Tuesday, 29 October 2013
We're Only Here For The Banter - Over The Wall
Returning from a short break in the musical wilderness, Over The Wall are back with a fresh single, Tell Her I Love Her out on the glorious Gerry Loves Records, and a continuing love for crafting 'grown-up' and interesting pop songs. Consisting of Ben Hillman and Gav Prentice, the band met and formed in Glasgow back in 2006 and, in their words, have been inflicting their relationship on others ever since.
Hello, how are you?
Ben: Very well thank you.
Gav: No too bad.
It's the question everyone hates, but could you tell us a little bit about your music and your influences?
Gav: We've always said we make euphoric pop music, taking away a lot of the unnecessary fluff of pop music and replacing it with other complicated things of our own which are increasingly difficult to perform live, and with the songwriting at the heart of it the most important thing. Unfortunately years of constantly insisting we make pure pop music has resulted in people slightly underestimating us I think, and particularly overlooking the lyrical content. So let me stress that we also have lyrics in our songs, into which a lot of thought goes, and we take the songs themselves very seriously.
Ben: Gav and I were recording some new songs in Over The Wall HQ the other day and stumbled across some really old songs of ours in the back of the vault. It was funny to listen to them again. Some were great and perhaps should be rushed off and taken further, others were truly awful. I think what really came across though was that we have always said that we are inspired by people like Bruce Springsteen or Peter Gabriel or Ryan Adams. In reality these are more like artists that we really like, but those recordings back then sounded like they were influenced by bands like Cursive and Bright Eyes. This is actually more like the stuff we were listening to a lot at the time. So with that in mind I would say we are probably most influenced by whatever it is that we are currently enjoying listening to… …and about to rip off… …Toto beware.
What's your song-writing / creative process like?
Ben: We usually start separately and then come together. The coming together part can happen at any point, and sometimes there is almost a complete song, or at least a complete song skeleton to try and augment. Other times one of us might hit a couple of chords that sound good together and then we take it from there. I would say Tell Here I Love Her falls much more into this latter category.
Gav: I think people might be surprised at which one of us came up with which part. For example, Ben wrote and plays the mandolin part on A Grand Defeat from our first E.P., and I play the keys on it, and Ben came up with the slightly odd guitar tuning which quite a few of our songs are in, and I've come up with melody lines for Ben to play on the trumpet in a couple of songs.
What could we expect to see from a live show?
Ben: Hopefully something fun, engaging and enjoyable.
Gav: We have fun and make jokes and there's a lot of energy, but again we do take the songs seriously. I don't think it detracts from a good song to clown about a bit around it, I think it's a lot more honest than staring at your shoes for the whole show.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far?
Ben: There have been a lot of victories for us along the way. Perhaps the greatest achievement though is that I still really enjoy making music with Gav. Having been very active recording recently it has been incredibly rewarding to be able to play each other our ideas and see where they go. I mean don’t get me wrong it was fantastic when Jason Statham asked us to play at his wedding, and when Emilio Estevez asked us to write the soundtrack to the new Mighty Ducks.
Gav: I think if you don't say that the actual music you make and the process of making it is the best achievement then you really couldn't be proud of what you'd done at all. Hearing your songs on the telly or radio or playing a festival is great but the buzz you get from that doesn't actually last very long, and any material success you get is always dependent on an accompanying slice of blind luck. I have actually met people who don't like the music they make but think that it'll get them to a certain position, I think that's so cynical and completely the opposite of everything I grew up believing in for music. I think those people can consider themselves complete failures, whereas we'll always be able to say that we liked it (at least at the time) no matter what. That said, Jason and Emilio are pals, and it was a pleasure guys.
Has your short break while Gav worked on his solo stuff changed anything within the band?
Gav: It hasn't changed the way we work together or anything, no. The reason the solo thing happened, and is continuing to happen I suppose, was because I had a bunch of songs that would only really fit by doing them that way, or that I could only do justice to that way, so it meant that Over The Wall wasn't bothered by them. I must admit that after playing a lot of subtle acoustic things coming back to making a lot of noise and playing solos and that in Over The Wall has been a great deal of fun.
What have you got planned next?
Gav: We have a batch of new songs recorded which you will be hearing very soon, hot on the heels of this single coming out, and we should be taking to the road again in December.
What other artists (Scottish or not) would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?
Ben: Can I recommend a folk guitarist called Martin Simpson? He’s from Scunthorpe and has been around for a little while now but I have only recently got in to him thanks to Mark Radcliffe and his Folk Show (BBC Radio 2, Wednesday evening at 7pm). His latest album ‘Vagrant Stanzas’ is incredible. It has been produced by Richard Hawley and has got real restraint but masterful guitar playing all at the same time.
Gav: In a similar trad-folk vein, I think everyone should listen to Lau. Also, my girlfriend is a piper and in the flat at the moment we've mainly been listening to the pibroch of Allan MacDonald, which is this incredibly heartfelt and emotional, and technically brilliant, pipe music, the likes of which in my lowland ignorance I previously didn't know existed.
Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?
Gav: It goes way back in my family that we don't lower ourselves to the set-up/punchline form. My great-grandfather was buried with his lathe, and if he could see me now, he'd be turning in his grave.
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