On A Knife Edge: An Interview With Kavus Torabi

Kavus Torabi tells our man Matt Evans why he's a frustrated drummer, spills the information on his new Knifeworld EP Dear Lord, No Deal and talks about his time with the Cardiacs and The Monsoon Bassoon

Please permit, first, a personal note: My post-university doldrums in the late 1990s were musically bereft, with grunge having fizzled out, nu-metal being mostly a whiny lumpen bore, and very little of interest to be found in Britpop or its listless antecedents. Luckily, two bands came to my aural attention at roughly the same time, and supercharged my enthusiasm to absurd new levels that have yet to subside well over a decade later. One was Mogwai (an epiphany blogged about at excessive length here), the other came to me via a track played on John Kennedy’s show on XFM (in its pre-Capital days, before it mouldered to shite, employed Bob Geldof and started playing Jamiroquai. That’s Jamiroquai). The Monsoon Bassoon’s ‘Wise Guy’ was an extraordinary 7" single – five minutes of herky-jerky guitar pop, bafflingly intricate interlocking guitars, innumerable time changes, passages of crushing heaviness, stop-start absurdity and lush three-part male and female vocal harmonies, culminating in a lengthy instrumental math-rock/free-blowing woodwind meltdown. I stared at the radio, ecstatic, agog, then set about slavishly following this band. Over the next couple of years, it became apparent that they were part of a vibrant and communal – if fairly niche – London scene, populated by the likes of Foe, Art of Burning Water, Ursa, Rothko, Camp Blackfoot, Max Tundra and Nought. They were a motley collection, their styles disparate, but shared, perhaps, a certain exploratory ethos.

All this time, what I was only barely aware of was the existence of a pioneering, unique and deeply cultish band called Cardiacs – not only were these strange and lovely people a major influence on my new favourite band, but their exalted leader Tim Smith produced the Monsoon Bassoon’s first (and, thus far, only) album, I Dig Your Voodoo. Discovering Cardiacs through the Bassoon is entirely badger-about-sparrow, but nonetheless, that’s how I stumbled across a whole new world of unfettered deviant joy that has shaped my life ever since.

Of the Monsoon Bassoon’s three highly adept and captivating frontpeople, guitarist/vocalist Kavus Torabi was the visual focus – unfeasibly tall and wiry, with a big ol’ mop of omni-directionally wayward hair, resembling Buzz Osbourne reincarnated as a young spruce tree. Following the premature implosion of the Bassoon (of which more anon), he found himself joining Cardiacs (ditto) and playing with a whole bunch of bands on the fringes of UK rock music – Chrome Hoof, Guapo, North Sea Radio Orchestra, even the Medieval Baebes, by crikey. However, Knifeworld is Kavus’s most-favoured musical baby – a long-in-gestation solo project, now blossoming into a full band. Both on the 2009 debut album Buried Alone: Tales of Crushing Defeat and the new EP Dear Lord, No Deal, Knifeworld flaunts all of the characteristic Torabi features – complex, winding structures, daunting musicianship and vast ambition, but with a primary focus on strong melodies, fizzing energy and, well, pop. Yes, it’s prog, but it’s a strident, irresistible prog you’ll sing in the bath.

The Quietus rudely invaded Kavus’s space to drill his brainbox about his life, work and assorted kipple, as well as the ongoing efforts to raise funds for Tim Smith after his debilitating stroke in 2008.

Who or what first got you into music?

Kavus Torabi: Brian Setzer, Stray Cats. My parents weren’t really into music, and there wasn’t much around the house. I think it was seeing them on Saturday morning TV. It was just, ‘Oh god, this is what I wanna be. I’ve got to be this guy.’ ‘Runaway Boys’ was the first single I got.

Was it always the guitar that appealed to you?

KT: Actually, I think I started trying to play the drums. I say drums… I tried to make a snare out of a biscuit tin and cling-film. But I wasn’t really any good, so I moved onto the guitar. To be honest, I’ve always wished I was a drummer. I’ve always envied drummers. They’re the most important member of any band. I’m much more interested than drums than I am guitar. I could happily reel off 30 drummers I’m really into, whereas guitarists I’d struggle to find five that I want to listen to for any great deal of time. I can recognise a drummer straight away – if Dale Crover just hit a cymbal I’d be able to tell you it was him hitting it. But guitarists generally all sound the same to me. I’m really a frustrated drummer.

So why do you stick with guitar?

KT: Just because of the songwriting thing. I adore playing guitar, I love it. And I think of it as a songwriting tool. If I have an idea on the guitar, if I sit down and apply myself to it, I can kind of do it within a fixed amount of time. But with drums, there’s no way I’d be able to play the stuff I like. I don’t have the co-ordination for the drums.

So drumming is more of an innate skill, whereas anyone can learn to play guitar…?

KT: I kind of think so. My favourite guitar players are also my favourite songwriters. I’m not that bothered about solos so much, and if they do play solos then they tend to write really nice tunes. So I really like Andy Partridge from XTC and Fred Frith. I’ve never been bothered about being a lead guitar player, someone who just twiddled away.

Are you more melodically inclined?

KT: Yeah. Even if that melody is dissonant, it’s still a melody. I don’t mind playing solos, but they tend to be worked out. I’m not really a soloist in that respect. I wish I could play piano. I’m a frustrated keyboard player as well. If you approach songwriting from a keyboard, the results can be a bit purer. You’re not falling into patterns that you’re used to. I tend to come up with exactly what it is I’m thinking, as I’m not put off my familiarity with the instrument.

Do you write on keyboard now?

KT: Occasionally. There’s a song on the next album that was written on keyboard, but I’m a rubbish player. I tend to just work out how to play the first two or three seconds, record it, then do the next bit. I’m not a very fluent player at all. The only instrument I can really play is guitar, and even then many would argue that I’m struggling with that. I’ve got such a funny style. It’s quite difficult to shoehorn into normal bands.

Yeah, but who wants to be in a normal band?

KT: I know, really!

Speaking of which, I was a big Monsoon Bassoon fan back in the day.

KT: Tell you what, if it wasn’t for John [Fowers, TMB manager] it’s unlikely you’d ever have heard that band. We were such a bunch of fucking flakes. He was just wonderful, to believe in us. There wasn’t much money around, but there was his enthusiasm and his drive. We were such a strange bunch. It was amazing. I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t met him…

The Bassoon made a bit of a splash, even nabbing a couple of ‘single of the week’ accolades in NME. Do you feel the band had run its course when you split up, or was there more music in you?

KT: At the time, I felt it had run its course. It’s quite hard to explain what it was like in that band, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. There was such a magic to it, especially when we were writing the album. We kind of lived together. Me and Dan [Chudley, guitar/vocals] were best mates and we had been for years – we saw each other every day, we were playing together and writing together every day. The band was always rehearsing, so we sounded like a band that was just rehearsing all the time. When you’re like that, you can get away with murder, arrangement-wise, as you all know what each other can do.

But by the time we split up, the magic had really gone. Things were a bit sour in the band. Jim [Keddie] the drummer had left. He’d left a few times before, but then left for the last time. Then Laurie [Osborne] the bass player – who is now, curiously, a very successful dubstep producer under the name of Appleblim – was getting very sick of it. It was just getting to that point where I was thinking, ‘You know what, the magic’s gone,’ which it had.

In retrospect, what we really needed to do was to take six months off, do what we had to do and come back to it. But at the time I wasn’t thinking like that. At the time it was like ‘We’ve got to get the second album done. It’s been two years since the last one, this is ridiculous.’ We had the whole album written, so at the time I though well, I’ll just carry on with Dan. It’s only now, ten years after we split up, that I look back at it and think, ‘God, we had a good thing going there.’ But I’m not one to wallow in nostalgia. The band couldn’t have survived the way it was – there was no money at all. That’s fine when you’re 21. But people just wanted to have a bit of freedom. It could be a bit hellish – we were just living it, living the band, it was a full-on thing. You couldn’t even go on holiday. What if you get a really good gig?! I can see that it was very restrictive for people. I don’t imagine ever being able to be in a band like that again. The way we sounded was born out the fact that all we did was that band. We were very, very rigorous about the way we worked – if anything sounded remotely like anything else then it got changed. It was really good fun, and we were extremely close people, but it was full-on, and that’s how we ended up with the results that we did.

But it’s funny, because me and Dan and Sarah [Measures, vocals/clarinet/flute] played together acoustically recently, we did ‘Wise Guy’ and ‘In the Iceman’s Back Garden’. Dan I have never really looked back – he lives in Cornwall now, and he was up in London so we were going to play a few songs. We just started playing ‘Iceman’. I hadn’t played that song since we split up, and neither had he. We rang Sarah, who was going to be doing the gig anyway with another band, and we said ‘Do you want to bring your clarinet up?’ It was curiously really emotional. Totally impromptu as well. It did make us think maybe we could do this again… but you know, I certainly don’t want to get bogged down in revisiting the past. But they’re great songs and it was really lovely to play them.

Will the rumoured second Monsoon Bassoon album ever surface?

KT: What is going to happen is that I’m going to do a boxset. There’ll be three CDs of studio recordings. Basically, I need three weeks of my life just to start archiving everything. I’ll be remastering the album for the first CD; the second CD will be the first EP, Redoubtable, and the B-sides and stuff we recorded with Tim Smith that never came out; and the third disc will be the fairly disastrous recording we did with now-famous producer Paul Epworth – it wasn’t that good, but if I can stand to listen to it again… – and lots of funny little experimental stuff that we recorded as well. Me and John have been talking about this – we want to do really extensive sleevenotes about where the all songs came from, and we’ve started collecting old photos and flyers and press releases. It’s quite good that we oversaw everything ourselves, as we’ve got all the masters and DATs and everything. Now that I’ve got this label [Believers Roast], we’ll do it at some point. But it’s just a matter of time now. Just a matter of finding those three weeks where we can sit down and get it all together. But it’s definitely gonna happen.

There’s loads of stuff that no one heard. When you’re a current band, when stuff was say six or seven months old, we’d already written newer songs, so it seems like old hat. There’s all these quality songs that just sit on the shelves, because it wasn’t representative of where we were at the time – we were just evolving so quickly. Listening back, you think ‘Jesus, we’ve got some really good recordings here.’ Hopefully I’ll find some time in the summer to do it.

There was quite a big gap between the end of the Bassoon and the first Knifeworld album.

KT: Believe it or not, the Knifeworld album was all written at the tail end of the Bassoon. I recorded all the drums in 2001, with the idea that straight after the Bassoon split I’d do what was effectively a solo album and then move on and do a new band with Dan, which we were doing. But then various things happened – Dan got quite busy, and we did this one band, Miss Helsinki, which didn’t last long, and then this other band, Authority, and then I joined Cardiacs and Guapo, so I was quite busy with them. Knifeworld just sat around, with nothing happening, until it got to the end of the 2000s, where I got this really good studio setup. I couldn’t move on until I’d exhumed this album I’d started a decade before, so I finished it all off. Although it came out as a new album – some of the recordings were newish – the songs were all from the Monsoon era. In fact, about three songs were written to be Monsoon songs. But for now, I’ve got that out of the way, so the new Knifeworld stuff is where I am now. I’ve moved on.

And now you’re a band rather than a solo project…

KT: Yeah! I still write everything, but I’ve got a stable band playing it now. The band is just amazing. The drummer, Khyam [Allami, ex-Art of Burning Water], is a really renowned oud player now.

Perhaps the only man in world history to have been feted by Folk Roots and the Guardian AND to have appeared onstage at Supersonic with Master Musicians of Bukkake…

KT: Yeah, I missed that because I was playing with Chrome Hoof in the library bar. Tatsuya Yoshida had played earlier, doing the Ruins Alone thing. I love him. He’s in my top 10. I love everything he does. Guapo played a gig with Koenjihyakkei last year, and that’s my favourite thing he’s done.

Absolutely, talk about bringing character to music through drumming…

KT: He’s brilliant. He seems to be always working. I’m envious in a way. I’d love to be always doing stuff like that. I’m sure his music must be a blueprint of what his mind is like, and that’s definitely something that’s a good thing in tunes. You’re just trying to get your mind out into notes.

Kind of like a reverse Rorschach test.

KT: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is! It’s reading you.

So what do the individual members of Knifeworld bring to the sound?

KT: Khyam’s the drummer, and I just love his drumming. So propulsive. He’s terrific, and really good with funny counting – in fact, he loves it! Craig [Fortnam], the bass player, is also the main composer behind North Sea Radio Orchestra. I’ve known him for years – he’s part of that Cardiacs lot. It’s the first time in a band where I don’t have to write the basslines. I just play him the tunes and say ‘Well, you know what to do,’ and he just comes up with these brilliant basslines. Chloe [Hetherington] and Emmett [Elvin] I know from Chrome Hoof. Emmett is the keyboard player, he’s terrific, and a great songwriter in his own right. Chloe’s wonderful – I always wanted to have a bassoon player in the band, and now we have one. Melanie [Woods] I’ve known for years. She used to play drums in Sidi Bou Said and also sang in Cardiacs.

When I put it together, I wanted these great musicians, but also people I could envisage getting on, people who aren’t going to have meltdowns or become really morose when they’re drunk or anything. It’s funny, putting together a band when you have a bit of experience. Beforehand, it was more like ‘Yeah, let’s get together, it’ll be groovy’. Now, I really value things like people who are good with punctuality. There’s a whole different set of variables I have to check off. Are they going to get on with people? Are they good drunks? Are they moaners? Do they tour well? I’d toured with them all and knew that it was going to work – and so far it’s been brilliant.

So what was the concept behind the new EP, if any?

KT: In terms of concept, because I’ve been working on the new album, I wanted a bit of a stopgap. I thought that I couldn’t just put out one EP, so I wanted to put out a couple of EPs just to have an excuse to do gigs and have some time to work on the album. I’m really fired up about the next record. It’ll be very different to the first one. I know what I’m doing a lot more in terms of recording and the production thing, and I’ve got the full band. It’s all written, and there are tunes on this album that are, I think, the best thing I’ve ever written. They’re really ambitious and just… better. Maybe I’ll do three EPs then put them together as another album, I don’t know… just to be busy, I think.

What’s the writing process? How do you come up with something like the 14-minute modular prog lunacy of ‘HMS Washout’, for example?

KT: That’s a funny one. It’s quite an ambitious one. It’s actually an old one – it was going to be on the first album but I couldn’t find a place for it. It was just too epic. Initially it was only about seven minutes long, but with this version we started working on it earlier this year and started to expand it – it kept getting bigger and bigger. I’ve never written a song that long before. It wasn’t a deliberate thing to write a long song, but sections just kept writing themselves.

It’s a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster. Some of it’s the original song, but then loads of new sections have grown this time. And I’ve never really gone so much down that – for want of a better phrase – sound-collagey thing. The first minute of that song is maybe 20 or 30 sounds all segued into each other to make that sort of atmos-y intro. I really enjoyed that, and I think the end result is amazing. It’s really the centrepiece of the EP. I’m really pleased with it. It’s a good marker – that’s possible now, so come the album I’ve got to up the ante a bit. I wasn’t expecting it to turn out quite the way it did, but now it has I’m thinking maybe I can beat that now.

Do you always feel like you have to top what you’ve done before? Are you competing against yourself?

Kind of. That was Kevin Shields’ thing with My Bloody Valentine. I read that reason that he didn’t do a follow-up to Loveless was that he didn’t think he could do anything better than that. I always thought that that was a really good way of working. Whether or not other people think that what you’ve done is better, I think it’s a good personal goal. Not a competition as such, but resting on your laurels, repeating yourself, seems like a very boring thing to do. The other thing is that if there’s never really been any money in it then there’s never an incentive to repeat something. It wasn’t like I Dig Your Voodoo or Buried Alone were such incredible financial successes that I thought I’d do another version of that.

Obviously, there’s a lot of intricate musical things going on, not only in that piece, but in almost everything you do. What purpose does complexity fulfil for you, psychologically speaking?

KT: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know that there’s a purpose. It’s hard talking about it without sounding like a real twat, but ultimately what I’m trying to do is to make whatever I’m hearing in my head physical with as few compromises as possible. As the tunes come to me, they sound very similar to how they end up. If anything, how they end up is always going to be compromised, because as you try to play it the ideas get moved around a bit. I kind of like the way things make me feel. When you hear two or three different tunes playing at the same time on top of each other, it makes me feel really nice.

The word I’d associate with it is ‘psychedelic’. If there was one word to describe myself that I’m comfortable with, its always been psychedelic. It doesn’t mean that you sound like the Pretty Things or Pink Floyd, it just means that it does that thing to your head. It’s always been for that sake, never for ‘Oh, I’ll be clever’. It always pisses me off when critics of any kind of idea going on, the put-down is ‘It’s just being clever for it’s own sake’, or ‘It’s not as clever as it thinks it is’. You read that about a lot of things. Cardiacs always used to get that. It’s just absolute bollocks! Why can’t it be clever? What’s so bad about being clever? Not that that’s the reason for doing it… But I don’t think that music is clever anyway, it just is what it is. And there’s no denying that some people like the sound of lots of weaving lines playing on top of each other – and I’m one of them. It’s a lovely sound, you know? The feeling it gives you is not going to be the same as a bass, a guitar and a vocal all playing in unison. And that’s fine too, if the tune’s great. That’s the best way I can articulate it – it just makes me feel really good.

I think of it as the pleasure of confusion. If you hear something and can’t quite grasp it in the moment then it becomes overwhelming. I for one enjoy that.

KT: Totally. And I think I enjoy it more before you actually figure out what’s going on, the chaos of it. It just flows all over you. The first two or three years of listening to Trout Mask Replica, it’s just such a wonderful feeling. There’s no point trying to follow the individual lines, you just have to listen to how the whole mad tapestry of what’s going on works together. Same thing when I first heard Don Caballero – things like What Burns Never Returns and American Don. All those intertwining things… you can’t follow them, and I don’t think you should worry about following them. The confusion’s lovely.

Do you find yourself bored by linear music?

KT: Erm… well, give me an example of linear music.

Well, personally, I’ve never fully got to grips with dance music or hip-hop as I tend to find it rhythmically predictable.

KT: I don’t know, really. There’s a lot of things in music that I don’t like, but it doesn’t tend to be in any one genre. There’s a lot of hip-hop I love, and a lot of things that come under the umbrella of dance that I really like. But then I really like the Sex Pistols, which is really linear. But there’s stuff that I cannot stand. I’m really critical about music. There’s stuff that you can hear the cynicism in it. It was written to fulfil a certain idea of what the writers think people want. It sounds very dishonest, and that turns me off. But if there’s sincerity in it… I don’t know. 99% of everything is crap, music-wise. But there’s always that 1%, regardless of genre, which is amazing. I used to be a bit more generous and say 97%, but now I think ‘Fuck it, 99%.’

Where do Knifeworld fit in? Who are your peers? Who are your audience?

KT: This I something I scratch my head about. Same thing with the Monsoons too. In terms of genre, we fall between camps. To me, it’s pop music, what we do. It has singing. I like major chords and things that are uplifting. But it’s not pop music like Florence and the Machine or whatever. Weirdly, a band like Guapo, who do 40-minute darkly oppressive apocalyptic workouts, there’s much more of a market for that, as it falls quite neatly into the idea of avant-progressive music. So we get loads of gigs, and people like it, and there’s a scene of other bands called avant-progressive. While Guapo may not sound like them, you can see the similarities.

With Knifeworld/Monsoon, I honestly don’t know. You take a band like Cardiacs, and they never fitted in either. Their audience was just Cardiacs fans. They never comfortably fitted in with a scene. They did not fit in with the ’80s prog scene – and good thing too, as most of that stuff was horrible. So it’s something to be proud of, I think. It’d have been far worse if they were accepted with open arms. They triumphed on their own terms. It’s a lonely struggle. But I don’t know who else fits in with it.

Maybe it is the brighter, more uplifting aspect of your music that sets you apart. A lot of current progressive music tends towards the heavy and oppressive and dark…

KT: Yeah. About the dark thing, I like a lot of really dark stuff, but I think a lot of people do it because it’s cooler to be dark. It’s not that a lot of my stuff’s really very uplifting – the lyrics are pretty miserable. But a lot of people seem frightened of using major chords, as if for some reason it’s not as real. I don’t know why. Monsoon always had the minor and major – there’s a lot of major in there. You have to use both to get a full tune. If you’ll excuse the pun, some people just major on the minor. It’s seen as being a lot more serious, which is bollocks.

It’s not that I only use major, but I’m just not one of these people who only uses minor chords and dissonance. It’s the Emperor’s new clothes. A lot of people just use it to show how serious and heavy they are. It’s song avoidance. You’re doing it because you don’t want t write any tunes!

So how did you end up joining Cardiacs?

KT: Well, by the time I did join them it was inevitable that I would do. I’d been a fan since I was a kid. When we moved to London, Tim had started coming to see the Monsoons, which was amazing. Shortly afterwards I mentioned that if they needed a guitar tech I’d be up for it, and then I was part of that world. And then Tim produced us. Tim had been best friends for a long time, and when Jon became too busy with the Wildhearts, I was standing in for Jon and then shortly afterwards I was a member.

It didn’t feel like a big deal, because I’d been touring with them and working with them for nearly a decade, I’d been at the rehearsals, I’d been doing the tours, I’d been hanging around with Tim because he did the sound for Monsoon. We were all a very close circle of friends. It didn’t feel like any kind of change, and I knew I could play the stuff, so that was that really. But it was amazing – it’s only looking back on it, now that it’s all stopped, that I think ‘Fucking hell, that was something.’

But I was glad to have joined having done Monsoon already. I don’t think I would have liked to have joined Cardiacs as a complete unknown, because then I would have constantly been Kavus, the guitarist out of Cardiacs. It was good to have made some sort of mark musically.

Had you grown up playing Cardiacs songs?

KT: No. I’d grown up listening to them, but I’m not one of those worker-outers. Even growing up, listening to Stray Cats or Iron Maiden or whatever, I was never one for sitting down and working things out. Except for a couple of little melodies – I think as a teenager I worked out the guitar solo to ‘RES’ – I never figured out the chords or anything. My main thing was always working on my own stuff. So when I joined them was the first time I had to sit down and work this stuff out. It struck me what great fun it was. I was surprised my how much I enjoyed it. It made me wish I’d done it when I was 10.

When you’re a kid in a band, you do covers. But besides working out a Slayer song or whatever, it was never my thing. All that time working out someone else’s song, it could be spent working on your own.

You took the helm of Leader Of The Starry Skies, the recent Tim Smith fundraiser/tribute album… How did that come together?

KT: That was Bic’s [Hayes, Cardiacs/Levitation/Dark Star/Mikrokosmos] idea. He had the idea to do a gig. Logistically, we came to realise that it wasn’t going to happen. And it also wouldn’t be a great fundraiser. There’d be so much crew, and all the crossovers between bands – it was just a headache. So he came up with the idea to do a tribute album. My involvement initially was just going to be to do the Knifeworld tune and maybe help out Bic and Jo [Spratley], his partner. At one point we were looking for a label to release it, but couldn’t find one willing to take 0%. So I said that I’d do it. And that turned out to be the right thing – my distributor was amazing, he gave us this incredible deal and took next to nothing for it as well.

Believe what you will about the music industry, but we generated quite a lot of money for Tim, because everybody involved did it for no money. Claire from A Badge of Friendship offered to do the PR for nothing as well. And getting big names like Stephen Wilson from Porcupine Tree involved turned a lot of people onto it. As a fundraising exercise, it’s been amazing. None of us had any idea that it was going to do as well as it did. And the other thing is that there’ve been lots of features about it. Tim’s music has started to be taken seriously outside of these cultish circles.

A piece about Tim and the fundraiser even appeared in The Sun, bizarrely enough. It’s great that his work is becoming more visible, but horrible that it’s happening because of his illness.

KT: That’s a bummer. The articles that have started to take his music seriously now are saying what everyone who loves his stuff has been saying for years. It was always really heartbreaking when you’d read these reviews that said it was all a big joke, or just fucking around, or that it was awful. What can you do? It’s awful that it’s taken this tragedy. People love a tragic story, don’t they? But at least people are getting turned on to his music, and realising that this guy’s the real deal.

It was actually the Monsoon Bassoon connection that got me into Cardiacs in the first place. This obsession is all your fault.

KT: Oh, that’s nice! But I never thought – and still don’t – that Monsoon sounded like Cardiacs. Either because a) Tim produced us, or b) that I ended up in the band, people hear similarities. It’s only now, having been a member and having played Tim’s stuff, that I realise that it’s totally different from what Monsoon did. Tim always found it really baffling as well.

There’s a similar spirit, maybe, even if the music is somewhat different.

KT: Spirit, definitely. But harmonically, and on a musical level, totally different. Monsoon used funny chords, and Tim never uses funny chords. He always used to take the piss out of me for wanting to put ‘snazzy chords’ in, as he called them.

Cardiacs albums are absurdly difficult to find at a reasonable price. Are there plans to re-release the back catalogue?

KT: I can’t say yes there are, as it’s a logistical nightmare at the moment. I know everyone wants it, but it’s a labyrinthine headache trying to organise it. Hopefully it’s going to happen, but right now it’s as much as we can do to get the tribute album out. It’s all there on iTunes, but it’s ridiculous that CDs are changing hands on eBay for £150. Eventually, it has to happen.

Finally, what’s next for you?

KT: I’m off to France to make a record with Bob Drake and Dave Kerman (Thinking Plague). I’m working on a new Guapo album as well, which will be really cool. And I’m working on a collaborative album with a bunch of different people, which will be on my label – but it’s a secret at the moment. You’ll be very pro it, I think.

Dear Lord, No Deal is out on Believers Roast on 4 July.

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