Interview:
Echo&theBunnymen

Will Power

Looking back on 2007, one of the undoubted highlights of the year for me was Leicester’s Summer Sundae Weekender, the city’s perennial three day music event – held at De Montfort Hall - celebrating the glorious past and the most innovative new bands who are set to pave the way for a fascinating future in the world of sound. In turn, the highlight of the aforementioned festival was my chance to interview Will Sergeant, founder member and key songwriter from one of my all time favourite bands, Echo and the Bunnymen. It’s always quite nerve-wracking to meet your heroes, but as I found out previously with frontman Ian McCulloch, ex-Smiths virtuoso Johnny Marr and The Wonder Stuff’s Miles Hunt, the press, when describing these illustrious innovators as “awkward”, were talking utter bollocks…

WS: It just depends on what side of the bed you got out of a lot of the time. I remember I was portrayed as quite obnoxious once because we did an infamous interview with a woman from The Face where I just sat there ignoring her and reading a Star Trek magazine until 3 in the morning. Thing is, we’d done a gig in Sheffield – The Limit I think it was called – and we’d ended up at the hotel much later than we’d intended. This woman still wanted to do the interview and none of us really felt like it.

AD: Perhaps that’s where all the broodiness came from in so many of your songs. Your last album, “Siberia”, was like a hark back to the old days. Would you agree with that?

WS: I do agree, yeah. Hugh Jones produced it, so that’s probably why. We worked on it a lot – all the crap bits went out and we enhanced all the best bits. It wasn’t intentional for it to sound like the old stuff, it just came out that way. Once we heard Hugh was up for doing the album, we thought we’d see how it went and he was definitely instrumental in its sound.

AD: So what would you pick as your favourite Bunnymen album?

WS: “Heaven Up Here” definitely.

AD: Is that because it was heavily based around Pete (De Freitas)’s drums?

WS: Partly because of that, but mainly because of the memories of that whole time – the excitement of not quite knowing how far we were going to get, but having this intense feeling that something big was around the corner.

AD: My favourite was “Porcupine”. I remember though, when that one was released, I thought it was one of the most amazing things I’d heard, yet there were several reviews which slated it, saying that you’d “sold out”

WS: Well, that’s the pretentious music press for you – most of them decide that they have to complain about you by the time you’ve done your third album, otherwise they won’t look as cool anymore. I remember when we put “Ocean Rain” out, and the NME said it sounded like the Moody Blues. We’ve never taken any notice of reviews because you rarely agree with what they’ve written.

AD: Any new material on the way?

WS: Yeah, the new album’s nearly done actually. It’s quite poppy and not like anything else we’ve ever done. Knowing the perception of the press though, they’ll probably focus on saying it sounds like Coldplay or Snow Patrol though…

AD: What about the newer bands though Are there any that you personally champion?

WS: Not a lot of them, no. I’ve had my time of following bands. Can you really see me – cracking on for 50 – following a load of bands made up of 26 to 28 year olds? And a lot of it really is a case of the King’s new clothes anyway. There are elements of the new bands that I like, but give me The Fall, Gang Of Four or Wire any day. Spoon are an excellent new band though, who we’ve just been on tour with

AD: Ah but maybe if you took a little inspiration from these new bands, maybe they’d propel you back towards the charts…

WS: I can’t see that happening. It’s not like we feel a part of things where the charts are concerned, and none of us could care less about getting a chart position anyway because the charts no longer mean anything. Not that they ever DID mean that much – look at the Velvet Underground – their first album got nowhere and it’s still regarded as a classic. The bottom line is it’s either good or it isn’t, and reaching the top 40 is neither here nor there.

This is all music to my ears. After all, I spent years in bands trying to make it, and eventually end up with a hit record. Perhaps my songs weren’t all shit after all! Hell, maybe they merit even MORE respect by NOT reaching the charts!

Anyway, Will’s really cheered me up. You could do the same for him by buying “Siberia” or any one of the Bunnymen’s brilliant back catalogue. Also, you could catch him DJing at a Northern Soul night at various points in the year (he certainly put me straight with what PROPER Northern Soul is, which I conveniently left out of this interview so as not to look supremely stupid!)

I wait with bated breath for their newie some time in 2008.

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