From the archives: British Sea Power interview, February 2008

Picture by Alisha Ahmed

I found this whilst looking through some old work. It’s an interview I did with Yan from British Sea Power at the beginning of 2008, around the time they released Do You Like Rock Music? I remember laughing all the conversation. This short piece doesn’t really do it justice and I’ll look for the transcript. I was sure Yan was stoned. He kept going off in bizarre tangents and taking the conversations to weird and wonderful places. The article ran with a picture of his head in the centre and all these coming off as thought bubbles.

It’s a bit how I feel about their music, actually. I’m getting a review copy of their new album this week, which I’m excited about and will update on accordingly.

On the Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle…

“The most rock ‘n’ roll thing I’ve ever done is probably eaten a Kit-Kat and a Jammie Dodger all in one go. That was back in my wild days. If I wasn’t in a band I’d probably be a gardener. I did it for about a year and my specialty was ‘clearing’. You know, when someone has a big bramble patch in their garden or something? Well I’d go and clear it. I remember it being as rewarding as getting a single out nowadays. I’ve got bulbs in at the minute, it’s exciting waiting for them, to see which ones will come up first! I can’t remember what they are though; I just know there are three different colours.”

On secret interests…

“Sometimes silly little things mean a lot, don’t they? I probably shouldn’t say, but I’m quite a fan of pigeons. I do get moved by the sight of them on occasion. I used to take quite a lot of pictures of them and go and feed them and that. I don’t keep ’em because I used to think I’d end up like a… I don’t know what you’d call them… a ‘male bag lady’. You know, talking to the pigeons and that?”

On the great outdoors…

“I’d fancy my chances in the great outdoors. I think I’d make a pretty good forager. I’m a vegetarian you see, so I like eating leaves. I could eat anything from dandelions to nettles. You know you can make a cup of tea from pine needles? Apparently it’s got more Vitamin C than Orange Juice. But I think I could give it a go. I think most of the things I enjoy in life are natural, so to speak, so barring a disaster I think I could do it for a while.”

On British Sea Power’s live shows…

“Whilst it’s exaggerated quite a bit, we do have gimmicks. We had an eight foot bear on stage and were having fights with it on our first tour. If that’s not a gimmick, I don’t know what is! To me, it’s a case of adding a weird and random factor which is also visually interesting. Depending who was in the bear suit, it could be a dancing bear or it could be a fighting bear. Sometimes, he’d be pulling our guitar leads out and everything. I think it has got an artistic kiosk quality to it as well as being funny. I wouldn’t fancy my chances against a real bear though. Have you seen that Grizzly Man?”

On rock music…

“With the title of our new album (Do You Like Rock Music?), we’re saying that rock music is a little dead. We wanted to breathe some fresh life into it and make it more expansive. We view rock music like you would view a… eh… deer in a forest; from a natural perspective. It should make you feel excited and alive. It seems that at one point it was an interesting, even dangerous thing. People like Jerry Lee Lewis, or Iggy Pop weren’t scared of looking a bit stupid, but everything’s a bit safe now. I’d have loved to have been around to see Elvis in his youth. Not in a dodgy kind of way, mind. I mean when he started getting famous!”

On rock’s ubiquitous cover stars…

“Johnny Borrell’s an entertaining moron. He’s sometimes funny, but not for the reasons he thinks he is. I’ve got no time for him. Pete Doherty has got some talent at least. It doesn’t show itself outwardly too often, but it’s there. The last time I seen him, he asked me how many press ups I could do – which at the time was about 60 – then just walked off. I probably scared him with my high number! He doesn’t really look like he could do a press up, does he?”


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