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Das Wanderlust - Interview

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 28 / 10 / 2008

Das Wanderlust - Interview


Jamie Rowland chats to guitarist Andy Elliott from abstract indie pop group Das Wanderlust about the group's recent line-up problems and forthcoming debut album

Early in 2006, I headed out up to our country’s fine capital to meet up with the youthful, engaging four-piece that were Das Wanderlust. They gave an interview which was as vast as it was amusing and informative, and which can be found somewhere in the dark archives of this very website. In September this year, our paths crossed once more. A lot has happened since we last met. The band has gone through various line-up changes and have bounced around between being a four, two and three-person outfit. Gone are their once youthful looks, dimmed has the optimistic glint which once shone from their eyes. I now have to shave a downy fluff from my face every five days or so aswell. Yes, a lot has changed, but one thing remains the same; Das Wanderlust are still producing some of the most exciting, entertaining and enjoyably different music out there. And they’re still one of the nicest bands you’re likely to run into. Pennyblackmusic spoke to guitarist Andy Elliott, who with vocalist and keyboardist Laura Simmons, is the co-founder of the band. PB : It's been about 2 and a half years since I last interviewed you. Can you give us a brief summary of how Das Wanderlust has changed since that time? AE : Many drummers have come and gone. When we last spoke Ian and Natalie were still in the band. Ian left to get married. Our long suffering producer/stand-in drummer Phil played some more gigs with us. Then we took on Emma, who learnt to play drums on the job. She played about a dozen gigs with us (including Eurosonic festival in Groningen which went out on Radio 1 - pretty scary for her fifth ever gig but she played brilliantly). Then Natalie left to concentrate on her career, and Emma left after we had a big argument about MySpace because she's super duper punk and really hates Rupert Murdoch, and we're only a little bit punk, and still hate Rupert Murdoch only perhaps not quite enough to get rid of our MySpace. That probably makes her a better person than us. Then we did a tour with Oli on tape recorder, drums and bass. Then Ian rejoined temporarily when we got offered tour support with Maximo Park and Art Brut, along with lovely Jo from the Retro Spankees. Then they left, but we knew they were leaving so that was okay. Then Zoe joined, who again learnt drums on the job, but she left when she got a screenprinting job with an arsehole boss who wouldn't let her have any time off. Then Wes Stephenson, who we've always loved as a drummer, asked to join. People have asked to join the band before, but he was the first person we've ever said yes to, because he is a suave cavalier of jazz. PB : You’re latest single is 'Puzzle'. Now, that was going to be the next single last time I interviewed you, so what held it up? AE : We recorded it, and it sounded shit. Like, really, really boring. It wasn't anything to do with the way it was recording. We must have just been feeling lethargic when we played it. The second choice was 'Sea Shanty', but that was the same. So we binned those recordings. 'Sunday School' was only supposed to be a B-side, but it got bumped up to an A-side. And everybody hated it. Ho hum, eh ? I still like it, though. The new recordings of 'Puzzle' and 'Sea Shanty' are much much much better, thank god! PB : Can you tell us about the B sides on the new record ? AE : They were all recorded in first and second takes onto cassette tape using Laura's old 4-track in her living room. The microphone we used was really cheap too. We wanted them to have a kind of sketchy feel, like a scrapbook of ideas that for some reason or another never quite made it. They're true lo-fi recordings, as opposed to our normal recordings which aren't at all (despite what some might tell you). A lot of people think they're listening to something lo-fi when actually someone has spent an awful lot of time, money and effort deliberately making it sound like that. Well, this is REAL lo-fi. Like Daniel Johnston, he was real lo-fi. Except, obviously, we're not as good as Daniel Johnston. Anyway, we thought it'd be kind of nice to group these six mini-songs together as one b-side 'tape project'. We're doing another one for the second single, but its slightly more advanced as we've acquired a couple more mics and a second mixer. We're sure they're not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but balls to them. PB : You also made your first video for that single. What's the story behind the video, and how was the experience making it? AE : The band that played on the singles and album doesn't actually exist any more. Ian plays the drums on that single, and Natalie does some 'oohs' at the end. And now they're not in the band, and Wes is, so it'd be weird to make a video with them in, but equally it would be weird for Wes to be in the video when he didn't play on it. Oh, and it'd be weird for Wes for the video to just feature me and Laura, when he's a fully paid-up member of the band! So we needed to shoot a video featuring none of us, and this was the solution we came up with. The two ghosts were played by Laura's little sister Louise, and our friend Kelly from Don't Tell Clare's daughter, Natalie (aged 10 and 9 respectively). A really nice guy called Mark Buschbcher shot the video for us, but the responsibility for getting the ideas, storyboard, props and all the artistic direction fell to us. It was a really steep learning curve! The experience was hard work, to be honest. They say never work with children or animals, and I can see why now. They get bored easily when they're not doing something. They get tired. They're constantly hungry. They get frustrated and they cry. Spending time with children is a brilliant form of contraception. Really though they did do brilliantly - they were on the set from 9.30a.m.-6.30 p.m. with only shortish breaks. I'm pretty sure that contravenes some kind of working directive for children.Get up that chimney y'little bugger! PB : Your debut album is to be called 'Horses for Courses'. Where did this title come from? Is it a pro-green mantra? AE : Its from a conversation Laura had with our friend Nicky Peacock (a Teesside-based artist who has helped us with all sorts, and used to be in Slampt band Golden Starlet, who did a Peel session ). Laura was upset by quite a vitriolic review of our last single by Mike Diver on Drowned In Sound - and Nicky basically just told her to suck it up. You can't expect to be in a band doing they're own thing and for everyone to like it. That's it, really. Its saying "this is our album, we made it and we like it, and if you don't like it then stick it up your bum." PB : How was the recording, and who was involved? AE : The recording process took just over three months, from July 2007 to late October 2007, so the album feels pretty old to us now ! It was pretty sporadic. I was unhappy with the majority of my original guitar parts (from the original live sessions which all the tracks were based on) so I went back and re-recorded pretty much all of them. We went a bit overdub crazy as well, which we're going to try (and probably fail) to hold back on a little next time, but I think in general its the best album we could have made when we made it. I love recording, I'd do it all the time if I could. As well as Laura and myself, Ian played drums on eight songs and Zoe on two, Natalie played bass on one and backing vocals on quite a few, and a couple of really nice girls we met called Rebecca Evans and Sarah Kirkman played clarinet/bass clarinet and flute respectively. So, in total that's six musicians. PB : When can we expect to get our hands on the album? AE : Very early 2009. The earlier the better! We really just want to get it out there now. PB : We've just come out of the summer festival season; did you play at any festivals this year? AE : Middlesbrough Music Live, Stockton Riverside Festival, and Olgas Rock Festival in Germany. The latter was one of the best gigs we've ever played. It was absolutely brilliant. The crowd were amazing. We're so excited about going back to Germany in a couple of months. Oh, and we've just been confirmed at Huw Stephen's Swn Festival in Cardiff supporting Euros Childs on November 15th, which should be amazing if last year is anything to go by. PB : What music are you enjoying at the moment? AE : Laura has been listening to lots and lots and lots of Future Of The Left. Her other favourite new band are Kate Goes. I have been feeling a bit uninspired by new bands and mainly listening to old stuff like the Monks, the Beatles, Billie Holiday, etc. so I'm not much help if you're looking for hot new tips. Wes has been listening to free jazz and Sigue Ros, and the sound of his beard growing. PB : What are your plans for the future? There's another album planned already. Is that right ? AE : We're in the process of demoing a bunch of new songs at the moment. We've got about half an album's worth written and finished, and another half on the way. We're hoping to start recording earlyish next year so there's not too long a wait between the first and second albums. Now our line-up is solid (at last) I think we'd just like to be absolutely as prolific as possible, both live and in the studio. We've got a lot of ideas backed up! In the meantime we've got three releases coming out over the next few months, plus more UK dates, a three-week European tour, and some radio sessions and whatnot. PB : Thank you.

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Das Wanderlust - Interview

Das Wanderlust - Interview

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