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Lupen Crook - Interview

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 22 / 7 / 2006

Lupen Crook - Interview


Chatham-based singer-songwriter Lupen Crook has been attracting increasing interest from the music press. With his debut album 'Accident Occurs Whilst Sleeping' just out, he speaks to Jamie Rowland abouts its recording

Lupen Crook is one of the most exciting recording artists to have surfaced in the last couple of years; his music is easy to like but difficult to understand, a mix of mainstream styles, vivid imagination and experimentation. Since the release of his debut EP ‘Flowers Fresh From Road Kill’ in Autumn 2005, Lupen Crook has been getting a lot of interest from the mainstream music press, including a place in the NME’s cool list last year. However much of an accolade you view this to be, it certainly shows that Lupen, who comes from the Medway town of Chatham, is making an impact on the industry. And rightly so; his debut album, ‘Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping’, which has come out on local label Tap 'n' Tin Records, is ripe with promise; a mix of various styles and themes, it shows what should be the beginning of a brilliantly erratic career. Pennyblackmusic met up with Lupen Crook to ask him a few questions about recording his album, the Medway towns, past projects and his plans for the future. PB : 'Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping' was released on the 17th July. How was the recording experience? LC : I've never been a suitable candidate for the curriculum-based schooling. Maybe I reject the idea to some extent. But the recording of this record seemed somehow similar, in that I was given access to professional people and a professional environment in which to work in. But, due in part to my erratic mind set, and also being with such a young label, this record was probably over-ambitious, and as a result was very stop-starty. I personally think it suffers from a sense of suffocation; basically it took too long to record. Having said that, I am pleased for its existence now that I have seen its end. PB : On your debut EP, the songs were all very stripped down and acoustic. How difficult was it to rework your songs into full band pieces? LC : Partly due to the musicians I have been blessed with and also due to the songs themselves (which were never really acoustic tracks in my mind), the process has been fairly natural. I am of the firm belief that if a song can hold its own stripped bare then it will work with any other arrangement. Whether or not 'other' arrangements are necessary is debatable, but we are interested in the experimentation and development of my songs. Every idea should have an opportunity to be realised. In the end, the song, however, will decide what is required. We are simply workers, scientists and mathematicians. The song is a puzzle, an unanswerable equation we are happy to confuse over. PB : How involved were you in deciding on the musicians, who you named 'The Murderbirds", that would play on the record, and what kind of qualities do you look for in the people you work with? LC : Involved. I look for spirit and creative instinct, an understanding of my work or at least an appreciation of the properties within its structures. A relationship, if only temporary, with the song. They don't have to understand the lyrical meanings, but it’s great to see the music excite. These factors outweigh the need for professional ability in my opinion, though a little is always helpful. PB : How much input did the other musicians have on the song writing? LC : As 'The Murderbirds', I write the songs and we all develop from and around this structure. We discuss ideas and different approaches. Like throwing paint at the canvas - some colours stick, others don't, some stick but look fucking awful, some refuse to stick so we sew them into the canvas with sharp wire. Everyone is allowed the space and time to satisfy their egos and creative ideas, I don't rush anyone and try to let people breath, then the song is able to breathe as well. PB : What reactions do you hope people will have when they listen to the album? LC : That creativity can and does exist. Fuck their curriculum. Fuck their pigeonholing. Throw your diaries to streets. In effect, this is what I've done. 'Accidents Occur Whilst Sleeping' is a record of my imagination. I have no hope or wish to what people's reaction will or should be. In this day and age, I will regard any reaction as a positive one. PB : You've played a lot of shows in Kent and London; is there a full UK tour planned? LC : We're getting there. I promise. PB : The Medway Towns seem to be a source of inspiration for many painters, writers and musicians. What do you think it is that makes them so appealing to artists? LC : The Medway Towns is a place of strange substance. It is stooped in difficult history. Drunken sailors of foreign blood and savage ideals fell upon our green shores and raped our countryside and its daughters; we are result of this bastardisation - so I am told anyhow. Nowadays town life is suffocated and these streets are broken. Having said that, the landscape of our valley can be beautiful under certain light. There is peculiar optimism that burns brightly in the eyes of our collective depressions. PB : Before doing your solo material, you were in the bands Pet Burger and Bonzai Reservoir. How different was it writing as part of a band compared to doing your own material? LC : It was all a learning curve. Without that I wouldn't have this. But right now, with my acoustic shows and gigs with 'The Murderbirds' I'm really getting close to what I've always wanted for my material and myself. There are no regrets. PB : After Bonzai Reservoir split, how did you come to start playing as Lupen Crook? LC : It was the first time I'd ever been on my own. I think I have attachment issues and can rarely work without other people. On this occasion the fates, however, decided me. I could breath with confidence and my material flourished. I have since realised that I cannot be caged. No musician should ever be restricted by other people. PB : How do you think becoming a father recently will affect your song writing? LC : People insisted to me that fatherhood would relax my desperate enthusiasm and redirect my energies, that I would write 'nice songs', 'happy songs'. Perhaps they thought fatherhood would make me a happier person. Quite the opposite. Knowing that my child will grow up within this society has changed me in the sense that my feet are now firmly on the ground and my sights are set. My eyes are acute there is a feeling of 'time running out' that scratches at my back. PB : How did it feel to chart in NME's 'Cool List' at the end of last year? LC : I am not interested in this pathetic trajectory of normal people to the status of celebratory. There are better subjects to report to the youth culture than people's coolness. PB : What are your plans for the next year and beyond? LC : New album and touring, finish my fucking impossible novel and help promote my girlfriend's book too. PB : Thank you. The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Jenny Hardcore

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Lupen Crook - Interview

Lupen Crook - Interview

Visitor Comments:-
116 Posted By: Katie Camosy, New York City on 20 May 2008
I thought I'd give this link in case anybody is interesting in watching a Lupen Crook & the Murderbirds featurette shot in New York in May of 2008. Enjoy! http://www.zoom-in.com/spotlights/rehearsal_space_lupen_crook_and_the_murderbirds OR www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGpPX6VZNwE

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live reviews

Spitz, London, 20/9/2006
Lupen Crook - Spitz, London, 20/9/2006
One of the most exciting new acts in the UK, Jamie Rowland watches Lupen Crook and his band the Murderbirds play an electric-sounding set as part of the Spitz's Festival of Folk in London
Social, London, 7/5/2005

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