Interview: The Travelling Band on festivals, follow-ups, and... de-flowering

We caught up with The Travelling Band's Jo Dudderidge to find out all about the new album, what's in store for Festival Season, and, er... the exact location of his fellow frontman’s ‘deflowering’.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 24th May 2011

More than three years have passed since Manchester’s The Travelling Band rumbled onto the music scene in a metaphorical wagon of sumptuous country-pop, lyrical tales and rich harmonies.

Next week, the hairy nu-folk fivesome release their long awaited second album Screaming is Something; a piece of work which marks a clear progression for the band and displays a true mastery of their craft, honed by three years on the road and a colourful tapestry of experience.

As the band embark on a summer of festivals – including the brand new Ramsbottom Festival in September - we caught up with lead troubadour Jo Dudderidge to find out all about the new album, the impact of environment on output, and, er... the exact location of his fellow frontman’s ‘de-flowering’.

Your new album Screaming is Something is set for release next week. It’s been three years since your last full length release – will fans notice a big difference?
For those who have been following us on the road the last couple of years the sound of the new record is a little bit closer to what they have been experiencing compared with the vibe of 'Under the Pavement', which is far removed from our current sound. The new album is more epic and faster paced but retains our love for harmonies and lush instrumentation.

How did the album title come about? It seems a little incongruous with the nature of your music – is that intentional?
It's the name of the second song on the record, and lyrically refers to one of the base level instincts that we all have - things that connect us all. I don't think there's any intention to be incongruous with anything. With reference to its context, it's more of a statement of commonality.

How do you think you’ve developed as a band in the last three years since your debut?
In short, we've got better. Our first album is the sound of band coming together to record for the first time. Back then our music was a little bit more delicate and whimsical. We've been at the wheel for this one so we've been able to project our experience and live energy into the recordings. We're also now a five piece and lost a songwriter in the process which has naturally changed the dynamics within the band too.

What are the main themes of the album and are they different to those of Under the Pavement?
Infidelity, mortality, shadows and hopefulness. The songs I wrote on the first album were full of desolation, painted with pretty melodies. It's a trick I use often to get away with being a depressing lyricist.

I heard you recorded the album in a converted church on the Isle of Mull. Why there, and what influence did the location have on the album?
At the time we saw it as an opportunity to get away from Manchester to focus on the recording process and more, the space was free to use  - we couldn't afford a studio. It was a drastically different environment to Brooklyn - where we made the first album - the calmness and tranquility of the island certainly affected our mood and on reflection maybe even the song arrangements in some cases. For example 'On the Rails' was recorded much slower than we'd planned to. The track ended up a lot more ambient as a result. We also recorded the church bell which you can hear in the track if you listen closely, so in that sense the location had a direct result.

True to your name, you tour a heck of a lot as a band. Is touring even more important to a band now that we’re in the age of the digital download?
Apart from it being a lot of fun, bands used to tour to promote the sales of their albums. Now they make albums to promote their tours. We enjoy both processes although we tend to tour more than we record as it's generally more fulfilling for all the members. Recording can lead to boredom if you're not involved all the time.

You’re playing the Ramsbottom Festival at the end of the summer. It’s a brand new festival – have you heard much about it and what are your expectations?
Adam and Chris are both Bury lads and I think Adam actually lost his virginity in the pavilion at Ramsbottom Cricket Club, so it's a sort of homecoming for him. I'm sure it'll be a great do as there's some top acts on too like Cherry Ghost and Badly Drawn Boy.

Who would be on your dream festival line-up?
The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan + The Band, Woody Guthrie, The Beatles circa 1967, Deer Tick, Sun Kil Moon, Dungen, Wilco, The Shins, Talking Heads… (where do I start/stop?!)

Lyrics are obviously an important aspect of your music. What inspires you to write? And do you find lyrics or do they find you? 
Songs are a useful way of finding out how you really feel about something. I write a lot in the dream state these days so in that sense lyrics and melodies are coming to me rather than being searched for.

Is there a time of day, location or state of mind that you find aids your writing? 
About 4am whilst walking home, inebriated and emotional. Being asleep.

As a band you’re rooted in Manchester. Would you ever consider leaving? And if so, where would you like to live?
Since we made the first album there we've always threatened to move to New York for an extended stay at some point. I'm sure there'll be a time where it's right to go but for the moment we're happy in Manchester. It's our home.

Although a hugely important city musically, Manchester isn’t all that well known for its alt-folk/country scene. Can you see that changing?
Bands and artists like Walton Hesse, Blind Atlas, Gabriel Minnikin, Cherry Ghost and Jo Rose show that there's plenty of it around if you know where to look.

If you could live in any country, at any point in history, where and when would it be?
If I had been born any earlier I would have died from a birth defect in my heart and lungs so I'm happy that I was born when I was. Ifs and buts aside, I'd like to have to been a Captain of sea-faring ship when they were discovering the New World. That must have been been pretty awesome. I'd like to think I wouldn't have murdered the natives when I got there.

If you had to try and capture the essence of The Travelling Band’s music in one sentence, what would you say?
Five teenagers in their twenties writing songs like they're in their thirties for people born post nineteen-forties.

Ramsbottom Festival is in September, but what have you got going on over the summer in the meantime?
We're touring the UK and Ireland from now right through June and then the rest of the summer will be festival appearances and all that jazz. I'm looking forward to Cropredy and Green Man Festival the most. I've also been asked to curate a second stage at The Flaming Lips gig at The Eden Project on June 30th, and we're pretty excited about that too.

Do you have a favourite song to perform live?
There's a Sun Kil Moon song called 'Glenn Tipton' that I love singing live but in terms of our own tunes, I always enjoy playing 'Only Waiting' as the song keeps mutating.

What’s the most perfect lyric ever written?
All you need is love. Love is all you need.

And finally, why should people come and see The Travelling Band?
Because you can. Who knows what's going to happen?

Interview: Jayne Robinson

Find out more about The Travelling Band and buy tickets for Travelling Band events at their Skiddle artist page here.

Tickets for Ramsbottom Festival are available here.

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