Thursday, 6 September 2012

INTERVIEW: Tiny from Ultrasound

It's been 13 long years since we last heard an Ultrasound album. Many thought that 1999's sprawling 'Everything Picture' was the last thing we were to ever hear from this wonderful band, but in 2010 they reunited and began recoding new material. The result is the brand new album 'Play For Today', released via Fierce Panda on the 24th September. Frontman Tiny talks exclusively to Mr Scott:Music about getting back together, their experiences of music industry, and of course that superb new album...

You're not like Blur who never really split up in the first place and since they started playing together again can't decide whether to make an album or not. As soon as people heard Ultrasound were back we also heard that a new album was coming. When you got back together, did it immediately feel like a new album was meant to happen? "We felt there would have been no point otherwise. We didn’t just want to be a tribute band to ourselves, which seems to happen with many bands that reform. Nostalgia is a dangerous drug. My belief is that if the magic is still there then it should be utilised. We still have plenty of ideas and we still enjoy what we do."

Is Richard still the main songwriter in the band or have this been a more collaborative effort? "There is always collaboration on every song we do, whether it is Richard’s song or mine. The initial idea may come from Richard or me, but it’s a collaborative effort to make it sound the way it does. I think generally there is more of a group synthesis now. We seem to be more in tune with each other."


For those people who don't know, what did you and the other members of the band get up to during the twelve year gap in between the two albums? "I formed a group called Siren and played lots of gigs and did lots of recordings which weren’t released. I also collaborated with Blue Apple Boy on their “Salient” album, co-writing 2 songs and singing on the rest. I bought a computer and learnt how to use it, worked as an engineer in a recording studio, and got married. 

Richard signed to Beggars Banquet with his new band The Somatics, releasing 2 albums and touring extensively. He also worked as an engineer in a recording studio and contributed guitar to Blue Apple Boy, and Corinne Bailey Rae. He bought a barge and is currently in the process of restoring it.

Vanessa formed Sunshine Valley Dance Band with Andy Peace and Mark Refoy of Spiritualized/Slipstream and Northern Soul band The Soulwinners with members of Dodgy. She meanwhile worked as a music teacher at a school in East London, before becoming a Music Advisor for the L.E.A.

Andy briefly played drums for Baxter Dury and is a homeowner."


'Play For Today' is coming out on Fierce Panda records. How did that come about? "We have always believed that, despite evidence to the contrary, somewhere out there in the filthy coke-sodden morass of desperate backslapping that is the music industry, there is one good man. A man with passion, dedication and a belief in the rejuvenative powers of rock and roll to entertain and effect change. That man is Simon Williams."

What can listeners expect from the album? "That’s a very hard one to answer, but I would hope for a multi-layered panorama that touches people with a sense of wonder, and questions their existence on matters personal and political, whilst also affirming their deeply held beliefs in love and the empathy the human race is famous for. There is also a brass band!"

I believe Vanessa does a lead vocal turn on one of the new tracks. Tell us a bit more about that... "Vanessa is a vocalist in her own right and has sung lead on some earlier songs. Glitterbox was written with Vanessa in mind as she has a more improvised soulful approach to music, incorporating a Lynch-ian sense of drama which lends itself very well to the lost soul with righteous indignation character in the song, seemingly vulnerable yet dangerous."


What do you think are the main differences between the Ultrasound of thirteen years ago and now? "We are more certain of our place as outsiders. A band out of time. We are more self-assured and confident in our abilities, and more comfortable taking risks and being the band we always wanted to be."

What have you learned from your experiences of the music industry? "The music industry doesn’t really exist. It’s just a bunch of people, most of whom got into it out of love for the music, but along the way have been corrupted by greed, or swayed by doubt and fear. For every Simon Cowell there is a Simon Williams. Stay true to who you are and why you are doing it and you can’t go wrong, although you probably won’t make any money with an attitude like that!"

Do you think this album would have turned out as good if it had been made just after the first one? "There is no way of knowing the answer to a question like that. The answer is probably no, because the people we are now have made this a more confident album, and a more enjoyable experience, and I think that is reflected in this music."

Thanks to Tiny for taking the time to answer my questions. More info about 'Play For Today' is HERE, the video to the new single 'Beautiful Sadness' is HERE, while you can listen to the album and read my review of it HERE

Buy 'Play For Today' from Amazon
Buy 'Play For Today' from HMV

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