No, as a solo artist Ive been to Scotland three or four times. Only to do Glasgow as it happens. Aberdeen last night, but thats as far as weve been in Scotland as far as I recall, my memories a bit hazy in my old age.
Do you have anything to say regarding the split up of your former band Easyworld?
You mean dish the dirt and have a right old slag of the people I want to slag off? No, I think its one of those things that happen. Bands, like anything, arent meant to go on forever. Otherwise you end up like The Rolling Stones and thats not good for anyone. You find yourself still making the same music with the same people when youre in your 70s. I think bands should always have a shelf life. I think I personally did as much as I could do with them (Easyworld). I wasnt filled with joy at the prospect of making a new album. It wasnt really where my head was at. Everyone was pulling in different directions.
The record label (when they gave a shit who we were) were utterly incompetent, and the rest of the time I dont think they realised that we were signed to their label. So that didnt help in raising our self esteem and feeling that we could be artistically liberated. It just wasnt working. Its like a marriage, no one ever cheated but it just wasnt working out. The analogy I always use is that everybody knew the party was over; I was just the first one to pick up my coat and get out the door.
There were no fist fights; there werent really any cross words. I think some people were pissed off with me but I think ultimately if everybody searches their hearts I think they knew it was the right thing. I certainly knew it was the right thing.
Was the material recorded on your debut album written while you were still with the band or did you only begin focusing on the solo project after you split?
I had an idea about what I wanted to do. I had ideas and I had tunes and snippets. But once the band was done with I kind of got down to writing and demoing and recording and ultimately accidentally making the first album. It was never meant to be an album. I just wrote some songs and recorded them and some fool decided to release it as a record, which Im very happy about.
Are you pleased with the reaction it got?
What, utter indifference? Yeah, Im pretty flattered. Its largely been ignored, which I think was always the plan, not to release it but to seep it out. It went into the shops with no fanfare and we didnt do any of those in store things, we didnt put any adverts in the press just released it. So it was out. We did some touring, got a little bit of press here and there, just got on with it. I prefer it that way because it means youre not privy to the circus of releasing records where the chart becomes the Holy Grail.
Its just a matter of degrees of failure then because if you look at it like that anything other than the number 1 spot is a failure, and therefore you can be 48 degrees of failure. Then it gets really grubby and you very easily loose sight of the whole point, which is surely that you want to make some music and you want to sing songs and feel you have something to say or you have something to give. You feel theres some purpose in it, and I think before long its very easy for the purpose to become the money and the charts.
Its unfortunate and its something thats very difficult to avoid. Its something that a lot of people dont want to avoid. A lot of people get into music and are very happy to have it be about success in a very shallow sense of the word.
Easyworld were perhaps an extremely underrated band in their field and they had a cult following. Do you feel that a lot of these fans have crossed over?
I dont think Easyworld had a big fan base. We had a fan base that allowed us to keep working and carry on doing what we were doing when a lot of bands who started around the same time as us disappeared a lot sooner than we did or got dropped or split up so it think it certainly helped. The fact we had a very loyal fan base helped us to continue as we were and continue touring for us as long as we were able to.
As far as the crossover factor I think that a lot of the people who liked Easyworld havent strolled over the border line with me. I think some of them got stuck in customs having their rectums searched with rubber gloves to find those JJ72 albums that are lurking in there somewhere. I think a lot of people didnt like the fact that it just doesnt rock that much. I sort of think that Easyworld were a good band but that we never rocked that much either. We were never Nirvana, Greenday or The Smashing Pumpkins. It was a middle class white boy brand of rock and I think it was all a bit too safe. I think what I do now is a lot more genuine but at the same time some people dont like it. You cant jump up and down at the gigs so much well you can but youd look stupid.
Away from the restraints you had while with Easyworld do you now feel more liberated and able to do what you want to do?
I feel completely, almost a little too liberated. Literally nobody ever gives me any guidance or pushes me in any direction, which is good because it means everything I come up with is completely what I want to do, it also means that if I fall flat on my arse I do it completely on my own terms, which is scary because it means you cant blame anyone else which is the thing about a band, you can divide liability. But when youre on your own if it all goes horribly wrong basically youve got nobody to blame other than yourself. But Im getting more and more comfortable with that.
As far as being experimental I still just like songs, tunes, words, ideas, and I like expressing things that mean something to me and mean something to others. In that respect I dont think Im ever going to stray from a songwriting base. I suppose I could call myself fairly experimental sound wise in that I dont use producers and studios but I do use instruments and microphones, maybe I do it in a slightly unorthodox way, just point a microphone at something and play it. I occasionally play odd instruments like type writers and suitcases too.
Obviously you use a live band but do you use a band to record your material or do you record it all yourself?
So far on the first album I recorded everything myself except for one saxophone part played for me. I really like doing everything yourself because you dont have the embarrassment of trying stuff out that ends up sounding really stupid. Its a far more creative process working without a band or a producer. Its a very very solitary experience making the records that I do. Essentially its me in a room with a lot of instruments and a microphone. A few days later Ill emerge like a blind animal squinting at the sun with a collection of odd noises. As long as its working its great, but as soon as it all turns to shit Im sure somebody will point it out.
What are you aspirations for the new single?
Honestly I dont know. I dont really have aspirations. My aspirations of things are that they just get done. At the moment Im not even thinking about the single Im thinking about the next album, the next tour and how Im going to move on.
Have you written much for the new album?
Not very much, Ive got a few things few songs thats Ive been trying live. Its always an on going process. Its quite scary because this will be the first time that I have deliberately made an album. I was just making demos and recording songs before.
Will the new album have a particular theme to it then?
I think the first album actually works out alarmingly thematic, and I think largely that was because of the situation with the break up of the band. The album is called I sincerely apologize for all the trouble Ive caused, and thats like an apology to all the people who Ive pissed off.
Is that a genuine apology or an ironic one?
Its an apology for hurt feelings and wrongs done but its not a statement of regret. I dont regret anything Ive done, I feel bad if people have been hurt by what Ive done, I think what Im trying to say is that I apologize but I dont take it back.
Do you have any plans to play any UK festivals this summer?
Its not my job to have plans for those things. Its someone elses job to book me onto them and have me do them. Id love to play all the festivals, and Id happily go first on at the shittest stage at Reading. These choices arent down to me theyre down to the people who organize the festivals and who book my shows for me and ultimately decide whats good for my career. Its not really something Im interested in I get asked if I object to things but generally I dont object to much. I objected to doing something for the British forces. I dont have it in for them, well actually Im not that impressed by the British Forces at the moment. Im sure individually theyre ok. I think people should be discouraged from joining the army so the last thing I want to do is go and sing in tents and entertain the troops I think in the long term if you make being in the army as miserable as possible then the less people will join it.
What would you like to have accomplished by this time next year?
Id like to still have my record deal, Id like to still be married, Id like to still be talking to all my friends who I have at the moment and just generally be healthy and happy and Id like to have recorded an album which I really think is all right. Thats kinda it really. As far as the stage in the development of my career, Id obviously like my album to suddenly sell a million copies and be number 1 for the rest of the year but at the same time Im not going to be upset if nobody ever buys my album again. Its not going to make me think its not any good.
Finally, what are the chances of Easyworld reforming, or a nostalgia tour?
Very very slim. Theres more chance of electing a turnip as the next president of the United States of America, although given their current voting record I dont think thats too much of an unlikely event. But no, its just not going to happen.