The Blue Aeroplanes - Q&A
The Blue Aeroplanes are one of the most influential bands in contemporary British music – cited as inspirations by luminaries including Radiohead and REM. Rivalling the Sugababes and The Fall for line-up changes they are stapled by brothers Gerard and John Langley and human movement extraordinaire Wojtek Dmochowski. We caught up with the band to discuss the evolution in their sound, upcoming tour and recording of new album ‘Welcome, Stranger!’.
Q. You’re originally from Bristol. Can you tell us what influence the city has had on you and your music?
In terms of its bohemian atmosphere and generally lackadaisical approach, quite important. In terms of being included in its cultural life and history, not at all, not being trip-hop enough, obviously.
Q. Wojtek’s onstage dancing is obviously indebted to the band’s sound but has his dancing ever influenced the music?
We were going to include a tap-dance solo on a track quite early on, a 12-string folk version of Dave Brubeck’s ‘Unsquare Dance’ and Wojtek embraced the concept whole-heartedly, even insisting that he should do tap-dance solos on all our tracks. Actually, being in some weird time like 7/8 it proved virtually impossible, and John had to improvise with the tap shoes.
Q. Does the band have a collective favourite?
Are you joking? We don’t even have a collective favourite drink.
Q. How is ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ progressing?
Getting the vinyl copies back from the factory tomorrow, apparently, so it’s progressing just fine.
Q. How has the writing and recording process changed from ‘Swagger’ to ‘Welcome, Stranger!’?
Not much. We always recorded the basic tracks live, even when studios didn’t really do that and would have to order in more microphones and we’d have to put guitar amps in the studio toilet. For this album, the original riffs and chord sequences were mutually jammed and organised into suitable shapes and then I finished the words mainly as poems, pretty much as we did for ‘Swagger’. That’s what happens when you have a relatively stable band. It’s a quite lovely thing, actually.
Q. You’re one of the few bands who can rival The Fall for line-up changes, why has this been the case?
Well, no one really gets fired. The first big line-up change happened because most of the band were students and under parental pressure to get proper jobs when they graduated. Other line-ups were formed out of people who were all in other bands. Some musicians have left to pursue avenues outside music, such as making Braille bibles in Cornwall, or living in an eco-village in the Australian rainforest. One of them joined Massive Attack.
Q. Are there any new bands or artists that piqued your interest?
Speaking personally, I’m a big fan of both Ezra Furman and Courtney Barnett.
Q. What does 2017 have in store for The Blue Aeroplanes?
We’re halfway through writing the next album, which could feature such exotic additions as cellos and a gamelan orchestra. And I’m aiming to get my ‘Selected Poems & Lyrics’ out for the new year.
A couple more live albums from different eras are almost done. And I’m working on a big fuck-off statement about the shit nature of the world. And we’re touring all over the UK in January, so everyone should practise their dance steps.