We met playing in a pop band called ‘the reclusive barclay brothers’ around 2011 – we all acted as backing musicians. It turned out that myself (Dan) and Gary really enjoyed the same music so we started jamming around in our spare time, then involved Hannah as she showed similar musical interests too. The original idea was just to record music that we enjoyed to listen to, at the time we didn’t really consider that we would end up doing this as our main creative outlet.
We classify ourselves as a Prog band, but I think this will divide opinion. To us we take Prog literally, just the interest in using different styles into one coherent overall feel. Also, because of our influences we want to write music that first and foremost we would listen to and we have definitely achieved that 🙂
Evolution of the initial musical and thematic elements:
Some of the songs are part of previous compositions that we began making in our jamming sessions in 2011 onwards (Home Sweet Home the opening track is our oldest song). We decided to make an album in January 2013 and it was at this point our strongest material began to appear. The thematic elements actually helped us write the music, we conceived a story and I wrote a few versions of this and split it into 3 Acts. Once this was done we split them into 4 songs per Act, this made a huge difference to the writing process as when we met to write we actually had a specific direction beyond trying to write a good song!
Ideas about the album:
Absolutely – it’s a document of a moment in time during our musical evolution. I think we are better musicians and songwriters as a result of the experience, and as such we could have quite easily returned to the recordings seeking to improve them. But we decided to draw a line under them, I like the fact that nothing ever feels like it is completely perfect to us – we need to remind ourselves that we can always develop and improve. Saying that when we listen to the album now we feel very proud that we achieved what we have, our first complete work and the best album any of us have been involved with.
We have been a band off the radar since we began; essentially we locked ourselves in our studio and just wrote the album for 12 months. Surfaced, then we realised that we should have figured out how to promote ourselves before releasing the album… Rookie mistake.. Since then we have been busy reaching out to people on Social Media – essentially handing out digital leaflets to direct people to our music. The progress began slowly but now we are getting a great response and interaction with people enjoying our music. Also the funny thing is that the positive reception has crossed over target audiences so that confuses us a little, who do we actually promote to? It’s a good problem to have and gives us reassurance that we have created something that can appeal to lots of different types of people.
Next step; live or studio:
We are a core duo (Dan and Gary) and we have toyed with the idea of performing the music in a stripped back sense, but this would disappoint us. Our biggest thrill comes from the layers we have created in our songs and performing live would either mean not having that, or using backing tracks and samples which isn’t ideal. We definitely haven’t ruled it out though.
What we are attempting at the moment is to recruit musicians in Manchester to give us the opportunity of performing the music as it was intended, the difficult balance there is that we have a specific song-writing process and its quite unusual. So far we have met with some great musicians but it hasn’t gelled yet. Our plan for the next 12 months is to create 2 more albums, whilst seeking personnel to join us 🙂
Future looks really positive! From absolutely no audience and no album in the past 12 months we have achieved something that we love and started to connect with an audience. Working really hard at this and it is growing daily, getting played on unsigned radio stations and making some great collaborative efforts with Artists / Photographers and recently a theatre company which is exciting 🙂 Anything could happen and we have specific goals but very open minded to any possibility of having our music heard.
Lyrics, themes and concepts:
Lyrically half were written by Alex Dunedin, he added a huge amount to the concept – helping define it in our minds and bringing in mythological aspects to really bring the themes to life. The concept is around a Dystopian Tyranny, ran by an individual who is trying to hold society together and its ultimate downfall. I won’t say more than that at this point because we are planning on presenting the full story in the future along with our second album which takes place following the first story. Initially the plan was to make a ‘War of the Worlds’ style narrative throughout which was quite exciting, the reason we didn’t in the end was because we wanted to allow the listener to make their own decision about a narrative – if someone wants to just listen at the surface level then they can, if they want to explore deeper there is hints throughout of the full story to be discovered. From the writing process perspective as I mentioned before, it allowed us to actually write songs that linked together in our minds and we really hope that comes across when the music is explored by a listener.
Preference; live or studio:
I enjoy both! But in the studio I feel at home, free to try things and experiment and to document. The satisfaction after writing is immense, but the same can be said of a great gig! They give me the same feelings but I don’t need both to feel musically satisfied. Saying that I do miss playing to an audience and imagine performing our album as a whole live and how we would do it… One day we will definitely do it!
I (Dan) begin with either a basic instrumental part / lyric or theme. We then begin jamming the rhythm and melodic parts and start to build from there. When we have two or 3 sections of basic parts I usually start with the lyrics. We have a 50/50 hit rate with this, on the best days the words fall from the sky and we usually write the basic song and record it within 3 hours. We then come back to it around 5 times to finish it off and re-do any parts that need revisiting. Gary performs the drums and sound engineering duties and on the fly edits the track as we go along, the beauty in this is we are experimenting constantly with the song and we try a variety of things before finishing it off. We perform completely opposite duties but contribute to each other’s process adding ideas and trying different approaches depending what we imagine in our minds for the song. More often than not it flows from beginning to end and the only limit we have is on the time we spend together due to work commitments and our families. With Alex Dunedin’s lyrical contribution I send him 6 words about the song that we are writing, he sits himself down and gets in the zone and sends us back a full lyric which we then fit to the music we have created. It’s produced some wonderful moments for us when it all locks in, even though Alex is based in Scotland and we are in Manchester we still manage to make it work effectively.
The main one is Genesis, all era’s! Peter Gabriel, again all era’s! King Crimson, Yes, Radiohead, Kate Bush, Pink Floyd (Animals was my first proper prog album!) We constantly measure ourselves against their works because we want to make ourselves feel like their music did to us when we first heard it. The great thing is this means we push ourselves constantly!
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake:
It’s got to be for us, whenever we have tried to make something for any other reason it’s never makes us feel inspired. If you can satisfy yourself you will find others who can be satisfied for certain!
Pandora, personally I have played with some great bands and supported some well-known ones at festivals when I was younger which was amazing. But this is the first album where the both of us have had complete creative input, and we couldn’t be happier with what we have done.
Definitely – I want to talk about the amazing Hannah Cotterill! We have been lucky enough to work with Hannah at various points and she sang the lead vocals on 5 of the albums songs. We briefly started (before writing Pandora in 2013) a trio and started doing gigs in quite a different style to what we do now, but unfortunately for us Hannah was offered an amazing job on cruise ships performing music as the house band. It couldn’t be turned down and we wished her well, after picking ourselves off the ground from our disappointment we decided to write our first album as a duo, Hannah returned a couple of times to the UK and we borrowed her to nail some of the vocals. She is an open door member for us and whenever she is in the UK we will work with her.