An interview by Christopher Mundy of New Beats Media with Neil Athey, lead guitarist for Bibelots.
New Beats Media: Neil thank you for speaking with us today
Neil Athey: Thank you for having me Chris
NBM: I wanted to divide this interview into two sections — the first dealing with a rather important competition you have just won and the second focusing on you and the band and your influences
NBM: Can you tell us a little about this competition. Personally I believe you will look back on it as a major event in your career. Do you agree?
NA: I do yeah. To be honest it hasn’t actually sunk in yet. Right now we’re just focussed on the logistics of getting to Austria but if anything we’re more nervous now than when we entered the competition. It’s a very strange feeling. I’m sure once we’re there we’ll settle down and relax a bit.
NBM: Tell us what it is you’ve just won
NA: Well what we’ve actually won is a chance to appear in the Final of the King of The Mountain Festival. Gigwise hosted a three round competition to choose 20 bands out of hundreds from the U.K.. The public then voted on the top 20 and the best four get to play in Austria before another panel of music industry judges. The Final winner will get to play the main stage with the likes of Doves, The Enemy, Fat Boy Slim, Editors and 2 Many DJ’s. The festival takes place in Mayrhofen, Austria in the Tyrolian Alps between 5–10 April 2010 surrounded by popular skiing and snowboarding resorts
NBM: Anyone in the band ski?
NA: Yeah a few of us and we’re thinking of banning it until after the competition is over
NBM: Too right. Anyone you’d like to thank for helping you get there?
NA: All the fans really. We pestered and badgered them through Facebook and emails. We started a Facebook event that sort of went viral and grew and grew until there were about 6,000 people on the event. We need to thank all those friends really as they did it for us. It’s given us a lot of new exposure and a lot of new people have now heard of us.
NBM: Some advice for new bands starting out please. You’ve mentioned Facebook. What other avenues did you personally use to gain exposure?
NA: Myspace, Twitter, a new website called ooizit.com which is like a U.K. MySpace
NBM: Which do you feel was the most effective for you?
NA: I would guess Facebook probably although we can’t really tell because we haven’t had any statistics from Gigwise
NBM: Any thoughts on where this event might lead your career? Personally, I see it as a milestone
NA: Well to Austria for a start! But seriously, we just want to enjoy it and take each step at a time and see where it leads us. We believe in ourselves and our music. Hopefully we’ll impress a lot of people along the way. It’s just a case of being heard by the right people who will see that we have the potential to make it and will sign us to a record contract. That would be nice
NBM: I’m thinking it will be an A&R magnet. In fact I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that as a result of this competition, win or lose, you will not see out 2010 as an unsigned band
NA: Fingers crossed
NBM: Do you guys have a manager at this time?
NA: Well that’s something we kind of arrange between ourselves quite well at the moment, but we’re at the point now where we could really
use a dedicated manager with the right contacts and industry experience to push us to that next level.
NBM: I’ll predict that for you as well for this year as long as I’m out on the limb already
NA: I hope so. Somebody like Kit Lambert would be great
NBM: I want to talk about you and the band now. You play lead guitar and write most of the songs. Could you talk about some of your musical
influences past and present
NA: Thanks to my dad I got into the 60’s rock and blues stuff early on. The Small Faces, The Kinks, The Who, Eric Clapton, BB King, Muddy Waters, Pink Floyd. You mentioned a Cult influence in one of our songs in a review. Well, I used to learn guitar playing along to The Cult,
The Stone Roses, Oasis, Blur. That then led me into the dancier territory of The Happy Mondays, 808 State, Underworld, Orbital. I’ve
come full circle now when I write songs. There’s dance influence, synthesizers, acidy baselines but along with the blues guitar and
fairly upbeat drums. The lyrics and and melodies still hark back to the 60’s though and I think that gives us a fairly unique sound
NBM: I’d have to agree. I hear those influences strongly. It’s danceable rock if I may say so
NA: Yeah it’s got a groove you can bounce along to. Even when we practice we get right into it
NBM: Where do you guys record and what equipment do you use?
NA: We’ve been to a few different studios. I work with Cubase in my home studio and I’ve got a decent sound card that I can plug drums and
things into. I sometimes bring that to our practice studio and we record things ourselves. Or sometimes it’s professional studios when
we can afford it. It’s a trade off. Professional studios cost money and you’re rushed but you get a good production sound, but in our rehearsal studio we can take our time and get the ideas really worked out. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to recording, production, the levels of guitars, vocals and panning. If you leave it to someone else we never really get the exact sound we wanted to achieve if that makes any sense.
NBM: Am I right in thinking you would get most of the production credits then?
NA: For some tracks yeah. “Devil’s Highway” we recorded in the studio but we recorded a lot of the synths in my home studio. The mixing and
drums and guitar were done in studio so credits for production would go to the studio. “Power” was done in a student’s studio in Hoxton in
London in about 3–4 hours. They took it away and mastered it for nothing which was great. “The Bomb” was recorded in our practice studio and mixed and mastered down in my studio at home. Digital mixing software has gotten so good that you can get some really good results doing it yourself these days
NBM: I personally thought the drums could have been slightly louder in the mix on “Power”. The part was well played but a bit buried in the mix
NA: Yeah I totally agree but because it was free we couldn’t really be too fussy. It’s a trade off as I said. But they are all demos really. Hopefully some record company will recognize that these tracks have potential and could be taken into a professional studio and have some time spent on them. I think that’s when they’ll really shine
NBM: Is there a dream producer, a Mark Ronson of sorts that you’d loveto work with?
NA: Two I think. John Leckie because of his amazing work with so many amazing bands and albums, like the Stone Roses and maybe Brian Eno,
he’s so creative and has such an amazing way of working I’d love to see his influence on our tracks
NBM: I couldn’t really disagree with either of those choices. I’m particularly thinking of Eno’s work with U2 — he completely transformed their sound. I’m imagining what he’d do with some of your catchy jangley layered rhythm guitar sounds. He’d turn it into something really epic I’d imagine
NA: That would be really nice
NBM: Let’s talk instruments. What are you playing? What’s your favorite axe?
NA: I’m loving my Fender Jaguar at the moment for it’s crunchy bluesy feel and sound played through a fender amp. A perfect combination. I love it. It’s not as clean as a Stratocaster. It’s got a bit of attitude and I love to play it loud and just strum away.
NBM: The Jag isn’t a commonly played guitar is it?
NA: Not at all. It’s a bit temperamental and has a bit of character but mine’s currently behaving and staying in tune perfectly. It’s
matured a little bit now though I think. It’s given me a bit of trust. But I also play a Rickenbacker 360 which I’ve always loved. My newest purchase is a Gretsch Electromatic. It’s not a White Ghost or anything but sounds amazing. And our Drummer Tim Fielding plays Pearl drums. But we use studio drums when we rehearse
NBM: What’s your favorite live venue for acoustic quality?
NA: Well the Barfly in Camden is always a good venue for sound. The Islington Garage — The PA system is unbelievable. They’ve got a Pro Tools rig on the mixing desk and a sound engineer who’s really on it twiddling nobs passionately throughout the gig. Had some really good feedback on the sound. We’re playing there again in May.
NBM: Where would you like to play that you haven’t?
NA: Glastonbury and the Royal Albert Hall. Glastonbury for the experience and RAH for purity of sound, and the history. I’ve seen Paul Weller and Kasabian there. It’s just amazing sound
NBM: I saw King Krimson there about 10 years ago and you could hear a pin drop
NA: Yeah totally
NBM: If you could play a dream gig with three other bands, past present or even no longer in existence who would you choose?
NA: I’d love to play on the same bill as The Who in their prime, The Small Faces and The Stone Roses
NBM: Other than Glastonbury what festivals would you like to play? I can see you at Reading but definitely not Castle Donington
NA: We’re not Donington material and I’m not sure about Reading as I’ve never been to it but we are guitar based so we might do well. I’d like to play The Isle Of Wight Festival, T in The Park, the more indie festivals
NBM: Does the band have a mission focus?
NA: I want to be successful. I want to take each day and gig as it comes. We’re not arrogant but we’re quietly confident
NBM: Where can people get a hold of your EP?
NA: Get in touch with us through Myspace or Facebook. Our music is self released at the moment. oozit.com has seven songs you can download as well. We’re also releasing a track called “Weekend Government” in Japan soon through a small distributer there.
NBM: Any advice for aspiring bands/artists?
NA: Just enjoy it. Don’t try so hard you lose the fun in what you’re actually trying to do. As soon as that happens you’ve blown it. I’ve done that in the past but now we’re enjoying it and that comes across in our music and live events
NBM: Where can people see you in the U.K. between now and the King of The Mountain Gig in April?
NA: The Barfly in Camden March 26th. Great sound, great venue. Maybe somewhere in Europe on the way to the Festival
NBM: Neil I want to thank you for your time and the interview and wish you luck in Austria
NA: Thanks for the interview. Nice chatting to you
An interview by Christopher Mundy of New Beats Media with Neil Athey, lead guitarist for Bibelots.