JOHN CHARLES performed at The Pier Aberystwyth back in October for Oxjam, with a great ambience. Since which, he has been out and about and launched “THE HEAVEN EP”, so let’s see how it has been.
Hi, have you been doing more since Oxjam?
“Yes a bit. I’ve done warm up slots for Emily Williams in Welshpool and for Joe Dolman (who’s one of the BBC Introducing acts) at the Globe in Hay on Wye, which was a real pleasure as its one of my favourite venues in Wales. It’s in an old Methodist Chapel, the acoustics in there are wonderful and the crowd is always great.
My last show was a Saturday afternoon set in the coffee shop at Mid Wales Music in Newtown; that’s always a real chilled affair and Phil and the rest of the folk at the shop are really supportive of local acts. And I’ve also released my “Heaven EP” online, which was really exciting.”
Sounds brilliant. Where did you get recording done?
“I booked a weekend up at Foel Studios, near Llanfair Caereinion. I went there for a couple of reasons. Firstly, some of my favourite records were recorded there – “Young Marble Giants” “Colossal Youth” was made there – and the Au Pairs, the Fall and Scritti Politti have also recorded up there as well as James and the Stranglers. And secondly, Foel is based in a farmhouse where my mother in law spent a lot of her childhood, so I was always intrigued to visit there. I took lots of photos to show her afterwards.”
Wow, must have been a great experience. Enjoy it?
“Yea, really good. I was working with Gazz Rogers (Producer) who’s worked with the Editors and Ocean Colour Scene and Mike Bew (Engineer) who owns the studios. They were really good company and we were all on the same wavelength, so I didn’t have any trouble getting over what it was I wanted out of the session. I wanted something that was close to what I sounded like live, rather than layering on loads of other instruments and I think we got that.”
Brilliant. What inspired the EP name?
“Nothing very profound, I’m afraid. I dismissed a few high faluting ideas and then started to think about how people would refer to it. It’s the EP with Heaven on it, so….The Heaven EP. I could have named it after one of the other tracks but they had longer titles. I’m amazed how many other acts have got songs called ‘Heaven’ – I probably should have checked that out beforehand.”
Aha know the feeling. What’s behind the songs then?
“I hate talking about my songs but they’re generally about failing or otherwise unwise relationships, right wing coups or some other form of dystopia. I love a bit of dystopia, me!”
Fair play. Have you got more to come?
“I’ve got a lot more songs, yes, and have written a few since coming out of the studio. Need to save some pennies now to go back in to the studio.”
Save you must. Do we have a film or any gigs to look forward to?
“After playing at the Globe in Hay, they offered me a slot on the ‘How the Light Gets in Festival at the end of May, which is like a fringe festival on at the same time as the Hay Festival of Literature. I’m really proud of that as it’s my first festival slot and I’m on the same line up as Nerina Pallot, Luke Sital-Singh and Badly Drawn Boy. And I never, ever thought I’d be on the same billing as The Orb.
Me and my wife are also planning to host a gig in September in this lovely old Victorian theatre in Newtown. I’ll do a slot but I’m also planning to put on some other acts, too, including a magician. It should be fun if we can sort it out. There’s also talk of another slot at the Acoustica sessions at The Hafren theatre in Newtown later in the year. So that’ll be good if it comes about – Craig Bradbury, at the theatre, has done a lot of good work giving local acts exposure over the last couple of years with his monthly Acoustica sessions. That was actually the first place I performed live solo, supporting Beth Prior.
I’ve also just had a photo shoot with an amazing photographer, Clive Nolan, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the results of that.”
Exciting times. Any 3 words of inspiration?
“Listen, learn and practise.”
I am chuffed to hear John is continuing his music adventure, after seeing him play for Oxjam at The Pier. Since which, having great experience recording and getting to support amazing acts at festivals must feel great. With one listen to his EP I am reminded of Bob Dylan, with hints of David Bowi and Bon Jovi. All the songs are absolutely capturing, with a basic yet layered formation and great vocal elements. “ANOTHER COUNTRY” uses a fairly up beat guitar pattern and ambient layers, expressing memories and how it can all change. Using extra vocals at the chorus repeating “I was never wrong” makes a strong statement. “HEAVEN” with a steady pattern and his voice potent. The words reminiscent and layers adding true depth. “MAYBE SOMEDAY” absolutely beautiful guitar pattern and vocals built up towards the end, all expressing the unknown of situations sometimes. “LEAVE THE LIGHT OFF” stating some things are better left as it is, with a brilliant structure and finally “THIS WON’T BE HAPPENING AGAIN” with great multi layered guitars and vocals again relating to memories and how rather not repeat some. A catchy chorus and powerfully potent ending. So yeah overall amazing! You must have a listen for yourself!
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Hope you enjoyed. Next week I will be catching up with BRIONY SAYERS. Watch this space!
Thanks ever so.
Em @ RM