, November 9th, 2012 08:11
Ahead of tonight's set at the Thrill Jockey 20th anniversary show, we catch up with Simon Price to talk about his kandodo project
While Simon Price's prolific work as the singer and guitarist in Bristol stoner rock band The Heads was marked by its propulsive rhythms and fuzzed riffery, his recent output as kandodo couldn't be more of a departure. Catalysed by a childhood growing up in Zambia and Malawi, and inspired by the sweeping, open terrains of those countries, Price's first, self-titled album as kandodo was filled with delicate but steadfast soundscapes, wrought from Mogwai-esque matrixes of arpeggiated guitar and sound beds of synth and sparse percussion.
We talked to Price at the time of the album's release - read our interview here - but caught up with him again ahead of his slot at tonight's Thrill Jockey 20th anniversary show to talk about the new album, performing kandodo material live and the importance of wildernesses.
Have you been working on any new material for the kandodo project? Last time we talked, you mentioned that your work in progress was more uptempo and confident - is it still like that or has it morphed?
Simon Price: I've more or less finished the second kandodo album (k2), just need to decide on a final track listing/order and cut it down to album size. It's a bit less dreamy but hopefully will still envelop the listener, some quite long tracks, maybe a bit more fuzz.
Do you feel that now you’ve released the kandodo record, you’ve encased your experience of living in Africa musically, or is there still more to come from that time and place?
SP: I guess I've addressed it with the name and track titles, it was also my youth so it will always be a formative influence. You never forget the first times.
We touched on this before, but it's interesting that there's an imprint of Zambia/Malawi in the names and artwork of the record, yet not - seemingly - in the music. Was it ever a consideration to produce music that incorporated Zambian/Malawian musical tradition?
SP: To me African music is about the rhythms and simple repeated melodies, I remember watching drummers taking off, in its purest form all very primal, nothing too complicated but it moved you. To get a tune out of one string is a beautiful thing. I'd like to think my music drew a little bit on that.
You also spoke about taking inspiration from anywhere “wild and wooly” - why do you think sense of place is such a compelling inspiration? Equally, are any new places - wild and wooly or otherwise - influencing new material?
SP: Wild places made you feel alive, nature strips away the layers of comfort that man exists in. It touches the heart. I was in a castle up north (Chillingham, Northumberland), went into the dungeon and felt fear and doom, it freaked me out a bit but made me wonder. A bit like meeting a wild animal and realising we're only creatures ourselves. I love it when the plane you're flying in breaks through the clouds and an endless tranquility of blues greets you. Up with the gods. Sat in my back yard, headphones on, staring at the stars is where I like to roadtest new tracks.
What have you been listening to for new material - are Eno and Neu! still writ large or have any other artists emerged for you?
SP: Newer artists inevitably draw on the past masters, new material doesn't seem to move me as much as the old, there is some good new gear out there but it sounds like they like the same stuff I do, best to go back to the source.
You were also in the progress of figuring out how to perform kandodo material live - have you cracked it? What’s likely to be the set-up?
SP: I tried to play to loops but that was annoying and frustrating. I'd asked Wayne, the Heads drummer, if he'd like to overdub some stuff on my recordings then he suggested helping out live. I'd never intended to play out, it was more a sofa project. He's going to drum and play keyboards, I'll play my guitar. We'll be doing live versions of some tracks off the kandodo album and a couple of new things we've worked on. It'll still be quite minimalist in vibe but hopefully reasonably psyched.
Finally, are there any plans for a new Heads record afoot?
SP: Not at present. There's some reissues and out-takes coming soon, nothing new. I feel we still have an album left in us, shame not to round it all off.