Rousing carousels: an interview with Woody Woodgate

 

woody_RingMaster Review

This past week saw the highly anticipated debut solo album from Woody Woodgate released, a pop adventure lighting ears and imagination at every captivating turn. In Your Mind is an encounter which put a smile on our faces whilst often providing evocative hues to reflect and linger over. We had to delve a little deeper into the album and with the kindness of the man himself we explored one of this summer’s treats…

Hi Woody and many thanks for sparing time to chat with us.

Let us get straight to the main reason for taking a slice of your time, debut solo album In Your Mind. With your long creative career in music it feels a little surprising it has taken so long for a solo project to emerge from you. Has this been bubbling in thoughts for quite a while or something which suddenly erupted inside because of a break in other endeavours?

After releasing the Magic Brothers album The Magic Line with my brother Nick, I wanted to take our songs to another level. Quite simply I wanted to work with other musicians. My brother Nick and I have been writing songs together for years. Songs that are appropriate for Madness, go to Madness, songs that I love, but aren’t appropriate for Madness I’ll work on. It’s no good if they don’t see the light of day. Nothing’s been bubbling; it’s all been coming out for years in different guises.

The diverse tracks and sounds within the album is something distinctly different to Madness and indeed Magic Brothers for me. I think I read they were originally planned for the second Magic Brothers album, is that so and how much did you develop further once they were destined for In Your Mind?

They were destined for the Magic Brothers, but it wasn’t really a Magic Brothers project once I got Dan Shears (vocals) and Tim Maple (guitars, and Keyboards) on board. I also took over all the arranging and producing, so it became increasingly my project.

woodywoodgate_inyourmind-_RingMaster ReviewWere there any particular musical inspirations which might have sparked flavours woven into In Your Mind?

I’m a kid from the seventies so it’s packed with influences from the Beatles, ELO, Supertramp, 10cc, through to Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix. Not forgetting my 37 years of Madness, which is my default setting when writing 3 minute pop songs?

Obviously writing and developing songs within a broad line-up like Madness must be very different to composing and creating in Magic Brothers and your solo release. Have you found there is a kind of freedom coming with writing your own music and songs without having to I guess compromise more?

It’s very rewarding being able to put in rock guitar riffs, solos, multi-layered vocals, and do soppy love songs, but it’s also quite hard in the sense that you don’t have anyone to tell you whether or not you’re going up your own jacksy. Self-indulgence can be a dangerous thing, if not checked.

As much as the songs and sounds captivated us here so did the wave of nostalgia it sparked, memories of being a small excited and innocent kid going on that big adventure on a holiday etc. I am assuming it was those kinds of experience and memory for you inspiring songs and album?

If I can put across my experience, I guarantee there’s someone out there who can relate. I also think that lyrics can mean different things to different people, and that’s the beauty of music. The simple fact that you were captivated, and conjured up visions of “a small exited and innocent kid on that big adventure on a holiday etc.” says it all. You (as a listener) were transported into another world though the music, drawing on your own imagination. Hence, “In Your Mind.”

How personal and intimate are the songs to your childhood and experiences?

It’s a mixture of one’s own experience, and imagination.

Was it easy to expose a real part of you as a person and your experiences in life into the album?

I didn’t know I had? So I suppose the answer is “Yes.”

Music was a big part of your upbringing and your brother Nick’s too?

Very much so…It was pivotal.

One of the reasons behind the album was the time allowed because the second Magic Brothers album had to be postponed because of Nick’s “on-going battle with mental health issues” to quote the press release for the album. May I ask what kind of impact his problems have brought to Magic Brothers and In Your Mind in regards to its tones, reflective depths, and lyrical themes?

To be honest, the only thing that was affected by Nick’s illness was his ability to perform live, and take the new album on the road. Nick thought it was only fair that we try out other singers, as the pressure was getting to him, and pressure can set off psychotic episodes. When I found Dan Shears, the pressure on Nick was lifted, and he was able to go back to what he’s best at, and that’s writing great songs. When it comes to writing songs Nick’s illness isn’t a problem, it doesn’t impair his ability to write, and his lyrics very rarely touch on his psychosis, they’re more about his relationships. In all respects he’s just a songwriter, like anyone else. It’s just he’s a very good one, who happens to have schizophrenia.

So though not to the fore Nick’s creative hand is more involved in the album than we might initially imagine?

The album would be nothing without Nick. He is the catalyst to all the songs. I simply reconstruct the dinosaur from the scraps of bones I’m given. Granted there is a lot of interpretation involved, but all in all we complete each other.

Tell us about the link up with Dan, how did you meet and what inspired you to get him involved?woody_RingMaster Review

I worked in a school ten years ago teaching Music Technology and Media Studies, and Dan was a student doing his A-levels. He stood out from the crowd, and was clearly a special talent, with a great voice, and musical sensibility. A part from that we really got on well, and he made me laugh. When I was trying out new singers for the album the one thing that became apparent was their lack of range. I hadn’t seen Dan for ten years, but he kept cropping up in my thoughts, as he was the one singer I knew could do the job, but I had no idea where he was, or what he was doing with his life. Ironically he contacted me on social media to say that he was releasing a solo album, and would I be interested in giving it a listen? I put it to him that I too was doing an album, and would he sing on it? The rest is history.

His voice reminded us of a mix between Ian Broudie and Ste McCabe, and really stoked and matched the feel of the music and their intimate revelry well.

Interesting? Queer Core Lightening Seeds. Not something I envisaged, but I can see where you’re coming from.

How involved was he, other than vocally of course?

Involved in as much as he was encouraged to be himself, and to put his own inflections into the vocal performance

Is there any particular moment within In Your Mind which gives you a certain tingle of satisfaction or pleasure etc.?

Only that it sounds great on radio…Which gives me a buzz from a technical point of view.

Now it is out luring acclaim and attention, is there a thought inside that you should have done this sooner?

I couldn’t have done it sooner, I wasn’t ready. I had too much to learn. Now is the perfect time. I’m ready.

Time allowing, will exploring further solo adventures possibly be on the cards?

Absolutely!

woody and dan from In Your Mind video_RingMaster ReviewI love the video for the song In Your Mind, a song relating to Nick’s issues I believe? Who is behind and created its captivating and evocative look?

Tom Johnson, another of my brilliant students back in the day created the video, but you’re wrong about the subject matter. It’s not about Nick, and in a way you have fallen into the trap of stigmatising him. Just because the video is surreal, and the title is ‘In Your Mind” you are presuming it’s about mental illness. It is in fact about getting lost in your imagination, the way children do when they play, and how we get carried away in a book, or story. We can be transported to another world in our minds. It’s as simple as that.

(In our defence it was the press release stating the song “was an ode to a younger brother battling his demons” which led our thoughts to that conclusion and only in regard to that one track)

Is there a chance any of the songs within In Your Mind might get a live airing at some point, somewhere?

I’m going to try and put in a gig or two, in between Madness commitments. We’ll see.

Once again big thanks for taking time out for us. Is there anything you would like to leave us with?

My advice to anyone listening to the album is to take out of the equation the fact that my brother is a schizophrenic, and judge it on its merits alone. You may hear the album in a new light, and it won’t cloud or prejudice your thinking.

Lastly, I know you are working with the charity Rethink Mental Illness. Would you like to give details/links people can go to learn more and offer their support?

Twitter: @rethink or www.rethink.org

http://www.woodywoodgate.co.uk/

Read the In Your Mind review@ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/woody-woodgate-in-your-mind/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 16/07/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

Woody Woodgate – In Your Mind

Woody with Dan_RingMaster Review

It is a bit of a surprise that Madness drummer Woody Woodgate has only now unveiled a debut solo album, though given the busyness of the man over the years with various projects as well as of course with the Nutty Boys similarly it is not. Anyway the time has come and the enjoyably charming In Your Mind does not disappoint.

Taking the opportunity to hit the studio with fresh ideas whilst the Magic Brothers has been put on hold due to an on-going battle with mental health issues for his brother Nick, the other half of the acclaimed band, Woodgate has created a collection of melody rich pop songs which vivaciously dance on the senses and imagination. They also carry an openly personal and intimate aspect to them, playing like a kaleidoscope of reflections from the life of their creator whilst shimmering on and seducing the ears.

With vocalist Dan Shears aligning his unique and captivating tones to the sounds of Woodgate, contributions from guitarist/keyboardist Tim Maple, bassist Dan Drury, Madness’ brass section The Brass Monkeys, wife Siobhan Fitzpatrick, and brother Nick bringing their skills to the magnetic release also, In Your Mind swiftly has thoughts engaged as it opens with This Is It. The track is a brief scene setter, a glimpse of life breeding the spark to go on ‘romantic’ escapades, they starting with the following Magic Train. Instantly the song, through keys and a jazzy air, is an escape from the mundane into vibrant adventure, melodies and grooves flirting with the imagination whilst beats dance with ears and feet. The expressive tones of Shears bring their alluring colour to the ‘trip’ soon after, his voice courting songs like an enjoyable mix of Ian Broudie and Ste McCabe, and indeed here but more so across the album strong whispers to The Lightning Seeds kiss the music too. Becoming richer and thicker with every passing temptation, the song is an inescapable infection getting the album off to a strong and highly pleasing start.

woodywoodgate_inyourmind-_RingMaster Review     A spicy tang coats the following Something, guitar and keys bringing a smattering of country rock to their enterprise whilst vocals and harmonies swing with catchy revelry throughout. A bluesy tone also adds to the energetically creative waltz of the song whilst the brass seducing is simply the cream on the top of another captivating persuasion before the bewitching stroll of the album’s title track slips in. Bred in a sixties pop smile and melodies which quickly bring the sounds of Kirsty MacColl to mind, the song is a serenade for the summer, a warm kiss of pop which simply blossoms in strength and persuasion with every listen, in sound and the just as potent intimacy fuelling the lyrics.

Come To Me is just as irresistible straight after, though admittedly taking longer to find the same depth of reactions as other songs upon the album. There is a strong resemblance to UK indie pop band The Tonics in the song at times, but once the brass free their rich flames, the song soars into celestial climates. One of the numerously pleasing aspects of songs is the ‘simplicity’ of the lyrical side, a repetitious flare which just works, in choruses especially, but never defuses the thick emotive strength of words and intent as it graces the tenaciously spun web of catchy sounds.

The Beach marks our arrival at the seaside, its joyful lure the lead into the warm embrace and festivity of We’re All Going To Brighton. Everything about the track from the smouldering brass caresses and swaying vocals to the energetic but relaxed rhythms says escape, relief from the pressures and boredom of life’s normal days whether as a child or adult we have all felt, its charm and presence sublimely relating those emotions and excitements.

The ska seeded Friday Night To Sunday Morning saunters through ears with a dreamy glaze to its poetic pop hug. The song almost glistens as guitars, harmonies, and brass venture into their imaginative exploits, rhythms in turn bringing their own pulsating shadow, wrapped bait to the sultriness of the song. There is no escaping a feel of Madness to the rich atmosphere and happy-go-lucky sway of the song either, or another potent slice of distinct variety within the album as also on offer in Everything Is Sunshine and its tantalising croon awash with an eighties pop lure which occasionally whispers Squeeze and The Bluebells. The track quickly has the listener involved though it is soon outshine by the excellent Flower and its psyche pop beauty. ELO has reportedly been an inspiration to the songs within In Your Mind, and for sure the legendary Birmingham rock pop band is a delicious hue to the siren-esque majesty of the album’s best track, though that choice does vary from listen to listen if we are honest.

The funky psychedelic tango of Mother comes next, the song a sweltering breath of seventies inspired blues/pop rock which at times feistily simmers and in other moments enflames with tenacious ingenuity. Its success is followed by the electro rock exploration of Shaman where within its relatively gentle hug on the senses drama bubbles away, creative and emotive shadows colluding with emotive energies for a fascinating and invigorating theatre of sound.

The album is brought to a close through Thank You and its melancholic yet vibrant balladry of emotional textures and words. You can feel the heart of Woodgate fuelling its presence and sentiment, portrayed potently by Shears and only accentuated by the expanding and evocative sounds around him.

It is a fine end to an increasingly enthralling and enjoyable proposition. It is easy to assume something similar to Madness from the encounter but In Your Mind swiftly sets that thought straight and just grows with every listen. At its height it is majestic and throughout is one nonstop summer of nostalgic incitement and warm enjoyment, an encounter you firmly resolve to hurry back to time and time again even before it runs its first course.

In Your Mind is available now via DW Records

http://www.woodywoodgate.co.uk/

RingMaster 07/07/2015

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Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

Centre Excuse: In Your Mind

As soon as the brewing storm of electro punk energy and thumping rhythms accost the ear, the feeling that something special is about to unleash itself on the senses is rife. In Your Mind, the new single from UK sound rioters Centre Excuse, does not disappointment, their stunning release leaving no atom of dissatisfaction alive as its stomping and bruising encounter ignites the fullest deepest pleasure.

The trio from England’s smallest county Rutland, has left audiences and fans breathless from almost day one since forming on 2010. With their debut EP All Systems Go, the three piece of Teddy Lewis (vocalist, guitarist, synth) and brothers Jamie (guitars, bass) and Alex Rush(drums),  inspired a swiftly growing following and great responses to their inspiring blend of punk and rock drenched in the vibrant synth pop of the eighties. Their music is fresh and consuming but with a glow and blistered elegance which is hard to define yet delicious to taste and immerse within. The new single follows their last successful release, the Generation Z EP which itself continued the great acclaim and ardour spawn from previous singles.

In Your Mind is the most powerful and thrilling song yet from the band, its intimidating and feisty energy an aggressive variation from the aforementioned EP showing another strength and diversity to their sound. Whereas other songs in their continually impressing creativity bask in a captivating merger of post punk with electronic caresses and inciting rock urgency, the new single entangles the senses in a caustic maelstrom of punk and electronic acidic weaves. Think early Damned and Depeche Mode in a hybrid union with Zebrahead, and you get an idea of the wonder going on.

The track burns wonderfully as it rampages from its first note to last, the searing sonics of the keys as wonderfully harsh as they are mesmeric whilst the guitars scythe through to the senses with lean and rabid intensity. If that does not have ears and emotions blissfully on alert the explosion of rhythms and jabs drums on the senses from the drums ensures total capitulation, the bruises they offer worn like medals whilst their merciless punches reward as tremendously as the predatory tempest surrounding them.

The track is glorious and gets better with every listen. It is a song which elevates the heart rate and sends the blood surging through the body to match the intense energy unleashed and inspired in its recipients. If there is only one single you choose before the close of the year, this adrenaline driven impossibly infectious one from Centre Excuse should be it.

http://www.centre-excuse.com/

RingMaster 09/11/2012

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