- Hey Nick, so… How do you feel after the album release? I’ve been told you’re in the studio again?
Releasing Pink Bay was beset with problems. A week or so before it's release I more or less lost the full band, so it was difficult to get out & promote it by playing the songs live. Most of the tracks on Pink Bay lend themselves to a full band sound so it was more difficult to play them solo, which is why I am now recording new material by myself in a more stripped down format & seeing what I can achieve. I’ve just finished a song called ‘Down By The Fair’. Very melancholy & atmospheric....& another slightly pop song called ‘O Angeline’. I’m very happy with the way things are going so far.
- If Nick Ward was completely unknown to me, I would have thought more about Costello (on vocals) and Ray Davies on this LP than Weller and the “mod scene”. What you think?
Yes I think you’re probably right. I mean I’ll always be influenced by MOD as I’ve had that with me since I was 12 or 13, but a good song is a good song no matter the genre or artist, & the more music I hear the more it influences my writing. I’ve been a fan of Costello & Davies as long as Weller, Marriott, Townsend & anyone else associated with earlier MOD, but although I take influences from all these artists, I think I have my own sound. After all, though there are a lot of poor imitators....but there’s only one Paul Weller.
- Did you have very special idea of the sound you wanted for that record? It’s pretty light, with much breath in it…fresh…
Yeah, I was trying to alternate between cutting, angular guitar and melodic, acoustic songs. I’ve always liked strings on pop records so wanted them on a few songs on Pink Bay.
- Have you recruited the band for this lp? Do they play with you for a long time?
Of the 11 songs the band played on 7 tracks. They had been with me for a couple of years, but like most things in the music world, it soon ends for one reason or another. I think I sometimes piss people off because I’m very driven, & like to get things done very quickly and move on to the next thing. I’m always writing new material & push it quite hard. Sometimes it’s too much for some people.
- Have many questions about the sleeve’s picture? Where does it come from?
It’s a photo of me when I was about 5 years old. It was taken outside a market. A very old man would throw this little monkey at you & take a picture. Then charge your parent for it. I’m not sure, but I don’t think it would be allowed these days.
- Maybe a light touch of Style Council influence on “Everything’s right with the world” (and on “This town”), don’t you think?
Definitely on Everything’s Right With The World. This Town? I’m not so sure bout that. Maybe. I think that sounds more like a Ray Davies/Burt Bacharach tune ha ha. I loved the Style Council. Through them I found Bacharach, Curtis Mayfield, and loads of 60’s R&B, soul stuff. You have to treat them as a completely different band from The Jam.....as that’s what they were. Too many people get hung up on the fact that they weren’t The Jam sound-alike’s. I respect that with Weller. Music comes first.
- I know you have a great great musical culture, but if you have only ten names to give as major artists for you…Let me know the list! J
Just ten? The Beatles, Paul Weller, Elvis Costello, Nick Drake, The Kinks, Billie Holiday, XTC, Neil Young, Small Faces, Dusty Springfield, The Bees. Is that 11? Ha ha.
- I think you’ve been very very attentive to avoid the same rhythm for every song, are you a dictator with the drummer? Lol. ;) (Rob Griffiths on drums by the way).
No, I think the songs lend themselves to a certain rhythm as they are written. I ask drummers, or any musicians, to put their own ideas into their parts of the songs. With Pink Bay I wanted every song to be different. I think I achieved that.
- You’ve a very special way to drive the vocal melody, is it natural? Do you have a very clear idea of what you want before singing or is it just the way it comes?
I try not to think about it too much. The way I sing it is usually very close to when I wrote it. I try to keep it as natural as possible.....no studio trickery.
- “Follow the sun” sounds to me as a very British way to play the chords on guitar, do you agree with it?
Hmm. British? I dunno. They are not your standard chords on that tune. I don’t even know the name of the main chord in the verses, it’s a shape I found when jamming. Is there a British way of playing guitar? I think it’s pretty universal isn’t it? Or do you mean it’s kinda ‘Britpop’ sounding? If so, you may have a point.
- You look very sensitive to the natural elements, are you? The welsh touch?
- Well I think the weather in this country affects you in many ways. I suppose the elements have some effect as I live near the sea & beaches. I love it. It’s a little bit of freedom y’know. I can’t explain it very well.....I just like the open spaces I guess. Even so, Paris is one of my favourite places too....a busy city. And London. But I’m happiest out in the open, with the elements.
- What is exactly about “The Ferris wheel”? Evil? The booze destruction? We can also find The one than she loves was a drunk…in “Map and a pin”..
Ferris Wheel is quite ambiguous. Sometimes it takes a while to realise what a song is actually about. It’s a subconscious thing. You write a song that doesn’t make sense till a year later. A Map & A Pin is the opposite. It’s based on a friend whose partner turned into a violent alcoholic, and so they escaped with not much to their name. Happy song eh?