Schoolyard Ghosts was finally released in May and the response so far has been almost as good as I could have hoped for.
More interviews and more positive reviews than for anything the band has done since the Indie Top 20 (hey)days of Loveblows & Lovecries, it’s been gratifying that something so personal has seemed to strike a chord with so many.
Perhaps the strangest (though welcome) interest has come from the Metal magazines of Europe. Attention from Classic Rock and Rocksound in the UK and Rolling Stone in Mexico is understandable, but extremely positive and perceptive reviews followed by enjoyable interviews in Metal Hammer (German, Polish and Spanish editions) came as a surprise (clearly, Pantera better watch out, as Bloodstock here we come!).
Elsewhere, the reaction has also been good. Inevitably, some people don’t like it as much as No-Man album X or Y, and some people don’t get anything at all from it, but generally speaking, Schoolyard Ghosts is already being seen as one of the strongest achievements in the band’s history.
For me personally, I see it as a quintessential No-Man album: something that encapsulates everything that the band is about and has been about, while also taking us somewhere new.
Whether it provides a new template for the band, or something for us to rebel against, time will tell.
Direct from the heart of Nomansland, filming began on the prospective Richard Smith No-Man documentary, with myself and the man Wilson talking openly about the band and its history.
As a long-term fan of the band, Richard proved a genial and well informed interrogator. More Louis Theroux than Jeremy Paxman, hopefully we won’t come out quite as badly as some of Theroux’s subjects!
As a demonstration of how we work in the studio, we created something ‘new’ for the cameras (albeit in a Blue Peter ‘this is something we prepared earlier’ kind of way), and the good news is that two new No-Man pieces are likely to result from this. More an extension of Schoolyard Ghosts than a fresh direction, it was good to see that the creative relationship withstood the sometimes intrusive glare of the camera eye.
The No-Man live rehearsals have gone well so far, with an interesting direction suggesting itself, and one new musical recruit who will hopefully end up sticking around for future projects.
Outside of the ‘Man’, I’ve continued to collaborate with Giancarlo Erra (another productive trip to the wilds of Sweden) and started work on co-producing an album for ex-Fairport Convention singer, Judy Dyble.
The album with Judy sounds totally unlike anything I’ve done before, but is shaping up nicely and looks likely to include some mighty fine special guest appearances.
Ideal (Series Four)
Slaughterhouse Five (1972)
This Is England (2006)
Paul Morley – Joy Division: Piece By Piece (2008)
Haruki Murakami – After The Quake (2000)
David Peace – The Damned United (2006)