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Ninety Nine Tales - Interview

  by Dominic B. Simpson

published: 7 / 10 / 2012

Ninety Nine Tales - Interview


Justin Paton, the front man with London-based band NOW talks to Dominic Simpson sbout his group's experimental edge, it constantly evolving music and its forthcoming appearance at our next Pennyblackmusic Bands' Night in November

For nearly fifteen years, London’s NOW have been establishing themselves as one of London’s premium cult lo-fi/post-punk/Krautrock/out-there-weirdness outfits, with a brace of albums (nine in all) accompanied by EPs on DIY labels such as Pickled Egg and Disco-r-Dance. Epitomising the alternative in a London when the alternative is under attack from huge corporations (hence the needless closing down of the legendary and much-loved Foundry – an independent arts and music venue like no other - in East London, which NOW had a residency at), NOW are still at large in the capital’s more challenging performance spaces. They have played with the likes of ex-Can singer Damo Suzuki, serving as his backing band; collaborated with Hackney’s very own Theremin-playing space cadet the Man From Uranus; been on the bill at the legendary Kosmische club, which celebrates all that is strange and underground in rock and electronic music; and toured Japan and Norway. They’ve also contributed songs (as has the writer of this article) to a compilation celebrating World Oceans’ Day, an annual festival devoted to “the body of water which links us all”, according to WOD’s official website. In addition, members of the band and various acquaintances dressed as various sea life (fish, octopuses, etc.) and were submerged in a water tank while playing music to celebrate the event. Along the way, they’ve described themselves as “catchy, contemporary, inventive, exotic, melodious, harmonious and disharmonious 21st century pop music”. NOW have been through many different line-ups, with each version of the band moving them in different directions, from disco motorik to blistering guitar noise. The current line-up has coalesced around Justin Paton (vocals, guitar), Angela Last (bass), Graham Dunning (drums), George Chrysostomou (keyboards), and Fanny Bissa (vocals and multi-instrumentalist). Pennyblackmusic spoke to Paton about what makes the band tick. PB: Can you tell me something about the origins of the band and your moniker? JP: The idea of the band, the songs and the name came about in 1998. The first gig was in 1999; after that the band changed/evolved, and more gigs came along. The name/moniker 'NOW' came about because I like the look/sound of names/titles that are small/short for bands and also it’s ambiguous, as in it could be the name of a boy band, a 60s Christian pop act, a free-jazz ensemble, a New-Wave group or a techno artist. Also/also, I'd like to reflect the fact that NOW can do whatever styles of sound/music we desire without having to give each separate genre a different offshoot-type title. It’s all under NOW. PB: You’ve played as a backing band to Damo Suzuki from Can in the past. Can you tell me something about this? JP: Through Kosmische, he came round my house during a NOW rehearsal in 2002. We stayed in touch and in 2004 he invited us to back him at a gig, which was recorded and released as ‘The London Evening News’(TRI Records, 2006). Since then, we/I have played with him numerous times, mostly in London but also in Wales. He's a nice man. PB: NOW have been through many different band members over the years. Do you feel that the music has changed too as a result? JP: Yes. It should and it does. PB: Are any of NOW’s band members involved in other music projects? JP: Angela has her 'Notebook of a Mermaid' and 'World Ocean Day' project. She's also just finished making / presenting / curating a Detroit film festival, or some such (in Detroit). Fanny sings with a band called Hamilton Yarns (Iain, from Hamilton Yarns, introduced Fanny to me/NOW). Graham does solo tape manipulation, a NTS radio show, various improvisations, runs the 'Open Sound Group' Netlabel, and DJs. I play guitar/co-write with a singer called Rosie Okae, record various cover-songs, mostly with Andrew James (doing Beatles album-covers), but also alone. I do live acid-house gigs, take part in improvisations, play drums in Oink (and other bands, when required), and produce/mix various acts. I also DJ. George teaches music to young 'uns. PB: What did NOW’S involvement in the World Ocean’s Day compilation album involve? JP: We made recordings for them, as a group and solo (usually cover-songs), and we took part in the live improv-sessions. PB: What was NOW’s tour of Japan like? JP: Very - nice. Japan sounds = http://archive.org/details/ca320_n PB: Do you see yourself as part of a similar-minded scene that includes the Kosmische club, the Man From Uranus, and Charles Hayward [ex-This Heat, and now a solo performer on drums and vocals] among others? Or do you prefer to see NOW as existing very much in their own space? JP: I suppose so; we don't really think about that kind of thing (it is weird talking/writing on behalf of all of us!). We know that lot and love them. We are also outside a scene and are alone but not lonely. PB: What’s your favourite joke when touring? JP: There are no jokes. Just a stony silence. PB: Thank you.

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Ninety Nine Tales - Interview

Ninety Nine Tales - Interview

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