These Questions Go To Eleven

(Originally published in January 2009 on an American music website. I’ve just had a look and see it’s no longer there so here it is for you to enjoy again! As always, with some added annotation because I can’t leave anything aloneJames Silvery).

1.  What music did your parents play in the house while you were growing up? I only really remember two records that I kept coming back to again and again when I was little, Queen’s Greatest Hits and Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds. Both got played to death by me on my dad’s massive old Sanyo music centre. And massive headphones too. In those days I would never tire of repeated listens all day. They’re both quite an introduction to pop music, and it’s brilliant to think that as a kid I thought all music was that ridiculous.

2.  Who is the best artist we have probably never heard of? Definitely Cardiacs. I guess basically they’re the English Pixies, punky, loud, complicated, but capable of extreme beauty and artful lyrics. But where The Pixies go back to the American blueprint of surf riffs and bluesy chords, Cardiacs reference old music hall and typically English imagery like the seaside and horses. Their mainman Tim Smith is easily up there with Bowie & Lennon, at least on the sheer quality of his output for the last 30 years. I think he’ll be remembered as a real maverick genius when he’s gone. And they influenced everyone, from Blur to Radiohead to Faith No More to Arcade Fire.

3.  What record did you used to love, but now can’t stand? **** *** ********** *** by *********.

4.  What song do you want played at your funeral? ‘I Am In Love With The World’ by The Chicken Shed Children’s Theatre, and ‘Tiny Tears’ by Tindersticks. In fact almost anything off Tindersticks’ Second Album, if they don’t cry because I’m gone, they’ll weep at the music.

5.  What is your favorite b-side? I drive everyone mad by my love of an obscure b-side. There’s many early Blur and Britpop era ones, but I think those early Suede b-sides were amazing. ‘Where The Pigs Don’t Fly’ just nicks it I think, mainly down to it reminding me of walking my dog in the late summer ’92.

6.  Which medium do you prefer: vinyl, cd, or download? Another great question… and after much thought, I’d have to say tape. The format I grew up with, and it’s still the tape versions of albums I pine for when I’ve not listened to something for a while. I dabbled with MP3s and they serve a purpose, but they need to sort out nice packaging for them. That said, it was having a vinyl release that really made the whole band thing ‘real’ to me… the one format you can’t make in your bedroom. (Note – my favoured listening now is WAV and FLAC through the laptop, hopefully sourced from the earliest Japanese pressing of an album I can find)

7.  What artist would your fans be surprised that you like? I think people that know Silvery will know that we’re fans of a lot of different things, from classical, through some 60s lounge and easycore collections to bad 90’s pop. But maybe the music I like that is most far removed from what we’ve released so far is Ottowan. Remember them? ‘D.I.S.C.O’ and ‘Hands Up’ are amazing.

8.  What musician would you choose to cover one of your songs? Easily The Beatles, just to see what the most famous band on the planet make of it. And I’d coin it in. Or maybe a female… Tori Amos does wonderful covers of songs originally sung by men. Hearing her do a piano led ‘Ghosts’ would be wonderful, as I think it’s a bit based on her.

9.  Who is the most overrated artist? I never really got into Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, but that’s more down to me being lazy (as of March 2017, this hasn’t changed – although reading it back, I’m not sure that I actually answered the question). I think only newer bands suffer from the overrated tag in its purest sense and I could reel off quite a list of them. But I do like how the POP machine works so if a band flukes getting a load of hype, good luck to them.

10. What musician or band do you wish you’d seen play live in their prime? As much as I’d love to say Sparks or Queen in ’74 or Bowie in ’72 I have enough bootlegs of them to keep me going. So I’d say Jacques Brel. When I listen to him, I can listen to nothing else for a long long time.

11. What non-musical influences do you have? Loads! We’re always asked about the whole Victorian London thing… that comes from my love of H.G. Wells, which leads onto an interest in Fortean phenomena like ghosts and Ufology and JFK. I was obsessed with early diesel locomotives when I was young so we have a couple of songs about them and occasionally try to sound like them too, and I have a decent grounding in philosophy so that occasionally pops out in some of the more puzzling lyrics. (Thank you KC for the questions).

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