Clark Summers 04/01/2008
Clark Summers meets Anthony Reynolds(formerly of Jack and Jacques) asking about his musical past, his recent British Ballads album and Philip K Dick.
British Ballads is the first album you've released under your own name (in full at any rate), is there any particular reason for this or did it just seem like the right time to step out of the shadow of Jack/Jacques/anthony?
Jack and Jacques concluded in 2002. The neu york album...well, it was an experiment more than anything. An exercise in me learning how to use my home studio and also a way of making a little bit of money. I padded it out with some out-takes and other material I had laying about. Although I think that record had its moments, it wasn't a definitive statement or anything and I didn't want that to be seen as my first 'proper' post-Jack release. It was a curio really, "British Ballads" is a complete work in and of itself that I'm happy to put my name to.
How do you look back on the recording sessions for British Ballads? Do you ever listen to your old records or are you simply focused on your next project. Have you got a personal favourite on the album?
The recording sessions were bitty, as I recall. There's an account of the first ones in the 'writings' section of my site - www.anthonyreynolds.net
Actually, it was huge fun for the most part as I was living with the producer and bass player. They shared a flat in Chalk Farm. It was great to be working with musicians that I chose specifically and for that reason, partly, I have listened to it since finishing it. Its got some great performances on it - the piano solo on the opening track I love, the drumming in particular on the second song. John Howard's piano, Fiona's strings, some lush stuff. I can't listen in the same way once a record is released. It becomes the world's then (hopefully)! - but it's also my final album and i've been savouring the process of every stage.
I suppose "The Disappointed" is my favourite song. I love "I Know You Know" too. If I ever had a budget again i'd like to do an album of similiar pieces only with a jazzy woodwind arrangement, maybe...conscise and melodic, compact and groovy.
You've managed to assemble an impressive array of guests for this album - How did these collaborations come about? Were any of the songs written with particular guests in mind?
It was such a pleasure to know in advance that I was able to use these musicians but that said, no, I didn't write the tunes with them in mind. Most of the songs were written in 2002 in a dark little room in Shropshire.
They were arranged by Julian and myself with the musicians in mind, obviously...
Some of said musicians I met on the last Jack tour and album. John Howard I got in touch with after falling in love with his Kid In A Big World album. What a treasure trove that record is...Oh boy. Vashti (Bunyan) I met because she was recording a version of 'Just So You Know' with Simon Raymonde in Brighton. (it's finally released next March). Of course, I'd worked with Simon as he'd produced a Jack EP, he was a fan of the 'Jazz Age' album. Dot (Allison) I met in London back in '98, and we co wrote a song together, called 'Mo-pop'. I've just heard, finally some of her new album. She's a true poet, I think. Colin Wilson I visited in 2004 and we became friendly. I asked Robert Wyatt to play some trumpet on 'A Quiet Life' but he declined. I met him shortly afterwards and I don't think he realised that I was the same person who had recently asked him.
We got drunk together at his house and as the night went on I kept saying to myself 'maybe i could ask him to play some trumpet now, into my mini disc recorder...i could fly it into the track later'. I couldn't bring myself to be so inappropriate (though).
Regarding the above have you got a wish list of people you'd like to work with in the future?
I don't have any plans at present for any more work. There's a Colin Wilson album i've 70% finished and maybe some collaborations pending with some Spanish, French and Italian artists but...no, no plans for a follow up to 'British Ballads'.
I understand that you plan to record some live radio sessions circa the release of this album, are you tempted to go out on the road to promote British Ballads or do you feel more at home in the studio?
I'd love to play live with this band, doing this material. but there is no finance for such a venture, so it's out of my hands.
Pioneer Soundtracks was re-released as a deluxe version on Spinney Records, will Jazz Age be getting the re-issue treatment too? How do you look back on those records?
I asked Beggars Banquet - the label who own the Jack records - if they'd like to do a similar treatment with the Jazz Age. There's much more material available for such a venture than there was for Pioneer Soundtracks. It's not a record (that's) in demand though. I think they're considering it. No one's picketing the record pressing plant or whatever...
I look back fondly at those records, although there are unhappy memories too. I don't think I belonged in a 'band' and it took me those albums to realise that,
but, yeh, i think they're good records, complete works, well produced, best songs we had at the time. I think it's a shame in a way that you rarely get groups making shit albums anymore. Decades ago, groups got to make their mistakes in public which was pretty interesting if you were a fan and if the groups got better. It was nice when groups had the luxury of making albums they would grow to be ashamed of.
If you could re-record any song from your back catalogue, which one would you choose and why?
Both the Jacques albums. The production on both was a missed opportunity. The production on the first was an abasement.
The music industry seems to be in a state of disarray at the moment / struggling to react to the digital age have you got any particularly pressing thoughts on this issue?
None at all!
I interviewed Gianluca from Hollowblue earlier in the year, he mentioned in passing that you were working on a project together hows that going? Can we expect to see an album from you in 2008?
Its a bossa nova album. We demoed it in Livorno, Italy in November 2006. We may have finally found an Italian label to finance it - the guys that did the great 'Marti' album, 'Unmade Beds'. Andrea, from that band will also work with us on this if it happens. The band is called 'Jodie Foster'.
You're renowned as a voracious reader, what are your favourite novels from 2007?
Hmm. not sure if I read any novels this year. I don't read much fiction although i am reading Philip K Dick's Ubik at present.
Did you make any interesting musical discoveries this year? (*I'm not just referring to new releases here!)
No. This year has been all about finding my feet again and so i've listened mainly to my evergreens - for survival - Miles Davis, Tom Waits, Paris Hilton, Gil Evans, Sinatra, Sylvian, Tim Buckley, Hardin. I gave Bill Evans (the pianist) a go and also Coltrane - am still working on them. Oh - Charlotte Greig! am loving her stuff. Yeah...
The magnificent new album British Ballads is out now.