Monday, 2 April 2012

Indietracks interview #3: The June Brides

Phil Wilson, of course, needs no introduction. I dare say if it wasn’t for The June Brides, none of us would be here.  Despite being active for the briefest of periods: “From In the Rain to This Town in 18 months”, their legacy was secured. So when Phil Wilson returned as a solo artist, and then with a fully-fledged June Brides reunion, it was only a matter of time until we grabbed them for our summer stage. And, as a special treat there’s new June Brides material which we were lucky to speak to Phil about.

I saw you play a solo show at the Christmas Twee in 2009. What do you remember from the show?
I remember it being bloody cold! But also damned good fun. It felt like you were in a strange, alternate parallel universe or some odd, old British film with eccentric types gathered together to celebrate some unlikely pagan festival in the middle of nowhere! It was great.

So what prompted The June Brides reformation?
Well, we didn’t really plan to reform, and I’m not 100 per cent sure we have, to be honest. It just sort of happened. I formed a band three years ago with Andy Fonda on Drums and Arash Torabi on bass, with the intention of doing the odd concert or two for fun. We played a few as a trio, but then two of the original June Brides, Frank Sweeney and Jon Hunter decided to join us for the odd concert. I continued to call the band after myself, just to make the point that it was a new start, and I didn’t want to cash in on the June Brides name. However, when The Loft contacted us last year to play a one off concert with them to recreate Alan McGee’s Living Room club, I asked our old guitarist Simon Beesley to play with us. From there on it, it seemed a bit foolish to resist referring to it as The June Brides any longer. 

It’s been nearly 30 years since The June Brides formed. How have you been able to reinvigorate your passion in the band?
I still feel as passionately about music as I always have, and playing music live still fires me up as much as it ever did. I can’t help but get fired up. I’ve always been really proud of the music we created as a band. I believe we were different, and made a huge effort to grow and develop in the short time we were together. From In the Rain to This Town in 18 months was quite a leap, and it remains a joy to play those songs. Also, it’s fun to mix them with the best of the newer stuff.  I need the old and the new to keep it interesting.

What made you want to play Indietracks?
I’ve wanted to play Indietracks for years. If we have a spiritual home anywhere, then it surely lies on a steam train going through a field in the Midlands surrounded by lovely indiepop folk.  I really couldn’t think of a festival I’d rather play.

Have you played festivals before?
Not many. When we were playing in the 1980s there were very, very few. It was really only Glastonbury, Reading and (shudders) Donnington. We did play Glastonbury in 1986, but it was a fairly unpleasant affair. Way too many hippies back then.

You have new songs, January Moon and Cloud, tell me about them.
As well as playing in this band, Arash, Andy and I also play with the singer-songwriter Nick Halliwell, who records as Granite Shore. We played on the single Flood of Fortune, and recorded four more songs for the next Granite Shore album. But Nick wasn’t happy with those as they ended up sounding more like my band than his. One of those we recorded was Cloud, and I thought it was far too good to just leave it. So we took the recording and worked it up as a June Brides song.  I then wrote January Moon as a complimentary tune, so we could release it as a double-A single.

Can we expect further new songs to be played at Indietracks or is it purely going to be all the best known songs?
There’s a time and a place for new stuff, and I don’t really think it’s at a celebratory mid-summer festival like Indietracks. We’ll be playing the best of the June Brides stuff and some recent releases, but there’s no fear of a jazz funk odyssey being unleashed on the pop kids, I promise.

There seems to be a resurgence of 80’s oriented indie of late. What do you is so alluring about that era to today’s younger indie fan?
I think there remains something really positive about that music, as it was really outside of the mainstream, and a lot of it was genuinely independent in spirit and attitude. It’s proper outsider music untainted by the corporate music business. And that punk rock spirit is appealing.

You seem very close to your fans, is it important to maintain a connection with fans and friends?
I remain, first and foremost, a music fan and I genuinely enjoy being involved with other interested folks. And if people have invested their money and passion in you, then I think you have a real responsibility to acknowledge that and to treat them with respect. I may fail on occasion, but I try to do it, honest.

Who else are you looking forward to see at Indietarcks and will you be around for the whole weekend?
Loads of people! I’ve really wanted to see Gold Bears and Allo Darlin’ for a while, Veronica Falls should be great and Sea Lions were rocking when I saw them last year in San Francisco. There are so many things to look forward to, so we’re coming for both Saturday and Sunday.

What are you most looking forward to with The June Brides now? Are they going to continue after Indietracks?
I really don’t know! I never really expected to be playing music at this stage of my life, so I try not to plan too far ahead. If things happen, then that’s great. If not, life goes on…. It’s an adventure.

Thanks Phil, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Fingers crossed the double-A Cloud and January Moon will be out in time for Indietracks, but if you can't wait that long, you can find them on YouTube.

David Newbury

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