US - New York - Full Moon 173 - 10/23/10
Adam Franklin & Bolts Of Melody
- the swervedriving man
In recent years, it looked as if Adam Franklin had left between the glorious, revved up rock'n'roll sound, that he had created with 90s shoegazing heroes Swervedriver.
His records with the project Toshack Highway and last year's excellent solo album Spent Bullets showed the more subtle side of the British axe god. His new album
on Second Motion Records, I Could Sleep For A Thousand Years, sounds more band-oriented than his two previous solo efforts - it makes a lot of sense that the new
work credits his live band, Bolts Of Melody, for the first time - and actually harks back to the Swervedriver sound on a few occasions, without neglecting the sonic
achievements from more recent years. It's the best of both worlds and in many ways the best album Franklin has made in his long, illustrious career. Recently, Adam was
kind enough to answer a few questions for Luna Kafé.
Luna Kafé: I guess you've been making records for well over 20 years now, but this seems to be the first time that you've released two albums within
(roughly) a year. Are you just on a roll, is this a happy accident or is there more to it?
Adam: "Yeah I guess it's been 19 years since the first album, Raise. If you include the Magnetic Morning album that came out early last year I've released
three albums in 18 months I think. Bands used to release an album a year - sometimes more - in the 60s and 70s and then by the 90s I suppose it was the norm to do an
album every couple of years to maximise the 'touring cycle'. I would have loved to have put an album out every year with Swervedriver although who knows if we would have
had the material? In 1990/91 we did effectively release two albums worth of material though, bearing in mind all the EPs. But then, as Joe Strummer once said, you can't
"Getting back to your question I suppose basically I've kinda been on a roll. I just have the songs - some are brand new and some have been around for a long time. It's
fun to go back to older songs and think "hmm, maybe that old song can be done like this and be on the album straight after this new thing" or whatever."
Luna Kafé: As far as you are concerned: What ties Spent Bullets and I Could Sleep... together and what is the most obvious difference
between the two records?
Adam: "I have to say I haven't sat down and considered what might link the albums but I can say that playing the Spent Bullets songs live certainly led into
the recording of this new album. We 'rocked out' those songs more live, extending the ends of them and things like that and so this album, which we made shortly after
the end of the tour, was recorded in much the way that we had been playing live. We perhaps played them more irreverently and there's very much a live energy."
Luna Kafé: In a previous interview you've told me that "each song takes on the characteristics of the mindset of the time it is recorded". I certainly
would say that new album mirrors the spontaneity of the sessions that has been mentioned, however, does that mean that there are songs on the album that you thought
would end up sounding totally different at the time you wrote them?
Adam: "Every time you make a record you're making certain things up on the spot and it's definitely good to leave spaces for spontaneous improvisation and might
not be as much fun if every single song was completely mapped out."
"On this album, I guess "She's Closer Than I've Ever Been" is a song that's quite transformed considering it was originally just an acoustic folky thing. I had an idea
in my head of it building and getting heavier and heavier towards the end and it turned out nicely! The bass and drums move around in a cool way and all the electric
guitar slides were completely off-the-cuff and worked pretty sweetly. "The Road Is Long" was somewhat transformed by Charlie Francis' excellent production too."
Luna Kafé: If the session were indeed more spontaneous, what does spontaneity really mean in your case? Working more instinctively, going with the
flow, rather than following some sort of previously worked-up masterplan?
Adam: "I'm not sure what spontaneity means in this sense or if the sessions were any more or less spontaneous than previous records. I mean it was certainly rehearsed
up and recorded quickly and efficiently. Once 12 songs to make up an album were settled on we just rehearsed the hell out of them as a three-piece and then just bashed
them out in the studio."
Luna Kafé: I guess this album introduces a couple of new members to the Bolts Of Melody studio personnel. Is there anything in particular, something
unexpected or even surprising, that they added to album?
Adam: "Mikey Jones came in to play drums on the Spent Bullets tour and immediately stamped his authority on the sound in the best possible way. Matt Sumrow
played bass on the album sessions as the three of us were in New York after the tour - Matt didn't play on that tour and had previously played keyboards with us but only
in rehearsal. Those guys also play together in their own band called Heaven as well as playing with countless other artists in New York - Matt's been touring with Dean
& Britta recently and Mikey's just finished another album with The Big Sleep. So although there was nothing in particular that was unexpected or surprising it was just
great to be laying down the tracks so solidly as a band. Locksley Taylor once again played guitars and bits and pieces when we were up in Toronto and he never ceases to
Luna Kafé: I think the album's artwork is just awesome - where did the picture come from?
Adam: "Yeah the picture is really great. The photographer is Wei Liou and his website is here. I first saw the pic on a friend's
blog site and she had a link to Wei's page. I contacted him, sent him the album and told him what the title was and how I envisaged it looking with the font and everything
and he was totally excited at the collaboration."
Luna Kafé: A few years back, when you still were releasing records under the name Toshack Highway you've told me you'd find it weird to release records
under your own name. Obviously, that has changed now...
Adam: "The Toshack Highway moniker should possibly have been just for the orange self-titled album - the Everyday, Rock'n'Roll Is Saving My Life EP was
almost released as Adam Franklin as was the split release with Sianspheric. I think there are many artists that make what is essentially a solo recording but aren't
comfortable with it and really it's places like truck stops where you really notice it - you'll be buying some breakfast on the road and the waitress will ask "are you
guys in a band? What's the name of it?" and then it seems weird to say "uh, well it's the name of the guy sitting on the end"!"
Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody.
Copyright © 2010 Carsten Wohlfeld