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Erland and the Carnival - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 29 / 4 / 2010

Erland and the Carnival - Interview


Offbeat trio Erland and the Carnival recently put out their debut album which consists of electric arrangements of traditional folk songs. Anthony Strutt speaks to them about their previous band which include Verve, Damon Albarn, the Cult, the Orb, and Paul McCartney's the Fireman project

Erland and the Carnival have released what is for me to see one of the most offbeat, but best albums of the year with their self-titled debut album, which was released in January during the quiet post Xmas blues season. The London-based band, whose album consists of electric arrangements of traditional English and Scottish folk songs, recently toured in support of Wild Beasts. I tracked the band down at the Queens’ Hall in Leicester and we spent a pleasant thirty minutes in the St John's Ambulance room there talking about the group's history. The band consists of Erland Cooper (guitar and vocals) , Simon Tong (guitar, harmonium and zither), and David Nock (drums and percussion). Simon and David have between them have worked with the Verve, Damon Albarn, the Cult, the Orb, and Paul McCartney's the Fireman project. PB: (To Erland) I believe that you’re from Orkney.My family live on the Shetland Isles. Are they pretty similar? EC: It is pretty much the same distance to the main land. PB: Did you always live there when you were growing up? EC: Yes, I did. I grew up there, and then I wanted to see other things as you do. PB: I don’t mean to be rude, but how old are you? EC: 42. PB: You look great for 42. Did you come to London then? Was that your first port of call? EC: It was actually, but I went to New York also. I came to Heathrow, stayed at Hammersmith and then went to New York. When I went there everything was so big, like it was in the films. I was 18 when I left Orkney and now I am 42. PB: What is the history of the band? (To Simon Tong) I believe you were running a folk night, in Portobello road called What the Folk. ST: Yes, that is right. We met there and decided to do some writing together, PB: How long had the band been up and running then? ST: It's been about two years now. We started off acoustic and it just got more electric. We have been working together for a while now, PB: Weren’t you writing and demoing for about a year? DN: Yeah, we tried all kinds of different directions. Originally the band was folk based but now it has got more electric. PB: (To Simon) You were originally an acoustic player, weren’t you? ST: I did both really. PB: I believe that your debut EP was recorded countless times and that each copy released was in a unique mix. ST: Yes, we spent a day doing it. We did about 30 copies. It was fun. PB: What was the idea behind that then? DN: It was a Daniel Johnston sort of thing. He used to tape his demos and do lots of takes. It was inspired by that. It was like capturing that song at that precise time. PB: I have read that your influences include Bert Jansch, the 13th Floor Elevators and also Love. ST: All our influences are very English and if they weren’t English influenced by English music. PB: What has been the reaction to the band so far? DN: People are quite surprised. We have a bigger sound live. PB: (To Erland) This is your first band after doing mainly folk stuff, isn’t it? EC: Yes. PB: (To Simon) You were in the Verve, but you must have been in other bands prior to that. ST: Yes, but nothing anyone has heard of. PB: You joined them in time for ‘Urban Hymns’, which was their biggie. ST: Yeah. PB: It was a good time for them then. How long had you been in the band before that? I would imagine that album was written the year before it was released in 1997. ST: It was written a year beforehand and I joined then. PB: Was it written in jams and then afterwards Richard Ashcroft would come in with some words? ST: Basically, yes. PB: Then after they split again, you were in the Shining with Simon Jones from the Verve. Did you find that was more influenced by the earlier sound of Verve in that they originally had been more psychedelic-based? ST: Yeah, we had some good ingredients in there. PB: You replaced Graham Coxon in Blur as well, didn’t you? ST: I just toured the ‘Think Tank’ album. I didn’t actually play on the album. PB: And then you joined the Good, the Bad, the Queen. Did you enjoy that? ST: It was good. PB: And I believe you have played in the Gorillaz too. You were on ‘Demon Days’, weren’t you? ST: Yes, and I played on the new one, ‘Plastic Beach’, also. PB: (To David Nook). You have played in the Orb, haven’t you? Are they like the Chemical Brothers? DN: No, they were much more ambient. Their biggie was ‘White Fluffy Clouds’. I worked on their last album, ‘Baghdad Batteries’ in Youth's studio. PB: You have worked with the Cult as well. DN: Yes, I drummed on their last album, ‘Born into This’ PB: You have worked on a Fireman album as well. Was that the recent one, ‘Electric Arguments’ I thought that project was just Paul McCartney and Youth. DN: It is. I was just the programmer and engineer on that, Paul plays everything on that album, Youth was basically producing. They are a good combination. They inspire each other, Paul can do anything. PB: How long can it take to record? DN: It was done in ten days. It was done in weekend slots, maybe less. PB: What are Erland and the Carnival’s future plans? DN: Another album is basically done with more stuff in the pot. PB: Thank you, guys.

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Erland and the Carnival - Interview

Erland and the Carnival - Interview

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