News Column

I'd rather talk about making music, there's more to discuss

May 18, 2013

YellowBrix

By Matt Berry

The actor and comedian is perhaps best known for his roles in The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh, but he''s also an accomplished musician, who'll be releasing his fourth album, Kill The Wolf, next month DO YOU ENJOY TOURING AND PERFORMING? Yes, I love playing live. Some songs always sound better live, with added solos and things. I really do enjoy it.

DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO TOUR YOUR MUSIC? I''ve toured since about 2007, so I''m quite used to it now. It''s important too, if you release music you should show people that you mean what you''re doing, and that your music isn''t just some studio-based project.

MARK MORRISS OF THE BLUETONES IS IN YOUR BAND, ISN'T HE? Yes, he is. We''ve got Mark, a multi-instrumentalist called Cecilia Fage, who has been with me since the start, and Andy, who has also been there a long time. I also have assorted jazzers in the band, which works really well. I don''t mind their improvisational tendencies, because it really fits with the style of music we''re doing. Not every song, but there is room on some of them.

WHEN DID YOU WRITE THE ALBUM? I recorded it over Christmas and January, but I''ve been working on it for the previous year.

DO YOU FIND SONGWRITING EASY? It''s difficult to say, really. I react to impulses, and I''ll have an idea for a song and I might not finish it, but I''ll wake in the middle of the night three weeks later and write some more of it. There''s always something ticking away in the back of my head and it''s about working it out. I might write on guitar, or keyboard, whatever''s close to hand. I don''t ever sit down and say, 'I''I'm going to spend an hour writing a song.'' It''s always a spontaneous thing.

HOW DOES IT FEED INTO THE ACTING AND COMEDY YOU DO? ARE THEY PART OF THE SAME ARTISTIC PROCESS? In a way, they''re all very similar, it''s creating and creative decisions are constantly being made, whether it''s to do something physically funny, or to add a glockenspiel to something I''m writing. I''m having similar thought processes, and I suppose it all uses the same part of the brain. It might be different if the two things I did were writing songs and putting up a shelf, which I imagine don''t share very much.

WHICH DO YOU PREFER? Well, I''m definitely more interested in talking about music than I am the other platforms because I think there''s more to discuss. There are more decisions to be made with music, and the whole process is more interesting.

WHEN YOU'RE AN ACTOR AS WELL, DO YOU SEE PERFORMING AS BECOMING A CHARACTER? OR IS THIS TRULY YOU? It''s definitely Matt Berry playing songs from my album, trying to get it done right and making sure things go well. So no, not consciously, I don''t have to become a character, and it''s not a comedy gig, that is a misconception about my music. There are no sly winks or nods, and it''s all done for love. Someone was telling me recently that I''ve made an album which references their guilty pleasures, like prog rock and old psychedelic folk. Well, I don''t feel guilty about any of this, I don''t care who knows that I love all that sort of music.

WHEN DID YOU GET INTO PROG ROCK? I don''t know if it''s prog as such that I love, but I suppose I fell for Tubular Bells when I first heard it, and the idea that Mike Oldfield could play all those instruments on his own.

DO YOU PLAY EVERYTHING ON THE ALBUM? Everything apart from the drums. It was all done and then we took the recordings to a studio where the drummer recorded drums on everything in a day. There are bits from other people, too; Eric Johnson of The Shins plays guitar on a couple of tracks and Alex (Robertshaw) from Everything Everything plays slide guitar on one song.

WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING GUITAR? When I was kid, really. I can''t read music, so I approach every instrument without fear, which is probably the only thing in life I approach in that way. I didn''t have lessons, and I couldn''t play other people''s songs so I had to write my own.

Kill The Wolf is released on June 17

'' I don't have to become a comedy character and it's all done for love

Originally published by Matt Berry featureseditor@belfasttelegraph.co.uk.

(c) 2013 Belfast Telegraph. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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