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Davey Woodward and the WInter Orphans - Interview

  by John Clarkson

published: 6 / 11 / 2019

Davey Woodward and the WInter Orphans - Interview


Brilliant Corners and Experimental Pop band frontman Davey Woodward speaks to John Clarkson about his latest project the Winter Orphans and their forthcoming appearance at our next Manchester Bands Night.

Davey Woodward was the frontman with the Bristol indie pop act the Brilliant Corners, who released five albums, and had a string of indie chart hits with classic singles such as ‘She’s Got Fever’ (1984), ‘Brian Rix’ (1987), ‘Teenage’ (1988) and ‘Why Do You Have to Go Out With Him When You Could Go Out With Me?’ (1988). After the Brilliant Corners broke up in the early 1990s, Woodward formed the Experimental Pop Band, with whom he recorded a further seven albums. Woodward reformed the Brilliant Corners for a year of gigs between 2013 and 2014, and in more recent times has established Karen, a three-piece. His latest project is Davey Woodward and the Winter Orphans, who, in contrast to Karen’s as yet unreleased first LP which unhappy with the results Woodward decided to scrap and re-record, recorded their eponymous 2018 debut album after just five rehearsals and over a long weekend with a lot of improvisation in the studio. Tracks include ‘Caroline’, which is about his childhood memories of a missing local girl; ‘Build a Boat’, about the racist beating Woodward whose mother is Burmese received in a subway in 1973, and Bob Dylan paean ‘Dylan’s Poster’. Davey Woodward spoke to Pennyblackmusic about the Winter Orphans’ alternative methods of working and their forthcoming appearance at our sold-out Bands’ Night at The Peer Hat in Manchester on October 18th. PB: Your songs all have a ‘kitchen sink’ realism. They are all set very much in the real world. Tracks like ‘Caroline' and ‘Build a Boat’ on ‘Davey Woodward and the Winter Orphans’ are clearly autobiographical. What about the others? Are they all similarly autobiographical or semi-autobiographical or are they drawn out instead of what you have observed and your imagination? DAVEY WOODWARD: A lot of my lyrics are observational and mention various parts of Bristol, places I went to and grew up in. The songs are not that autobiographical, mostly its imagination and story telling. I guess the kitchen Sink thing comes from some of the gritty realism. Mind you I did grow up in Avonmouth docks in the poor and violent 1970s! PB: You first performed ‘Girl in the Hoops’ from the album back in 2009. How many of the other tracks on the album are old songs that you have been waiting for the right time to record and how many are newer tracks? DW: I can play a song and then forget it, then come across the lyrics and chords years later and think "Ooh, I remember this, didn’t like it then but I do now!" Also if the guys in the band don’t like a song I just drop it and come back to it later with a different band. Recycling is keeping alternative music alive. PB: Is your other recent band Karen still a going concern? How do you decide what is going to be a Karen number and what is going to be a Winter Orphans track? DW: 'Dylan’s Poster' was a Karen song, but Hugo (Morgan, bass) and Tom (Adams, drums) didn’t like it, so it became an Orphans song. These days it’s easy to know which songs to give which band. Karen are more alt. rock. I get to play guitar solos with a wah wah pedal. The debut Karen album is almost finished! PB: ‘The Winter Orphans’ album has been released on the German label Tapete Records? Why did you decide to go so far away to release it? DW: If there was a label closer to home that wanted to put us out, I would have been happy to do that. I just couldn’t find one. PB: You took the deliberate and unusual step of choosing to record this album with people you hadn’t worked with before. How well did you know guitarist Julian Hunt, bassist Mark Van Vasey and drummer Steve Dew if at all before you began recording with them? Is it true that Julian had not been in a studio in ten years? DW: I played in a free jazz group with Steve, so I knew he was a very agile drummer and we would not need to rehearse. I had known Julian for decades, but never played in a band with him. It’s true he had not been in a studio for maybe longer than ten years- I liked his style of play. I also liked the idea that everyone thought we looked like each other. I had never met Mark and he had never played bass. I knew all this would give the songs a different quality. PB: You played just five rehearsals beforehand and recorded the album in a weekend. Why did you go down that course? What do you think it brought to the recording? DW: I wanted to keep it very, very fresh. It was also a reaction to the Karen album I had spent months recording which eventually got shelved. PB: While ‘Davey Woodward and The Winter Orphans’ has its own sound, one can hear the influence of acts like Lou Reed, The Go-Betweens, Ray Davies and, of course, Bob Dylan in there? Is that missing anything out? DW; Being able to transcend one's influences is key. I don’t think I have always been able to do that. I love the artists you mention, but I also love Joy Division, Nina Simone, Kraftwerk and John Lee Hooker. PB: You will now have got more used to working with each other and have played some gigs together. How has that changed the dynamics of the band if at all? DW: Better dynamics! One live gig is worth twenty rehearsals. Gigs have made us a better band- wish we could play more live gigs. Also we have a different bassist. JB joined the band and, he had not played bass before too. PB: You are now working apparently on a second Winter Orphans album. How will that sound in comparison to the first one? When can we expect that record to come out? I think it was a Captain Beefheart album - 'Trout Mask Replica'? That was rehearsed again and again, so it could be recorded live, perfect notes and all. That’s been the approach on the second album. Live live takes. No drop ins, as it adds an edge and purity. Got to get that perfect performance. Some of the songs got down in a few takes. Others take 36! PB: What can we expect from you at the Manchester gig on the 18th October? Will you be playing a mixture of old and unreleased songs? DW: We will play a mix of the debut album and the new songs. I promise not to play any cover versions that the band have not rehearsed, but I may improvise a little bit. A tiny bit. Looking forward to it. PB: Thank you.

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Davey Woodward and the WInter Orphans - Interview

Davey Woodward and the WInter Orphans - Interview

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