Monday, May 2, 2016

INTERVIEW: Andrew McGibbon Jr. (The Bonnevilles)

Photo by Peter Graham

The new album, "Arrow Pierce My Heart", has a raw urgency that feels as indebted to punk as the blues...can you tell me about its genesis and recording?  

Yeah, that's a fair statement.  Our Punk esthetic comes from the Northern Irish Punk thing and the Detroit garage Punk thing.  Also,  we just don't think our music sounds good if it's over produced, so a fast, live recording process works best.  

We decided to record at home in Northern Ireland in our friend Mike Mormecha's Milbank studio, which is basically an old farmhouse outside Belfast.  We told him what we wanted to achieve and he said that wouldn't be a problem.  I can honestly say it was the most pain free recording I've ever been involved in.  Two days recording and another couple mixing.  Easy.

You signed to Alive Naturalsound Records for this release and share a label with bands like the Buffalo Killers, the Bloody Hollies, T-Model Ford and the Soledad Brothers – quite simpatico company!    Patrick Boissel has had quite a history in the industry, working with Bomp before starting Alive - how did you get hooked up with him?

To be on Alive Natural Sound is quite literally a dream come true for us. It was who we wanted.  This is our third album and we thought we needed to get on a bigger label than we had been working with.  We played a couple of festivals in Europe with Left Lane Cruiser, James Leg and Johnny Walker of the Soledad Brothers and they recommended us to Patrick.  Both of us are fans of the label and we thought we could fit on the roster.   They have been brilliant to work with as well, everything is easy, fast and dealt with immediately.  Lots of communication. 

You grew up in Northern Ireland and your originals seem to reflect some of the pain and conflict of your upbringing.  How did your heritage inform your work?

Ulster was a fucking mess when I was growing up.  We genuinely thought being murdered was a thing that could happen. That shit is bound to affect you and there is no doubt about it that it works into your music.  I think I've become slightly obsessed by death because of the past. 

What are some of the musical touchstones that inform your songwriting?  Alternately, who are some newer bands or contemporaries that you are excited by?

I love blues, but because it's a traditional form it can be constricting if you allow it. As a songwriter I don't want to conform.  I want to challenge myself so I use blues as a starting point and if I find myself drifting into something generic I shut it down. 

I also think it's too easy to be get lazy with lyrics so that always had to challenge. 

I'm getting into Godspeed You Black Emperor right now, just started listening to them last year.  I also love Ty Segall, especially Fuzz. 

If you could collaborate with any artist, songwriter, or producer, who would it be? 

Wow, what a thought.  Well...Bowie, but that'll not happen now. 

I imagine your songs are like children – it’s tough to choose one above the others. But let’s say you are asked to make a “Sophie’s Choice”; is there one that you are particular proud to have written or one that is particularly special to you?

Yeah.  We're Just The Right Distance From The Sun is special to me as it's about my mother's passing.  The lyrics relate directly to the wasting disease she had but I had no idea I was writing about it the words came like stream of consciousness and only after it was released I realized it was about her.  We played it in Mississippi last year for her, she would've loved that.  I still choke when I sing it. 

What’s on tap for you next?

Tours, tours and more tours.   We love gigging though, so it's no chore.  We hope to get back to the US next year.