september 2001

part 2 of 3

were these songs written specifically for this album?
yeah, except ‘wichita’ which i’d had for ages. i was going to do ‘wichita’ and ‘dive’ with gorwel (gowel owen - who worked with bc on his first two albums), but they just didn’t seem to fit. the other songs i wrote during summer 2001 just before i went into the studio. i do write all the time, but not so seriously, until it gets to the point where i’m about to do an album and then i really get down to it.

when do you get ideas for songs? do you get them in the street?
yeah. i used to take a dictaphone around with me, and i should do now. i used to sing into it in the back of the cab and play it back the morning after and all you could hear was the taxi! this time i wrote a lot on the drum machine, because rather than play something on the guitar and then stick a beat behind it - which would just sound tokenist – i decided to start with the drum pattern and build the song around that. ‘wichita’ was done like that, and ‘dive’ and ‘fucking sunday’. actually the thing that was different this time was i had most of the lyrics finished before i went into the studio. i normally just write one verse and sing it three times, and then write two new verses in the studio, but this year i’d had a lot going on so there was plenty to write about.

so what themes are there in these lyrics?
politics i suppose, along the lines of ‘corporation man’. as far back as kingsize i was writing those sorts of lyrics. i think there comes a time when you can write about such things. i’ve always thought that if you’re going to write about politics it has to be obvious that you know what you’re talking about, especially if you’re a big band. and it is possible to write about politics in such a way that you’re not just a flag-waver for a certain party or ideology.

who has influenced your lyrics then?

bill hicks as well is a big influence on my songwriting. also people like huey p newton, the black panther guy; aneurin bevan, the welsh founder of the nhs; michael collins. i think you’ve got to write these sorts of songs in a certain way. for example ‘i wuz ateenage death squad’ would make a great poem or short story. the problem with songs is that you’ve got a certain amount of time to say what you want to say, and everything’s got to rhyme pretty much, so you’re a bit trapped. i don’t think i’ve done that song very well, i was going to write about east timor and grenada and northern ireland.

do you write these songs to get things off your chest, or to get other people thinking?
i just think that if you get the opportunity to be up on stage, you should use it for something, and for a long time my lyrics were shit. i think ‘lazarus’ was the first good lyric i wrote. i thought some of the lyrics on ‘kingsize’ were quite good. i haven’t heard that album you know, since it came out. i can’t find a copy. i remember the songs on it, and some of them were really good.

how long does it take to record a typical tune?
some of them have been made in a day. one of the new tracks, ‘rod’s got one’, i wrote in the morning and we’d finished it by the time we went home. sometimes it’s better if you haven’t got anything prepared because you’re working totally on instinct and it becomes really exciting. it’s a great feeling when you’ve been in there for 12 hours and you realise you’ve got something really good. sometimes it takes days, and that’s not something i’m good at, i like it to be really fast. that’s one of the reasons i left the band – recording was so slow.

has the internet had any impact on your music?
well i buy a lot of my records by mail order from america. i don’t download stuff – i never agreed with napster. well i agreed with it, but i didn’t like the people that ran it. they were young people who thought it was cool, they weren’t ‘the man’. they were just yts men in waiting. and i could never download the thing anyway. i had a mac so it never fucking worked. i don’t think there’s anything i’d want anyway. i’ve always been into taking risks buying stuff. right back to when i was on the dole it all went on records.

would you like to be on the radio more?
yeah, i used to love doing stuff for the radio. especially when you’re out on a tour, and at the time you get a bit blasé about it, doing sessions and that was ace. we just did one for radio one in wales, and we did peel last year. i don’t listen to much radio these days, but it would be nice to get a single played a little bit off this album, just because it would mean more people will get to hear the album. radio one are just getting more and more conservative about what they will play, and you can never second guess them.

do you have some sort of long-term plan for bravecaptain?
i think i’d like to get more people involved. i’m getting back round to the idea of having a band, which i never thought i would. i want to dj more and do the remixes under the bravecaptain name. the furries asked me to do one for the last album which i was really pleased with, and they love it. it was ‘fragile happiness’, which was a really hard one to do because they hadn’t done it to a click. i can’t remember if i’ve done any other remixes. i did one for 18 wheeler years ago, apart from that i can’t remember. i’d have to do it for bands i really liked. i just can’t do anything for money.