Thursday 2 June 2011

Interview With The Black Ships

The Black Ships are a new band formed by Ex The Verve members Nick McCabe and Simon Jones and also features violinist and string arranger  Davide Rossi and drummer Mig Schillace.

They have a new free EP out now and their first gig coming up this week. Red Rose chatted with them to see what lay ahead.

So how did you guys meet and how obvious was it to you that you should make music together?

Nick: Well I’ve known Simon since sixth form and we have been mates since then obviously, erm Davide sort of met us two when we were back recording Forth with for The Verve, you know he came into do some work with us and well we got on and so it went from there.

Me and Si had been doing some work together away from The Verve anyway so it fitted. Mig was erm a friend of a friend and then when the Verve sort of looked like it wasn’t going to carry on we decided to do something together.

How long have you been The Black Ships officially then actually working as a band?

Nick: Probably about a few months, Me and Si as you know were doing the Forth recording sessions and enjoying playing in The Verve again and the plan was originally to have Davide come in as the fifth, proper member of The Verve, I thought anyway but when that sort of appeared to have finished we decided to form this band properly.

As individual musicians who has influenced your careers the most, in terms of other artists? 

Simon: That’s a difficult one, obviously we all have favourite bands and artists but the amount is so wide and far reaching it is difficult to say. Like growing up there was not one person that I saw and thought, I want to pick up a guitar and play.

Mig: Influences come from everywhere, you can be influenced by something you see everyday.

Simon: Exactly, like Mig says you can be influenced by something from..yesterday so it’s hard to say.

Davide: See for me being from Italy, I didn’t have the same music culture you have here, I grew up on classical music and I was brought up as a classical person so I can’t say other than classical and that sort of thing. Also, I would say we inspire each other we play things and do things that make us do other stuff or play things another way.

Have you ever been inspired by a lyric you have heard? Or even one you have been involved in writing?

Nick: Aaah well I didn’t start actually listening to lyrics till about 5 years ago! (laughs) Well I mean they don’t really matter to me being an instrumentalist, I am more influenced by listening to the instruments and the sounds created.

Simon: As Nick said, for me it is more about the sounds, y’know stuff the Roses and bands like that were doing, stuff that was around me at the time as I was growing up and getting into music and that kind of thing.

The bands name if you research is relates to 16th century ships from America that arrived in Japan, is that where you chose it from?

Nick: (Laughs) Do you want the true story? Okay…Well we spent months and moths thinking of a name and were getting really frustrated and struggling to think of anything…

Davide: I was a bit of a No man within the band, computer says no! And someone had suggested ‘The Black Sheep’ and I was sending out an email to the others saying ‘I don’t want to be that!’ but because I sometimes make mistakes in English I spelt it ‘Ship’…

Nick: So we thought ‘The Black Ships’ sounded alright and we went with that and eventually looked into the background of it as a name and thought it fits and makes us look like we were deep about it. I mean the 4 vessels it relates to, also relates to us 4 and the whole idea of the Americans sending over symbol of Christianity yet the Japanese thought these ships were evil brought it together nicely.

So a mistake but then you thought actually the ideas behind it fit the band well?

Simon: Yeah we liked it and the ideas behind it the whole ships thing of Mississippi, Plymouth, Sararato and Christ I can’t even say it! But yeah..

The band has no vocalist and you worked with guest vocalists on the EP, how will this work from now? Will you be instrumental or with lots of different guests?

Nick: We decided on the E.P to one song with vocals and two without to give a bit of everything but then decided it would work as one large piece and yeah we will be working like this from now because it gives us the chance to work with lots of talented guest musicians and although it can cause new problems just logistically it works for us.

Davide: We worked with two vocalists on the EP they are Charley Bickers and Amelia Tucker, two young musicians, who we think will have very successful careers.

You have your first gig on Thursday, are their plans to tour this year after the gig? Or are you doing this gig to assess how it goes first?

Simon: Well we have got to get the record done first then we can gig, I mean it is almost done so once we have got that finished we can do gigs. We are doing this gig just because we wanted to make it feel proper and real, and because we have no one to say ‘No, don’t do a gig!’ so we thought, yeah lets get one done.

The record is probably about…85% done, it is all recorded just needs putting together how we want it.

Nick: 87% done I would say (Laughs)

You have no record label, are there any plans to get one? Anything happening on that front?

Nick: We are not openly courting someone, just seeing how it goes and I think we all said that if we find the right person, we will know we have and it will just feel right. What we want to do more than anything is to make sure we get the album out in the best way rather than doing what we did with the EP which was to just stick it on the internet which is just a big void, that won’t be happening with the album.

You’re EP is mainly instrumental, will this sound be typical of the album or is their something more structured with actual songs?

Nick: I don’t think there is one uniform sound but erm certainly we have separate songs but we don’t know how it will be on the album, how it will be structured and how they will appear. I was actually surprised at how well received the EP was…

Why were you surprised at the EP’s successful reception?

Nick: Well when we were back doing The Verve the 8 or 9 minute singles were being called too long and people kept telling us this and having opinions on it, so for this to be received how it was is different to that.

Simon: Back in the days of The Verve though, we didn’t care about that we just did it because we were there to be doing what we wanted to do and the people saying ‘it is too long’ It didn’t matter, I didn’t feel guilty about that.

Nick: I did! When you have got someone whose job it is to go into radio stations with our single and people are saying ‘but it’s 9 minutes’ and they have to say, play it anyway! I felt guilty about that!

One last question…For me, as a massive Verve fan, is there likely to be another reunion?

Nick: I would have to say for me now, I mean there’s been three times now so I think probably no.

Simon: You will have to ask Mr. Ashcroft! (Laughs)

Wednesday 25 May 2011

The Black Ships Release Free EP








Founding members of one of the most iconic British bands of recent times The Verve, Nick McCabe and Simon Jones today reveal the first material from new project The Black Ships. Joined in The Black Ships by Mig Schillace (Portishead / Goldfrapp) and Davide Rossi (whose string compositions have been used by the likes of The Verve, Coldplay & Goldfrapp).

The Black Ships have also announced their debut live appearance. This will take place at Kings College, London on Thursday 2nd june. Limited tickets are available from SeeTickets.

About the release, and The Black Ships, Nick McCabe had the following to say:

"You just know when things are right. The four of us met in various circumstances and each meeting was accompanied by this feeling of "we've absolutely got to do more together". And here we are. The joy of music: what does that really mean? Living and breathing it. Obsessing about detail whilst discovering the beauty in chance, and then doing what is necessary to give it life. All the peripheral activity, traditionally taken out of your hands in service of the big organisations of yore becomes a joy in service of the music. It is undoubtedly the hardest work we have collectively put into any band, but the satisfaction is already huge.

"Kurofune" was spawned/recorded in Noah's tiny "Best Kept Secret" studios in Copenhagen in one of the many feverish explorations of what we do as a unit. During the course of other work for earmarked album material, revisions and rethinks, extensions and reductions occurred at: my place in Walworth, South London, Davide's abode in Copenhagen, and Si's place in Chester.

"Rain Down On Me" was never going to make the album in it's original form, it is too much of its own man, it is only here that right and properly, it stands unmolested by the distraction of 'other songs'". "Dawn Till Dusk" exists in several versions, here, we give you a rain soaked soundscape to get lost in. "Northern Rock" is a lullaby to a fallen empire.

I mixed and did final edits over three days in May at my studio in South London and mastered it during rehearsals whilst at Si's in Chester.

This music is of and about the connections and disconnections of human life. It has its own will, and we are glad to obey it. It is a grand thing to be aboard The Black Ships. Welcome."

Saturday 7 May 2011

Ashcroft On The Best Place to Drink In New York

“When I was younger, I used to stay at the Chelsea Hotel,” says Richard Ashcroft, now 39. “You were required to have a wild time or you weren’t allowed to stay there. The corridors felt like you were in Angel Heart and William Burroughs might stumble out of a room at any moment.” Two decades have passed since the former Verve frontman first roamed those hallowed New York halls, and on “ Third Eye,” a B-side from his fourth solo album, The United Nations of Sound, Ashcroft sings about a different place entirely.

“Let me take you there, to the rarified air of the Mandarin/ I got my beer in my hand, thinking ’bout my life plans.” You’d be forgiven for assuming that Ashcroft—who wrote the ballad “ The Drugs Don’t Work” about his well-documented battle with substance abuse—was recalling a psychedelic night inside a giant piece of fruit. But then he continues: “Just sittin’ in the Mandarin, and watch ’em go in cirles/ Columbus circles.” It becomes apparent—especially if you’re a New Yorker—that Ashcroft’s Mandarin is actually the luxury hotel in Manhattan’s Time Warner Center overlooking Central Park, not a precious kind of orange. “I recommend for everybody to go and have one drink at that place,” Ashcroft says of the hotel’s bar. “I stayed there on my own, all night, and saw the sun rise over Central Park,” he says. “It’s the only manmade thing I’ve seen that feels like you’re looking at the ocean, because the concrete just stops at the edge of the park. The shadows and the way the light changes all of those buildings is absolutely incredible.”

Thursday 14 April 2011

Verve Duo To Make Live Debut As The Black Ships in June

Nick McCabe and Simon Jones are to make their live debut as The Black Ships in London this June. 

The band will play London's King's College Students Union on June 2. 

The Black Ships, who formed in 2009, also count drummer Mig Schillace and violinist Davide Rossi in their line up. 

Rossi, though never formally in The Verve, played on their 2008 album 'Forth' and featured in the band's live line up frequently after that. 

Tickets go on sale on Friday (April 15) at 9am (GMT).

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Ashcroft To Play Japan Tsunami Benefit Gig

Beady Eye, Primal Scream and Paul Weller are also among the acts set to play a London benefit show for the victims of the recent tsunami and earthquakes in Japan. 

The gig, which will take place on April 3 at the O2 Academy Brixton, will also feature sets from Graham Coxon, The Coral and Richard Ashcroft. 

All proceeds from the show will go to the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal. Tickets will be limited to four per person.

Tickets go on sale on Friday (March 25) at 9am.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Ashcroft to Play East Coast Shows, Jimmy Fallon, This March

On March 22, Razor & Tie will release Richard Ashcroft's United Nations of Sound album in the United States.

That same night, Ashcroft will appear on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show in New York City performing "Are You Ready?" followed by a yet-to-be announced second track to appear exclusively on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show website. The Roots will appear as a backing band.

Following the US TV appearance:
March 23 - Bowery Ballroom, New York City, New York
March 24 - Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

Ashcroft's track "Are You Ready?" will be featured in the closing credits to the upcoming Matt Damon film, The Adjustment Bureau, out in March.  A second track, "Future's Bright," which is co-written by Ashcroft and ten-time Academy Award nominee Thomas Newman, will be featured within the film as well.

Monday 10 January 2011

McCabe To Guest On Twilight Singers New Album

The Verve guitarist Nick McCabe is to appear on the Twilight Singers' first album in five years. 

Greg Dulli's band release 'Dynamite Steps' on February 14. It's their first LP since 2006's 'Powder Burns'. 

Mark Lanegan, who Dulli regularly plays with in The Gutter Twins, also guests on the record. 

The band also tour the UK this March.

Simon Tong's Erland & The Carnival Announce New Album

Simon Tong's new project Erland & The Carnival, are set to follow their eponymous d├ębut, released earlier last year, with a second album titled ‘Nightingale’

The album was recorded deep in a ship moored at Embankment on the river Thames, which lead to a very surreal recording experience, “You could hear sounds in the hull when we were mixing the record,” says drummer David Nock. “You’d get home and play it again and realise that something was missing, so we had to set up contact mics all around the ship to capture its unique sounds.”

The artwork is a documentary photo of the Enfield poltergeist at work in the late ‘70s, it depicts young Janet Hodgson being thrown across her bedroom by the much-debated dark spirit. “I remember seeing the shot in a book when I was a kid and it always stuck with me,” says guitarist Simon Tong, ex of The Verve and The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and Gorillaz. “It influenced the music because we’re trying to create a soundtrack to an imaginary horror film about the supernatural.”

The album is released on the 07 March on Full Time Hobby