The Wolfgang Press
by Squid

RAD met with Michael Allen and Andrew Gray, of The Wolfgang Press, during their "Funky Little Demons" tour.

RAD
  I read a bio that 4AD gave us about "Funky Little Demons," so I probably won't ask as much about that. You look like you want to say something, Michael.

Michael
  I was wondering what the bio was; sometimes they're a bit obscure, by the biographers we've had. But I think that one was fairly  understandable.

RAD
  It seemed like they had several quotes from you about how, on "FLD" you're doing something new and old at the same time, technically; going back to your roots. Remember saying that?

Michael
  Oh, right. I remember, yeah. Certainly. We've been mixing it, which we have been, for a while, really, just messing the state-of-the-art technology with stuff like guitars, and keyboards and sort of going back to, as Andrew puts it, "organic" sort of sounds, more natural feel, you know, as opposed to like on "Queer," it was a little bit more electronic, and this is more natural sounding, softer in some ways.

RAD
  I have a friend who is convinced that Andrew is the one that on "Queer" is saying, "In Venezuela they have lots of cocaine," like in the song "Louis XIV." I guess there's a picture of you on front of the CD, all hunched over -- (laughter)

Andrew
  Uh, it was a friend of ours, Gary, from Renegade Soundwave. It's his little bit there.

RAD
  One question we're always interested in is, well, personally, what are your favorite canned foods?

Michael
  Favorite canned foods? Baked beans.

Andrew
  Tuna.

Michael
  (musing) Tuna... Canned foods... I mean, does fruit come into it at all?

RAD
  Oh, yeah, anything that can come in a can.

Michael
  Well, custard and oranges, then.

RAD
  That comes mixed together in a can?

Michael
  No, it doesn't, but I mix it.

RAD
  So, how many times have you toured in the U.S. now?

Michael
  (to Andrew) What would you say this is, the fourth time?

Andrew
  Fourth time for us.

RAD
  Did you tour here first with maybe your second album? Third?

Andrew
  It was... I think "Birdwood Cage" was the first time we came over.  Cause that was when we was being distributed by Rough Trade. And then we came over with "Queer," didn't we? But didn't we come over between then?

Michael
  We did, we did... No, Nick Cave was "Birdwood Cage" and, um, the one before that must have been "Standing Up Straight."

Andrew
  I'm not sure; I'm a bit confused about that one. But this is definitely the fourth time.

RAD
  Do you still play some of your older tracks? Or do you steer away from that?

Andrew
  The oldest track that we do, I think, is "Kansas," probably, isn't it?

Michael
  Yeah, Kansas.

RAD
  A friend of mine told me to beg you guys to do "Cut the Tree."

Andrew
  We were thinking about doing it.

Michael
  We were. We wanted to do that.

Andrew
  But it's cause we've got like a whole live band now, it takes time to get the tracks and convert them, because there used to be a DAT -- just a DAT with bass and drums, and a few other things. It was just the three of us, but that's all changed now. We're trying to do it mostly live.

RAD
  Why the change? Just to do something different?

Andrew
  Uh, yeah, actually, and on the Nick Cave tour, I think, seeing...

Michael
  We realize...

Andrew
  Yeah, seeing his group and the way they interacted, and just having a live drummer and stuff, we just said, yeah, I think this is the thing to do next. So, it does, it works a lot better, just having the physical... seeing, like, real drums.

Michael
  People seeing, you know, people playing the instruments; it has been so much nicer than having things on tape. And it's very restrictive having things on tape.

RAD
  In the bio, it also talked about how the thing that changed your career around was that De La Soul album.

Andrew
  (pause) I thought it wasn't bad; I mean, everybody puts too much importance --

Michael
  Yeah, exactly. It was something that certainly affected me. It's not the music, it wasn't the music, although, as I've always said, I think it's an amazing album. It was just how they went about making the album. I like the way they seemed to approach the making of it. It just seemed like, real free and easy, and sort of like, they've just got their friends in, and just, almost like it just happened. You know, there wasn't any effort. And everybody's just enjoying themselves -- they could have been at home having a party -- it seemed like that, you know, that kind of an album. That's what I really liked about it.

RAD
  What do you find yourself listening to nowadays? Or do you listen to much?

Michael
  I really don't listen to much, I must say. I know Andrew probably does. But I -- the only thing recently that I've listened to is Portishead, Massive Attack, and, uh... not really a great deal.

Andrew
  Luna. I liked the "Bewitched" album. I've heard a couple of new tracks they've been doing, some covers, "Bonnie and Clyde," which is Serge Gainsbourg. It's really good. They're really good.

RAD
  How do you get ideas for what you want to do musically? Do you have any technique?

Andrew
  Not really, not any technique of any type, I mean it's...

RAD
  Do you separate, do you get together on the songs?

Andrew
  Well, sometimes we do, yeah. Sometimes we do it individually.

Michael
  Yeah, this last album was a breakaway from how we've done it in the past. We've always, in the past, sat around together and, you know, just made some noise, made something out of that noise, structured it together. Um, but with this one, we did sort of like work separately.

Andrew
  About half and half for this album.

RAD
  Do you have a preference as to how to work?

Andrew
  Not really.

Michael
  Whichever way, whichever mode sort of gets it going, you know, whichever way helps it along; it doesn't matter. As long as, you know, everyone's in agreement with what is going on. And obviously that has to be the case, that the other people are happy, I guess, with what you come up with.

RAD
  When you were saying how, about the way that De La Soul worked on that album and made it more of a fun kind of thing, what was it like when you were making your earlier albums?

Michael
  It was like, on the first few albums, I think -- certainly "Burden of Mules" -- although it doesn't sound it, I mean, I really enjoyed it -- making the album -- because it was sort of just experimenting and messing around in the studio, subjects which interest you. Or which make sense to you; or you're comfortable writing about some things.  Our themes will always, I think, be what they are. An opinion, really, that may surprise you. Or maybe from a different perspective, where you get to where you get different ideas about certain things.

RAD
  It seems like you have a lot of lyrics about morality, or sin, or.. I don't know, maybe I'm just thinking of certain songs.

Michael
  Yeah, I mean, it's all in there. It's about life and how you're coping with it, and you want to sort of like be... uh, doing the right thing. It's about trying to do what you're doing and remain true and honest, with yourself and other people. It's what we're doing.

Andrew
  The music, it's... We're using different technology each time and working with a different producer, and that helps, as well, so it changes all the time. That's how we like it, really, and we don't like to stick to, or try to stick to, one form or another, so we change it.

RAD
  I don't think the fans would like you to do that, either.

Andrew
  No, no. It's just a natural thing to do, to me, to change each time.

Michael
  Yeah.

RAD
  There are some people who say, Yeah, well I just like the old Wolfgang Press; they're too mainstream now, or...

Andrew
  Well, that's it, I mean, if you do change, then you've got to acceptthat.

Michael
  Yeah, well, you're always gonna run into people who are always gonna say, Well, they were much better then, you know... You're gonna lose, and you're gonna win in other areas. What's important is that we feel that we're doing something worthwhile and fresh, for us. It doesn't matter to me whether it's mainstream or not. I don't care if we make a pop record; it's whether it's a good pop record. That's what's important, that it's good -- from where I stand. I don't care what kind of music, you know, I listen to or make.

RAD
  You don't care what kind you listen to or make? As long as you enjoy doing it?

Michael
  Well, no, as long as it's good, and it all sort of makes sense to me. I mean, if there's a song which someone considers to be a pop song, and they don't like it because it's a pop song, I find that INCREDIBLY snotty. I mean, there's good pop songs out there. Just because it's been number ten in the charts, you can't like it... Isn't that a ridiculous of an attitude?

RAD
  How was it working with Tom Jones when he did your song ("A Girl Like You")? Did you have fun? Did you like the guy?

Andrew
  Yeah, I liked him a lot, actually.

Michael
  Yes --

RAD
  Do you think he's a good dresser?

Michael & Andrew
  (laughter)

Andrew
  I actually like when he's dressed more casual, like when he came to the studio.

Michael
   No, I liked him when he had his suits, sort of like this Italiano, or something... Mafioso. He's got this like big black tie and black shirt. He looked good, I thought. He's a good man, he's a good man, you know. He knows what he is, and he's comfortable... No ego, that I could detect.

RAD
  Did you expect him to have an ego?

Michael
  I expected him to be... something, or, you know, sort of...

RAD
  A star?

Michael
  He's a star, there's no question about it. But he was just really sort of cool, you know.

Andrew
  Very relaxed. But, um, we were quiet once we were working on the track, you know, it's the first time we actually wrote for someone else. Especially the one that we actually wrote for him to do. It was actually a good experience. Cause we weren't thinking about us, the group, writing a bit of music for us, but for this person. We hadn't actually met at this time; we were just demo-ing. But we'd all sort of seen him on TV and stuff like that.

RAD
  And then, did you all play the instrumentation on it?

Andrew
  Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, most of the original instrumentation, like the guitars and stuff, were actually the ones we used in the demo and such, but we used a lot of the originals and stuff on it. It's got a lot of real brass, and it's just all sequence and stuff. But a lot of live brass.

RAD
  So what other artists or musicians would you like to do songs with, or work with?

Andrew
  I'd actually like to work with Flood again. We worked with him on "Birdwood Cage," but I think he's had a lot more experience than when he worked on that. And I'd actually like to sort of work with him again, cause I think he's made -- the last couple of albums he's made -- are really interesting.

Michael
  You know, he did the P.J. Harvey.

Andrew
  Yeah.

Michael
  Don't you think there's sort of similarities with some of ours, like "Birdwood Cage?"

Andrew
  I've only heard the single, you see.

Michael
  I really think there's some similarities.

Andrew
  And he has a certain sound to what he makes. But, yeah, I'd like to work with him again.

Michael
  (to Andrew) We're talking about Barry Adamson, aren't we?

Andrew
  Yeah, Barry Adamson. I actually like, and I keep coming back to it, but the guy who produces Luna, I think, Dutch or something.

Michael
  (to RAD) You mean producers, or just in general?

RAD
  Generally. What if Michael Jackson called you up and said, I wanna do a remake of one of your songs ?

Michael
  Fuck him. Go to... (laughter from all) ... Kansas! (more laughter)... No, um, I don't know... It wouldn't matter. It wouldn't mean too much to me, to be perfectly honest. If it was someone like Bob Dylan, maybe; well, no, no -- Lou Reed. That'd be a bit better; that would mean a lot to me. There are quite a few people -- I can't think of them all, actually.

Andrew
  It doesn't have to be just musicians. I like people who are creative, really.

RAD
  So who are some of your favorite creative people?

Andrew
  Cindy Sherman, I like her -- a photographer. She seems really interesting. I like David Byrne, I'd like to work with him. I don't know on what, but just, you know, just his whole attitude, his approach to music, and his visions and stuff like that. He would be good to work with.

Michael
  Artists... mainly, there's people like Harold Hodgkins -- an English abstract painter. Hodgkins, I've heard mentioned, did a fantastic video. Um...

Andrew
  Vivian Westwood.

Michael
  Yes, she's great!

Andrew
  She's a big designer, a clothes designer. She's done all the, sort of original punk stuff, you know, like the destroyed t-shirts.

Michael
  She basically designed all the Sex Pistols stuff. Her head is really good. She's nuts, but she's fucking -- she's good.

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