Waxing Lyrical with the Ghost of Corelli

6265916When people ask me what is most important, lyrics or music, whilst I understand both sides of the debate, I have no hesitation but to say lyrics. For me good lyrics are poetry, a contemporary literary form set to music. And whereas anyone listening to music hears pretty much the same thing, different life experiences can mean that we all get something different out of the lyrics, intentionally or otherwise. That’s why, for example, most people don’t get the love/hate dichotomy in Springsteen’s blue-collar anthems or why the BNP didn’t see the irony of using a song by the left leaning Manic Street Preachers for a recruitment campaign.

 

That’s also why I find the AK-Poets latest album, The Ghost of Corelli, so rewarding from a literary point of view. There are obvious, direct metaphors especially with the boxing imagery of Cassius Clay used to put the central character on the pedestal through his girlfriends eyes, but there are also less tangible images being painted. The philosophical and insightful reflections of In an Empty Room to the layered meanings of Sweet Dreams – running the gamut of the innocence of putting a child to bed to the heartache of losing a loved one.

 

It is this ability for songs, in the right hands, to be all things to all people that are the reason that music videos are often disappointing. Their rigid limitation to present only one view of all the myriad possibilities is on par with your favourite literary creation being put on screen and feeling like a deliberate character assassination.

 

But it is not all introspection and simile, the track that bucks the trend is swansong Eleven Thousand Martyred Virgins, which juxtaposes cliché and poeticism, deliberately mixes metaphor and literary references and which remains obtuse if not obscure throughout yet does so with a pallet of primary colours.

 

Great music is great music but great lyrics are literature.

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An Interview with David Marx of The AK-Poets

Little Big Gig

  1. Having started out making your first music in Swindon over thirty years ago, you are now back. What’s the story in between?

 

Whilst you can be influenced by living in the same town or village all your life, my lyrical pallet has been inadvertently broadened by geographical difference. My first move was to London, which was a very different place then, less commercial, less dangerous, less expensive and more driven by a real and vibrant music scene. Next was ten years in The Bowery, the underground musical heart of New York as a journalist and musician recording with the likes of the E-Street Band and playing support to Christy Moore and The Psychedelic Furs. Stops in Swindon, Brighton and more recently Berlin, my time is now divided between a house in Toulouse and making music in The West of England.

 

 

  1. Your current musical vehicle is The AK-Poets, how did that come about.

 

 

The AK-Poets was the band I formed in Berlin, which had a much gentler, acoustic path compared with the UK version, which has a harder, stripped back rock and roll feel, whilst retaining the continuing influence of, I guess, The Clash, The Beatles and Tom Waits – not necessarily in that order mind!

 

  1. So have you released any albums along the way?

 

 

Yes, I have released three albums via Revolver Records. Firstly LoveJunk which some people say is a good party album, even if it does have ‘Gas Chamber’ on it, but mainly is a collection of immediate, up-tempo songs, a couple of which are still in the current set, such as ‘The Madness of Love’ and ‘Tomahawk Junky’. Next came My Crucial Execution, a more acoustic pop album along the lines of Aztec Camera or perhaps Steve Earle. Jesus Was a Socialist was my American album, more political, more subversive, covering such subjects as the despicably pointless Vietnam War and the equally ghastly NRA – along with reflective songs like ‘Times Square’ and ‘According to Elvis.’

 

  1. And you have a new EP out, The Ghost of Corelli?

 

Yes, it’s a five-track EP out on local label, Secret Chord Records and is a pretty good representation of what The AK-Poets are about live. It has some delicate moments (‘In An Empty Room’ and ‘Sweet Dream,’) a couple of more rock and roll numbers including Cassius Clay which, inexplicably, appears to be a big hit with the boxing fraternity. The play out song, 11,000 Martyred Virgins, was described by Sam Bates – the engineer where it was recorded at The Ladder Factory – as “King Crimson on acid.” So, in all, a considerable range of colour.

 

  1. What now for the band?

 

More, gigs, more writing, and hopefully good sales of this release so we can embarked on recording a full album at some point in the near future. Offers of financial assistance, alcohol and northern prostitutes are greatly appreciated.

 

Okay, I’ll see what I can do, thank you for chatting to us.

 

For more information: –

 

http://akpoets.weebly.com

 

http://www.secretchordrecords.com/bands/david-marx-the-ak-poets/

original posted in The Ocelot September ’14  –

http://www.theocelot.co.uk/post/01/09/2014/ocelot-99-september-2014-edition/

The Ghost of Corelli – The AK Poets

6265916Of all the acts performing on the local circuit, it is probably David Marx’s music that resonates furthest back in time with me, having first caught The Coincidence live when we all looked much younger and thinner, sometime in the mid eighties. It’s been a long journey generically, from Waterboys-esque rock, to Springsteen blue collar romanticism, the urgency of The Clash to the story telling of Dylan and Waits; they have all played their part. Geographically too the road has meandered from New York, Brighton, Berlin and Toulouse before finally bringing him back to where it all began.

 

The current musical vehicle for his songs goes by the name of The AK-Poets, where he is joined by seasoned players Pat Luszcz and Richard Skidmore on bass and drums respectively and they have just captured 5 of their current creations on an e.p. called Ghost of Corelli.

 

It’s a record that follows a wonderfully balanced dynamic curve, topped and tailed by the biggest songs on offer here. Sicilian Satire lays out a wonderful welcome mat of joyous, raucous rhythms and boisterous beats and Eleven Thousand Martyred Virgins is a swansong that fuses slogan, phrase and fable onto an epic musical journey staying just the right side of avant garde as it casts off the chains of musical convention and wigs out like it’s playing a basement party in 1972.

 

It is between these more obvious rock and roll drives  the band channel something altogether more delicate, In an Empty Room and Sweet Dreams both painting poeticism and describing heart worn highways that we have all travelled at some point.

 

The lead track, well, the most effortlessly obvious candidate for a single release at least, is Cassius Clay, a song that the likes of Elvis Costello would have killed to have written back in his punked up pop formative years, a song too that between the epic workouts and the chilled reflections shows that when they turn their minds to straight down the line melodic and immediately accessible tunes, they can also summon those with relative ease.

 

And if they are able to capture all that theatre, charisma, dynamism, energy and wistful in just five songs, imagine what a live show has to offer.

The AK Poets @ The Beehive, Swindon – Feb ’14

1377194_594775660580778_2039521744_nThere is a well-worn adage about old dogs and new tricks, but when the old tricks seem to be much more entertaining than anything the young dogs have to offer, it’s an adage that becomes redundant very quickly. And so it is with the AK-Poets, a three-piece of seasoned musicians who wear their musical inspirations for all to see. Theirs might be a straight down the line rock show, but not only does it neatly encapsulate everything that ever made the spirit of rock and rock such a volatile force, it does so without resorting to over done gimmicks or hipsterish cliché, fashion statements and complex hair styles.

 

If all that sounds unadventurous, believe me it isn’t. Main man David Marx has a wonderfully dexterous way with melodies whether he’s hammering home brutally straightforward rock outs such as Cold Blood or the more intricate swing beats of The Madness of Love. Add to this a raucous guitar style and one of the best rhythm sections around (Pat Luszcz and Richard Skidmore on bass and drums respectively) and you have a very potent musical weapon.

 

Their recent gig at The Beehive was a perfect lesson to younger bands of just how you put on a show, coming on to a boxing match introduction they ran through a set of songs that punched well above the adage “local” – though I guess everyone has to be local to somewhere. Riffs ricocheted off the wall, back beats pummelled their way into the floor and bass lines pulsated and prowled just below the surface, all delivered by a band, an particularly a front man, who knows what putting a show on is all about. As the line between band and punter constantly blurred this became a show that had more akin to Ladbroke Groove in 1977 than to the fickle fashions and self-aggrandisement of the modern age.

 

And with a set of songs any of which is strong enough in it’s own right to be a single, this is a band who can show the younger dogs a thing or two about their craft. Forget trying to explore exciting new territories, why not just be master of the territory that you are already familiar with? And believe me this was masterful stuff.

 

So, maybe a better adage is, if it ain’t broke ….just give it a bit of a polish and get back to work.

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