to #Bartók #ViolinConcertos w/@rcapucon & @LondonSymphony
#HungarianClassicalMusic #ViolinConcerto #BelaBartok or #bélabartók #Bartok
p.s. rognons de veau forestières!
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Hipsway release their first album since 1989 entitled Smoke and Dreams and are doing it for themselves via a PledgeMusic Campaign chock full of unique offers and experiences that fans of Hipsway will love. Signed albums, personally written lyric books, sleeve credits, archive items from the past, Skin’s acoustic guitar (on which much of the new album was written) and – later in the year – the chance to attend intimate live performances and album playbacks in Glasgow and London at which pledgers can meet the band for photos, signings and chat. A full UK tour is coming in December, in the meantime, PledgeMusic spoke to Skin & Pim from the band.
How did you first hear about PledgeMusic and can you tell us a little about your new Smoke and Dreams PledgeMusic project?
Skin: I’ve been aware of PledgeMusic for quite a while but was put off I guess because I was worried nobody would want to pledge and I’d look bad LOL! The new album is, in my opinion, great. The songs are strong, playing is great, shit I’m sounding like Donald Trump here. Honestly, I wouldn’t put something out I didn’t believe in 100%. Been worryingly easy to make. Want to do another, now!
Pim: When PledgeMusic got in touch saying they were fans and invited us to use their service, which we did, seeing it as a way for artists to be in maximum control of their own budgets and project without the interference of a traditional record company. It’s been so much easier. On the new album: personally, whilst Smoke & Dreams is on reflection the culmination of years of learning and playing, the songs equally reflect many memories and influences and just flowed out of us both.
When and what series of events, set you on course to get together again and make a brand-new album?
Skin: We decided to play one show, which then snowballed into about 17 or so now. We sold 10,000 tickets over the last year and a half. I’m not really into being a ‘heritage’ band, of course, we play songs people love when we are live but it needs to be fresh and new songs are the best way forward. The new songs stand up well I think against our back catalogue.
Pim: After the 30th-anniversary reissue of the first album in 2016, Skin called me up after a long hiatus in our relationship and said ‘how d’you fancy it?’ to which I replied; ‘it’s better than working!’ Then we got on with it as if we’d never parted. Songs were an obvious progression since we must move on from the old stuff.
Writing new songs can never be easy and sure it was also challenging back in the day; can you take us through how the process worked for you 30 odd years ago and how you are approaching it today?
Skin: When we did the first album, there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, reworking songs in rehearsals. It was a difficult process and I certainly was quite naïve then. On the second album, we worked with our producer, who was a professional songwriter and I think we learned a lot from him. Some of it was what not to do, but he was great to learn from. Now, I’m a lot more confident about my ideas and I know Pim will always make my initial forays sound better. Sometimes Pim just sends me a little riff/progression recorded on phone and if I like it, I’ll put a lyric to it. It’s been really pretty easy, so far. Song-writing is a craft, but you do need an innate talent. Some people can write melodies and some people know how to make skyscrapers. Most people have a talent, it is identifying it that can be the problem.
Pim: I didn’t really know about song-writing when I joined at 19, I just wanted to maintain a good hairstyle and spank the plank, rather than do anything else. I learned a few hard lessons and after a few decades, I think I know my style and can write with a clear mind on the project. As Grahame says; it is a craft and you slowly learn how to improve over the years. I’m still very impressed with the ideas Grahame brings to me. The early stages are critical, you need huge amounts of faith and imagination to visualise how they may evolve and a ton of intuition.
Your official bio begins; “Four young pretenders from Scotland staked their claim to the crown with their debut album, Hipsway”. What do you remember of those early days… what’s your first memory of ‘making it back in the day’?
Skin: I never really felt like we’d made it, then I had a conversation with Bobby Bluebell who said, ‘think of all the musicians and bands in the world, we’re in the top 1% most people never even make a record’. Of course, that was years later. At the time, I felt like an imposter. I always thought everyone was better than me. It’s the Scottish mentality, where we’re drip-fed our shortcomings. In saying that we had a ball; playing Ibrox stadium to 35,000 people and them all clapping because I told them to, what’s not to like? We worked hard and played hard and it took its toll. After 2 years we were exhausted. I had to take house rest for about a month with these super vitamin pills, that made the toilet luminous green LOL.
Pim: Similarly, I don’t remember feeling that we ‘made it’. Each goal achieved was met by another step on the ladder, so that you were always having to raise your game. It’s all taken in your stride, really. Top of the Pops was a peak, but you always have to move on to the next thing.
Sure, you have hopes and ambitions for the new album; without being a hostage to fortune, what would you like to achieve with the new album?
Skin: Firstly, that people who buy it love it, cause I love it. Secondly, would be nice to get some radio play. Would like to get out and play abroad and tour England/UK properly and lastly be encouraged enough to make another.
Pim: World peace! Apart from that, I just want us to be seen as good writers, with a good album that is as good as anything we have ever done, if not better. Please the audience and be lucky enough to carry on ‘living the dream’.
What’s the first piece of music that made an impact on you?
Skin: ‘Jeepster’ by T-Rex, although I did fall down a set of stairs while miming ‘What’s New Pussycat’ by Tom Jones when I was 3.
Pim: Very hard to say, as a child I was listening to Elvis, Beatles, etc. The first real obsession with a song was ‘Space Oddity’ in the early ‘70s. I remember being on holiday in a hippie house in the Borders. I closed the curtains, lit candles and incense and encouraged the adults to come in, lie down and listen. I don’t think they were bothered.
First concert that you remember going to?
Skin: Stranglers Glasgow Apollo, supported by The Rezillos.
Pim: This was a beauty and I was very lucky, in fact, I see that PledgeMusic is currently running a Store for Bowie at Earl’s Court in 1979*. My dad took me there and I was completely enthralled. I can still remember the atmosphere of running through the deserted entrance as the music reverberated through the concrete pillars. Magical.
Where were you when you first heard one of your songs on the radio?
Skin: Cloud Nine.
Pim: No idea.
What album in your collection would you save in a house-fire/what album has survived all your house-moves?
Skin: I’ve still got Rattus Norvegicus by the Stranglers, but I’d save Station to Station by Bowie.
Pim: Probably Steely Dan’s Countdown to Ecstasy or Aja.
Which song do you wish you had written?
Skin: That’s a very long list but let’s go for ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ or ‘Heroes’.
Pim: I can’t answer that type of question!
Who in your opinion has taken music forward in the last 5/10 years or so?
Skin: I like all kinds of music and, everyone takes from the past, my fav contemporary artists include Broncho, Everything Everything, Gorillaz, and Arctic Monkeys. Bowie’s last album was immense.
Pim: I personally think that most innovation in music in the last decades has been electronic and dance. I love listening to that stuff in a club.
Perfect gig – what makes it for you as a performer? Speaking of which, care to pick out one or two memorable shows you have performed where all the above seemed to come together?
Skin: I like it when we go off script and get the crowd going singing along. Live should be like a party, last show Paisley Town Hall was particularly good in that respect.
Pim: In my little world of guitar, it’s when I can actually hear a decent sound onstage, which is far rarer than the relaxed and smiling image projected from the stage might make you believe. I like it sweaty too. Aberdeen, Lemon Tree, was a great intimate show last year.
Any particular concert venues that you have a fondness for playing/performing in?
Skin: ABC Glasgow
Pim: Anywhere sold out!
My Life’s Playlist – list 5 songs that are really special to you.
- David Bowie – Heroes
- Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us
- Rolling Stones – Jumpin’ Jack Flash
- Neil Young – Like a Hurricane
- Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
- Elvis – Mystery Train
- Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
- Steely Dan – Aja
- Jeff Beck – Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
- Henry Mancini – The Pink Panther theme.