The Wolfgang Press
are back after a two year rest. Their acclaimed last album, Queer, has now been superseded by Funky Little Demons - an album which shows the bands White Soul for the 90s attitude. So on my first quest to London in four years I had arranged to meet the band for an interview. After much confusion and rushing around we manage to get to 4ADs office 3 hours late to find out it is still possible to talk to Michael Allen, but Andrew Gray has other things to do.

The aim? To find out what TWP had been up to in the last two or three years.

Its been a long time since your last album, Queer, about three years?

Well sort of three years. Where the problem started was that I know it was released here first, and we were looking to get a deal in America, and that took a year. So we were waiting around for a year thinkoh, next month, so between it being released here and America was around about a year. Then we went and toured. The actual time of making the album, we finished about 6 months ago, it took nearly two years, which is a long time.

To record the new album?

From start to finish - but not as an intense period, It wasn't ,like a full on two years - you know we were sharing a studio with someone, so we were in for three weeks, and they were in for three weeks. It was difficult, and on the back of Queer, I suppose sort-of in hindsight, there was a hidden pressure to come up with something as-good-as Queer. Because I feel that was a really good album.

But not just another Queer?

Yes, exactly. Which I suppose is a very easy thing to have done, but we never-ever wanted to do it, we've always sort of wanted to move on. But when you've made something that you're sort of actually very happy with you think But where do we go from here?

Did you think that Queer was the best you could have done?

Of course, that's what I am saying. I don't think we voiced it at the time.  Because I suppose that's sort of....

Commercial Suicide?

Exactly, but I suppose it was in the back of our heads, how do we better that? or how do we go on from here?. But I do genuinely now fell that we have created something that was as equally as important as that. So I am sort of happy.

And sufficiently different?

And sufficiently different, yeah, a digression somehow, sort of, maybe aside-step somewhere.

I was totally blown away by the album. It is rare when three of the people from Convulsion who have quite varied tastes will agree that an album is excellent. It strikes me as an album which breaks down the barriers in many ways. You have got a lot of breadth and depth in it, it doesn't seem to be influenced by one style in particular.

Yeah I think that shows, and that is a result of, I suppose our ages or the length of time we have been doing this. We've never ever, although of course were influenced by a lot of things, but our history is our influence, its were we've come from and what we started of listening to, when Andrew was 12 he had his sisters who were very much into Motown, and is very much is into dark reggae and is very much an Eno fan, whereas I am more Captain Beefheart, Can, Velvet Underground. And Mark he is very much sort of funk, he comes from a sort of James Brown. But all of our connection is punk. That's where we all started making music, is from punk - 1976. So I think all of those things combined make us create this music that we do.

I know very little of the history of TWP, I believe you have been going for eleven years, as the track is titled, are those your true feelings?

Of course, I mean no not really - there are periods of your life when you think What the fuck am I doing - I've been doing this for so long and you don't feel that you're progressing as times - but of course we are. I think that we are making better records, and that we are sort of, like, connecting with people a lot more. I think that before, the first two albums, I think we were just Wang and that was what we enjoyed - we were just messing around with music, experimenting. But now we've become more focused.

And once you get past the technicalities of the instruments you get better?

We know what were good at now. But were still not proficient at what we do with our instruments - we still treat them with disrespect enough to just go and mess around with computer or samplers - and I think that's very important to not sort of know to much...

You know how to break them.

Yes. Well let the accidents come. Cause you can design accidents, you can make them happen if you have the right attitudes.

Have you ever felt shackled by the technology?

At times yeah, when your in a room and everybody's thinking The bass drum, should that be, sort of like, brought forward a little? At times you can spend a day just listening to a fucking bass drum. After a week you realise we got bogged down there. Generally we are sort of fairly good - the important thing is getting and idea down quickly. But yeah you do, everyone, gets to much into something and loose the plot. The secret is to sort of realise that before it brings your right down.

When you started the band you were obviously working with a lot less of the technology. What where your ideas then? and what do you want to be as a band now?

When we started I think the idea was to create music which hadn't been heard. I think that is still the same now. On the very first album we did as The Wolfgang Press we were actually looping drums then - not in the sense of a loop then, but a piece of tape on a reel to reel, just looping round. I think our aims are still to make music that really hasn't been heard before. I think that to communicate you sort of have to like take from somewhere that everyone understands. I think that's where we failed before - we were just more concerned with creating something completely original and not have any reference points, and make something that didn't sound like anything. You never can do that, we were fairly difficult to listen to when we first started. There is a confidence in allowing your influences come through, certainly that's what happened with us. It doesn't matter if it sounds something like someone else because I know we wont sound like them.  As I say there is a reference point.

Instead of wearing it on your sleeve its more like a gentle nod?

Yes.

What is your focus now? What do want to communicate?

To the uneducated masses as they say? I suppose we are trying to make a music which is relevent to the majority of people in England. I suppose I want it to be universal music which isn't tied down to England. I would say the majority I would say are middle class listeners. Certainly that's where I come from - lower middle class white. I want to have a soul about us. I love black soul music and Motown, but I know that I am not that person - I don't have that history. There is the equivalent if that is possible.

I suppose that the album could be described as white soul for the 90s?

Yeah, but without trying to emulate black soul ... just a nod to it. It is very difficult to talk about it, to explain.

The way your lyrics are written seem to have developed since Queer, is this something you are aware of?

I think I've grown up a bit. I think lyrically its a little lighter and more optimistic in a sense. I always try to sing, but I never seem to get out of the soft intimate spoken thing. It has changed, I think also its being a family man now. I've realised I am not the most important thing in the world, and I am responsible for other people now.

I believe there is one less member in the band now.

Yeah, that was Mark, who wrote New Glass. The split started with Queer; he wasn't really happy with the way that went. I suppose that me and Andrew, when we have a vision, sort of go for it and are very hard headed about the whole thing. I suppose you really have to know the personalities involved.  We then went on tour and it seemed to die out, but when we got back to making this album it reared its head again and Mark felt, in his words, in a sense stifled, but there is a way he put it.

So when did he leave?

He left just after the album was completed.

Was it difficult for you to writing for Tom Jones?

No, we did it in two days. It was one of the easiest thing we did. I don't know whether it was a fluke or what but it seemed just to come together rather easily.

It is somewhat of a bizarre pairing

Yes, but that what I like. I like that. He's very down to earth. Very sort of similar to me and Andrew, you know he comes from that sort of background. And he loves music. You cant knock that, whether you feel that is contrived or whatever. I really do feel that he is trying to do something different, he's not just resting on his back catalogue. He's trying to do something new.

Funky Little Demons is out now on 4AD.