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100 Musicians Answer the Same 10 Questions

Part Eighty-Four: Andrew Laidlaw of Lucky Soul

instigated by dave heaton

This year the UK band Lucky Soul is probably the new band that I'm most excited about. Their debut album The Great Unwanted is a fantastic rethinking of classic pop styles (girl groups, Motown/Stax, etc.), with a nonconformist, independent tilt. Check out my review of it here, and then to learn more, and listen to music, check out the band's website and MySpace. Andrew Laidlaw is the groupís guitarist, main songwriter, and arranger.

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What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?

Well, I'm getting pretty excited about actually making some music at all. Since we finished recording the album last September we've spent so much time on all the other rubbish that goes with running your own label and promoting yourselves, we've barely had anytime to work on any new songs. All our rehearsal time has been spent on getting the live stuff sorted and becoming really tight as a band. We've been pretty strict on that, cause it's a really important time for us and we don't want to disappoint all the people that have taken the album to their hearts. So there's a whole batch of brilliant bits and pieces of songs waiting for us and I just can't wait to start hammering them in to shape.

What aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?

Anything to do with money or contracts etc. People say "necessary evil and all that" but I hate it. It makes me feel sick.

What are you up to right now, music-wise? (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc).

Well, we're definitely making the effort to get out of London and play round Britain a bit more which I'm looking forward to doing. We're also going to be going back to Spain where we've signed to Elefant Records (Camera Obscura's label) and off to Japan too I think. Playing all over the place really. Then we're gonna have a new single out in the summer, but we haven't decided on which one yet and hopefully writing the next album, which will be astonishingly good.

What's the most unusual place you've ever played a show or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

Live wise, nothing has come close to touching our open air Bangkok rooftop gig with 500 polite Thai kids and a flood of paparazzi photographers. This was before we'd had a single out and we'd been used to playing to 20 people in London and trying to avoid rivers of urine whilst changed in the toilets. Before the gig we were served with finger food with Lucky Soul flags in it. You know that footage of the Beatles in Che Stadium when Lennon goes mad and starts bashing the keyboard with his elbows and he's laughing his head off cause the occasion is so surreal? Well that's what it felt like on stage for me, I was totally unprepared for it. It was ace.

In what ways does the place where you live (or places where you have lived), affect the music you create, or your taste in music?

I don't know if being based in Greenwich has affected those things, it maybe means that we're far enough away from Camden and trendy East London not to been involved with their silly scenes. I know that living in Liverpool really made me want to be in a band- because everyone in Liverpool is in a band- and I know that if I hadn't lived in Glasgow then I wouldn't have been so immersed in soul music, and I know that a lot of the big string stuff used to go through my head whilst walking round the fields on stormy days in my home town in Yorkshire. I think maybe growing up in the country can make you find your own way a bit more in terms of musical discovery, because there ain't no one there telling you what's cool.

When was the last time you wrote a song? What can you tell us about it?

Ooh, there's a few on the go at the moment, and they're all a bit more weather beaten then the first album, a few more autumn colours in there. There's a beauty called 'Crying In The Morning' which is bit Patsy Cline or Bettye Swann and there's a nice one which no-ones heard yet called 'Upon Hilly Fields' which has a touch of the Neil Youngs about it and makes me sad just thinking about it.

As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people...and why do you think that is?

It's hard not to feel competitive with other bands and end up thinking "I wouldn't have done it like that". I don't think like that if it's older and there's a bit of distance. I also sometimes worry about being influenced by current stuff and end up ripping them off by accident. That's not to say that I don't listen to anything new but it has to be amazing, otherwise I haven't got the time, when there's so much genius old stuff that I'm still exploring.

Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)

I'm listening to less Motown these days and more Stax, which tends to be a little more raw and earthy, lots of old doo-wop and gospel too. I've been hammering Bacharach lately and really taking it apart. Then there's been a French thing going on: Serge Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, Bardot. I just found Bobbie Gentry and lumped in a bit of Linda Ronstadt. The biggest revelation for me this year was that I could handle folk music much better than I thought previously. Oh there's so much, I've just revived my Dusty romance too. It's nice to have her back. New stuff: I like the Midlake album, although it does feel a bit like a proggy guilty pleasure. Cat Power I like too, but it is mostly old stuff. Anything that's a bit miserable or pining with some strings and a tremolo guitar and I'm sold really.

Name a musician or band, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What's one of your all-time favorite recordings by this musician/band?

Wow that's tough, I'm not that loyal, I tend to just consume the songs rather than blindly stay with the artist but I'll go with the Bacharach/David/ Dionne Warwick combination of 'Anyone Who Had A Heart' which manages to sound demure, charming and devestatingly desperate at the same time which is no mean feat. I think people can think old Burt is a bit tacky at times but when he writes like this he slays everyone.

What's the saddest song you've ever heard?

'Imagine' makes me cry if I'm hung-over, but then so does Neighbours. So I'll take Jonathan Richman's 'That Summer Feeling', which isn't a weepy but goes right through me. It's a song about lost innocence and nostalgic yearning, it's so laid back and draws you in, then it hits you with the line "Do you long for her or for the way you were?" and you realize that you're totally lost! And then you put it on again.

To check out the rest of the Q&As, click here.


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