Having already successfully completed a UK tour previewing the new album ”ËStand Upright In A Cool Place’ in its entirety, Dodgy are back again for a February tour showcasing songs like “What Became Of You” & “Tripped & Fell”
The Brit-Pop era defining band have come up with what is probably one of their finest albums to date, Mathew Priest talks to Louder Than War about getting back together & the new album…
LTW: New album…. first Dodgy album since 2001 “Real Estate”Â, so for a start what’s it like getting back to an album together…
MP: Well “Real Estate” wasn’t kinda Dodgy in a way, it was Dodgy by name but that was all really, we had a different line up, it was just me and Andy from the original line up & just struggled on really, Andy doesn’t really like me saying we struggled on because he’s proud of that time and there were some good songs written but it wasn’t Dodgy in what we know, what the fans know, and they certainly let us know that…ha ha.
But it was a good time, we had to do it because me & Andy were a bit pissed off when Nige left the band, it was like “hang on, we really like this band” we wanted to carry on, so this is the 1st album since 1996’s “3 Piece Suite” that the 3 of us have made together.
LTW: The inevitable question I suppose, but what was it like getting back with the full line up again, did that connection come back pretty much straight away, as a band…
MP: It’s great, you don’t realise the chemistry you all bring to it until you have that situation where you have 10 yrs apart, playing with other people, other music, then you get back & realise you really did have some thing, its all those things they say, its a telepathy, its an un-said thing, its knowing what each others going to do & what it ultimately comes down to is trust- I know they’re going to do the right thing, when I’m on the kit I know what the bass & other parts are going to do and its amazing,…and there’s no one who sounds like Dodgy, I’m not saying were unique & better then anyone else, I’m just saying that sound the 3 of us make is unique to the 3 of us…its took the time apart to realise that’s what it is, its special…
LTW: Very much, its like there’s a “Dodgy” tune for most people as you’ve spread it about through the yrs, with the pop-pier stuff like “Staying Out..” to the more darker stuff on the albums…
MP: Yeah, that’s it, we weren’t necessary 1 of those Marmite bands where you either loved us or hated us, I think genuinely people did loves us though, you know….but others would say “yeah, there alright” ha ha, we’d get comments from people saying “well we did like that 1, but we didn’t like that next tune you did” things like that, you know.
But that was kinda the same thing as in the band, there were certain tunes Andy didn’t like, “Good enough” is a fine example- I really had to fight to get that song through, Nige would be like “its alright, nice little pop song” but Andy “its a bit light, its a bit poppy, we’ve got darker tunes than that, more guitar based stuff”….but I’m “yeah, but its a fuckin hit”..ha ha, & it was.
LTW: That’s maybe one of the things that makes you as a band, the fact that there’s each members influences all in there, mixing it up…
MP: Very much, because were all from very different backgrounds, Andy’s a big rock fan, Led Zep, Hendrix & that kind of stuff, Nige is a punk through & through & I came from the Mod thing, I was always really into Soul, The Faces, The Who & so on but we all come together with the Who & Led Zeppelin, we all shared some common ground but we all learnt from each other as well, plus through time you pick up on all sorts, like Prog rock, Genesis- it took me yrs to appreciate that, you know, me & Nige got into Hip Hop and I really liked the dance music I was listening to at the time, so we never wanted to play just 1 style of music.
LTW: Always got the feeling you lads were real good mates and quite a close band, but it was the funeral of a close friend that brought you lads back together wasn’t it…..
MP: It was the death of our lighting technician Andy Moore who died 4 yrs ago, a really great guy & real funny. he actually had a testimonial before he passed because he knew he was on his way & it was there we all met up again, he rounded us up & said “come on, get back together, what you playing” so that was the catalyst & from there we started talking again & keeping in contact- He actually passed away on the 1st day of our rehearsals for the reunion tour which made it all the more poignant.
Bizarrely enough I’ve noticed other bands and their reason why they’re getting back together again is the same, obviously The Stone Roses & even Liverpool band Space who we know as well…the death of their drummer brought them together & it is those big moments in life that reunite people & makes you realise how petty it can all be.
LTW: The album’s called “Stand Up Right in a Cool Place”…nice title…
MP: I was listening to a radio 4 documentary earlier this yr while we were putting the album together, & it was about this guy who went around the world asking different/random people their meaning of happiness, so he’d go to Bolton & speak to a shop fitter say, & ask “what makes you happy”, he went all over to places like India asking religious hermits, all sorts.
But the best answer was a druid who said “well I’ve found the secret to happiness on the side of a bottle of bleach here” & it read “stand up right in a cool place” straight away I liked that, I’m having it, so we had the title but also came up with others, but we just kept coming back to that- and it can mean what ever you want it to, we just loved it so we had it for the album title.
LTW: How about Influences Matt, after these yrs apart have you & the band brought in new & different tastes in music, what’s influenced this album…
MP: Well the thing is Nige is always listening to new music & searching out new stuff, & he sort of came back with a un-healthy obsession for Townes Van Zandt, as well as The Band & a few others, fantastic artists, so that’s in there but modern wise its bands like Fleet Foxes, Midlake & bands like that, they’ve been doing stuff that we’ve always loved you know, the harmonies, Beach Boys, CN&Y, so when you find a band who are not only trendy & cool but doing that its great.
Plus bands that have pushed us to do want we want to do, the more experimental stuff like Animal Collective- when you can just hear them pushing it, pushing the boundaries & were thinking “yeah, we can do that” you know what I mean, lets make the album we wanna make so that why we ultimately ended up producing & recording it out selves & trusting our selves to do the right thing which we did so we’ll live & die by this album, its as good as we could of made it, it just feels like we as a band, as players were greater than the sum of the parts- when we come together as individuals it works so well.
LTW: What are the group talking about on this album?
MP: There’s some tunes on there about how we see the big major institutions we’ve all been brought up with, like the Media & the Church, & them telling fuckin lies all the time. Dealing in mistrust & dishonesty yet they leave the people to try & work it out for them selves, they don’t give a fuck about the people- they just want the us to go to their church & buy their products….& its left so many struggling to get by. So Yeah…theirs a lot of “them & us” on this album.
LTW: Have you always covered those types of issues in Dodgy?
MP: Yeah, course…I mean “Staying out for the Summer”Â became a bit of an anthem in 95 because its about leaving a factory, which is what Nige did,its about taking a chance & leaving that job, to go & try & do some thing with your life- he worked at Austin Rover on the line & the older guys used to say to him” your a young kid, just get out…this will kill you staying here”, so yeah, we’ve always stood up for the things we believe in.
We were 1 of the 1st bands to support the Merseyside dock workers, we got involved in Charter 88 which got people involved & interested in politics, try & get them to take notice & vote- not that I think that works & we’d do that any more. Then there’s Bosnia, we went over there 3 times to play during the trouble there, when “Good Enough” got in the top 5 at number 4 in the charts, that week were out in Bosnia doing a few things like helping to set up the Pavarotti Music Centre, so yeah though were not overtly political like Billy Bragg & artists like that,…purely because we don’t want to get into some big political discussion then find out we don’t know what were fucking talking about…ha ha but as I say, if we believe in it we’ll sat something, stand up for it.
LTW: The album was recorded & mixed in Texas, what took you out there to put it together…
MP: As we were sort of getting it together we were thinking how we could release the album and one of our favourite labels is Bella Union; Simon Raymonde, he’s just got so many bands on there, Fleet Foxes, Midlake & John Grant, so I just sent him a e-mail asking if he’s give it a listen & he said quite rightly “well look, Bella wouldn’t necessarily sign Dodgy because we don’t really do established acts, its our job to find an act, find new music”, anyhow I sent him the demo’s & he got back straight away & said “I really didn’t expect it to be that good, the quality is amazing, let me think about”.
When I told my mate who’s been managing bands for ages he said “Fuck I’ve been sending him stuff for yrs and he never gets back to me”..ha ha, so next he told us to contact this guy, Matt Pence who mixed John Grant & Midlake, to see what he says, as a result he got back, loved it & we went out to Texas for a few days to see how it all goes, see if everyone’s happy, & he did it, gave it a great sound, brought some depth to it & pulled out the inner Majesty of it all that even we didn’t know was in there.
LTW: Noticed the dates for the up-coming tour the band playing venues that aren’t the normal circuit venues, more intimate…sounds a good night…
MP: Yeah, playing the more theatre type places where people can sit down you know, the album & new material is more mid-paced so we wanted it to be where you can sit down & experience the show more than the stood up moving about type, but also you know where trying to avoid the Academy type thing…for the time being anyway, I don’t think its a nice experience really to go see a band at the Academy these days, the beer’s expensive, they heard you in & heard you out, you know, but saying that its hard because in some cities that’s all they have so you have to be quite clever in how you do it- I just think for people who go to a gig & have to pay fuckin ÃÂ£4:50 for a pint of beer is bollocks, absolute bollocks because you want to have, like 3 pints & it ends up a very dear night, and ÃÂ£30 quid for a ticket, what..! Then you probably have to get a taxi home, you looking at ÃÂ£50 quid to go watch a band, who can afford that. Its just so corporate, money making… until we get to the point where we have to play an Academy or we can get to a point where we can dictate the price of beer (ha ha) then we’ll try & avoid them.
On this short tour in February were trying to play some of the cities we missed last time touring, Birmingham, Newcastle, Leeds, Oxford Liverpool & other cites, and yeah, would love to get out on the Fest circuit next yr, Europe, but that’s the whole mad thing about music, if it takes off, word of mouth, starts taking off on the blogs it could happen, it deserves to, its good enough,…its the best album we’ve done so if the people are up for it then were up for it, were ready.
Dodgy Tour dates:
Jan 11 Arlington Art Centre, Newbury
Jan 12 Artrix, Bromsgrove
Feb 17 The Box, Newtown
Feb 18 Eric’s, Liverpool
Feb 22 Bush Hall, London
Feb 25 Eiger, Leeds
Feb 26 Bullingdon, Oxford
May 19 Lakefest 2012, Tewkesbury
Jul 06 The Court Theatre, Tring
Jul 07 Nibley Festival, Dursley