The Wolfgang Press
RAD met with Michael Allen and Andrew Gray, of The Wolfgang Press, during
their "Funky Little Demons" tour.
- I read a bio that 4AD gave us about "Funky Little Demons," so I
probably won't ask as much about that. You look like you want to say
- I was wondering what the bio was; sometimes they're a bit obscure,
by the biographers we've had. But I think that one was fairly
- It seemed like they had several quotes from you about how, on "FLD"
you're doing something new and old at the same time, technically;
going back to your roots. Remember saying that?
- Oh, right. I remember, yeah. Certainly. We've been mixing it, which
we have been, for a while, really, just messing the state-of-the-art
technology with stuff like guitars, and keyboards and sort of going
back to, as Andrew puts it, "organic" sort of sounds, more natural
feel, you know, as opposed to like on "Queer," it was a little bit
more electronic, and this is more natural sounding, softer in some
- I have a friend who is convinced that Andrew is the one that on
"Queer" is saying, "In Venezuela they have lots of cocaine," like in
the song "Louis XIV." I guess there's a picture of you on front of the
CD, all hunched over -- (laughter)
- Uh, it was a friend of ours, Gary, from Renegade Soundwave. It's his
little bit there.
- One question we're always interested in is, well, personally, what are
your favorite canned foods?
- Favorite canned foods? Baked beans.
- (musing) Tuna... Canned foods... I mean, does fruit come into it at
- Oh, yeah, anything that can come in a can.
- Well, custard and oranges, then.
- That comes mixed together in a can?
- No, it doesn't , but I mix it.
- So, how many times have you toured in the U.S. now?
- (to Andrew) What would you say this is, the fourth time?
- Fourth time for us.
- Did you tour here first with maybe your second album? Third?
- It was... I think "Birdwood Cage" was the first time we came over.
Cause that was when we was being distributed by Rough Trade. And then
we came over with "Queer," didn't we? But didn't we come over between
- We did, we did... No, Nick Cave was "Birdwood Cage" and, um, the one
before that must have been "Standing Up Straight."
- I'm not sure; I'm a bit confused about that one. But this is
definitely the fourth time.
- Do you still play some of your older tracks? Or do you steer away from
- The oldest track that we do, I think, is "Kansas," probably, isn't it?
- Yeah, Kansas .
- A friend of mine told me to beg you guys to do "Cut the Tree."
- We were thinking about doing it.
- We were. We wanted to do that.
- But it's cause we've got like a whole live band now, it takes time to
get the tracks and convert them, because there used to be a DAT --
just a DAT with bass and drums, and a few other things. It was just
the three of us, but that's all changed now. We're trying to do it
- Why the change? Just to do something different?
- Uh, yeah, actually, and on the Nick Cave tour, I think, seeing...
- We realize...
- Yeah, seeing his group and the way they interacted, and just having
a live drummer and stuff, we just said, yeah, I think this is the
thing to do next. So, it does, it works a lot better, just having the
physical... seeing, like, real drums.
- People seeing, you know, people playing the instruments; it has been
so much nicer than having things on tape. And it's very restrictive
having things on tape.
- In the bio, it also talked about how the thing that changed your
career around was that De La Soul album.
- (pause) I thought it wasn't bad; I mean, everybody puts too much
- Yeah, exactly. It was something that certainly affected me. It's not
the music, it wasn't the music, although, as I've always said, I think
it's an amazing album. It was just how they went about making the
album. I like the way they seemed to approach the making of it. It
just seemed like, real free and easy, and sort of like, they've just
got their friends in, and just, almost like it just happened. You
know, there wasn't any effort. And everybody's just enjoying
themselves -- they could have been at home having a party -- it seemed
like that, you know, that kind of an album. That's what I really liked
- What do you find yourself listening to nowadays? Or do you listen to
- I really don't listen to much, I must say. I know Andrew probably
does. But I -- the only thing recently that I've listened to is
Portishead, Massive Attack, and, uh... not really a great deal.
- Luna. I liked the "Bewitched" album. I've heard a couple of new tracks
they've been doing, some covers, "Bonnie and Clyde," which is Serge
Gainsbourg. It's really good. They're really good.
- How do you get ideas for what you want to do musically? Do you have
- Not really, not any technique of any type, I mean it's...
- Do you separate, do you get together on the songs?
- Well, sometimes we do, yeah. Sometimes we do it individually.
- Yeah, this last album was a breakaway from how we've done it in the
past. We've always, in the past, sat around together and, you know,
just made some noise, made something out of that noise, structured it
together. Um, but with this one, we did sort of like work separately.
- About half and half for this album.
- Do you have a preference as to how to work?
- Not really.
- Whichever way, whichever mode sort of gets it going, you know,
whichever way helps it along; it doesn't matter. As long as, you know,
everyone's in agreement with what is going on. And obviously that has
to be the case, that the other people are happy, I guess, with what
you come up with.
- When you were saying how, about the way that De La Soul worked on that
album and made it more of a fun kind of thing, what was it like when
you were making your earlier albums?
- It was like, on the first few albums, I think -- certainly "Burden of
Mules" -- although it doesn't sound it, I mean, I really enjoyed it
-- making the album -- because it was sort of just experimenting and
messing around in the studio, subjects which interest you. Or which
make sense to you; or you're comfortable writing about some things.
Ourund in the studio, subjects which interest you. Or which
make sense to you; or you're comfortable writing about some things.
Our themes will always, I think, be what they are. An opinion, really,
that may surprise you. Or maybe from a different perspective, where
you get to where you get different ideas about certain things.
- It seems like you have a lot of lyrics about morality, or sin, or..
I don't know, maybe I'm just thinking of certain songs.
- Yeah, I mean, it's all in there. It's about life and how you're coping
with it, and you want to sort of like be... uh, doing the right thing.
It's about trying to do what you're doing and remain true and honest,
with yourself and other people. It's what we're doing.
- The music, it's... We're using different technology each time and
working with a different producer, and that helps, as well, so it
changes all the time. That's how we like it, really, and we don't like
to stick to, or try to stick to, one form or another, so we change it.
- I don't think the fans would like you to do that, either.
- No, no. It's just a natural thing to do, to me, to change each time.
- There are some people who say, Yeah, well I just like the old Wolfgang
Press; they're too mainstream now, or...
- Well, that's it, I mean, if you do change, then you've got to accept
- Yeah, well, you're always gonna run into people who are always gonna
say, Well, they were much better then, you know... You're gonna lose,
and you're gonna win in other areas. What's important is that we feel
that we're doing something worthwhile and fresh, for us. It doesn't
matter to me whether it's mainstream or not. I don't care if we make
a pop record; it's whether it's a good pop record. That's what's
important, that it's good -- from where I stand. I don't care what
kind of music, you know, I listen to or make.
- You don't care what kind you listen to or make? As long as you enjoy
- Well, no, as long as it's good, and it all sort of makes sense to me.
I mean, if there's a song which someone considers to be a pop song,
and they don't like it because it's a pop song, I find that INCREDIBLY
snotty. I mean, there's good pop songs out there. Just because it's
been number ten in the charts, you can't like it... Isn't that a
ridiculous of an attitude?
- How was it working with Tom Jones when he did your song ("A Girl Like
You")? Did you have fun? Did you like the guy?
- Yeah, I liked him a lot, actually.
- Yes --
- Do you think he's a good dresser?
- Michael & Andrew
- I actually like when he's dressed more casual, like when he came to
- No, I liked him when he had his suits, sort of like this Italiano, or
something... Mafioso. He's got this like big black tie and black
shirt. He looked good, I thought. He's a good man, he's a good man,
you know. He knows what he is, and he's comfortable... No ego, that
I could detect.
- Did you expect him to have an ego?
- I expected him to be... something, or, you know, sort of...
- A star?
- He's a star, there's no question about it. But he was just really sort
of cool, you know.
- Very relaxed. But, um, we were quiet once we were working on the
track, you know, it's the first time we actually wrote for someone
else.especially the one that we actually wrote for him to do. It was
actually a good experience. Cause we weren't thinking about us, the
group, writing a bit of music for us, but for this person. We hadn't
actually met at this time; we were just demo-ing. But we'd all sort
of seen him on TV and stuff like that.
- And then, did you all play the instrumentation on it?
- Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, most of the original instrumentation, like the
guitars and stuff, were actually the ones we used in the demo and
such, but we used a lot of the originals and stuff on it. It's got a
lot of real brass, and it's just all sequence and stuff. But a lot of
- So what other artists or musicians would you like to do songs with,
or work with?
- I'd actually like to work with Flood again. We worked with him on
"Birdwood Cage," but I think he's had a lot more experience than when
he worked on that. And I'd actually like to sort of work with him
again, cause I think he's made -- the last couple of albums he's made
-- are really interesting.
- You know, he did the P.J. Harvey.
- Don't you think there's sort of similarities with some of ours, like
- I've only heard the single, you see.
- I really think there's some similarities.
- And he has a certain sound to what he makes. But, yeah, I'd like to
work with him again.
- (to Andrew) We're talking about Barry Adamson, aren't we?
- Yeah, Barry Adamson. I actually like, and I keep coming back to it,
but the guy who produces Luna, I think, Dutch or something.
- (to RAD) You mean producers, or just in general?
- Generally. What if Michael Jackson called you up and said, I wanna do
a remake of one of your songs ?
- Fuck him. Go to... (laughter from all) ... Kansas! (more laughter) ...
No, um, I don't know... It wouldn't matter. It wouldn't mean too much
to me, to be perfectly honest. If it was someone like Bob Dylan,
maybe; well, no, no -- Lou Reed. That'd be a bit better; that would
mean a lot to me. There are quite a few people -- I can't think of
them all, actually.
- It doesn't have to be just musicians. I like people who are creative,
- So who are some of your favorite creative people?
- Cindy Sherman, I like her -- a photographer. She seems really
interesting. I like David Byrne, I'd like to work with him. I don't
know on what, but just, you know, just his whole attitude, his
approach to music, and his visions and stuff like that. He would be
good to work with.
- Artists... mainly, there's people like Harold Hodgkins -- an English
abstract painter. Hodgkins, I've heard mentioned, did a fantastic
- Vivian Westwood.
- Yes, she's great!
- She's a big designer, a clothes designer. She's done all the, sort of
original punk stuff, you know, like the destroyed t-shirts.
- She basically designed all the Sex Pistols stuff. Her head is really
good. She's nuts, but she's fucking -- she's good.
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