An Interview with Albany Down
Friday, May 29, 2009
An Interview With Albany Down!
It is the afternoon after Jonny's 24th Birthday bash and the band ALBANY DOWN is full of beans. It appears that they went out last night to one of those hedonistic Hellfire type clubs in London, where semi-naked depravity was the main item on the menu. "At least I now know that I don't have any fetishes" says bass player Billy Dedman as he shakes his head trying to delete the bad images of gimps and whips that are etched into his mind. Jonny Bescoby (drummer) appears to still be dumb struck from the experience with a permanently puzzled look on his face. "It was like sick and mental at the same time... but it was cool" He says "I am absolutely definitely going back".
The two more 'stable' looking city-slicker type members of the band (Paul Muir the singer and Paul Turley the guitarist) stare at their fellow band-mates with a look of weary acceptance. The 'two Pauls' declined last night's scandalous activities preferring, instead, to have a quiet night in. This characterises the 'division' within the young band. One half of ALBANY DOWN are crazy young guns up for anything... the other half are laborious, safe handed stay-at-home rock-steady Eddies. Somehow it works. Sprinkle some pepper on half basket of strawberries and taste the results - it shouldn't work- but all the same it does. It is the same thing with ALBANY DOWN. Sugar and spice.
Baby faced Jonny Bescoby wears a short black jacket, bondage pants and black nail varnish. He looks like a rock star. Jonny is a ferociously fast drummer. He is totally self-taught and his band-mates are blown away by the speed that he develops his sound. In rehearsal he starts off a new song fairly basically and then builds up layer-upon-layer of rhythm to completely transform and reinvigorate the percussive elements.
Paul Muir, the talented lead singer, is considered to be the 'perfectionist' of the band. Paul wears a slate grey suit and a starched blue shirt ... his hair is neatly trimmed and styled into a gentle fauxhawk. "It is my job to slap people around and to get things done... I get the others to study and to concentrate" he says, like some kind of college lecturer. The other band members just nod in agreement. Paul also writes the lyrics for the ALBANY DOWN songs. "They tend to evolve from 'stupid' to more 'serious' over a few days" he states, with a grin. The band is going into the studio this June to lay down six new tracks (working in close collaboration with legendary 'Manics' & 'Skindred' producer Greg Haver). And they are looking forward to the experience of concentrating on the their music, focussing on their style and developing their sound. Paul Muir's favourite singer is Paul Rodgers (Free and Bad Company) but he once thought about replacing Plant as the lead singer in Led Zep. "Yes, yes, it is true that I wrote to Robert Mensch (manager of Jimmy Page) and sent him some of my demos ... I suggested that I would make the ideal replacement for Robert if the band wanted to start playing live again in the near future ..."
Looking like some kinda out-of-work estate agent, the band's guitar supremo Paul Turley wears a crisply laundered striped shirt and neat grey trousers to go with his clean cut workaday hair. He is famous for the look of post-coital satisfaction plastered across his contorted face during guitar breaks. But, off stage, Paul wears a look one would normally expect from a smug thirty-something city banker- you know, something between tristesse and melancholy spread across a serious young face. Paul describes the pleasure of playing live as " Working on pure adrenalin - you feel it and it moves you". The band share a passion for Joe Bonamassa (they recently all went to see him play at the Albert Hall) so it is no surprise that ALBANY DOWN are often compared to the old style Brit blues bands like John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers or Free. Paul plays a Suhr thru a Dr Z Route 66 amp and already possesses some of the spirited rawness and technical prowess of those Brit-blues greats. Paul is often compared to a young Jeff Beck, with the same lyrical and melodic style.
Billy plays the 5 string bass for the band. He is constantly dressed in a dark Trilby hat and his lank hair dribbles down his cheeks framing a broad smile that is permanently beamed across a wide face. He reminds me of Desperate Dan. He probably eats cow pie and shaves with a blow-torch too. Billy comes from a musical background and has been exposed to a wide variety of musical influences throughout his upbringing but he admits he has a secret penchant for the darker and more elemental sounds in rock. In other words, bass is where he's at. Technically, his playing ranges from aggressive thrums to muted melodic slaps. In many ways it is Billy who controls the energy, power and raw emotion of the band... keeping the songs chugging forward and helping to maintain their overall melodic style of R'n'B - often even adding a little funk to the mix.
The band are remarkably prolific song writers and tend to write a new number every 2-4 weeks. The songs often start with a riff or a bass line from Billy or Paul (Turley) and then Paul Muir tends to craft and embellish those early visions into workable numbers for the stage. Later on, I watched as the band played two new songs at The Hobgoblin in Staines ... "Take Me Home" and "Looking Out Of My Window". Although the band play all their own songs, I noticed that they also include a couple of inspired covers into their set - and these go down well with a crowd. The Hendrix single "Fire" (The Chili's used to open with this cover) is a triumph, as so is a rocky metal sing along version of Duffy's "Mercy" - both covers getting a huge response from the audience.
ALBANY DOWN are mainstream enough to be able to tour the 'working mans club' circuit playing their fresh faced self penned blues-rock. But they are also professional and gifted enough to 'go large'. And I predict that they will be supporting some well-known headline bands on stadium-sized stages in the near future. "Yes we conform", says Paul Muir, "But that doesn't devalue our music... some of the hugest bands in the world, those with the largest audiences, playing on the biggest stages, play the same kind of unthreatening, energetic blues based rock as we do. Just think of the Stones or Zeppelin". Indeed!