Rather than a collection of
tracks, I started to think about the flow of the music over the
entire time it lasted, the dynamic of the piece, how it rose
and fell and
that became the template for Tranquille.
Weren’t you tempted
to change styles since you had a different line-up for
this recording session?
No, not really. Although
I couldn’t get Kojak and Rimbim (from the
they were busy doing sessions for Cornershop’s last album, as
well as recording their own upcoming release with Guigsy (ex-Oasis)
producing, I did manage to get Alex Thomas, the Nazarites
sax virtuoso down
for the afternoon to play on Trains
Boats and Planes...
Not the Bacharach/David
No, mine. Theirs has
another ‘and’ in the title. Subtle, but crucial
that...The key element with Tranquille was the chance to write
some tunes with Andy Duncan – he’d been my inspiration for
large parts of
the first album, that bass sound he gets
has stuck with me through the years
since we last played
together in Dalston.
That would be the
Pyramid Arts days when you were a dub mixing engineer?
Waaaay back in the day,
that. We carried on playing on each other’s material
the studio had started to attract more of an indie-band clientele
[including the Corndollies, the Popguns and numerous others],
contact for some years after that. But I also
know Paul Gilbert and Ann Reid
from those days as well
- in fact, Andy Duncan was the original bass player
a band I was in that later included them, but never at the same
was great to work with them again. And Jim [Jessop]
of course, who turned up
to do his thing for the second
time – he’s another veteran of the Pyramid
So who’s Harold Duncan,
That’s Duncan’s real
name, apparently – that’s what his mum calls him, he
I’ve known him as Duncan for twenty years, with a side-order of
‘Andy’from people who’ve known him longer - and now he goes and
tells me his real
name is Harold. ‘Arooold! Maybe he’s
having a laugh...
Blues Matters! rated
you in their Albums of the Year 2002? Has it changed your life?
Enriched it immeasurably,
as it happens! Top geezers down there in Wales.
album might have to have a Welsh title.
How long did it take
to improvise the album?
Improvise? I had to
learn the bloody things – they’re not improvised, they're composed.
Proper, like. Obviously the solos are improvised, but the main
parts of the tunes are just that: proper tunes. They were
all written from a
process of improvisation, since I
can’t write music but when they went from
demo to master
I had to decide what was going to stay as the theme, if you
like, and what I could safely drop and re-record as a solo.
Who are your main
Oh, all the usual suspects
– anyone who can play a guitar properly, mostly.
Roy Buchanan, BB King, Dave Gilmour, John Fogerty...
Who? Oh yeah, him too...Robin
Trower, John Fahey...
Robin Trower? That’s
a name I haven’t heard in a long time...
Me neither. But his
three-piece band was the first headline band I saw at
Marquee – him gurning away with a handful of Strats and wall of
Marshalls. I think it was their debut there, too. I’d never
heard of him
then, either. And I didn’t hear for about
three days afterwards, until the
ringing noise and white
fog had cleared from my ears. I did like the first
of albums he did as a trio with Jim Dewar playing bass and singing.
I can detect a John
Fahey influence on the last track The Sea The Sea.
Ole Mississippi John
done gone away now, what a shame. [He died two years
But I managed to see him play at the Festival Hall and I wrote a
of reviews of him for Making Music magazine. I’ve
had his Of Rivers and
Religion album for most of my life
and it’s come and gone and come back
again in my favours
– somewhere between the most boring record and the most
record ever made. Which was what I was trying to capture with these
two records. Listen out for the next CD as I want to incorporate
a lot more
of my acoustic instrumentals on that.
I’ve been told that you do sing as well...
Sure thing. I’m getting
the hang of it now. I do sing, but for the time
I’m staying ‘mute’ and letting the guitar do the talking! But you
never know, nothing lasts forever and I’ve got plenty of actual
the last band that I sang and played guitar
So why’s the title
[Laughs] Aaah, that’s
to try and broaden the international appeal – even if
is all instrumental! Actually, I just liked the word, its meaning
slightly different from the English variant but still
incorporates the same