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Dodson and Fogg - Interview

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 9 / 7 / 2014

Dodson and Fogg - Interview


Malcolm Carter talks to singer-songwriter Chris Wade from 60's/psychedelic-influenced band Dodson and Fogg about his band's fifth album 'After the Fall', and his new group Rexford Bello, which he has formed with his brother Andy Wade

How many artists have produced five stunning albums during their whole career? Even the most devoted music fan can no doubt list a couple of albums where their particular musical hero strayed off course. British singer/songwriter Chris Wade has, in the space of two years, produced five albums under the moniker of Dodson & Fogg where each instalment has been a slight improvement on what went before, despite the fact that with every new album it appears that Wade must have reached his peak. Even more remarkable is that, although he is still yet to celebrate three decades on this earth, music is not the only string to Wade’s bow. Having authored over a dozen books (which includes volumes covering the work of the Kinks, Black Sabbath and the Incredible String Band) Wade also ran the 'Hound Dawg' online magazine and runs an amusing, informative and addictive web site which can be found here http://wisdomtwinsbooks.weebly.com. Those who have already discovered multi-instrumentalist Wade will know what to expect from his latest album, ‘After the Fall’. While Wade never drifts too far from his folk/prog roots, he never fails to inject a certain freshness into his current work. After five albums in such a short space of time, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was little Wade could add to keep his music interesting without making some drastic changes. But by adding little touches here and there (Scarlet Rivera adds her distinctive violin to the lead-in track on ‘After the Fall’, for example) Wade succeeds in constantly surprising his ever-growing fan base. About the same time that Wade released ‘After the Fall’ another album appeared on his Wisdom Twins label, this time under the name of Rexford Bedlo. Splitting the twelve tracks equally the album was actually written, performed and produced by Wade along with his brother Andy. While Chris Wade’s songs were cut from the same cloth as his Dodson & Fogg work and easily matched any of the Dodson & Fogg albums for being innovative, while not betraying Wade’s influences, the injection of brother Andy’s slightly edgier songs alternating between Chris’ more dreamy soundscapes makes for superb listening. The album also shows that, going against the norm in music and bands, one brother doesn’t necessarily have to be more talented than the other because the six songs that Andy Wade contributes are as captivating as those that Chris has so far released under the Dodson & Fogg banner. It’s been a while since we interrupted Chris Wade’s obviously busy life to sopeak to him. We felt, however, that with the release of ‘After the Fall’, together with the surprise of a full album by the Wade brothers that appeared to come out of nowhere with little fanfare, the time was right to catch up with the musician, who one fine day will be recognised not only for his impressive work rate but for the fact that he is one of the most talented guitarists of his generation. PB: Although we’ve interviewed you before I don’t recall asking about how you actually arrived at the first Dodson & Fogg album in 2012. How did you start in music and why didn’t we hear your music until 2012? CW: I started doing Dodson and Fogg in around June of 2012, when I recorded these acoustic versions of some old tracks and some I had just written, and I decided to give it a go. I’d done loads of cassette demos and CDs when I was younger. Some were from around the age of seven with my brother. We had various band names like Loudmouth Frogs and Black Shame, really ridiculous names, but we were learning really. Then I used to spend a lot of my teen years on the old 4 tracks doing tracks on my own, and me and my brother then had a rock band with my oldest sister Lisa, called the DC Horns, and we used to gig around Leeds for a bit. It was good fun but it didn’t really progress on from there much. In 2012, I suddenly just felt like doing it and thought I’d give it a go and see how it went. I’d been doing writing projects, books, audiobooks, magazines and stuff like that, and just felt like doing music after my fingers got sick of typing all the time. PB: Five albums (and that’s just the ones under the Dodson & Fogg banner) in less than three years; given the quality of the songs that’s an impressive work rate. While some of the songs on your latest album are obviously recent pieces are you digging into a stockpile of songs you have or are you constantly writing new songs? CW: All the songs for the last three albums - that’s 'The Call', 'Sounds of Day and Night' and 'After the Fall' - have all been completely new songs. Some tracks off the first and 'Derring Do' were from when I was younger, but most of them have been written and then recorded there and then. I’m writing songs all the time, coming up with tunes. Some I end up scrapping or taking bits off for other tracks and some just get written really easily. I’m demoing or plucking away most days, so I get plenty of practice in. PB: At around the same time ‘After the Fall’ was released you also issued an album with your brother, Andy. What’s the story behind that? CW: We have always loved playing music with each other. All the way back to being little we learned instruments together and jammed all the time, so it was a great idea to do something for people to hear. We just emailed tracks back and forth to each other and added our bits and pieces to it when we had the time, and it came together really fast. We didn’t want them to be too polished. We liked the raw feel for these and we chose to do six each. I was doing more simple laid back songs for this, and Andy’s tracks are very emotional and intense on this album and he has put his all into them. I liked there being a contrast so I chose to do simpler ones for it, and then Andy’s songs kind of explode out of the speakers. I was very happy to be releasing this album with Andy, We have a very strong musical bond and he is a great brother. PB: I think it’s fair to say that your songs on ‘Rexford Bedlo’ are not too dissimilar to those on the Dodson & Fogg albums. Andy’s songs share a similar vision, but he does have a sound of his own and it works really well hearing your songs interspersed with his. Do you have any plans for future collaborations with Andy? Yeah definitely, we’re going to do another Rexford Bedlo album. It might have a different feel or a different sound to it. We’re not sure yet. We’ll just see where it goes. Always the best way really, to go with things rather than plan too much. Looking forward to doing it! PB: A lot of musicians would be pleased to be as prolific as you, but do you ever worry that you are maybe releasing your albums too close together now? From a listener's view I think it’s great actually. Every album has displayed just a little more of Chris Wade, and then by going off course even more with the Rexford Bedlo album it’s been even more interesting. CW: I don’t worry about things like that because I’m not in it for loads of money or anything, and there is no way I could wait around for a year before releasing another album. For me it’s expression, without sounding like a pompous creep. They are a proper outlet and I get a real kick out of putting a song together, especially when it’s one that takes a couple of days to mix and get just right. I suppose releasing music yourself is not the best route marketing and business-wise, but creative-wise it’s perfect. I suppose people will either get into the music or not. As long as I enjoy it and there’s enough interest to satisfy me, I’m happy as a pig in poop, and I think if something is done and ready it should be out there. Besides I might not be interested in making music one day so I want to keep going, hopefully progressing with each release. PB: You’ve always chosen a small but select bunch of musicians/singers to add their touch to most of your albums. On ‘After the Fall’ Scarlet Rivera adds her distinctive violin to ‘You’re an Island’. How did that come about? And why just Scarlet? CW: Well, 'Desire' is my fave Dylan album and one of my fave albums full stop. Scarlet is a big part of what I always loved about that album. I never knew her name or anything about her, but I had a dream and in this dream I got the violin player from 'Desire' on my album. I usually have dreams about things like talking towel racks and aliens with mullets, but this dream was actually really cool. So, when I woke up I found out who she was and asked her to be on the album. I am really thrilled she did it though. That song is one I am most proud of. I co-wrote it with my fiancée Linzi and I think it sounds really good on the album. Ricky Romain, whose input I always appreciate, is doing some lovely sitar bits on that track too. PB: You play a variety of instruments but you must be one of the most underrated guitarists in the country. It’s still a surprise with every new album as to why you’re not being raved about in the music press for your skill on the guitar. Who has inspired your guitar playing? CW: I always liked Tony Iommi, I learned how to do solos from him and he was my fave growing up. As a kid, my dad used to play Ten Years After and I thought Alvin Lee was great too. I love Neil Young’s guitaring for different reasons too, the spontaneity and “in the moment” style of his playing. Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac is also a favourite of mine, and Dave Gilmour obviously. I don’t think I’m a great player, but I’ve found an area I am comfortable with, where I can do the type of solos I enjoy and have hopefully developed a style of my own. PB: How long does it take you to complete each album? Playing most of the parts yourself, although satisfying, must take forever. CW: If a song is simpler I might get two tracks done in a day, maybe if I’ve written them the day before. If it’s something more complex, like 'Hiding from the Light' off the new album, that takes a couple of days in all. An album is usually done in a couple of months, including the writing, recording, mixing and getting to a stage where I’m happy with the songs I’ve selected for the album. It’s different with each track though, some take a while to get right and to a stage where I’m happy with them. I just love creating sounds really, so it never seems like hard work to me. PB: The sad, unexpected passing of Rik Mayall came as a shock. You’ve written a touching tribute to the man in your online magazine 'Hound Dawg'. Is the magazine going to be an ongoing project again now or are you going to concentrate on 'All Day Long', your latest online magazine (which is excellent by the way). CW: I won’t be doing many 'Hound Dawg' magazines because I won’t have the time with all the recording I am doing, but I just felt like doing that one because I felt very sad about his death and wanted to reprint the interview he and I did and talk about the project we did together and how amazing he was. It’s such sad news. But thanks, I am glad you liked the 'All Day Long' magazine. I’ll be doing those ones every few months or whenever a new album is out. I enjoyed doing the first one, giving a bit of background on the tracks and things to anyone who might be interested. Hope I didn’t waffle on too much in it though! PB: At the time of writing a BBC Radio interview is imminent so the word is getting out about your music. Is this the first major radio interview you’ve done? CW: It’s the first major one on the radio, yeah. I’ve done interviews on the net and magazines with wide readerships and stuff, but going into the BBC was very exciting, such a thrill to be interviewed in the studio and to hear my song on the big speakers, and Russell Walker, the DJ was great to have a chin wag with. I hope to do more radio one day. PB: Congratulations on the recent birth of your daughter who has already inspired one of your best songs ‘Lily’s Lullaby’ on the Rexford Bedlo album. Does this mean that you’re getting even less sleep now then?! CW: Ha, ha, yes! Bottle feeds through the night and very early mornings. But it’s great, because I’m working at home and get to see her all the time. I’ve been recording with her in the room with me sometimes, so it’s perfect really. I love being a dad. PB: Are you pleased with the final results of ‘After the Fall’? Or are you one of those musicians who always feels that you would change a few parts a little down the line? CW: No, I’m never one to go back and regret anything. Because I think albums where you put your all into them are like documents of a moment or a time. It shows perfectly where you were at the time, and there is always a reason for a certain instrument being in there or a certain melody or lyric. It's all part of the moment you’ve got down on tape…well, not tape but you know what I mean. Plus, when I’m in the middle of recording an album and mixing it, I listen to the whole thing so much that there’s no way I’d let something get on it I wasn’t happy with. If others don’t like it, that’s just life and it’s unavoidable, but as long as I’m pleased with the results that’s OK. At the same time, even though it’s my job, I don’t take it all too serious or anything. It’s still fun and nothing to get pretentious about like some musicians clearly do. It’s just a job and if you can make enough to get by on it, then that’s perfect. PB: The first Dodson & Fogg album is getting a vinyl release. When is this going to materialise and are there plans to issue any of your other albums on vinyl? CW: I’m releasing the first one very soon, just seeing how much interest there is in it. Vinyl isn’t a cheap thing to get together so I’m making sure it’s all worth it and if it goes well I’ll definitely do the others too. It’s been a life long dream to have my music on vinyl, so I am really excited! PB: With every Dodson & Fogg album becoming the favourite when it’s released (which is unique, there’s always one album that doesn’t quite match the others even to the artists in question biggest fan but that hasn’t happen with Dodson & Fogg), do you have a personal favourite Dodson & Fogg album and if so for what reasons? I like 'After the Fall' best. I am really happy with the sound and feel of it, and it reminds me of the period where Linzi was ready to have the baby. It gives me a nice feel, but I’ll probably prefer the next one when that’s out. It’s inevitable though that one day I won’t be able to match the other albums, because everyone runs out of steam one day, so I’m just doing as much as I can while I can do it! Life’s too short. PB: What’s next for Chris Wade then? Do you have any further albums planned or songs already recorded ready to go? CW: I’ve recorded, well, nearly recorded the whole of the next Dodson and Fogg album. The tracks just need tweaking and some other bits adding to them. It’s coming out more rock orientated, a bit more complex in the arrangements. I’ve been working on it since April, so it’s coming together nicely. Me and Andy will do some recording and I think I fancy doing some more fiction, maybe an audiobook comedy or something. Next up though... a biscuit of some kind. PB: Thank you.

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