Music Features

The Coral (Interview)

No Ripcord managed to pull itself away from the World Cup for an evening and caught up with psychedelic upstarts The Coral backstage, before their gig at The Roadmender in Northampton. With a notepad full of questions and hopes of some insightful answers, guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones took us to one side and told us how things are.

. . .

No Ripcord: So Bill, how's the tour going?

Bill: The tour's been great, It was a little bit hectic at the start; with The Music pulling out and everything (co-headlining band The Music's lead singer Robert Harvey was diagnosed with a severe case of laryngitis) and I guess some people were disappointed, if they were there primarily to see The Music. To be honest, we've been going on with the attitude of "we can only be us", and if they enjoy it, that's cool, if they don't they can go and try to get their money back at the end.

N.R: The audience response has been good then?

Bill: Yeah it's been really good everywhere, I don't think we've had a sketchy gig yet, especially Brighton last night and we'd heard that the people were really open and it was really great. We were told about the Brighton crowds by people at the Isle of Wight festival...

N.R: Yes, how was that festival?

Bill: It was really cool, the first one we've ever done, so it was nerve-wracking, but it went well. Robert Plant and everybody was there...

N.R: What was he like?

Bill: He was good, he didn't really play any Led Zeppelin stuff - he played loads and loads of covers though, there was quite a lot of Arthur Lee (leader of sixties, Jim Morrison adored, psychedelic band, Love). Arthur Lee's playing London soon, we're hoping to catch him there, Love's best album is "Forever Changes" , but the other two albums are great too, they are an amazing band.

N.R: There isn't much good music played on the radio these days, but Mark and Lard played your new single Goodbye the other day and it sounded great.

Bill: Thanks. Mark and Lard have been so good to us and ever since we released Shadows Fall they have given us airplay and they've been fucking amazing really. I don't listen to much radio really, but they've been good.

N.R: So is the album finished?

Bill: The album is finished and mixed and out on the 22nd of July, maybe ha ha

N.R: How was it working with Ian Broudie - were you a fan of the Lightning Seeds?

Bill: Not really, not when they were out, but now I've gone back to listen to some of their songs and they're good, you know it's good to go back to music and hear songs again, you can always hear something different.

N.R: So you're supporting Oasis?

Bill: Yeah, at Finsbury Park, that's the way I got in the band in the first place, I was the only one that could play "Married with children", but that's the way you start, by playing Beatles tunes with four chords. There's so much you can do with a few chords, it's like Can, their tunes have all the parts, the chorus, the hook and everything, they are pop songs, it's just the way they put the different parts together.

N.R: So, does it piss you off when you are called "Scousers" or "Scallies" in the press?

Bill: It does a bit, because we're not even from Liverpool and it's just lazy you know, to label us, we're just people and I wish that we could be taken that way. There is loads of great music from this area you know, like The La's and Shack they were our bands and we love 'em so much. I think Mick and John Head were doing stuff that no-one was doing at the time and that sort of opened the door to us, because people are realising that there is so much music that they have missed. Mick Head has written some of the best songs in the last fifteen years.

N.R: What about the Wicker Man video for the new single, was it a good laugh?

Bill: Yeah, it was one of the best times I've ever had, it seemed like it was one of the biggest things that had ever happened in that part of North Wales. I just bought the soundtrack to the film "The Wicker Man" and it really is a fucking massive beast.

N.R: What about other films and books that influence you?

Bill: "White men can't jump" was a good film, ha ha. I know people wanna hear "Citizen Kane" or whatever, but inspiration comes from everywhere. As for books I've just been reading "Music at night" by Aldous Huxley and a couple of the band are big fans of Kerouac, so we do get time to read. The thing is, with any kind of art, you can't look at it as a selfish thing. If there ever came a point where I was looking at my guitar parts as just my thing and not part of the group, then that's the time for a fucking big wake up call.

N.R: Some people may look at your music as a little bit strange, does that bother you?

Bill: I mean, to people who have been listening to Coldplay, Toploader and Starsailor and all that fucking shit, then it may sound weird, but when I put on my copy of Trout Mask Replica, that doesn't sound weird to me, so what the fuck. It's like The Charlatans, everybody loves them and to me it just seems like, it's just because they've been around for so long, they just seem to be holding on to the past.

N.R: Last question. Do you think all great art comes from times of deep sorrow?

Bill: I'm sure a lot does, but you could be down and write and record an album that way and it will still be shit. I'm sure there are many people out there who think that, but I think great art comes from emotion, be it happiness or sadness. I think a lot of it comes from hope, what do I know I'm only an eighteen year old who's open and with hope. All great art can't come from times of despair, 'cause you couldn't find so much happiness in it.

. . .

With that, No Ripcord leaves with a firm handshake and a fresh dose of optimism. Who ever said that "youth is wasted on the young"?