Misty's Big Adventure
In an age of blandness, corporations and a distinct lack of humour, Misty’s Big Adventure are a breath of fresh air with their playfulness, musicality and originality. The band are in Cardiff this month so we thought it was time to find out more about the band so we caught up with singer Grandmaster Gareth for an insight into the band.
One definition of the word adventure is “An unusual or exciting experience”. What have been the most unusual and/or exciting experiences of Misty’s Big Adventure so far?
Too many to list here. Our most recent unusual experience was going to Sir Patrick Moore's house to record him for our new album. He reads a story on a song called General Confusion. We assumed after the recording, we'd have to leave. But instead, we were invited to stay for a Chinese takeaway and got to look at the Moon through his telescope. We felt a bit like we were on Jim'll Fix It. An incredible day. Our career has been very haphazard which has meant lots of mental things have happened to us over the last 14 years. One day it'll make a good book.
Grandmaster Gareth of what are you a Grand Master?
Well a Grand Master in the traditional sense would be someone who is good at chess. Someone who knows where to put the pieces. So in musical terms, I know where to put the notes. I also follow the logic of people like Duke Ellington and Count Basie. If you give yourself a regal title, then even if someone doesn't like you, when they say your name they have to give you respect.
How important is humour in your music? Many of your songs are darkly humorous about serious subjects such as paedophile priests or people like George Bush?
There isn't enough humour in music at present. The trouble is this daft perception that music which makes you laugh isn't 'proper' music. But if you try and write about life, how can humour be avoided? Everything around us is ridiculous and absurd. Look at our politicians! With so many things in life out to depress us, we want to cheer people up and to see the funny side.
What music (local and further a field) have influenced you?
When I was a kid I grew up on The Beatles, Faust, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Julian Cope. When I was a teenager, I used to go and see a lot of the Post Rock bands like Broadcast, Pram, Novak and Add n To x. And in my twenties, Joe Meek, Raymond Scott, Sun Ra, The Specials and tons of Library Music and Space Age Pop. Buying records is my biggest obsession. I can't afford record shop prices generally, so I buy them at Car Boot sales and charity shops. It's good because I've ended up listening to many different styles of music just because it was cheap. This is the best way to discover unusual sounds.
The band comes from Birmingham. What aspects of the area have rubbed off on your music and outlook?
In the 1930's, Birmingham had it's own surrealist movement. One artist even dumped a giant elephant's head on Corporation Street in the City Centre. Living in an industrial city makes you want to create something different and strange. Though Birmingham is a big city, many of the musicians know each other and help each other out. The biggest aspect of the area is in the humour. People from the Midlands are very self depricating. You have to be when the rest of the country thinks you're rubbish!
KateGoes are the best new band in Birmingham. Other greats are Pram, Broadcast, Dog Food and Bom and his Magic Drumstick.
Two cars. Very little money. But a dogged persistance in the face of absurdity.
How do you go about writing material? Is it a group effort?
I write and arrange pretty much everything. Sometimes I have a fixed idea of how it should sound, and other times we bash it about in rehearsals. We've worked together so long that I know what each member is capable of and write accordingly. And they will know what type of sound I'm after. I should mention that our drummer Sam Minnear is vital to a lot of the songs working. He is one of the best creative drummers alive! Really.
If you come wanting to have a good time, you will leave with a smile on your face. If you come wanting to have a bad time, that can also be arranged.
We've spent most of the last year in the studio working on our fifth album 'The Family Amusement Centre'. We're doing a few gigs before the summer and then a big tour later in the year to promote the album. Once the album is finished, I'm turning my attention to a Space themed concert and album for the Oxford University AstroPhysics department. There's a possibility we might get to be artists-in-residence for the year, which is something I'd really like to do.Misty’s Big Adventure play Cardiff Buffalo on Friday 30th April
Misty’s Big Adventure and their Place in the Solar System (2004)
The Black Hole (2005)
Funny Times (2007)
Television’s People (2008)