THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Friday, July 9, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH AND ALSO THE TREES
Dear Justin, when you started in 1979, would you ever have thought then that you’ll be doing this for 30 years?
I was always fairly committed to the project so I think I would have been pleased if I knew I would spend my life working on it. When you start out you have quite high expectations and longevity is quite a satisfying result, even if you do think back and realise that nothing has ever been quite perfect. It’s been a good journey.
In all this years I follow you I always saw And Also The Trees as a band who have a huge loyal fanbase, I suppose your fans mean a lot to you….
Yes people that support our music have been exceptional, there have been times that I think we have been ‘strange’ and perhaps made odd decisions (creatively) but the AATT people have generally stuck by us and I am enormously grateful for this.
I guess you know it better than me but especially in France I knew people who were living for one band (yours….). Can you imagine such things?
That’s a humbling thought.
Maybe it’s me but there are of course the post-punk/wave influences but I always thought your music sounds like the one from a lonely troubadour. I guess it’s no coincidence you covered Cat Stevens once…
Cat Stevens was something my sister played and Simon and I (being her younger brothers) were exposed to this from an early age. Lady d’Arbanville (the cover version) was an idea of Simon’s that I am not sure today was a good idea. It was an interesting project as I find re working other people’s music a challenge and the process sparked off lots of other ideas that became the whole of the album ‘farewell to the shade’ (1989). So as a catalyst it was useful but maybe we were better off leaving Lady d’Arbanville off the album. I know the German record label removed it for fear of religious reprisals.
I always thought it was funny (or tragic?) but if you compare the huge following in France, it’s like England almost never cared about you…
This has become something of a myth. We did quite well in England but decided quite early on that we preferred playing in mainland Europe (and later America). The british have always liked us but not in the numbers of other countries purely because we stopped touring England as the experience isn’t good. Ask any band in the UK how they feel about touring in England and I think you will get a similar reaction. Nobody likes touring here it crushes your soul.
I guess your neighbour must be surprised if you told him you’re some kind of star in Paris!
Yes I’m always telling people in the street ”you don’t know who I am but I am a star in paris!”. They just step over me sometimes giving me 10 pence and a pitiful expression of sadness.
“When the rains come” is a perfect album, let me be clear, but wasn’t it a risk for a band as yours? I mean, Justin, some love the band for its guitarsound…
Its not perfect by a long way. It was a good experiment and a learning process that I have found to be both positive and negative. I never played the acoustic before the project and yes you may be right people don’t want to hear me playing the acoustic guitar but I think the interpretations are (I hope) interesting and bring something to old original ideas. The space that we created is very positive for the voice so in many ways it’s Simon’s album.
After “Silver Soul” you took a long break and I always thought that you never would come back….
We didn’t spilt like most bands do just to reform some years later for money. Personal circumstances made it impossible to work as a group so we went underground. Then after time we re thought what we were doing and decided that continuing was what we wanted to do. I’m not pleased with Silver Soul as an album so I am pleased we didn’t stop there.
Never got tired of all that touring, I mean I suppose you saw it all.
Not really in 30 years we have done just under 400 shows. That isn’t that many. Most bands do that in about 5 years. I suppose it has been a positive thing not ‘over-touring’. It still feels like we ‘mean’ what we do rather than acting and I think people, certainly AATT people can see through acting. They like to see the soul.
It’s a difficult question, Justin, but as I’m a long time fan I wanna ask anyway. I know you changed musically but what do you think from your 80’s and early 90’s stuff?
I am pleased it was varied.The first album and Virus meadow sound a bit like different bands. From there I think we developed a style and were aware of not overdoing that style. A lot of bands from that time find a formula that works for them and understandably stick to this method until they have exhausted it by which time their audience tires of the sound repeating itself. That is probably why we experimented around the Klaxon (1993/94) and came up with a different approach which exhausted itself at the end of Silver Soul (1998).
Do you think And Also The Trees makes heavy music (I mean it in terms like heavy for the mind….).
Never thought of it as heavy. It isn’t a bad term. I always hoped it was not superficial.