Part of the Process

 The founder of British band Morcheeba talks about Novosibirsk, growing up and tequila  03/31/2014, 19:21

Katya Stromova
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Part of the Process
Photography by Sergei Mordvinov

British band Morcheeba performed in Novosibirsk for the first time on 9 March. Before the concert, band founder Ross Godfrey told Sib.fm’s correspondent about the danger of being too serious in his profession and how a mature person can liven up.

Music is a universal language, but how easy is it for you to communicate with a Russian-speaking audience? Is there any difference between their reaction and that of, say, European or American audiences?

We thought that the concerts in Russia might be a sort of freak show, when people would just come to gawk at us. But to be honest, Siberia is a bit exotic for us too, and we don’t know anything about it. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that Novosibirsk is such a modern city. Russian listeners, surprisingly, hardly differ from the others: they know our music, sing along, dance and have fun.

Artists often use concerts as a tool to express their active stand and communicate with fans. Many have cancelled their visits to Russia and Ukraine in connection with certain events. What do you think of these decisions? Is this a sensible way to express your beliefs, in your opinion?

I’m following the situation quite closely and have noticed one simple thing: information you can pick up from our sources is very different from what is published in English by Russian journalists. I’m sure that media in Ukrainian and Russian have different priorities too.

I think that calling people to revolution is a big risk for a musician.

Besides, it’s a serious responsibility — publicly expressing your opinion without having reliable information or some sort of universal truth. If you look at such gestures from a professional point of view, the boycott doesn’t punish the totalitarian regime, but the fans that didn’t get to see their favourite musicians. In my opinion, it’s a sign of laziness too.

Do you like what’s happening in modern music? Have any interesting names appeared?

1995 — the year the group was founded

It’d be good if there were at least some new names, because there’s nothing but Rihanna on the radio. I’m really depressed by the state of the music market: CD sales don’t bring in any money, and it’s almost impossible to attract investment — record companies don’t put any money into young unknown groups. It means that kids with rich parents are the only people who can record and release records. That’s why I listen to my own record collection, which I’ve been putting together since I was a kid. I love finding forgotten or unknown albums and groups in it. Overall, I like to go back through music from the late 60s-early 70s. It’s the best music in the history of mankind.

Modern music is... very boring, especially dance. There were some great drugs in the 60s, but they’re obviously shit now.

You should talk about music in the same way you talk about books — it’s silly to judge literature based on whether it’s «fresh». People ask you, «Do you read books?» and you say, «Well, yeah». What difference does it make if they were written last year or a hundred years ago? None at all. You can unearth all sorts of cool things on ethno collections: Kenyan music, some South African stuff.

Blood Like Lemonade (2010) was the seventh Morcheeba album. Head Up High was released in 2013

After a long break, you immediately recorded the excellent record Blood Like Lemonade, spent a year and a half on the road and somehow managed to put together enough material for another one — Head Up High. What kind of story do you want to tell on the new album?

On the whole, the album is about growing up. Not in the sense of ageing, but what it’s like to become an adult. We started playing together a long time ago. I was only 18 and the label put pressure on us: we had to work harder, write more and tour more. Before the split, we were literally driving each other crazy. Before we had the idea to reunite, Skye and I met by chance in London. We had dinner and a good drink, and the decision came very naturally. The Morcheeba magic came back all by itself, as if it had never gone away. It’s not even about what exactly we want to say now, but what we felt and the fact that we want to do it together again. We want to and we can.

Now we live in three different countries, each working in our home studios. We communicate by e-mail and discuss the details of each track but, by and large, we don’t strive towards a common denominator. Such a creative process doesn’t guarantee success. It’s very difficult — sometimes it works the first time, sometimes you have to go a long way to get a satisfactory result. That’s grown-up life.

Is it still fun for you to tour and go on stage after your long and sometimes gruelling history?

Oh, well that depends. Sometimes it’s just OK, sometimes all right, acceptable.

When it’s bad, there’s tequila. Fun is inevitable with tequila.

Read this interview
in Russian

Anyway, by the third month of touring you feel that something inanimate and mechanical starts to appear in the shows. Then we change the setlist and get rid of some tracks in favour of the ones that we’ve started to miss ourselves. Sometimes it’s frustrating for our fans — they want to hear everything and all their favourites, but we have to find a compromise that makes it good for everyone.

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