I have posted this before but being that this site is based in Swindon, England, the home of TC&I and that having gathered a full band around them they are one day into a residency at the local Arts Centre, I thought it appropriate to post this again.
Ahead of the upcoming run of TC&I shows at Swindon Arts Centre I managed to grab a quick chat with Colin Moulding about recent events, a return to treading the boards and what the future holds. This time last year I had spoken to him and Terry Chambers about the release of their e.p. Great Aspirations, so I was interested to know how we got from that record to full band live shows.
“A few reasons really, all those songs I wrote for XTC, when I had finished recording them I just had to wave goodbye to them and I thought it might be nice to hear them in a concert setting as a lot had never been heard that way. This coincided with Terry thinking shall we play some live shows on the back of these new recordings but of course we only had four new songs. I knew he wanted to get back out and play live, that’s how Terry best expresses himself. I thought, I can’t go the whole hog, I can’t go back to a touring lifestyle, I have commitments but I can go half way and play some shows via a more considered approach.”
As his long-awaited CIRCU5 album lands with a satisfying thud, I secured a ringside seat with Steve Tilling to get the inside scoop. Steve has been a familiar face on Swindon stages, and those further afield over the years. So the obvious place to start is, why after all this time playing in other people’s bands did you want to put out your own album?
“I suppose I’ve always felt there was an album in me – maybe the timing was finally right,” he tells me over a pint in the quiet corner of a local pub. “I had been through a difficult time just before making the album. It became a cathartic and therapeutic process to hide away and finally link my ideas. And it was a challenge that helped me get my head together.”
And not content with just making an album, Steve set out to play all the instruments. “Most of what you hear on the album is me. Over the years of playing in bands and being around other musicians, I picked up enough skills to get something out of most instruments. But halfway through recording, I realised I couldn’t do everything myself. So I contacted friends and band mates past and present to see if they wanted to get involved.”
None other than Stephen Hawking once pointed out that for every equation he put in his books destined for the populist market, the potential audience was immediately cut in half. I fear that the word Progressive has the same effect on a rock music buying audience. But if the word conjures thoughts of keyboard playing wizards writing musicals about the formation of the League of Nation to be performed on roller skates, then CIRCU5 is just what you need to set the record straight.
It is an album with a progressive head but an alt-rock heart, more often found
in similar sonic territory to the likes of Foo Fighters and QOTSA, and whilst
the album does follow a narrative, it is less a concept album than an album of
concepts, ones which explore nurture vs. nature, dysfunction and relationships
in a poetic and literate way.
Multi-Instrumentalist Steve has spent five years putting this album together
with the help of a number of recognisable names such as Phil Spalding, Dave
Gregory, Johnny Warman and more and the result is a cerebral take on rock
music. One which plays both to the rock ‘n’ roll gallery love of the genres
basic, visceral and powerful requirements but also gratifyingly delivers
something new, intriguing and challenging from its lyrical depths and musical
textures with every play. Rock music with a PhD in psychology? Why not?