News Column

Q & Public Service Broadcasting A

May 24, 2013


The London-based musical duo -- J. Willgoose, Esq and Wrigglesworth -- use samples from old public information films and footage as the basis for their brand of music You''re coming to Belfast. What can you tell us about the live show? J. Willgoose, Esq: "There''s a lot going on! Me and Wrigglesworth take care of the music and do as much as possible live. There''s a lot of looping going on, especially at my end. There''s a lot of live guitar, live banjo and electronics, and he''s on drums and he''s got electronic pads and bits and bobs as well. And all around that, we play in a forest of TV sets that play footage in time with the music. We''ve got an enormous, eight-foot high TV as well. The video becomes the frontman and lets us get on with playing the music."

How did you meet and form the band? "We met in the local pub, on the darts team. We got talking about music and were friends for a long time off the back of that. I''d already been doing bits for a couple of years and I was looking for a live drummer to join in, and that''s when Wrigglesworth came along."

Your songs are all based around samples from public information films. How did that come about? "I was listening to an archive programme on Radio 4, and hearing about the British Film Institute material being released on to the internet for the first time. I distinctly remember having the idea at home -- wouldn''t it be great to do a concept album based on public information films? And then I thought it would be hideously pretentious and I shouldn''t do it at all. But I guess I must have had second thoughts at some point!" There''s a real Krautrock feel to your music, despite a lot of very British themes. Were German bands like Neu! and Can a big influence? "I was aiming for a cross between DJ Shadow''s Endtroducing and Massive Attack, and the more interesting Radiohead stuff. I fell way short of that and it skewed off in a slightly different direction anyway. The Krautrock thing was to undercut any rampant nationalism that might be perceived by other people. So we put the recognisable Krautrock drumbeat behind the song Spitfire."

That concern over 'rampant nationalism' ... ' ... did it suddenly occur to you after a while, or were you conscious of it from the beginning? "From the beginning. Especially dealing with WWII, you don''t want to fall in with the wrong crowd. We''ve managed to avoid that quite well. It was definitely at the back of my mind when I was making it -- to avoid it becoming a bloody anthem for the EDL or anything like that."

Have you thought about where you can take PSB in the future? "Yeah, we get asked this a lot, and I don''t know if that''s because people see us as novelty or what. One of the reasons behind [WWII- themed EP] The War Room was to write something serious; that wasn''t novelty. As far as I''m concerned, there''s enough in it to keep it going. I know what the next subject I want to deal with is. I know how I want to do it. And I''m talking to people-- the BFI are involved again and there are some other people I want to get involved. In the next three or four months I''ll start getting some ideas down and seeing what happens."

Your album is named after the BBC''s remit to 'inform, educate and entertain'. '. Does it still do that? "I think it does. The album track Lit Up is a defence of the BBC while highlighting one of its more infamous instances of shooting itself in the foot, which it does continue to do. But you only have to look at the people who are giving it a good shoeing -- the Daily Mail and Rupert Murdoch -- to know that it''s clearly doing something right. I think we''d be a much poorer country without it."

Public Service Broadcasting play the Stiff Kitten, Belfast, on Tuesday, May 28. For details, visit INTERVIEW BY CHRIS JONESS

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