1.To begin with, why did you decide to release the Attack Of The
Grey Lantern 3CD Special Edition now, and what are some of your
fondest memories of writing and recording the long player?
It was EMI's idea originally, but Id wanted to get the other
tracks from the bands EPs out there for a long time, as they hadnt
seen the light of day for a long time and havent been available
for a long time. I remember we spent a lot of time in the studio as
we'd recorded about 36 songs for the sessions. Mostly the recording
sessions were in between touring and Id spend quite long hours
in the studio; the best times were when one of the songs would be recorded
and it'd be obvious it stood out and was destined for the album, that
was the most enjoyable part of the process.
2.As you were the producer, what do you feel the sound engineers
and mixers brought to these sessions + did your original demos / ideas
change a lot, or are the finished studio tracks faithful to those early
Oh a lot, my part was arrangements and ideas, sonically I knew
nothing at that point and learnt a lot from the people we worked with.
I never did original demos but had the idea for how I wanted the song
to be in my head and tried to implement it accordingly, so there were
no early versions, the record is just what came out in the studio from
the songs Id written.
3.Are there any songs in particular, that surpassed your expectations?
Not really, I always felt like Id push a track as far as
I could take it then abandon it you can never fully-realise whats
in your head but you get as close to it as possible.
4.In your liner notes, you wrote: I never said it in the press
but Lennon (and Prince) were my inspirations for most of this record.
Could you expand on how they influenced you?
Prince, as he was a writer and producer and played different instruments
and I wanted to emulate how he made records, and Lennon in terms of
lyrics. Those 2 are my musical heroes.
5.Was there a moment where you felt like AOTGL was starting to come
together / its character was beginning to shine through, and then, do
you remember how you felt when the LP was finished (along with the artwork),
and you could hold your own record + buy it in the shops?
It only fully came together in the mastering room on the last
day, as I had all the different parts in different places and joined
them together at the end. It was great having the final record, particularly
the vinyl version as it felt like a culmination of a lot of work. I
never actually saw it in the shops as I was away touring most of the
time back then.
6.Were there any alternative titles / artwork ideas?
I had the artwork idea right from the start so that was always
fixed. The opening track was called Desperate Icons originally and She
Makes My Nose Bleed was originally She Makes Me Bleed, but I thought
that sounded too earnest. In retrospect it wasnt.
7.Are there any major changes that you would now make to the album,
and what was the most valuable lesson that you learnt from the sessions?
I like the album as it is and have never thought about making
any changes to it. The most valuable lesson learnt from this album is
get a proper bass player in the band who is not sociopathic.
8.How involved was the process of remastering the record for its
2010 reissue, and do you have any plans to release a Special Edition
of Six in the near future, perhaps with The Dead Flowers Reject included?
EMI looked after the mastering side of things and Im not
sure of the exact plans for the rest of the b-sides coming out, but
Im sure that will unfold in due course.
*Interestingly, when AOTGL and Six were released
in The States in the late 90s, Mansuns US record label insisted
on changing the running
order of the tracklistings for each album, feeling that they would be
better suited to the tastes of American music fans that way. So, the
more commercial-sounding / accessible songs were placed up front, sadly
interrupting the intended flow and feel of the long players, with Stripper
Vicar even being replaced by Take It Easy Chicken, possibly
through fears of upsetting the Bible Belt?*
9.Do you think the length of an LP is important, and what are some
of your favourite long and short records?
It depends on the record, I like Dark Side Of The Moon and With
The Beatles. Long and short records respectively, it depends on the
10.For people who might just be getting into Mansun for the very first
time, I feel that the Attack Of The Grey Lantern 3CD Special
Edition, shows how versatile a songwriter you are, from creating songs
with elaborate arrangements right through to simpler acoustic tracks.
But from all of your favourite artists / bands, are there any intricately
produced and stripped-down songs that you admire?
I like a broad spectrum of stuff; I love Kate Bush and some of
her productions and arrangements are very intricate, but also I love
early Beatles which is straight to the point, before they expanded into
something else more complex before exhausting that direction and going
back to their roots. Its about the feel of the song and how to
present it, not how complex the arrangement is. Some of Princes
stuff is stark and bare and its brilliant for it, Something In The Water
(Does Not Compute), Darling Nikki, Head, Bob George, Movie Star, genius
11.Ian Curtis believed that every song you start, you should finish.
Would you agree with this?
Ive got loads Ive never finished now, but back then
I finished everything up to a point and put it out, but Id say
every song you start, you abandon at some point and let it go, you never
truly finish anything.
12.In reference to how much The Music Industry has now changed and with
less pressure from some labels for artists to have massive commercial
success, Sonic Youths Thurston Moore recently said: Bands
can be themselves again. What are your feelings on this statement,
and how do you think Mansun would have fared if starting out in 2010?
Oh, I dont know how we'd get on now, we had a rough time
back then coz it was all about lad rock and we didnt fit
into that scene. Anyone can do what they want now if you want to do
it for fun or you have a passion for it and stick it on MySpace, which
is dead anyway or give away mp3s of your songs. The thing is, most bands
dont want to be themselves, they want to be whatever it is that
makes them rich and famous and get laid, read a bit of Freud.
13.Speaking of new groups, did you enjoy working with The Joy Formidable
on Greyhounds In The Slips and how did this come about?
The Joy Formidable are from a town near to where I grew up in
North Wales so I knew about them because of that. I went to some of
their gigs in London and we were introduced by a mutual friend, so it
was a bit of fun and also helping the cause of North Wales!
14.Can you tell us anything about your solo material, and also, a
lot of fans still wonder why the exclusive track for subscribers to
your mailing-list was never sent out?
I am up to my neck in production work and writing for other artists
at the moment, but I will definitely let my solo material hear the light
of day sooner rather than later. Just let me deal with it in the best
way I can, but I would say thanks for the patience youve shown
in waiting to hear new songs and they will definitely come, Im
just waiting for the stars to align if you know what I mean.
15.Lastly, is it rewarding for you, to think that Attack Of The Grey
Lantern is regarded by so many people as one of the great debut LPs
of all-time, and do you have any favourite debut records?
Hmmm, not sure what my fave debut album is, but probably Never
Mind The Bollocks, just for the sheer impact on the whole music world
and quality of the songs and the production is truly explosive. Nevermind
had the same impact as well, sonically and culturally. As regarding
our record, I do hear that a lot about the best debut thing, but there
were loads of issues regarding that record that I only found out about
retrospectively, which makes it less rewarding as it impacted the following
records. But thats just me, Ive always been a cynical bastard
Be Seeing You
A very special thanks to Paul, and to Scott @ EMI
Music, for all of their time and help.
Im in a wide open space, its freezing
Youll never get to heaven with a smile on your face from me