A quick word with… The Wave Pictures

Thursday, 23 December 2010, 16:09 | Category : A quick word with...
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This interview also appears on The Line of Best Fit.

It may not figure much in the glut of seasonal indie tunes clogging up the internet at the moment, but The Wave’s Pictures‘ ‘I Love You Like a Madman’ is one of the best Christmas songs ever. A sweet and funny tale of staying at the girlfriend’s folks over Christmas, it’s packed full of the sort of Yuletide drama not often heard elsewhere. Like making it through Christmas without being caught smoking by the parents, buying the right present (”bras instead of pickled eggs, chocolate instead of chutney”), and dripping tinned peach juice on the carpet. This, and their other Christmas classic ‘We Dress Us As Snowmen’, were on my mind when I asked the band a few questions, so I had to pop in a couple of obligatory seasonal ones.

This year has been quieter than others for the band. There’s been no UK album, but there was the wonderful Sweetheart EP, a European LP release Susan Rode the Cyclone which combines the Sweetheart songs with a few others, and their current single Jonny Helm Sings where drummer Jonny steps out from behind the kit - as he often does live - to take over the mic for a couple of versions of past Pictures classics. They’re just been on a tour of Italy, consolidating their growing fan base there and they played their last show of the year, in support of Slow Club at the Union Chapel last night.  Maybe it’s been a busy old year for The Wave Pictures after all.

What kind of year has it been for The Wave Pictures?
It’s been an up and down, in between kind of year. Not the best and not the worst.

David, you released a solo album this year. How do you decide on which songs are Wave Pictures songs and which are solo ones?
I wrote the songs for the solo album specifically. There was one I had already done on a previous side project, Dan of Green Gables, called ”I Saw Your Hair Between The Trees”, which we did again on my solo album because Clemence wanted to sing it. The others were written for it.

Jonny, you’re known to sing a few numbers live. Was that what led to the decision to put out a record with you on vocals? Or are you secretly plotting to be the lead singer?
Yes. I started to sing a few of Dave’s songs live so we decided to record them in the same way. I have no plans to be a singer, I like it behind the drums.

The Sweetheart EP was an excellent stopgap between albums. Is there a new LP coming next year? If so, what can we expect?
We have a new album to release next year. It is produced by Darren Hayman. It has no overdubs on it whatsoever. It’s the three of us recorded live. It’s perhaps a little darker, and also more true to the band than our other recent albums have been.

Is ‘Susan Rode the Cyclone’ your first European release? Have you got ardent fan bases in Spain, Germany and Italy?
Yes, we have fans in those places. My all time favourite shows with the band have been in Germany and Spain. Italy, we’ve just started going out to, so it’s new to us. Susan Rode The Cyclone is an album we liked so much, I think we all really hope that it comes out sometime in the UK too. Well, it’d be nice to get everything out everywhere!

A big part of the appeal of The Wave Pictures is David’s lyrics. How do you overcome the language barrier in these other countries?
Well, I think a lot of people really listen closely to the lyrics and enjoy them. English is a pretty universal language. I get the feeling they go over OK. And there are plenty of other things going on. Guitar solos, drumming… I mean, it all has a beat. I think you could enjoy it if you didn’t speak any English too. I certainly like to listen to lots of music where they are singing in a language I don’t understand.

I see you’re playing Slow Club’s Christmas show at the Union Chapel. Can we expect any seasonal treats?
No. I won’t be singing any Christmas songs.

What does a Wave Pictures Christmas look like? (other than like in ‘I Love You Like a Madman’ of course)

You know, probably a bit like yours. I guess we’re all going to see our families and what have you.

Since we’re at the end of 2010, what are your favourite songs/records of the year?
Stanley Brinks made some great albums this year, ”Hoots” and ”Horns In” and ”Another One Just Like That”, which has The Wave Pictures as his backing band! So, maybe I shouldn’t say that one, but it’s really great. I know ”Skitter On Take-Off”’, the last Vic Chestnut album before he died, came out last year, but I really got into that album this year. It’s very messy and sad but also quiet triumphant in some strange way. I like ”Essex Arms” by Darren Hayman, too.

mp3: The Wave Pictures - We Dress Up Like Snowmen (live on BBC 6Music)

The new single by The Wave Pictures ‘Jonny Helm Sings’ is out now on limited 7” and download, buy from Moshi Moshi Records.

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