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Rapid Results College - Interview

  by John Clarkson

published: 15 / 5 / 2016

Rapid Results College - Interview


John Clarkson speaks to Rob Boyd, the front man with C-86 /Dunedin Sound-inspired indie pop trio Rapid Results College, about their debut album, 'In City Light'

Rapid Results College is a London-based trio that self-defines itself as writing “C-86 /Dunedin Sound-inspired melodic guitar songs.” The group, which consists of vocalist and guitarist Rob Boyd (Hillfields), Mike Stone (Television Personalities, Rotifer, Lucy's Diary) and drummer Owain Evans has just released its debut album, 'In City Light', on the collective label, Gare du Nord Records. Rob Boyd's narrative lyrics are particularly literary, and verge betwwen the tragic and the comic. The protagonists of the echoing and eerie Zombies-tinged 'Turrett Grove' glance at each other but otherwise fail to connect as he passes by her large house on the street of the title. The narrator of breezy indie pop anthem of 'Shop' dreams of opening his own cafe and record shop, while the unfortunate title character of the spoken-word 'The Cautionary Tale of Alphonse du Gard' ends up in jail and his new girlfriend traumatised after a date goes chaotically, suddenly wrong. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Rob Boyd about 'In City Light' and his group's deceptive choice of name. PB: You were in the Hillfields. Who were they? RB: The Hillfields were myself, and my friends Grant Wilkinson (bass) and Carlos Russell (drums). We released our debut single called 'A Visit' on Cloudberry Records in 2008, and then created Underused Records to release our LP 'It’ll Never Be the Same Again'(2009) and the follow-up EP 'Come Outside' (2010). We were lucky enough to play at the sold out Cloudberry night at the Buffalo Bar with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and at Indietracks one year. We stopped after Carlos had return home to Argentina for a career move – it seemed a natural break point. I’m incredibly proud of what the Hillfields achieved. Carlos continues to drum at home in Buenos Airies, and Grant has moved on to creating his own synths, and creating Glass Reservoir Records as an output for his work, and studies in sound. PB: Mike Stone is one of the most in demand bassists in London. He also plays in Rotifer and Lucy’s Diary and the presently in hiatus Television Personalities. How easy has it been to find the time to work on this project? RB: It’s been a challenge but Mike, Owain and I find ways of getting together. You know, thinking about it, it probably works better like this. We only come together when there is something to say or do. So, if it means we have a quiet time whilst Mike and Owain are working on other projects, then that’s cool. We know we can always come back to Rapid Results College for a little thirst quenching. I’m always writing songs at home/recording ideas anyway and then sharing them with Mike and Owain and we’ll find a way to meet up to develop them. I think we all understand that the best things can be worth the wait. PB: What is Owain Evans’ previous musical history? RB: Owain is an enigma. He has an inherent talent behind the drums but no-one knows where he came from. All I know is that some of the rhythms and sounds he comes up with are sometimes supernatural, and we’re lucky to have him with us. PB: The band’s name is Rapid Results College, yet the group’s music to me is slow-burning and subtle. Every song seems to develop gradually and every note has its place. You do have the song ‘Rapid Results’ which shows real concern about the instantaneousness of modern society. Do you see the title of the band in hindsight as being somewhat ironic? RB: I think the name of the band is heavily ironic! We take our time to do most things, but it is easy to get twisted up in the immediacy of everything nowadays. We all want things instantly, we want information now, employers want work delivered on extremely short deadlines, but you know - we complain when we get things fast and don’t really like them and get bored of them just as quickly. On the other hand, we have terrible cable management in the rehearsal room, so we could just as easily have been called Bad Cable Management. PB: The group describes itself as playing “C-86 /Dunedin Sound-inspired melodic guitar songs”. I can see the influence of New Zealand bands such as the Bats and the Chills in your work, but C-86 implies to a lot of people something more chaotic and ramshackle which you are not. In what way do you see yourselves as a C-86 act? RB: It’s a good question. I think when we play live, our sound can be a little more ramshackle sometimes and a little more frantic than the recorded versions, but that’s probably just down to my nerves and the excitement of playing in front of an audience. I love the Dunedin sound, especially the Clean – those sort of ramshackle drum rhythms just really excite me - but it’s also about the reverb, the shimmering guitar sounds of The Bats/Straitjacket fits/the Chills. I think a lot of the early C-86 stuff had a lot more nervous fragility concealed in chaos, than is acknowledged. This conflict between the two sounds is where I feel the influence more from C-86. Sometimes I feel like when I’m playing these songs out loud, that I’m just about to fall apart, or the song is going to break down – but we keep it all on track. Also, lyrically, those C-86 bands were commenting on the frustrations of the times (however comically or annoyingly) – and I think we have come back to that too. The climate is one of economic restriction, and suffering in enforced silence. Within that I want to write the most beautiful song I can, but I know this will only be borne out of chaos. PB: The front cover photograph is beautiful. Where was it taken? RB; This is Artillery Row near Liverpool Street. My friend Roly Edwards was cycling down there and took the shot. He put it up on Instagram, and I’d been thinking about the lp title and thought “there’s the City, there’s the light”. It was just perfect. PB: ‘‘The Cautionary Tale of Alphonse du Gard’ is set partially on Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath while Turrett Grove (with one ‘T’ rather than two) is a street in Wandsworth in South London. Do you see ‘In City Light’ as being essentially a London album? RB: I suppose it could be but personally I feel it’s not necessarily just a “London” album. It does happen to have some specific geographical references, because these are the places I walk past and observe every single day - because I live here. The songs are about issues we all face wherever we live, be that in London or not. 'Any Other Way' references a sunset walk in New York, for example. PB: The protagonist of ‘Turrett Grove’ walks up it, oblivious to the fact that the potential love of his life is watching him pass by from her window. The narrator of ‘Shop’ imagines opening his own shop, “music below and a café on the top,” but it soon becomes apparent that it is a pipe dream because he is not able to get the cash or the investors, while in ‘The Cautionary Tale of Alphonse du Gard’ the main character ends up on a criminal charge because of one unfortunate move and bad luck. Do you see the abiding theme of this album as being about failed opportunity? RB: I think it is more about being denied an opportunity, and the frustrations that come from that when you try and turn things around. For example, 'Turrett Grove' isn’t really a love song. It’s about two people, one person feeling trapped in a cosy life and a big house, and the other person wishing they could simply afford to own a house. They exchange glances, and would love to switch places – both knowing that it probably wouldn’t solve anything as their issues are fundamentally deeper than that. 'Shop' is my personal dream – and you’re right, it’s a pipe dream. Poor old Alphonse though. A hapless geek, who tries to go and create opportunities for himself, but ultimately is denied them through his own clumsiness and inexperience. PB: How long did it take to record the album? RB: Well, we’ve been working on and off for a couple of years now. The actual recording hasn’t taken that long but it’s just finding that time to finish it properly. We have been exceptionally fortunate that Ian Button was able to mix/master it for us and we’ve had some awesome help from Dave Holmes/Simon Trought at Soup Studio, and Jon Clayton at One Cat where we finished it all off. PB: In which format is ‘In City Light’ being released? Is it just CD and download only. Will there be a vinyl edition? RB: yes, it’s just CD and download at the moment. We are going to make a vinyl edition soon, so we’ll keep you posted. PB: The album is being released on Gare du Nord Records, which has seen releases by Rotifer, Picturebox and Papernut Cambridge in recent months. Gare du Nord is a collective. How does it run? RB: Well, I’m really conscious that the Gare Du Nord crew are exceptional folks – who work collaboratively and inclusively with each other. It’s an honour for us to be able to put this out on their record label, and to be able to feed in to that vibe. As I said earlier, Ian has been fantastic, as has Robert Rotifer, Ralegh Long and Rob Halcrow from Picturebox there. The encouragement and support they have given us is amazing. I’m a huge fan of their music too which is a little extra bonus – being associated with proper musicians is quite humbling. I have no idea what chords I’m playing, or the names of the notes, or the key of the songs – but I’ve never felt judged on that. I love the fact that if it sounds good, then it’s okay and that’s what matters most. PB: Rapid Results College is playing three London shows in May. What are your other plans for the future? RB: I want to be as big as R.E.M. Well, as big as Michael Stipe’s new beard anyway. Have you seen it? I’m extremely jealous he is rocking the Allen Ginsberg look better than I ever could. I even went and had my hair cut short the other day as an act of surrender. Seriously though, we want to release an 'Alphonse Du Gard' EP at the end of the year which will follow up on his story, and will see how Valerie Parks got on after their disastrous date. I hope there will be another lp too in the not too distant future. PB: Thank you.

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Rapid Results College - Interview

Rapid Results College - Interview

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