The Soft Hearted Scientists
They have been away for a while and have left the now defunct My Kung Foo records. However, Wales' favourite kitchen sink psychedelic band is back with a new album coming out later this year and a gig at Clwb Ifor bach in Cardiff at the end of March. We asked Nathan Hall about what 2011 has in store for the band.
The band seems to have been dormant for a couple of years. What have you been up to?? Taking time to wonder in a whirling world??
Hi, we've been far from dormant. We released a home recordings compilation in late 2009 called Scarecrow Smile and got some really good reviews for it in things like Drowned in Sound and a cover mount CD track on the Word Magazine in December 2009. However the label was winding down and could not promote the album fully. We also finished our studio follow up to Take Time called " Wandermoon " and had it factory ready by December 2009 but the label was gradually falling apart and only came to a definitive end in December 2010. So it's been frustrating to say the least. Wandermoon will come out on either a new label or our own label by July 1st this year. We are also half way through recording the next studio album called "False Lights"!
Have there been any personnel changes and is Spencer McGarry still involved now his own band has taken off.
Spencer McGarry is too busy with his own illustrious projects - being a bloody great drummer is just one of his talents - and we have gained a studio only drummer in the shape of Rocket Goldstar genius producer Frank Naughton.
Nathan you write the lyrics so how does the band go about creating the music to go with these?
I tend to write and demo the songs and then the others add their parts whether it be mandolins and banjo or bass lines or analogue synth parts or omnichords!
Looking back at your recorded output so far what are your favourite songs you have recorded and which ones do you think will last the test of time.
Oh that's a difficult one as they are like my babies. I truly think that the song Westward Leading off the next album might be our greatest one to date. And it's over 10 flipping minutes long. Always looking forward. Perphaps there is a special place in my heart for Mount Palomar as its the first truly SHS song I wrote where I listened back to it months later, a year later, 2 years etc and said "Still bloody love it". Up to about 2000 I wrote lots of songs that after a while I'd look back on and go "Meh!" not knowing why I couldn't make music I was proud of. That all changed in 2000. I crossed a threshold and never looked back. Mind you that could be the 2 years from 1998 to 2000 I spent listening to the cream of all music from 1966 to 1971 flat on my back on my couch with a glass of wine in one hand going like some Mad professor - "Wow! So that's why See Emily Play is so earth shattering." I was like Archimedes jumping out of his bath every night shouting "Eureka". I developed the equivalent of sonic X ray vision if that makes any sense. It was an intense period. And then I bumped into Dylan Line and his brilliance with Analogue synthesisers opened up even more doors. The warbles, whooshes, pops and fizzes. I almost levitated with excitement.
Your music has been described as magical, beautiful, warm and the NME described it as a new legal high. How would you describe it to someone who has never heard it before?
Kitchen sink psychedelia. It's supposed to fill your head with colour while always being aware of council tax, budget cuts and genocide rather than goblins and hookah pipes.
Your lyrics are often mystical and at times surreal i.e. yongy bongy bo. Where do your ideas come from and what things make you pick up the pen and write?
Everyday life, woodland walks, books and the news. I have a new song called the " The fantastic hallucinations of Michael Gove ". In a speech about job opportunities for all he referred to manual labourers as "Hewers of wood and bearers of water". What part of the middle ages was he tripping through at the time? As a teacher in his eyes would that make me "A learned imparter of universal book truths". To which I'd respond "No! I'm a fooking teacher you perfumed ponce. You want working on boy". He's a Bill Turnbull lookalike who clearly drank something stronger than Pimms at his Oxbridge rave ups.
You have a new album 'Wanderman' coming out soon. Radical departure or natural development? What can we expect?
Natural development. No babies being thrown out with the bathwater. I wound up a colleague by striding into the office and declaring, with hands on hips (unfortunately not wearing a cape) "Psychedelia may be the greatest cultural achievement of humanity. Prove me wrong." I was 50% serious.
Why would I ever jettison it?
You were with My Kung Fu for quite a while. What's happening on the label front??
MKF R.I.P. Looking for a new one.
You are playing Cardiff in March. Are there any other gigs lined up this year, any festivals?
Clwb Ifor Bach on March 25th at 9 pm sharp with Jemma Roper supporting!!!! Sadly, you need management to obtain festival slots. But we will be gigging more this year one way or another and performing Wandermoon in its entirety.
If you played a mythical festival with your ideal line up who else would be on the bill living or dead, active or dispanded?
The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Love, The Incredible String Band, Leonard Cohen. I'll have to stop. I'm getting palpitations at the thought.
We are really pleased you have some new material coming out - we missed you!
Thanks for the encouragement. We hope Wandermoon will elevate people's lives for 32 minutes and 20 seconds! We're very, dare we say it, proud of it. Think about how a year's delay could make the cracks show in a piece of work but we still love it to bits which is the only important test. Wouldn't change a hair on its little head. But obviously we hope others get something from it too. All musicians are like primary school kids. They all rush up to someone with their latest painting and go "Look what I've done! Is it going up on the fridge? Oh please! Say it's going up on the fridge." Sad really. Sad and beautiful.
The Soft Hearted Scientists play Clwb Ifor Bach on Friday 25 th March. Their much anticipated new album Wandermoon should be out in 2011.
Scarecrow Smile (2009)
Take Time to wonder in a whirling world (2007)
Uncanny Tales from the everyday undergrowth (2005)
Misty's Big Adventure
Jam with RoBina
The Rumble Strips interview
Battle of Land and Sea