In 2007 Aereogramme split up. To many this came as a massive surprise with the band having just released 3rd album ‘My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go’ to widespread critical acclaim. From the outside looking in the future seemed bright for the band. Then all of a sudden it was all over. Nearly 3 years have passed and front man Craig B is making small steps back into the spotlight with his new project The Unwinding Hours. With fellow Aereogramme member Iain Cook in tow, a self titled debut album will be released on February 15th through Chemikal Underground. Craig has kindly taken time out of his busy schedule to look back but more importantly look forward in this the 11th TSP interview. You can check out the wonderful sounds of The Unwinding Hours here. Enjoy.
TSP: I guess the first question I have relates to Aereogramme. It has been nearly 3 years since the band split up. Certainly at the time it felt like the split came just as big things were on the horizon for the band, but that’s obviously just the view of an outsider looking in. How difficult was it to walk away after all those years? Did you feel a massive sense of disappointment or relief, or a mix of both, when it was all said and done?
CB: It was certainly a mix of both for everyone. We had been touring consistently since 2001 but not really getting further forward. The best example i can give is that we had toured the US four times before we travelled to the US once more to tour “My heart has a wish…”. In Seattle, After the support band finished, there must have been around ten people in the audience. We started to realize it just wasn’t working. Everyone had made massive sacrifices to commit 100% to the band and they finally caught up with us. Don’t get me wrong though, i don’t regret anything but splitting up was the right thing to do.
TSP: What have you been up to in the past 3 years and what were the reasons behind your decision to form The Unwinding Hours.
CB: I’ve just been working away at my job and enjoying the experience of a different kind of life. I wasn’t interested in starting up another band but i still wanted to write and record music so every week or so i would go down to Iain’s studio and record some demos for a few hours. We slowly started collaborating on the songs but since we didn’t have any goal in mind it became quite a liberating and relaxed experience.
TSP: It’s a sort of, but not, comeback in a sense with Iain Cook from Aereogramme also onboard. How has it been back working together again on the new record? Do you miss working with a whole group or has being a 2 piece been a positive experience so far?
CB: Iain joined aereogramme full time on our second album but i had worked with him for years before that in previous bands. I think we have always played off each other well because i have a severe lack of technical ability but i’ve always been able to write songs. Iain has always been able to hone the ideas i have into something much more cohesive. I keep on reminding him that he has been polishing my turds for quite a while now.
TSP: From the stuff on myspace it sounds like a much more acoustic approach has been adopted with The Undwinding Hours. Was there a deliberate attempt to ensure this record was something different to things you’d done before or did things just happen quite naturally?
CB: You need to hear the whole album. Its really not acoustic at all. I think i’m too close to tell if it’s different to aereogramme though. I approached the song writing in the same way as i used to anyway. We will have to wait and see what people think.
TSP: Was it a case that you had a whole load of songs written and you just wanted to get them out there?
CB: Not at all. I actually have to wait until songs “arrive”. I felt no inspiration at all for over a year and then it all came flooding back and i slowly wrote the songs bit by bit over 2008. There is only one song that was recorded as an acoustic demo while aereogramme were still going. Everything else was a fresh start.
TSP: Obviously, despite a change in pace, it’s inevitable that there will still be great expectation amongst Aereogramme fans regarding the new record. It’s certainly on my list of ‘must have’ records for 2010. Are you nervous about how the record will be received both by fans and the press?
CB: I don’t feel nervous, no. If there was a lot riding on the success of this album then maybe i would but we started out making sure we weren’t going to go down the same route of chasing success or an ever allusive fan base. Obviously i would love as many people to like it as possible but i’m very relaxed about the whole thing. I’m incredibly proud of the record and it’s exactly what we wanted to make. All i can hope for is that others like it. The minute you start making music to please anyone else, you start to go down a very dubious creative path.
TSP: The title of the last Aereogramme record “My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go” taken from William Peter Blatty’s book the Exorcist was quite a prophetic title, given that most fans of the band must have felt this way when you announced your split. This time round you’ve gone for a self titled record. How important are lyrics, song names and album titles to you? (Is this a stupid question? I can’t decide so I’ve left it in answer if you think it’s ok!!)
CB: It’s not a stupid question but i don’t have much to say other than the songs are all deeply personal to me and so i try and work on the lyrics and titles as much as i can but i don’t think they have any deep meaning to them. They are just very important to me.
TSP: Writing a music blog and running a promotion night I tend to focus a lot on grass roots music in Scotland. What bands, if any, are exciting you at the moment, is there anyone you’d suggest that people keep an eye out for?
CB: Findo Gask, Copy Haho, RM Hubbert, Olympic Swimmers, Holy Mountain, Sparrow and the workshop, Happy Particles.
TSP: Taking a less local focus, what’s on your stereo at the moment?
CB: Mount Eerie “Wind’s Poem” has been played a lot recently. It’s a very interesting album. It’s incredibly atmospheric and eclectic.
TSP: The internet has obviously had a massive impact on the possibility for grassroots musicians to get their music heard. However, at the same time it has also made music more readily available for free. You often said that Aereogramme faced a constant financial struggle as a band. Do you think it’s easier or harder nowadays for musicians to make a living?
CB: I’m not sure i’m the best person to ask. The best people to ask are probably bands like Twin Atlantic, The Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit etc… They are the bands that are touring all the time and i’d love to know if they are making any kind of living. They deserve to because of all the work they put into it but i’m not so sure it’s that simple. Off the top of my head, unless people are buying the records, bands at that level usually make enough money playing live just to cover the cost of touring. Labels are certainly finding it harder to make money and so it would make sense that bands are as well. What i would be concerned about is that it will be harder for labels and bands to take risks if the only thing to make money is chart fodder.
TSP: What are your plans for 2010. Will there be a full tour when the album is released?
CB: Probably not a full tour but we are working on arranging dates right now. I still love playing live.
TSP: Finally, if you could give young musicians out there one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
CB: Never write music for anyone other than yourself but be realistic about what kind of music you are making and how many people it could reach. This will give you a fair idea if you are going to make a living out of it. Oh, and don’t be a dick.