The Reverend and the Makers songwriter and guitarist goes solo
YOUR DEBUT SOLO ALBUM 'FORTUNE'S FAVOUR' IS OUT NOW, WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO TAKE THE PLUNGE?
EC: Well it's been a funny old journey. I started thinking about the solo project, it's always been inside of me and something that I wanted to do because it was unfilled; Reverend is such a collaborative effort. It's been brewing for a long time and it's just taken time to get my head around it and find the confidence. To be happy with the songs I've written and believe they are good enough and strong enough. Also to be confident with me being in the limelight, it's not my natural position. I've always been the music guy having this attention to detail in the background. It's been an interesting process to learn that, but I've still got a long way to go. I started off in school in bands and in my first band I was the singer and I've had that experience at the front, but I never had the comfortable which is why I retreated backwards.
YOU'VE SAID THAT YOU HAD TO WAIT TO GET THE CONFIDENCE TO WRITE A SOLO PROJECT. THAT SOUNDS A BIT STRANGE FROM A CO-WRITER WITH REVEREND AND THE MAKERS, WHAT GAVE YOU THAT CONFIDENCE?
EC: Writing with Jon (McClure) and other people over the years has given me a grounding, it's more the lyrical side of things than anything. I've never been much of a lyricist to speak of, I've always been more of a music guy. It's more about putting my lyrics and personal thoughts and feelings out there. That was the main difficulty and being happy that they stand up to other people.
THE SONG 'IF' IS THE LYNCHPIN OFTHE ALBUM, HOW DID THAT SPARK YOUR CREATIVITY?
EC: 'If' was one of my oldest songs, I wrote it a number of years ago in its original form. It's gone through several different interpretations over the years and I've tried to find where it wants to be, find a sound and develop this confidence in what I was doing.
It's quite an old song and I think it was the first time I'd written a song on my own and thought it was really good. I showed it to a couple of people and that slowly started to build confidence. That's kind I say it all stems from that track. It was almost the beginning of a foundation and I developed other songs from that. It was also one of the first songs that we put down in the studio. Hearing it coming back through the speakers how I wanted it to sound spurred everything on.
TALK US THROUGH THE REST OF THE ALBUM
EC: The album is something that I've tried to write as a whole piece rather than a collection of songs there's not a specific narrative, but all the songs are very much drawing from my life experience. Being a little bit older now and having a family and kids you can look back at things you've been through and have a more rounded critical view and be able to pull that apart in places.
A lot of the songs on the album are about these experiences: falling in and out of love and finding your feet relationship-wise - as I have done now, or friendships. There's one particular track about a friend that I did music with way before Reverend and we thought we were going to conquer the world. Then he thought he could do it better on his own and cast me aside. It's a bit like I got the last laugh.
I'd love the idea and would like to really like people when they get hold of the album and listen to it as a whole. It's just over half an hour, and the way everything is today so disposable and instant, it's just nice to take a minute and connect with something. It would be lovely if people could do that – in general; but it would be nice if they could do it with my album.
WHAT DOES THE ALBUM'S TITLE, 'FORTUNE'S FAVOUR' MEAN TO YOU?
EC: The track on the album where I took the title from it's all-encompassing. I now feel fortunate that I've found a wife and have two lovely kids and feel settled and been able to have a career up to this point. I feel massively fortunate and I believe in fate and all that stuff.
There's the other side of the career point of view. Fortune within the music industry is a well-fabled thing “right place, right time”. You often find people who deserve fortune don't have it and a lot of people who don't deserve it have it. A lot of people get these riches and spoils and you think “what do you actually do? You have no talent,” so there's that side of it. It's an all-encompassing title with fortune, in all its fickle formats, positive or negative.
If you work hard, you have a talent you will get there in the end, that's another theme from the album. If you believe in yourself and what you want to do with your life, you can achieve it if you really want to do it. There's obviously going to be obstacles along the way, but you can overcome them.
WERE YOU CONSCIOUS OF CREATING A PARTICULAR SOUND FOR THE RECORD? OR ANY REOCCURING MUSICAL THEMES?
EC: I think with my music there's always been a nod to classic songwriting. I'm a big Beatles fan as I think most people are, largely speaking. There's a lot of that that seeps in and is ingrained in your psyche. Musically I wanted to represent that side. With the band, it's always been slightly different and I've not always been able to bring that out fully. Being a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist it's just indulging a lot of things that I've wanted to do over the years.
WHAT PROMPTED THE IDEA OF THE SHORT FILMS WITH THE CHARACTERS JACK AND AMY
EC: The whole video and the visual side was something that I very much wanted to make a little bit different than just doing a throwaway music video. The whole album is semi-autobiographical and personal in places, so I wanted it to have this personal feel through the videos.
'If' was always in my head and that was the starting point. The lovetorn elements to it seemed to leap out and say "this is my point of view." Of course, there's always the other point of view and it led on from there.
I LOVE THE IDEA OF TELLING DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE COUPLE'S STORY
EC: In the two premiers I've done on YouTube and from chatting to people at first they were first on Jack's side, but now they're not so sure and that's exactly the sort of reaction I was going for.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO CONTINUE MIXING FILM AND MUSIC WITH OTHER PROJECTS?
EC: For the short term as soon as I'm able I'd love to get out and play the album live. It's certainly something that I want to develop and make more albums, music and make more films. I've really enjoyed the whole process of making the film, I've never got involved with that side of things before. I'd love to explore more of that in the future.
THE VIDEOS HAVE A REALLY INTERESTING DANCE SEQUENCE THAT RUNS THROUGH, HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THAT VISUAL CONCEPT?
EC: That's a credit to director Dan Thornburn, it was largely his idea to bring in that fluid dance element. We talked about how to make it look visually and we discussed a few other music videos that he'd seen that had this fluid nature. The whole idea of the river and this relationship that's ebbing and flowing lends itself to that. When he suggested it I thought it might look a bit weird, but as soon as we put a few bits together I got what he was saying and the whole vibe. It works perfectly. That kind of dance theme definitely continues in the third and fourth videos.
WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE REVEREND, YOU'VE HAD TO POSTPONE MORE DATES NEXT YEAR, WHEN CAN WE SEE YOU ON THE ROAD?
EC: We were supposed to do a tour in October which was postponed and has now had to be cancelled altogether which is a bit of a blow. We are beginning to knock our heads together and think about another album, so it's certainly proceeding forward.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR OWN MUSICAL HISTORY GROWING UP?
EC: The Beatles thing comes from my mum's side, she had all the records. I remember all these tatty sleeves on the shelf that she and my aunty had played to death when they were younger. I remember being intrigued by these old record sleeves. They had all those classic hits compilations that they used to have in the 60s and 70s. I had a broad spectrum of all those songs which I always found really interesting.
There was always music around. My mum did amateur dramatics and a bit of singing, but nobody in the family was a musician, so I don't quite know where I got the drive to do it from, but certainly from my point of view growing up in the 90s Britpop was huge and Oasis and that kind of feeling, it's a little bit cliched but the feeling that if people like the Gallagher brothers, from a normal council estate in Manchester, could suddenly pick up a guitar write these songs and be famous then we could, did inspire us all to give it a go.
My mates at school started playing the guitar and I picked up my dad's old classical guitar and just started learning a few chords and that was that really. Something just stirred inside me and from there it was people like Jimi Hendrix. I was obsessed by just the sound and the imagery that surrounded him. It wasn't just his playing it was everything about him. From there the whole thing escalated and I delved into all sorts. The thing that made me want to be in a band, it's a bit cliched, but it was the whole Oasis, Britpop thing.
THE BAND STARTED OFF AT THE SAME TIME AS THE ARCTIC MONKEYS, DID REVEREND FEEL PRESSURE TO CONFORM TO A SIMILAR STYLE AS THEM OR WERE THE BAND HAPPY TO FOLLOW THEIR OWN PATH?
EC: Personally I never felt the pressure to do one thing or the other. When we started Reverend, we were all close mates with the Monkeys and Milburn. There was a bit of pressure from the industry side of things with the success of the Monkeys there were bands coming through doing similar things. I think there was a bit of pressure on us to try and conform to that, but on a personal level, Jon or I didn't feel that because we wanted to do our own thing, which was what set us apart. We've managed to navigate this path around and through and out the other side and still doing stuff today because we didn't allow ourselves to be pulled into these boxes.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE MUSICALLY ON THE SHEFFIELD SCENE?
There were loads of bands in Sheffield and I think that made it easier to not have to go to London and conform to that side of things because there was a strong identity up here. When we were trying to get a foot on the ladder I remember going to London to play gigs and there was a different vibe. Even in the North, there are all little microcosms, Manchester and Liverpool are different to Sheffield, even though we have a similar identity in what we are trying to do. Manchester was a lot louder and Sheffield was more introspective and has a very different outlook on the world.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN'T MAKING MUSIC?
EC: I don't know. I managed to get through school and uni studying business and technology, but I was always in bands. I didn't think I'd forge a proper career out of music, but at that young age, I was just trying. Then we got a break and it took off. I really don't know what I would be doing. When I was at school before I started playing the guitar I wanted to be a PE teacher because I was really into sports, maybe something like that.