Bill Cummings 21/09/2009
At the beginning of September Eccentric Welsh Pop legend (and former Gorky's Zygotic Mynci front man) Euros Childs released his fifth solo album 'Son Of Euro Child' as a free download through his very own label, National Elf Record Company. Leading bilingual Pembrokeshire based idiosyncratic pop act Gorky's Zygotic Mynci from his teens; Euros Childs (pronounced Eye-ross) grew musically with his group. From Welsh odysseys to English language psychedelia, by the way of sighing pastoral folk and Glam stomps that charted their fascinating musical journeys through Welsh landscapes and beyond. Creating countless superlative but often criminally ignored albums(Bwyd Time, Barafundle, Spanish Dance Troupe ect). Gorky's went on to set a record for having the most top 75 singles in the charts (eight) without ever making the top 40.
By 2005 Euros and Richard James (bass) had begun working on solo projects. Euros' first solo music appeared in 2005, and his first single, "Donkey Island", which was released on Wichita Recordings in November of that year. Since then Euros prolific creative streak hasn't let up, seeing him release five albums in just four years. Euros' first solo album, the playful Chops, was released in February 2006. By the middle of that year after a few more tours Gorky's Zygotic Mynci had finally announced their split. Euros' second solo album, the all-Welsh language Bore Da, was released in March 2007. This was followed in August of the same year by The Miracle Inn where odes to childhood stand alongside the barkingly high-pitched stomp Horseriding. His fourth album, the gorgeously Americana tinged Cheer Gone, was released last October.
Bill Cummings caught up with Euros Childs as he battled with the elements of wind, to briefly in fifteen minutes explain his way through his new album, his unique way of song writing, and the records currently on his turntable. Plus where his former band mates are now, and how the spirit of John Peel still lives on!
Hi Euros, How's things?
Very good thank you: not bad at all. I've just been out for a short stroll.
With 5 albums in 4 years, and James Brown being dead, are you now the Hardest Working Man in Show business?
I don't feel like James Brown, I'm not dead, I'm still alive!
Where did you record your new record Son of Euros?
It was recorded in a couple of places. In my own place and some of the backing tracks at my parents when they were away on holiday which was quite handy! All in all it took from the end of last year to the beginning of this one. There wasn't any It was engineered by Steve Black (aka Sweet Babboo) and Iwan Morgan (aka Recall) who does a lot of work with Richard James. (Pete Richardson plays the drums on the record. While Euros plays a selection of synths that he's picked up in car-boot sales over the years.)
Listening to your new album 'Son of Euro Child', I noticed that each song takes on different musical styles and themes, (as our album review puts it 'throwing many different ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks') is there any common thread there?
It's not really purposeful really: it's all there for a reason it's in my head but I'm not going to spoil it. There is some kind of narrative running through it. Maybe if you listen to it again and you might be able to decipher some of the words and figure out what its about.
What are the inspirations behind the songs that make up the new long player?
I don't know, just every day things, looking about the place and experiences really. I had a lot of the ideas in my head for a while but they weren't songs and didn't stand together. I'd been storing them up over the years, that's why they took a while for them to come out.
What records have you been listening to of late? That might be an influence on your new work?
I've been listening to a lot of Sid Vicious' music recently. It's more to do with the attitude of a record sometimes: like an attitude that doesn't really toe the line. I like a lot of Neil Young stuff because of that. It's like he's doing that because he knows it's going to work, it's not just about selling lots of records, although he does sell a lot of records at the same time.
You recorded your last album 'Cheer Gone' in America didn't you, did that have an affect on its sound?
Aye yeah we did in Nashville, yeah I've always been into country music since I was quite young, although its quite distant influence on this record.
I noticed you played Green man Festival recently, in a duo that goes under the guise of JOHNNY with Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake. Do you intend to do any more work with him?
Yeah we did, me and Norman have been recording over the last couple of years storing songs as we go along. Next year there will definitely be something coming out, we're not sure if its going to be a single or an album yet as we haven't had time to bash out the ideas yet but I'm sure something will happen. It's nice writing together and playing them together too. It's not just me writing on the songs on my own, it's a collaboration, which makes it special.
I read in a interview with you in the Guardian at Green man from a few years back, that it got to the point where you wanted to draw a line under the Gorkys project so that you could give your full attention to your solo works, was this true?
It seems like a long time ago now. It's always there. Obviously I'm not naive enough to think that it hasn't an influence. Most of the people buying the songs or coming to shows have heard of me through Gorkys because that band was so much bigger than anything I've done since: So I can't really complain about that really.
One of your solo albums 'Bore Da' was entirely in Welsh, what are the differences in writing in Welsh and English?
One main difference is I write a lot more in English really. That's one of the main reasons why there hasn't been a lot of Welsh since because that album took a long time to get together really. Although I have a few Welsh songs floating about that might come out if I work on them. I'm bilingual so when I'm having a conversation with someone in Welsh and then switch to talking to someone in English, I'm not sitting down thinking 'what language am I going to sing this in?' its just what comes with the rhythms and the melodies.
How important is the pastoral to inspiring your music making?
It's one of those things people have asked me down the years, It's always been a bit of a weird one for me, because I was brought up in the countryside I don't differentiate, and I don't hear it but other people who haven't been brought up there might.
What are the rest of Gorky Zygotic Mynci up to these days?
Richards James is recording and releasing stuff on his own. John Laurence is based in North Wales and in a band called the Ninja Chimps. Pete Richardson plays the drums with me. And my sister Megan Childs has been busy being a mother….
Will we ever experience a music champion like John Peel again? (Gorkys were often championed by BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel; other than that it was extremely rare to hear Welsh language music on such a station.)
I don't think someone like that could survive on Radio One these days. He'd be too restricted by the letter of the law. Then again when he was there, he was messed around a bit back when he did the evening shows. Saying that back then we didn't have Radio six then, there's a lot more radio around now. I'm sure his spirit is still around somewhere….
What do you do when you're not doing music stuff?
No strange hobbies, I'm not an airline pilot in my spare time or anything!(laughs) I buy and listen to records but that's just because I'm interested in music I wouldn't describe myself as a collector. Just socialising and every day life I guess.
Gorky's remain one of the most colourful and imaginative bands - can you recommend any modern day bands that are equivalently exciting?
There's a good band called Y Niwl and they're a North Walian surf act and they're very fine. That's my one tip.
The whole album 'Son of Euros' is coming out free how do you feel about that?
Yeah the whole album is coming out as a free download. It's available on CD online, but I'll just be flogging records at gigs.
I can't see any harm in doing that if it gets people to the gigs, its got to the point where sales are so bad. The last album was a different approach, going around with it but I don't think with this album we had much choice at the time.
October also sees Euros play a number of shows in Ireland. Joined by musicians Jonny Norman Blake, Nuala Kennedy and Caoimihin O Raghallaigh, they will play a mixture of their own compositions as well as material especially written for these shows under the moniker 'A Mislaid Album'.
Catch Euros Childs live...
September - 'Son of Euro Child' tour (more dates to be announced for October and November)
22nd - Gelli and Ystrad Workingmens club (a.k.a Smokies) / Rhondda
23rd - Louisiana / Bristol
24th - Tamesis Dock / London
October - 'A Mislaid Album' Irish shows
27th - The Black Box / Belfast
28th - The Pavilion / Cork
30th - Ballaroy Arts Centre / Ballybofey
31st - Whelans / Dublin
1st - The Spririt Store / Dundalk
6th - ABC1 / Glasgow - w/Yo La Tengo
7th - Academy 2 / Manchester - w/Yo La Tengo
8th - Roundhouse / London - w/ Yo La Tengo