First month of a fresh decade sees SkidMcSkidder finally talking for the first time to Glen Strachan,AKA 'TheBedPost' a long serving member of the SkidMark crew who originally joined back in 2001 with his then-band, 'The Bed'. The past 10 years has seen Glen metamorph through two bands into his current solo artist status with a whole carrier bag of album releases behind him - We catch up with the man on a Sunday evening and chat about where he's at and where he's heading in 2011...
SkidMcSkidder: Hi Glen, it’s great to final talk to you ‘live’ – and thanks for agreeing to be SkidMark.org’s January 2011 “Featured Artist of the Month”.
SkidMcSkidder: I’ve been looking forward to this interview as you appear a bit of an enigmatic character from listening to your material & checking out your website / blog, www.teatone.net... So, Glen, I see from the site that your nights are tied up with gigs & DJ’ing (which we’ll get onto), but what do you do with your days?
TheBedPost: I find creating music to be an increasingly psychological battle.. to be honest I spend much of my days trying to recover from nights gone by, and just trying to stay sane. I read a lot, and I stare at the walls a lot. I buzz... quietly.
TheBedPost: Also there's a practical side to music that I ignored, with bias from my punk ethic, for much of my youth. I decided recently that I should probably learn to sing in a listenable tone. I'm exploring that at the moment. I got a job as a paperboy today for a local magazine here in the countryside. That'll keep me busy one weekend a month. My new boss says I have to get permission from my parents, I replied to tell him I'm a 31 year old ex-alcoholic who could do with the exercise.
SkidMcSkidder: Your material has always been what I’d class as ‘Alternative’ - and your vocal style is unique – no matter what band you’ve played in, you’re always instantly recognisable from the first line of sung lyrics – it'd be a shame to change the one thing that sets you apart...
TheBedPost: Thank you. I certainly don't want to change my voice, but my music has become a lot more elaborate, with layered harmonies in almost every song, and I feel that multiple voices don't mesh so well if they're all sung ruggedly. I just want to have more flexibility & control over my voice to suit the increasingly varied applications I have for it. In an ideal world, I’d have a backing band of gospel singers to do all that…
TheBedPost: Having said that, I did some electric shows last year with my experimental band Jeeps, and it was a relief to whack the gain up & do a bit of primal yelling again. It’s all still in there, somewhere.
SkidMcSkidder: Heh heh - Another of your past fortes! In fact, you’ve been listed on SkidMark in one guise or another pretty much since the start – You originally joined the site with your band ‘The Bed’ in Sept. 2001, then morphed into ‘England & The April’ in 2007 before going solo – Want to fill in some details on that timeline for me bruv? For instance, if my memory serves me, just before you formed ‘England & The April’ TheBed had released a single and were preparing to tour, right?
TheBedPost: Ah yes... Well that's an odd one. We had a single planned called ‘No Wonder America’ in 2001, the video was due to be shot & the track was a fan favourite from the early demo's. Then 9/11 happened & I felt people would think we were trying to cash in on the anti-American sentiment of that time. One label even wanted to rush release it to coincide with the times. The song just wasn’t about that at all, so it was shelved in favour of a new track called ‘Soma Riot Wave Machine’ that, in truth, was a little too Punky for it's own good & was probably the worst-received thing we’d ever done. (The previous demo's were all higher quality production than the single). Then there was a flood of anti-American albums, & many years later came Green Day's "American Idiot" and the NOFX album "War On Errorism." I do love NOFX, but it was all a bit late & a bit obvious. The whole world had been mocking Bush for 5 years before then.
SkidMcSkidder: I know the track “No Wonder.." well - it was the first song on the 7 track ‘The Bed’ demo you sent me almost 10 years ago - has some great stuff on it – my favourite was always (and still is) “Hundred Hand Slap” – if I ever do a commemorative ‘best of SkidMark’ CD release, I’d love to use it…
TheBedPost: You're very welcome to it. We had offers from labels to release that as a single too. I never thought the recording was good enough. Some guy came up to me in a bar the other week & said he still plays that tune when he DJ’s. Since then I've been tinkering with it on piano. I'll send you a version of it like that if you like.
SkidMcSkidder: cool! Yeah, I'd be up for a copy of that!
TheBedPost: I'll record it especially. Will give me something to do with my days when I'm not staring at the wall or falling off my bike.
SkidMcSkidder: Heh heh! look forward to it... Staying with 'TheBed' for a minute or two...
TheBedPost: As for the timeline... I've been solo since 2007-ish. Did a few albums that never got released (yet), then landed in Berlin for reasons I can't really remember, and did an album that year that I released independently on my new Tea Tone label. I spent a lot of time back & forth since then, and in New York, and I’m now settling in London for the first time in ages... I feel like a visitor here, so much has happened since I left.
TheBedPost: Right now I'm not sure whether to pursue my solo shennanigans, or delve back into the Punk band thing with Jeeps. Perhaps both will provide some output this year.
TheBedPost: There were three England & The April albums that never saw release, and I’m now on my 6th solo record... I really don't care when they reach the public ear. I just want to keep the creativity going while it's a flowing resource. If it dries up one day I'll have plenty of material to work with.
TheBedPost: The magic is in the writing. It's there or it's not. The rest can wait.
SkidMcSkidder: I agree - I personally have given up on doing anything 'live' but still love to write.
TheBedPost: Reading & writing.. I love it. I don't need fame to get girls, and I don't need fame to get drunk & have a dance with my friends.. Am I really missing out on that much? Ah, them gospel singers... and a producer... Maybe I should re-consider all this!
SkidMcSkidder: Going back to you mentioning your 'globe-trotting' I was going to talk about your travelling - one question was how'd you end up in Berlin? (Now answered!) (Laughs Out Loud). But, while we're talking about travel - the video for the track ‘Lorraine’ which you recorded with your previous band ‘England & The April’ is awesome - the montage of travel clips - all your own?
TheBedPost: Yeah, that's mine, thanks! I just started filming out of windows a lot... and it reminded me of the time when I wrote that track, even though it was more than a few years ago. That sense of disorientation & directionlessness. Also England in the passing seasons... it was the whole England & The April concept in a nutshell. The two ideas just fell together, so I edited the footage to the old track & whacked it on my site. Horizons flying by at strange angles pretty much sums up the last 2 years of my life.
SkidMcSkidder: I like your perspective... So let's talk about you, the musician - Do you play all the instruments on your latest release “8 Love Rivals”?
TheBedPost: Yeah I play everything on that, with the exception of ‘Alex Chen’ where the fabulously talented artist William Nein plays guitar & doubles up with me on the main vocal (& co-wrote the song). There are a few other guest singers. Gemma Hymns sings backing vox on ‘Michael, Are You Breathing’ & Michelle Nichols sings parts of ‘The Death Of Simon Rowe’. Oh and Anita Kolbe provides the German accented voice of Iva & sings backing on ‘Richard Hate Goes To The Cinema’. I love working with other people, and I find harmonies irresistible. Characters need their own voice, and it’s an album of characters.
SkidMcSkidder: Yes, I noticed - it reminds me strangely of something like the film Tommy by The Who - not musically, but the way the songs seem to tell a story throughout the album...
TheBedPost: It's certainly themed from a concept point of view, but musically I just ask whoever is around to try a vocal or whack a tamborine. Fortunately, I've the gift of some very talented friends.
SkidMcSkidder: Playing many instruments – you’re not without talent yourself... what's your favourite instrument to play?
TheBedPost: Ah it's gotta be the piano. The problem with moving around so much is that I rarely have access to one. I've snuck into some strange places before purely to hunt for a specimen of the magical beast.
TheBedPost: Second, drums. But I aint so good at drums. I just love playin' em.
TheBedPost: There's an England & The April song called “Really, I Was Just Gardening" where I gave a whole party of people just one listen of the track, and then got them to sing along while recording with stereo mics set up & the lyrics up on a big sheet of paper.
SkidMcSkidder: I love the fact you even play recorder on the album too!
TheBedPost: I love the recorder, such a pure English sound that reminds me of schooldays & innocence, and would love to have the whole recorder family one day, but them big bass ones are flippin’ expensive.
SkidMcSkidder: I bet! I've a few different sizes of tin whistle but I'm better at scratching my back with 'em than actually playing them! Hahaha
TheBedPost: They're handy for that too.
TheBedPost: It's surprisingly hard to find decent recorder players, considering so many people learn the instrument at school.
SkidMcSkidder: : Going back to Talking of recording - what sort of set up do you have? Hardware or software??
TheBedPost: Software, & I kinda hate it & love it, quite typically. I use logic, and I have a current phobia of using it because it drives me crazy with too many frikken possibilities. I can never decide. So I’ve temporarily gone back to using a video camera to get back the idea of recording a performance. Hence my attempt at a video blog. At least you can't edit the sound on the damn thing so easily. I forbid it myself.
SkidMcSkidder: Ha! That's my problem exactly - since I stopped using hardware in 2003 I haven't finished a damn thing - so many ways of editing software tracks, adding FX I keep tweaking then scrapping & starting again
TheBedPost: That's it. I'll have to re-enter the DAW world soon & finalise the hundreds of unfinished tracks locked away in this frustratingly efficient little electric box. Or it’ll break or get stolen & my life work will disappear in a heartbeat.
SkidMcSkidder: exactly - did you see my post on Facebook last night? Spent 3 hours putting a backing track together on my sequencer PC then managed to corrupt the friggin' file.... Use it or lose it!
TheBedPost: Yeah I empathised with you there! Sometimes I'll upload something to the internet just so it exists somewhere other than in this machine.
TheBedPost: Like when I was out, I occasionally recorded ideas to my voicemail. It was the only available recording tool. I'd more than likely be drunk, and would wake up to some nonsense messages & think “Who's this idiot singing down the phone to me?" Then I'd check my missed calls & realise it was me.
SkidMcSkidder: Heheheheh. I went through a phase of carrying a dictaphone around with me at work as I'd always get great ideas for tunes & bass lines but forget them before I got home... gave up after the third or forth week of strange looks from colleagues as I tried to discretely hum into the machine...!
TheBedPost: Haha wow, I did that too. I've got tapes & tapes of dictaphone ideas... Never have the time to go back to ‘em, and if I do, the quality is so bad that I can't figure out what I'm playing. Or the tuning is off & it’s a logistical nightmare. I try to approximate it, and it's never as good.
TheBedPost: Although the whole first England & The April album was written like that, with me first playing the guitar parts & then the bass into a dictaphone, and it all came together perfectly when re-layered in the studio. I think it’s my best work.
SkidMcSkidder: Best thing and worst thing I ever did for my musical aspirations was set up in business on my own - it's been great for practice as I keep an electric & acoustic guitar at work to thrash when the mood seizes me but a nightmare because I never get the free TIME to do anything anymore!! Bloody paperwork, etc, etc
TheBedPost: Understood, it's all a juggling trick ain’t it. I lost every job I ever had from placing it quite low in my priorities, and I've had quite a few...
TheBedPost: At least you won't get fired!
TheBedPost: I used to take my guitar into Blockbuster Video when I worked there. Just sat on the counter playing.
SkidMcSkidder: (Laughs Out Loud)
TheBedPost: They even had a PA to make announcements to customers on deals. Never sold any CD's that way though. We didn't stock em of course. Though I did sell a ‘TheBed’ CD in a sales call for Disneyland.
SkidMcSkidder: Should've done a rental deal - hire three vids get a free CD!
TheBedPost: And when I worked for Wren Electronics, they paid for our very first studio session.
TheBedPost: The owner considered it an investment. I'll get him a bottle of Pinot Grigio one day, R.O.I.
SkidMcSkidder: (Laughs Out Loud)
SkidMcSkidder: Talking about me being a corporate whore nowadays reminded me - how did you get into the corporate DJ'ing game then??
TheBedPost: I've always flirted with DJ'ing... it's kinda easy money ain’t it, my favourite kind. I did small bars and made less money than I drank that evening, and then somehow I did a wedding here & a Christmas party there, and before I knew it I was getting people asking for my card, etc. Of course I didn’t have one, but you get the idea. If there are 50 people having a great time dancing at a wedding, often one of them will have a sister or auntie or daughter getting married soon, or a 40th birthday party, etc.
TheBedPost: It's always the same deal.. Billie Jean, Dancing Queen.
SkidMcSkidder: Tainted Love.
TheBedPost: Exactly. I love that kinda music, which helps.
TheBedPost: At every wedding, there is one girl who IS the dancing queen, and one guy who's mother always told him not to go around breaking young girls hearts.
TheBedPost: Love it when I get a slightly more alternative crowd! They little expect me to bust out Stone Roses on request. Maybe I should advertise as an alternative wedding DJ. Reckon there's a mint in that.
SkidMcSkidder: Heheh! I reckon so! For my sins I've been a big fan of Hawkwind since I was a wayward kid and you NEVER saw any of their stuff in DJ's boxes (bar the obligatory 'Silver Machine') until once I went to a do and the guy had a fortune in 70's & 80's singles - which was nice.
TheBedPost: Next time you get married, look me up!
SkidMcSkidder: Dude - I couldn't afford a third wife!! LoL
TheBedPost: Hehe, I can barely afford a date.
SkidMcSkidder: ‘8 love rivals’.... Much feedback yet?
TheBedPost: Ah well it's not so new. I sent out only two copies for review... both reviews were good.
TheBedPost: The characters in 8LR all real people, incidentally.
SkidMcSkidder: I worked that out from some of your Facebook photo tags.
TheBedPost: Ah, then you've some idea about Lars Koch & Jet Tea! I'm waiting to release a classic album before I really start to promote myself. Then people can backtrack.
TheBedPost: I wrote another album simultaneously called ‘My Life The Trainwreck’ that is far more ambitious & involved… but there's that "Can't let go" production problem all over. ‘8 Love Rivals’ was useful 'cos it was pretty simple songwriting... I just recorded it on a shoestring & put it out there.
SkidMcSkidder: So where about in London are you based Glen?
TheBedPost: Ah well I'm hidden away in the countryside at the moment, in Chesham, looking to make a move inward or elsewhere. Much of my financial 'freedom' comes from not committing to a rent contract, and taking convenient, short term accommodation between travels, so I'm reluctant to let that go... And yet I need to settle somewhere central. Bag o'worms.
SkidMcSkidder: Where would you like to be based?
TheBedPost: Ideally, I'd want a place in Berlin (Friedrichshain), London (Swiss Cottage). New York (Lower East Side of course!) & Paris. And unlimited air miles. And a golden emu.
TheBedPost: But in the absence of such luck, I'll settle for London while I make my mark… I can do without Paris for now. Can't do my paper round from there.
SkidMcSkidder: Heh heh what part of London?
TheBedPost: Camden-ish would be nice. Only for the scene though, it's time I made some moves. If it wasn't for music, I wouldn't stick around this city for a moment longer than necessary. I fell in love with Berlin on so many levels.
TheBedPost: It's my home now…
SkidMcSkidder: If I'm honest - I can't stand the big Smokey either.
TheBedPost: Have you been to Berlin? I very much recommend a visit to one & all.
SkidMcSkidder: No. Germany was one of the motorbike road trips I missed out on with the boys when I was younger.
TheBedPost: Wow you did motorbike road trips? Take the bike to Berlin!
SkidMcSkidder: I've done Barcelona, La Rochelle, Amsterdam, etc, but Nien Deutschland!
TheBedPost: Visit & I'll take you to some of my favourite places. It's a labyrinth of art.
SkidMcSkidder: Das ist gut ja!
TheBedPost: Hehe, you know more German than I do.
SkidMcSkidder: All those Sven Hassel novels as I grew up!!! (Laughs Out Loud)
SkidMcSkidder: I'd love to ride across America....
TheBedPost: Ah, America.. what a mix. I never wanted to be Anti-London. It made me what I am. But there's so much more than what happens here, and I didn't see it for such a long time. I think television is so good in this country that it kind of spoils us & educates us at the same time. But all in one direction. We're like a closed minded elite. Lopsided. Confident for all the wrong reasons. But man.. I love the English.
TheBedPost: Where are you from originally?
SkidMcSkidder: Born in Manchester, moved to Shropshire when I was 5 (so I ain't got a Manc accent & I don't swagger...! ) You?
TheBedPost: London through & through. I very much needed to break out.
TheBedPost: People born in London tend not to look elsewhere, as "We have it all here". I, at least, was that ignorant.
SkidMcSkidder: Like an American; When I talk to Americans about gigging in England it's like there's nothing outside of London… Not saying Americans are ignorant!! Just that sometimes conversations seem to give the impression that the perception is London IS England full stop…
TheBedPost: Yeah, exploring more of England is certainly on my agenda. The tours only gave me a glimpse, but it fascinated me nonetheless. I went right across America, and the scope was vast in every capacity. Arizona is no New York, right. And don't get me started about Texans :p It's the same in Germany - Berlin is far removed from the rest of it, culturally. It's barely Germany at all in some areas, where it's more like an affordable, central European hub for international artists.
SkidMcSkidder: I'd love it - I've been to LA, was married in Vegas & ended up in San Francisco.
TheBedPost: You married in Vegas! Wow!
SkidMcSkidder: And no, I nor the pastor was dressed as Elvis!!
TheBedPost: Ah now San Francisco is high on my priorities. But I don't just wanna go for a few weeks. I'm not a traveller so much as all that - I like to find homes in different places. My kind of artist is a scattered breed. From what I've heard, I reckon I could find some like minded souls out there.
SkidMcSkidder: I, unfortunately, wasn't there for too long.
TheBedPost: When were you in San Fran? Do you recommend it? Have you seen The Bridge? That film is imprinted on me.
SkidMcSkidder: No, but I rode a bike across it!
TheBedPost: Bet that was a surreal experience. I feel like I have to see that bridge just to connect my feelings towards the film.
TheBedPost: I meant the film called the bridge, but also the actual bridge itself. I gotta cross that thing!
SkidMcSkidder: I'll have to look it up - when was it out? (The film).
TheBedPost: About 5 years ago-ish, maybe a little more. The film documents all the suicides that are committed off the San Francisco bridge in the space of one year. There are close to 25 in all, and it's just a randomly chosen year. It's a beautifully made documentary film.
SkidMcSkidder: I'm not surprised it’s a choice location - it's bloody high enough when you're up there!
TheBedPost: I can imagine! One guy actually survived the jump.
SkidMcSkidder: Anything you want to talk about specifically Glen?
TheBedPost: All good man, I think we covered plenty. Thank you!
SkidMcSkidder: Cool. Well, it's been a pleasure – many thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. Good luck with the continued writing & recording - look forward to a new version of "Hundred Hand Slap" sometime soon!
TheBedPost: I'll get working on it! Let me know if yer ever in London town, would be good to grab a drink & catch up in person.
SkidMcSkidder: For sure - I come down every six months on business to Teddington but don't stay over - will have to make a point of stopping this year though.
TheBedPost: Superduper, lookin' forward to it. Thanks again. Have a great week.
SkidMcSkidder: You too! Cheers Glen
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Virtual Interview conducted using Yahoo Messenger™ 09-01-2011
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