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flag England - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 27 - 01/02/99

Mojave 3
Some kinda angels

There's been quite a large number of great albums released for the past twelve or fifteen months, so it's easy to overlook some of the more hidden gems that are around. Mojave 3's second album Out Of Tune is certainly one of them. Personally I think it's one of the most beautiful albums of 1998 and a lot better than the stripped-down debut Ask Me Tomorrow three years ago. Mojave 3 (who started out as My Bloody Valentine-disciples in Slowdive in the late 80s) recently toured Europe supporting Gomez as well as playing a handful of headlining shows in Germany. Their last show of the year took place at the MTC in Cologne where they enchanted the audience with their gorgeous blend of country-esque feeling and 60s-retro sound, reminiscent of Bob Dylan, The Band or early Neil Young. Highlights included the perfect single Some Kinda Angel, a full-blown Mercy, and a quick romp through Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere as the last encore. Sadly, hardly anybody in the audience seemed to recognise the tune. Probably because Mojave 3 still draw pretty much the same crowd that used to love Slowdive - and these people probably couldn't spot a Neil Young song to save their lives. Anyway, before the show I had the chance to talk to singer, guitarist, and songwriter Neil Halstead. Here's what he had to say:

Carsten: Your second album has been pretty long in the making. I for one didn't really expect it to see the light of day...
Neil: Yeah... it took about a year from start to finish, but we didn't do much for quite a while in between. We did a lot of touring after the first album, and then there were about six months where Rachel (Rachel Goswell, bass and vocals, who, together with Neil, and drummer Ian McCoutcheon, made the original trio - editor's note) couldn't do anything. She had like panic attacks and stuff like that. So yeah, it took about a year or so.

C:What was the most time-consuming aspect of it? Writing the songs, or recording them or even the mixing?
N: We started off in Cornwall and spent a month there recording what is the basis for the album on an 8-track. But everybody was busy doing other things and we didn't really have much money as a band... so we just fitted in going up to Glasgow to do the brass a couple of months later and then tried to mix it. We spent three weeks in a studio in London mixing it and then scrapped everything. Then we came back to it a few months later. There are big gaps in between.

C: You said you did it mostly on an 8-track, but still the new album seems to have a fuller sound. Does that have anything to do with the addition of Simon and Al? (Guitarist Simon Rowe, and pianoman/keyboardist Al Forrester - editor's note) Was it like: We want a more prominent sound, so we need new guys in the band, or did the fact that you had two new members just mean it had to be a fuller sounding album?
N: Simon joined us for our first tour and when Al joined it was a fuller sound even with the old stuff. It just reflects the group as it is now. There's the drony things from the Hammond organ now. There wasn't really much drony stuff on the first album.

C: How important is change generally? Do you sit down and make a plan like 'this and that has to be different this time'?
N: We always try a different approach and this time we basically did it as a live band. The first one is much more a studio album, cause nobody had heard the songs before we went to the studio. There's really no plan, you just hope that it'll sound different.

C: How do you cope with the fact that you get very good press most of the time but still don't sell gazillions of records?
N: Well, that's just the way it works I suppose (laughs). I have faith in the fact though that what we do is good and that kinda valids it. The big gap between the first and second record means that we're basically starting at the same point again. So if there's a plan at all it's to get stuff out a little bit quicker next time. The songs are there, but we just mess around with them for too long. We're not organised enough to work at a quicker pace.

C: I guess you had quite a bit of bad luck in the past as well, first with Slowdive being dropped, then Rachel's illness and now the fact that you lost your distribution deal in the USA.
N: Yeah, that's true. But we got a new deal in the US now with Sire.

C: How do react when people compare your albums to Bob Dylan or even Nick Drake. It's obviously an honour, but couldn't it be that they expect your next album to be just as good as Blonde on Blonde or Pink Moon? That would be quite a burden, I 'd imagine...
N: I don't know whether it's that. I know there's a lot of influences apparent on the record, but I hope there's enough other stuff on there that makes it worth while.

C: Do you aim to make timeless music?
N: We try to make music that we wanna listen to, even though once we've finished an album we never listen to it (laughs).

C: You've been on tour now on mainland Europe for a couple of weeks, mostly supporting Gomez...
N: Yeah, but that's because we were already into Gomez when the thing came along. Germany is the only place now where we play on our own, but we'll do some headlining dates in Scandinavia in January and the plan is to go back to France as well.

C: Do you like to be the support act? Your last European tour was a support-slot for Lisa Germano and in the UK you've recently played with Bernard Butler.
N: To be honest, that's kinda what our experience is really. It's always very nice to do your own show, though, cause you know people have come to see you. On the Gomez tour we've managed to reach new people which is what it's all about. We also change the set most nights. With Gomez we had a really short set, just like 30 minutes. At our own shows we sometimes do covers as well, we might do a Neil Young song tonight.

C: Okay, thanks a lot for talking to me!
N: Cheers!

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