Free School Top 10
Next week we celebrate the release of the brand new single ‘Love Calling’ by much loved Birmingham cosmic disco / electronica outfit ‘Free School’ with a single launch at The Hare and Hounds on Friday June 26th. The show also marks a live return for the guys who are playing their first Birmingham headline in over 12 months!
To celebrate this occasion, we’ve asked synth player extraordinaire and percussionist Steve to talk us through some of his favorite tracks that have influenced the sound of the band.
1. Lindstrom – Where You Go I Go Too
This is the track we started out trying to emulate when we started the sessions for Tender Administration, our first album. We ended up in a much different place but this track, all 29 minutes of it, takes the listener to space and back via ambient, disco, prog, chillout, pop… It’s a beast.
2. LCD Soundsystem – Pow Pow
James Murphy is our Lord. Plus Our Saviour. Mainly for his restaurant and wine tips. A huge influence on us. If you see an interview with him – read it. It should you change how you see things. We recently had the pleasure of working in the MOOG SoundLab. We recorded a version of French Cousins from our forthcoming album, using only the gear in the Lab. We aimed for a Kraftwerk vibe and it came out sounding like LCD Soundsystem. IT WAS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF OUR LIVES. Listen to how he holds off bringing the bassline in until 2m44s in this track. We use timbales and cowbell because of them (not that you need an excuse for cowbell).
3. Liars – No. 1 Against The Rush
A band in the classic art-school tradition. Never afraid to try new things, album after album after album. There’s a playfulness intertwined with great zeal to achieve new things. They try and approach everything like amateurs to keep them innocent. Andy is the innocent one in Free School. Steve is guilty. Very guilty. Here’s Angus talking about their approach. LIARS – Angus Andrew Interviewed At Home
4. East India Youth – End Result
A new one. This is ace. The song is about the writing process. Which should be dull. But it isn’t. This is great songwriting. It took Mr Doyle a year to finish the track. The production is spellbinding. And I’m not just talking about the sound. Listen to how the track moves from section to section, adding bits, taking away bits, without you realising. The outro goes to a new progression which jars at first then sweetly completes you. Reminds me of Queen. In a good way.
5. A Hawk And A Hacksaw – The Man Who Sold His Beard
Jeremy Barnes, former drummer for Neutral Milk Hotel, moved to England, drummed for Broadcast and others at Highbury Studios near the Hare & Hounds, worked in a refugee center in Leicester, learned a lot about Eastern European music, moved to Budapest for 2 years and formed A Hawk And A Hacksaw. Now if that’s not reason enough to like him then I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU PEOPLE WANT! A lot of the stuff is in non-standard time signatures which we try and incorporate in to our stuff though that tends to result in groups of 5 chords rather messing with the groove too much.
6. Spring Heel Jack – Lit
A massive moment for me was seeing this pair at The Medicine Bar at the start of this century. Joining them on stage were the finest improvisers in US & Europe (Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Evan Parker, Hans Bennink) plus J Spaceman from Spiritualized. Mixing the loping, funereal chord progressions that create the structure and grounding for the soloists to tear up and rip up and spike the atmosphere with their gut reactions to the moment. The mix of accessible, beautiful chords and the chaotic cacophony of improvisation works a treat for me.
7. GZA – Liquid Swords
We’ve stopped working with samples. Though they’re great for inspiring new music, they can get messy legally. We have one track on our new album that uses a sample of ‘The Healer/Don’t Break’ by E.W. Wainwright (with his permission). Sam Redmore has just remixed it for us and it flies straight past Todd Terje and Lindstrom at speed and says Eat. My. Dust. Go on. Eat it. Seriously, this is one for the dancefloors. In space! Anyway, this GZA track was produced by RZA and he used Willie Mitchell’s ‘Groovin’ as the basis for the track. Listen to the original and then listen to Liquid Swords. Incredible stuff. Incredible use of a sample.
8. Daft Punk feat. Paul Williams – Touch
Well a hell of lot has already been written about this album. Now the dust has long settled, the hype has faded and we’re left with the music. This is magnificent. Ambition, heart, melodies, production, melancholy. Andy wanted it to stay in the disco-y bit. I wanted it to stay in the sad bit. That’s what makes Free School work: arguments. Anyway, this inspired us to work with vocalists on our new album: Maps, Sigmund Frued, Katy Prado, Tomlin Mystic and Greg Bird. 5 of ‘em. Due for release in Autumn.
9. Miles Davis – Shhh/Peaceful
Miles is probably my Desert Island artist. On In A Silent Way, Miles developed his use of electric instruments. The producer, Teo Macero, broke down the long improvisations by splicing the tape together to form the two tracks on the album. Essentially capturing the ‘best’ of the sessions. This is essentially how me and Andy write. Plop our synths and gadgets in the studio and hit record. Then the exhausting process of editing begins. I AM NOT COMPARING US TO MILES DAVIS. That is for other people to do.
10. Animal Collective – Brother Sport
Since seeing them support Four Tet at the old Medicine Bar, Avey Tare and Panda yelping into their mics, jumping on chairs, wearing masks and getting as far out as it gets, I’ve adored Animal Collective. Through all of their albums, their lyrics have never moved me, mainly because I could barely figure them out. Banshee Beat on Feels was the first AC song that I really felt. Can’t make out the lyrics. Doesn’t matter. Not in the slightest. Brother Sport is apparently about Panda Bear’s brother’s reaction to his father’s death. Incredibly moving. Not what you expect to feel with Animal Collective. We use the Roland SP-555 because of them.
Free School play The Hare and Hounds on Friday June 26th
Support comes from Hoopla Blue, Field Harmonics, Grafham Water Sailing Club, Golden Trash DJS
Tickets are £5 advance and available from the link below