There's a scene brewing in Manchester that goes by the name of 'prog-nouveau' and Trojan Horse are one of the bands leading the charge. TMF catches up with them to find out exactly what the term means and explore the members love of both Yes and Steps....
What's your earliest musical memory?
Nick: HELLO! Thats a difficult question. Music has been such a staple of our lives (Nick, Lozz, Eden) since we were born (and before) I couldn’t specifically give a point where I remember it just being there, because its ALWAYS been there haha. My dad and uncle were in a band together, and I vividly remember going into the spare room at our old house to see all their gear setup…theres also a tape of me (Nick) singing the Postman Pat theme song when I was about 3 or something, so lets say that is the earliest for the sake of argument.
Guy: I grew up in pubs from a young age, I'd have to say my earliest jukebox classic was Nelly The Elephant. My parents parted with many a 10p to keep me happy. I guess my sister playing Pet Shop Boys would be somewhere amongst my earliest musical findings. When I was old enough to have a stereo, my brother-in-law kindly passed on his Appetite For Destruction vinyl which could be heard blasting from my red, Alba record player most days of the week.
If you could hold a recording session with any five artists, who would you
Nick: Alive or Dead?I’d personally definitely have Dave Grohl and Josh Homme in there, as theyre personally two of my biggest (living) influences, I wouldn’t be as all consumed by music if it weren’t for the albums they’ve produced and the songs that have struck me. Jeff Buckley, just for the incredible voice and talent. Bill Bruford from Yes/King Crimson because his drumming is unreal. You wouldn’t have Brann Drailor doing the Mastodon stuff like he does if it weren’t for Bruford’s influence. And I’d have our dad (Danny the Red) producing it, as he has an excellent ear for arrangements and sounds. He’s produced all the stuff we’ve recorded so far and he just adds incalculable levels of depth to each piece of music we write. Just incredibly talented as a musician, and he drags the best out of all of us, even if at the time we’re screaming out ourselves for not being able to do what he asks…we get there in the end.
Guy: It'd have to be Buddy Rich on drums, Jimmy page on guitar. Buddy never fails to amaze and inspire me and Jimmy Page was sublime in both a technical and song writing sense. Vocals would have to go to Neil Young. He is the perfect artist for me, ever changing, integrity in tact and never afraid to follow his own path. I would have to say Bjork too - her invention and talent are mind blowing, her songwriting, production, concepts and live performances are always at the cutting edge...I think the idea of a Young/Bjork harmony is pretty exciting too. Finally, to add someone current, I'd say Dan Snaith from Caribou. His multi-instrumantalism and pop sensibility are amazing and he is always looking for a different sound on each album, something we should all aspire to.
You want to describe 'prog nouveau' to a stranger on the street, what do
Nick: Tough question! In a way its whatever you want it to be. From our point of view it’s a group of musicians and artists who are pushing the boundaries of their chosen genre/s to breaking point, just because its fun and because they can. People sticking their necks out to explore where they can feasibly take the music/art. So in a sense it's becoming more a movement than a genre of music, because it includes producers, bands, solo artists. Now we’re even, as this band, coming into contact with promoters, labels and artists who could be considered part of ‘Prog Nouveau’.
Back in the day prog was about exploration. Somewhere down the line it got lost in itself, I think we as a band and as a nascent, wider ‘artistic community’ want to recapture that initial vision of exploring the nooks and crannies, and more importantly the sense of fun that comes with walking off the beaten path. Whether everyone else we’ve met or played with sees what they are doing as consciously as that, I have no idea, but ive thought about a lot myself and that’s the vibe I get from what everyone is doing at the moment. The other aspect is that we’re trying to make it interesting for the audience, so its not just a bunch of songs or one album, it's some artwork to go with that, a story, a piece of a puzzle in a wider context. And we’re all pushing it form a DIY standpoint. So you’ll see handmade packages from say Trojan Horse or From the Kites of San Quentin. We’re all just trying to keep it interesting and engaging, because WE want to be interested and engaged ourselves.
It's constantly evolving so this answer might not even apply in a few months time, haha.
Guy: I think Nick summed it up perfectly.
You are going to live on a desert island for a year, which three albums do
you take with you?
Nick: Rated R- QOTSA, Songs from the Big Chair- Tears for Fears, and Fragile – Yes. Three very different but equally amazing albums.
Guy: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Yes - Close To The Edge and Beatles - Rubber Soul. Such a tough one, I said the first three that came to mind, but it probably wouldn't be that simple in reality.
Everyone has a defining music moment, one that lives on in the memory,
what is yours?
Nick: Mine personally has to be getting recognition from Bill from Mastodon, on how much he liked our album. I’m a huge fan of those guys, and happened to go to a signing they were doing before a show in Manchester. We were like last in the queue, it was in a tiny room, it was hot and sweaty and the band just looked like they wanted to kill themselves by the time we rolled up. I’d on the off chance taken a few copies of the album down to be cheeky, so anyway I hand ‘em over thinking nothing more would come of it. I go to the show, and afterwards hit the bar next door to the venue. Bill and the band roll in, and he remembers me and calls me over by name, and just starts talking about how he listened to the album, and how great he thought it was, naming tracks and specific parts of songs, and that he gets people passing them cds all the time but this one really stood out. That for me was a huge deal, as not only had someone I look up to as a player taken notice, but he REALLY liked something my band had done.
Guy: I would have to say it's probably between Roger Waters performing Dark Side Of The Moon, amongst others, at Roskilde Festival, Denmark in quadraphonic sound. That, or Neil Young headlining Glastonbury. Doesn't get any better than that for me.
What is the best gig you've ever been to and why?
Nick: Again I can only speak for myself, I think in terms of inspiration, probably one of the local gigs I first went to in Manchester around 2000. I couldn’t say which one as they were happening pretty much every week back then. But those gigs, watching all these local bands making a noisy racket, and not really having the sheen of big stage productions, and not caring about anything other than making music and having fun with it. That inspired me to actually have a go at playing music myself. As before then I’d had the classic stance of “well I’m certainly never going to be as good as (insert band name here) so can’t be in a band”. That scene in Salford, centered around bands who practiced and gigged at the now sadly defunct/demolished Redhouse, was like my own personal punk explosion of the 70s. If they can do it, then so can I. Its also interesting to see a lot of those people have moved on to stuff that is in this scene we’re in now. They’ve transplanted that ethos of DIY, and having a go at what they feel like they want to, into different musical genres. It gives what we are doing now a real sense of history, and a definite family tree of bands, members etc. Its great.
Guy: Think I answered this in the last question, however, another gig that changed my life was Radiohead in 2003. I wasn't really a fan but went along as a friend had a spare ticket. It was a truly moving experience and I went straight home and bought all their albums on Ebay. Never looked back since.
If we were to look at your MP3 player, what is the most embarrassing track
or album that we'd find?
Nick: Well it depends who would be embarrassed haha. Everything I own I dig, so to me its not at all shameful. Ive got Steps – GOLD and Craig David – Born to do it sat right next to me now, but I like some cheesy pop now and again. I dunno if you’d be embarrassed to admit owning those? I’m personally not really bothered, I know all of the band’s musical tastes veer wildly between absolute stinkers and stone cold classics haha.
Guy: Probably the ones I always blame on my girlfriend. Here you go, starting at A. Abba, Boney M, Chris Rea and so on. The latter being a guilty pleasure...takes me back to me and my Dad driving up the M6 in his old Astra.
Where do you see Trojan Horse in five years time?
Nick: Doing a VH1 behind the music…maybe. Hahaha. Nah, I guess if we are still here, making music, playing gigs and most importantly enjoying what we are doing then we will all be happy. As I mentioned earlier, what we’re currently part of is evolving and pushing in many different directions, so I find it hard to say where I think we’ll be in 5 years time. I guess starting our own label or some platform for us to showcase other bands and artists would be great, we’re all about helping out and highlighting the stuff we love, that inspires us, so a more tangible way of doing this would be amazing.
Guy: Ultimately to be in a comfortable position to keep making albums, putting music out and surviving in the process. Seeing the world, establishing a wider fan base, playing with more and more great bands and artists.
What three words would you use to describe the experience of seeing
Trojan Horse live?
Nick: Maximum. Riff. Output. Or maybe, Bearded.Plaid.Noise
Guy: Large. Frantic. Fit.
What's next for Trojan Horse?
Nick: Loads more gigs planned. Touring in October. Ep coming out very soon, then next year album number two, more touring. A couple of videos are in the works, and then we have some other extra special stuff we can’t really speak of yet, but that will be insanely good. Oh and we’re finally getting some T-shirts done!
Guy: Write, play, film, record, design, enjoy.
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