Nuff said. You’ve got the music in your head already…
To celebrate the fifty-year anniversary of the release of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Colston Hall put on a unique screening of the horror classic with a twist – an orchestral accompaniment playing Bernard Herrman’s infamous score along with the film.
I won’t spend my word count explaining the plot – I assume you know enough about the Bates Motel and Norman Bates’ unhealthy relationship with his mother already, whether you’ve seen the film or not. At the bare minimum I assume you’ve seen the shower scene, or at least spin offs of it, before.
The screenplay and the music in Psycho are so inextricably reliant on one another, that to see the music live, and the film as it was intended on the big screen, really attracted me to this event. The music augments Hitchcock’s direction so perfectly, making Psycho (to my mind anyway) in every way deserving of its classic status.
I genuinely enjoyed the performance, and the atmosphere before the start was suitably full of anticipation. Just the sight of the gathered strings prepared you for tension. I also thoroughly enjoyed watching the film on the big screen, despite having seen it many, many times before.
I also spoke to a couple of people who attended having never seen the film before and who had been drawn in by the uniqueness of the event. What a way to watch it for the first time – I was quite envious.
Although both the film and the music were hugely enjoyable, I couldn’t help but feel the talented orchestra were a little overlooked. It felt in parts like the film and the music were vying for attention. Although the orchestra were faultless in their performance, they were in a way cheated by technology.
It is very difficult to concentrate on the two things separately – and in a way, you shouldn’t, as it is the screenplay and score working in unison that make the film brilliant. I am in fact listening to the soundtrack as I type this (yes, if anyone walks in now I may look a little strange, tapping away to Psycho, but hey, we all go a little mad sometimes), and the music alone is worthy of attention.
However, with surround sound in modern cinema complexes so good, it was easy to forget there was an orchestra playing at all – the reason being that they played so well.
In one way, it was a greatly unique experience, and made me appreciate the film and the score afresh. It also obviously led people who hadn’t seen it before come out and get to view it as it was intended, on the big screen, with great importance placed on the wonderful score. However, in another way, one took a little away from the other.
The music was so brilliantly performed, I would have been happy to watch the orchestra without the film, and would have been pleased to give them a little more of the attention they deserved.
The event was a fun way to appreciate what is still, despite having been copied innumerable times and despite scenes now so familiar, a brilliant, unique and both cinematically and musically perfect piece of cinema.
Right to left: Tom First, Joss Stone & Matt Sellors at the video shoot for new single Mrs #1
At the end of last month I got an invite from one of my favorite Bristol based bands, Yes Sir Boss, to be part of making the video for their new single, Mrs #1 in a small pub in Easton. The new track started life as an EP when the Yes Sir Boss boys signed to Joss Stone’s label, Stone’d Records in May last year. After the release party for the EP I wrote an article saying the boys were going to make it big – and was pleased to see that now they are on the road to bigger things, they haven’t lost their original feel, and while the catchy hooks are as they ever were, very present, they still have a sense of fun that makes them playful and interesting.
Yes Sir Boss had previously recorded Mrs #1 for the album with no intention of it becoming a duet. The idea arose after they arranged to do a gig with Stone in Holland where Joss was to perform one of their songs, and where they agreed to sing a couple of hers. However, the impromptu performance sounded so good, they immediately decided to record it as a single. Another track ‘Not Guilty’ had a soft release last year, and trumpet player Tom First explained that Mrs #1 intended to be a more mainstream offering.
The band formed eight years ago when at University in Dartington, and bass payer Josh Stopford met Joss when they were kids in Devon. Tom explained that keeping the band together had been a struggle – music being such an unreliable career choice – and spoke about why they made the decision to collaborate with Joss for their first big single release.
The main reason, he told me, was his belief that the UK music industry has become increasingly cynical and susceptible to marketing.
‘Radio producers have become scared, and lack the courage to take a risk. No one takes a chance unless they know it will pay off’.
This was a large part of the band’s decision that after eight years producing music on their own, that they would collaborate with Miss Stone. Stone has been a fan of the band for some time, with her support for their music obvious in her decision to sign them to her label, investing her own money in their success.
He also spoke about the fickle nature of the British media, whose current bad reputation makes him wary. ‘The press in the UK can make or break you, or at least make things very difficult. Joss is incredibly popular in Europe and the US, but when she first started out, she was slated by the British papers. She was only about twenty and had been touring in the US and they trashed her for picking up a slight US accent. I think the British attitude can often be negative towards other people’s success, and the industry can be a very cynical place’.
It is this attitude to marketing and the way the industry works drove some of the thinking behind the new release.
‘The new single is meant to be fun. Like any other band, we need to get our name out there and get noticed. We wanted the video to be low key though – we still want to look and sound like us. I love the song, and it was really good fun to make, but it wasn’t intended as anything profound. It’s just fun to dance to!’
This is what I love best about the Bossers – they are unabashedly honest, and it shows in their music. They have just returned from a tour of Germany, and Tom says the tour has injected fresh energy into the band.
‘We played much longer sets on the Germany tour than we do in the UK, which gave us a whole different set up, and more room to be creative. It was brilliant playing where the real focus was just on the music, rather than the marketing. Britain is so saturated with bands – most people here wouldn’t go to a gig unless it was someone they had heard of. People are skint, and they don’t want to spend the cash unless they already know what they’re getting. In Germany the scene is different – the gigs were packed, but it wasn’t people who had heard of us, just people who came because they love music’.
‘We need to reach a wider audience – the live scene is amazing, but you need to get aired and that is what we are hoping to do with this single! Joss has been coming to our gigs for years, so it’s been really great working with her. It’s such an honour to record a track with such a fantastic singer who has performed with some of the greatest musicians of all time such as Solomon Burke, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger and many more’.
That’s the great thing about the Bossers. Despite working with such a big name, there is no hint of arrogance to this band, and there is an honest sense of humour and a self-deprecating nature to them. Tom was quick to admit that the single is their biggest opportunity yet and is very excited about the prospect, but is prepared that it may not mean fame and fortune.
‘If it doesn’t work out as planned that’s fine, we’ll just have to wait and see. Not sure what we’ll all do if we aren’t in the band anymore though, we’ve been doing it for so long now!’
The video was filmed at The Plough in Easton, Bristol – a typically low key venue on a Tuesday night. The extras, myself included, were treated to a free shot on the door, and the whole atmosphere of the shoot was just a bunch of fans having a few drinks and watching an intimate gig. There was no sense of enforced fun for the cameras. No one was told to stand or do anything in particular, and there was no proper rehersal Just a warm up set including a few songs by Yes Sir Boss, (including a wicked cover of The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’) and some beautiful singing from Joss Stone, whose live vocals were truly striking. There was also a quick run through of how the video would be shot, mainly to prepare the crowd for front man Matt Sellors’ crowd surfing in a very small space, so he didn’t fall on his ass during the final take.
By the time the shoot began, everyone was suitably hyped up and in the kind of good mood you get when you go to see any great band, and the performance was great. Joss Stone and Matt Sellors goal collaboration sounded great, and despite her and Matt owning the stage for the performance the band and backing were flawless and full of energy as ever.
There’s a tongue in cheek mischief to Yes Sir Boss – a sense of being irritatilgy catchy but knowing it, combined with a genuine talent and passion for the music and the fun of it that make them something unique. It’s an honest sense of fun that is so lacking in main stream music. Accessible to all, but independently and intriguingly rough edged, combined with that typically Bristol sound – ska trumpets and a nod to gypsy – that shows their roots. The new single is full of that same style, offset by Joss’s soulful voice and makes this track one that is bound to attract attention on release.
I urge you to check the rest of the album out. Although the label, and the collaboration with Miss Stone is bound to earn this track publicity, the band has staying power. I’ve always thought so, and this first dip into the mainstream has not changed my mind. They are what they have always been. And that is bloody good fun.
The single is out on April 15th, and Yes Sir Boss will be playing at Thekla on April 27th.
Saturday May 7th heralded the release of Yes Sir Boss’ new EP with Joss Stone’s label, Stoned Records at the intimate venue Fiddlers in Bedminster, and the new tracks certainly didn’t disappoint.
Being a Bristolite myself, I’ve been a fan of Yes Sir Boss for a while. Within the first hour of the doors opening, the gig was sold out; not merely a testament to their fan base at home, but to their unique, catchy-without-being-tediously-irritating hooks, their always energetic and honest performances and their brilliantly unique sound.
The Bossers have a truly eclectic mix of influences, from Spaghetti Western inspired tense build ups, to wonderful Jazz phrasing and Funky Reggae beat energy. The gig was in full swing from the moment it kicked off. They are one of those rare modern bands whose appeal doesn’t lie simply in the front man, or in some killer hook, but in the fact that all the members bring something truly meaty to the musical table, and that blend of artistic flavours combined with the genuine feeling they bring to their performance is really something different.
There’s no limelight hogging here, just a band with proper old school panache. The nice thing about this lot is that there are so many bands who attempt to fuse genres, and all that occurs is a sort of loss of identity or continuity, but Yes Sir Boss have both the talent and the balls to pull it off. What could be a musical mess for a lesser band is turned into something bold and interesting – like a Jackson Pollock of the music world – vibrant and interesting, resulting in a gig that is fucking good fun!
The new EP, Desperation State consists of four tracks – a mix of previously released and new material – Not Guilty, Desperation State, Pretty Thing and Never Know – and is definitely well worth getting hold of. But I also stress that if you get the chance you should go and see them live. If you love good music, an electric atmosphere, and skanking till you can skank no more, then get tickets immediately. They are touring right now, and it was wicked seeing them in such a small venue, an opportunity which if my music magic ball serves me right, may well soon be a rare treat. The Bossers are going to be big.
Bristol was great! We’ve both been here before, but never as Folkface. Its night one of our tour, and we couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. We had major rehearsals before hand in the village hall where I live, which at least gave us a rough idea of what we were doing. The crowd was brilliant, the venue was great, and everyone here is called Dave – and I like Dave’s!
So Bristol hasn’t put you off doing the rest of the tour?
No. I think Bristol really suits us. We were saying so when we were driving in. Bristol has a lovely arty feel to it. It’s really laid back, and although we aren’t really that arty, we are really laid back, so it suited us well! We couldn’t have asked for a better start really.
So is this the first step on the road to bidding farewell to the Radio stuff and becoming ‘proper’ musicians?
No. It’s something that started on the Chris Moyle’s show, and we thought it would be interesting to see what we could do with it. Venues like this are absolutely perfect. In our heads, we’re playing Wembley stadium. It’s an indulgence for us. Genuinely I thought the crowd were lovely, and there were lots of hands in the air, which is always a good sign. We don’t want to give too much away about what we do in the gig, or we’ll spoil it for anyone who may come to the future gigs, but it’s not just music, there’s a certain amount of audience interaction, which is really fun. Obviously it was the first night for us in Bristol, and you never know quite what is going to happen from one song to the next. I really enjoyed not knowing what was going to happen. And Dave’s noseflute was amazing this evening I think.
How different is performing as Folkface from your dealings with radio 1? What did it feel like being the ‘feature’?
It’s weird, because we’re used to being part of the backline I suppose. We’re usually just part of the team. That’s quite comforting really, because in a nice way, you don’t get all of the attention. Then walking in tonight you panic and think, ‘Oh God, they’re all here to see us’. It carries with it a certain level of expectation and responsibility, but there was no animosity whatsoever in the crowd. It was a bit like doing a gig for family and friends. The fact that it was so friendly meant that we were totally at ease. I mean, well, any gig that has a raffle half way through has a friendly vibe! That and the self appointed Q & A session. I mean the Arctic Monkeys never did a Q & A session. And they’ve definitely never done a raffle.
When you’re interviewing famous band with Radio 1, have you always had the itch? The feeling that you want to be there, doing what they are?
Well, we get a lot of bands through the doors at radio 1, and an awful lot of them are very good. I wouldn’t even dare compare Folkface to any of them, but there are few who you think, well, they shouldn’t even be there, let alone be being played on Radio 1. Not naming and names obviously. But Folkface, well it’s just tongue in cheek. It’s a bit of a laugh. We’d just like people to like it, and that’s the only level it’s at. We wouldn’t want it to be more serious than that. We took rehearsals quite seriously. But all we wanted to do was hope that we didn’t massively screw it up, and to remember at least most of the words. And I don’t think we screwed up majorly. It was ok. No. Scrap that. Bristol was a triumph. Prom was a perfect starting point, there were lots of friendly faces, and we had loads of fun.
So will you continue Folkface until you get bored?
Well, who knows. Either that or until everyone else gets bored! I think the decision about how long we will continue will be made for us by the fans. If we have any!
Any plans to release an album?
Well, who’s to say. The world is our oyster. It would be nice though, having a folk album. Who knows. Maybe we could do one and call it who knows.
Check out www.theprom.co.uk for gig photos & upcoming gigs