Manchester’s The Travelling Band head back out on the road in support of their forthcoming third album, The Big Defreeze. Funded through a successful Pledge Music campaign, the long-player was recorded with producer Iestyn Polson (whose credits include Patti Smith, and Davids Gray and Bowie). Combining elements of Manchester’s famed guitar band lineage with a love of classic Americana, it’s preceded by the pay-as-much-as-you-want EP, Hands Up and a live session for 6Music’s Marc Riley – a long-time champion of the band.
Vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player Jo Dudderidge takes the questions.
Q: How do the tracks from the Hands Up EP relate to the forthcoming album?
A couple of the tracks are taken from the new record, including Hands Up, which has sort of become the anthem of how we made the album. Took my Soul is another track which was recorded in sessions at The Church [in Crouch End, London] but felt more appropriate for the EP.
Q: Is there a theme running through The Big Defreeze, or anything that links the songs?
Absence, hope, apocalyptic love and the dream state. We’ve been locked away in creative hibernation, so coming back and releasing music again and playing to our fans is part of that. We are thawing out.
Q: How do you think it stands next to the previous records, 2008’s Under The Pavement and 2011’s Screaming Is Something?
It’s our most accomplished yet, and back recording in a studio environment with a top producer has certainly helped realise that. Stylistically, acoustics have been swapped for electrics, there’s more use of piano and also vintage synth’s like the Juno 106 which we fell in love with in the studio. The record has definite sound of a band playing together in one space. It’s certainly a lot less folky than our previous albums but we’re still digging singing harmonies together. We always try and serve the song, that’s the running theme of our music. The style has to evolve.
Q: What kind of influence did having a ‘name’ producer have?
Having produced the last record ourselves, we needed to work with someone we could trust and let go with. Good producers get a ‘name’ for themselves because they get the best out of the artists and bands they work with to make music. They have the experience to know when to say the right thing and sometimes more importantly, when to say nothing and let the band be a band. Iestyn is one of those guys. It was an intense and great experience working with him. We’ve grown as a band because of it.
Q: How has the team-up with PledgeMusic worked for you?
It’s been a real success for us, the timing was just right. We have an incredibly loyal fan-base who clearly wanted to get involved and have got loads of extra music and studio access by being part of the record from the start. The gigs in people houses have been the most fun bit. Turning up to meet strangers, playing for three hours in their front rooms, having a few beers and then leaving having made new friends. It’s a beautiful thing that all these people have made this album happen. It’s our fans album as much as it is ours, which is why we wanted these most loyal to get the album before anyone else.
Q: You’re touring with Ellen And The Escapades – what do you like about them as a band?
First and foremost Ellen has a beautiful voice, tonally quite unusual and understated, and the band really bring that out with their sound and great harmonies. We first played together about three years ago in a bar in Leeds and have played countless festivals together over the last couple of years. We’ll probably have tattoos of each others faces by the end of the tour.
Q: Do you hear any musical similarity with yourselves?
I think it’s a really good fit but at the same time we’re very different bands. We certainly have a mutual love for late 60’s/70’s harmony bands like CSN [Crosby, Stills and Nash] and The Band, which you can hear in our music.
Q: What are your plans for the coming months, post tour?
We’re making grand plans for the official album release and of course this tour is huge! It’s going to be ace. After that we won’t be far off festival season. We have a few lined up already and we’re especially excited about going up to Stornoway in mid-July for the Hebredian Celtic Festival. We’ve never been that far north and having made our last record in the Isle of Mull we can’t wait to see the beauty of the Scottish landscape again. They know how to put on a party up there, that’s for sure. We’re getting pretty serious about the launch of our own brand Chilli Sauce ‘Hot Vacation’ too. Levi Roots needs to watch out…
The Travelling Band play the Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, on March 15, with Ellen And The Escapades and Birmingham act Bella Diem.
Interview by David Vincent.