LA,” he said. “I don’t know what it’d be like to live there. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to live in Cleethorpes, so why would I write about it? My music is about universal themes, that speak to everyone, but seen through my twisted lens and Sheffield perspective.”
Anyway, here’s the feature, as published by the Press Association. Thought it easier to post here than link out.
I recently interviewed Kenneth Grange for Australian magazine The Smith Journal. He was a pioneer of product design, responsible for styling everything from the Intercity 125 and the Anglepoise lamp to the Kenwood Chef and London’s black cab. Here’s the piece.
I travelled to Plymouth before Christmas to meet Ray Ives for an Australian magazine called The Smith Journal - it’s great, have a look at their site
Ray is a diver, and has spent almost 50 years scouring the seabed for treasure, like some sort of modern-day pirate. I was sceptical while on my way there - four hours on a train will do that - but what I found was approaching the magical, and I can honestly say that afternoon with Ray, nosing around his lock-up and asking him about his life is among the most interesting and enjoyable I’ve ever had.
Anyway, the magazine is out now, and here are some PDFs of the spread.
You can also watch a brilliant film of Ray by Amanda Bluglass, Ray: A Life Underwater, below. It was shown at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in January. The idea of a load of A-listers sitting down to watch Ray’s beautiful story fills me with utter joy.
“I’m just so glad I left there, you know? I’m just… I’m just ready for a new challenge and that place was bringing me down.”
If you’re bored by that extract, be thankful you weren’t there to hear it live. This chat lasted for five more minutes, and concluded with the booming-voiced rugby-type boaster showing his fawning female companion his latest gallery on Facebook because “you know, all I really want to do is shoot anyway. Working in an office is a waste of time, yeah?”
Overhearing a stranger’s existential-crisis-cum-seduction technique would be banal and annoying enough if you were in a pub, café or on a bus. During the final song of an Other Lives’ set? Well it’s nothing more than a sure-fire way to boil my piss.
I’ve a huge, huge problem with people talking at gigs, which is about to become abundantly clear.
After a fair amount of toing and froing and four postponements, I finally managed to pin down Paul Weller last week - not literally, I reckon he’d beat me up if I tried that.
For all the stories of Weller being ‘a bit of a bastard’ in interviews, in our numerous meetings I’ve only ever found him to be affable and generally more revealing than an artist of his standing normally is. He genuinely seems to listen to questions anyway, and answers in a way that suggests he’s not merely trotting out some well-worn Wellerism, but thinking about what he says.
Or, maybe in his 35 years of doing interviews he’s learned how to deal with fanboys like me?
I’ve written a feature from the interview, but I’m posting the transcript here instead.