THE BEGINNING

Last month we interviewed Ghostpoet. He left these queries behind for The Big Pink.

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LAST MONTH WE INTERVIEWED GHOSTPOET ABOUT HIS STELLAR YEAR. HE LEFT THESE QUERIES BEHIND FOR THE BIG PINK

I’m a big, big fan of ‘A Brief History of Love’. What can people expect from your next record, ‘Future This’?

“I think if ‘A Brief History of Love’ was a personal record set in the past, ‘Future This’ is us making a record that isn’t such a personal statement about one certain time, so we tried to broaden our horizons, lyrically. And the production style is a new way of working for us – we worked a lot with samples as opposed to drum machines and guitars.”

Why were all aspects of love the main theme on the first album?

Well, we didn’t start out wanting to make a concept record, as it were, but once we’d compiled all of the songs together we realised what they were about and how they seemed to encompass all aspects of love. It wasn’t a very pleasant record, lyrically, and it had a lot of bitterness in it, and heartbreak, and shallowness, and it’s kind of a weird record to write first time around. I think the reason why it came out like that was we’d both come out of our first deep relationships with people at the same time, and we were burnt out by it, and, I guess, slightly obsessed.”

How do you feel about the record now?

“The priority is always new music, for us. To go out and play the new songs, having been locked away working on them, our little treat is to go out and play them live. I think it’s good to bury some songs; for them to live in a certain moment in time. That was what was tough about the last record – going out for a year and a half playing those songs that were very much one part of your life, and you’ve moved on – be it socially, romantically or whatever – and then to go back every night and play these songs about a time you don’t care to revisit, it’s really weird. Now we’re concentrating on the new songs we’ve got. There’s a couple – like, ‘Velvet’, we can always come back to that one, because it’s bigger than the feeling we had at that time. Or it sums everything up in one song, rather than over the course of an album.”

What is the creative process like for you guys?

“It always works relatively the same kind of way. We start with a sample, although before we’d start with, not a noise thing, but we’d start with a keyboard or guitar, putting it through effects, looking for some way to fuck it up, and then we’d listen back to it and find a loop within it and build it up from that. That’s how we did the wall of sound thing on the first record, although on the new album we wanted it to sound cleaner so we used a lot of computer software to loop it, stretch it, delay it, so it’s got a constant movement to it, rather than a four second loop.”

Where you surprised by the critical acclaim you’ve received so far and does it put pressure on what you do next?

“Doing the first album we were oblivious to the pressure of it. We were just riding a wave. It was exciting that people wanted to write about us and exciting that people wanted to play us on the radio. And then writing this record, we didn’t feel any pressure because we had a point to prove, we knew what we wanted to do. We knew we wanted to make a record that was fun to play live – that was the backbone of ‘Future This’. Now I’m starting to feel a bit of pressure more than before, because I haven’t really thought about what anyone thinks about it until now. The hardest thing about writing your second record is not knowing what you’re going to do, but the idea of this record has been born in the back of a tour bus, with us saying, ‘I wish it was more upbeat’, ‘I wish it was faster’, ‘I wish the BPM was up’. Once you know that you want to do something like up the pace, you know what you’re doing so you can just do it.”

Did a multi-million sync deal from Domino’s pizza ever appear in the post? What is your opinion on your music being synced?

“We’re still waiting for Domino’s to call – I’ve definitely called them a lot more than they’ve called me in the last couple of years. I’d like to think that when I’ve put my feet up and retired, and I’m 50 years old or something, the phone will ring and it’ll be Robbie, who I wouldn’t have spoken to for 15 years, and he’ll say, ‘Domino’s have called and they want to give us 20 million pounds each’. But I’ve got no problem with syncing music – it’s all part of selling a record nowadays. A lot of bands say, ‘Oh, you’ll never put us on a sync’, but a lot of those bands have already sold a million records. But it’s just another way of getting your songs heard, because there’s only so many radio stations – it’s a different market. I mean, we did one for a computer game, and I’m like, ‘cool, I like computer games, that’s alright with me’, but there’s people who look at it and say, ‘yeah, but there’s computer chips in those games that are made by underage street kids in India’, you know what I mean? There’s always a way of damning everything. If you’d buy the product, I think it’s fine. I don’t think we’d do anything that’s got obvious evil connotation, like a right wing party or oil company, but pizza, computer games, Alka Seltzer – it’s all fine with me.”

What is your definition of success?

“It’s a good question. I think success is whatever you want it to be. I think it comes from the heart rather than the wallet, probably. Personally, success to me isn’t selling a million records or having a fast car or anything; I think it’s more fundamental, like love. If you’ve got a wife and kids, that’s probably success. I know it sounds cheesy, but that’s true success.”

If the name The Big Pink had been taken what would you have called yourselves?

“We had a few ropey names flying around. We wanted to be called ‘The colour something’, so our myspace page name is The Black Medallion. That name lasted about two days. We always though Big Black was the best name of all time. But that was taken so we went down to The Big Pink.”

What was it like to record at the legendary Electric Lady Studios and was there anything that you would have changed if you could go back to that time?

“It was amazing, and at a time when everything was going well and we had a bit of money, but looking back on it, we didn’t need a big studio in New York or anywhere – we just needed a room with a lot of instruments in it. So I wish we’d saved a bit of money, but I wouldn’t take away the experience we had in New York. That couple of months was really good fun and our friends came over and we had this apartment in Soho, and it was two months of magical thinking and living, and it was really good fun. Living the dream, I suppose. We’re in New York, we’re recording a record, we’re in a band that people what to hear about – we had a great time, and I wouldn’t take the memory for anything, and that is far stronger than the money we would have saved if we’d done it elsewhere.”

If you could use one of your song’s to explain to a visiting alien species what sums up your sound, which would you choose?

“I guess I would choose ‘77’ off the new record. I think it shows how we like to make quite big beats. It’s got quite a brash, industrial hip hop beat to it, but then it’s got an overlying melancholia, and I think we get it right when we fuse melancholia with crushing beats, which we’ve got between ‘77’ and ‘Velvet’.”

Originally published in issue 34 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. January 2011.

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