february 2000

part 1 of 2

a look at the future must always begin with a fleeting glimpse at the past. that said, what was behind the end of the boos?
we always said that we would finish when we became just another band or when we reached ten years - whichever happened first. i always believed ten years was enough for a band, and i personally don't know of any band that has gone on longer and was able to generate the same excitement or originality that they had in those first few years - most lose it after less than half that.
with 'c'mon kids' i honestly thought we had created something special that people would appreciate and applaud. to me, it sounds warm and inventive, a playground of sound - and it was a great shock when it was, although critically acclaimed, loathed in the main.
i was accused of sabotaging our 'career', and even though i have denied it for nearly four years, that it was some kind of reaction against the 'pop' of 'wake up'. the question still gets asked, until finally, in 20 years time, i break down and admit that, yes, it was a cynical, destructive step away from the success we were having, made by a lad who got what he always wanted but didn't want what he had been given, and they will smile kindly and hold me, wiping the tears from my whiskey mottled cheeks, going, 'there, there, son. it's ok, we always knew.' they listen but they hear nothing. some people take great delight in telling me, in graphic detail, just what a piece of shit record it is. and that's something i don't really think i got over.
when it came to write and record 'kingsize', my confidence was shattered. i took little interest in the recording, preferring to drift on marijuana clouds - running away, as sly would say, to get away. sice had had enough as well - well before i did - seeing through the bullshit and facade of the industry, uninterested in drugs, unwilling to be away from his home for long periods of time.
i can recall sitting in the blue post pub on hanway street just off the tottenham court road (it's not there any more, it's now boots the chemist) at christmas 1997, halfway through recording, with my best friend mark, fighting back tears as i told him that i was quitting and didn't even want to finish the record. he advised that i take my holiday, chill, then come back fresh. i took his advice, spent christmas and new year in morocco, heard many new and beautiful sounds, wrote 'monuments for a dead century', and came back refreshed and eager to start work again. but after a week or so, i felt the same way i had before. i made myself ill with the stress of knowing that it was the end and that i was going to be the one to end it.

did you feel in the end that you'd accomplished all that the group had set out to do?
i think we achieved, musically, everything that we wanted to do. it would have been nice to have sold a few more records, made a bit more money for the others, as we were left with little to show for all those years. i 'm proud of the records, proud of the fact that we did whatever the fuck we liked music-wise, never used our music to sell anything, and advocated nothing but love. we made great records and had a fuckin' great time doing it.

what's the transition been like from working in the confines of a band to becoming a 'solo artist'?
i think the main difference is that it's harder work! recording was much more tiring than before - singing, playing bass, guitar, and various other things as opposed to sitting at the back of the studio, skinning up and shouting oblique instructions. i was drained at the end. that's why the diary [which carr was writing meticulously on his website], stopped suddenly. i was fucked - but in a good way, a work way, rather than any self inflicted damage.
the downside, of course, was that i missed my friends desperately. i was lonesome. angelsea is a very quiet, remote place, and though i had a great time and gorwel and fiona (it was their house where i recorded the album) were wonderful and treated me like a brother, i really wished that sice, tim or bob were there with me. i was relieved when daf [super furry animals drummer] turned up to play. the writing is different now as well, i feel a lot freer. the songs don't have to go through lots of critical stages before they are recorded. i write 'em, and if i like 'em, i do 'em.

which also begs the question, why the bravecaptain nom-de-plume as opposed to 'hi, i 'm martin carr and these are my musings'.
i don't like the name martin carr. if i had a name like jimmy angeldust or frankie voltage then i would have used my own name, but martin carr is, y'know, crap. i also wanted it to sound as if it were a band - it might be in the future, who knows? it enables me to do what i want, to work with who i want.
when the boos were offered a peel session, which we didn't do as we had already decided to split up, we talked about doing 'bravecaptain' (from the firehose album, 'ragin' full on') which was always a favourite of ours. the idea for using the name came from there, i guess. i got in touch with mike watt - which was a thrill, as he truly is one of the greats - and he wrote to me, telling me the story of the song and offering to play bass on the record, which, sadly, he was unable to do because of illness, but which he's made up for by writing the sleevenotes for the album.

is there a mission statement to the bravecaptain? a masterplan, so to speak?
there is no masterplan. music is a vehicle for self-expression. i don't need any marketing strategy or five-year plan. i just write songs and hopefully they get released, spend a few weeks trying to make the whole process sound interesting for the press, play a few shows, then record some more. if i didn't have a deal, if nobody wanted to hear these songs that i write, i would still write them. i have to. if you make music to get rich then you are a fucking fraud and you will be exposed. at the same time i want to touch people and communicate something to them, what that something is i don't know...yet.

you've always been known for your strikingly honest and personal lyrics. is that a conscious decision, or do your lyrics just come naturally? and will the bravecaptain releases continue in the same vein?
when i started to write songs, i was going for this kinda dylan/ginsberg thing - this imagery which was very self-conscious and pretty much indecipherable nonsense to everybody except myself. i still know what they all mean, but they are pretty fucking awful.
when i wrote lazarus, that was the first time i had ever sat there and thought, 'okay, what is happening to me now? what is going on around me?' and wrote it down. it just started there, i guess. i can say things in songs that i cannot say in person. i am inarticulate in speech, nervous and tongue tied (unless drunk, of course, when i become incredibly articulate - which, unfortunately, i use for abuse and endless rants about football.) but put me in front of a computer screen and i come out with things that even i did not really know about, things that are dormant within my conscious. so the bravecaptain stuff will carry this on. i have to try and introduce a few more topics, though, as all my songs are basically variations on three or four themes.

what made you decide to work with gorwel? in the end, did you find him a good creative match?
it was my manager's idea for me to work with gorwel. he'd heard my demos at a friend's house, loved them, and thought that gorwel would be perfect for them. i owe him much, he restored my confidence in myself, and his instinct was spot on, as gorwel and i were very good for, and with, one another. i had met him once before, at rockfield, while we were recording 'from the bench at belvedere', and he was visiting the studios with sfa.
i remember thinking he was really old and strange, and it was a surprise when i met him again late last year and he's only about eight or nine years older than me! he's very shy until you get to know him, but once you do, he's ace. we used to have little swearing marathons over lunch. he's a big fan of profanity as i am, it's a wholly misunderstood and underrated art form. we both loved the furries and things like aphex twin and grandaddy. he brought along this kinda minimalist aesthetic - cage and ussachevsky - while i had hip hop and dub. whether or not the record reflects any of this is open to question, but i think that if we do record together again, now that we're friends, we could create something very special indeed.

what's it like to suddenly become 'lead vocalist'?
it was hard, as it was something i very much wanted to do. i was dreading opening my mouth and something rotten coming out, because it would mean i would have had to find a singer, and the only person i would ever want singing my songs, besides myself, would be sice. so it was a relief to find that my voice is okay, not brilliant, but as long as i can get it across without making people wince, then that will do me just fine.
it means i have to write songs differently. i honestly believed sice could sing anything i wanted him to, but with me, i have to write within certain confines, in certain keys, which is limiting - but as long as i can sing what i write then i am a very happy man indeed.


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