TMF meets Red River Dialect
David Morris is something of a local treasure around Falmouth, manning the wonderful Jam Records and treading the boards in psych-rock band Red River Dialect. It’s safe to say some were miffed when he and his band departed for new endeavours. However, after finally releasing a record that captures those chaotic Cornish shows, their spontaneous return marks a new, exciting chapter in the band's career. Speaking to frontman Morris leaves us assured they aren't about to pull the disappearing act again any time soon...
Congratulations on your second LP awellupontheway. How does it feel to finally have it out there for people to hear?
It feels good - and at the same time intriguing.
After the stripped back debut White Diamonds, how did your approach in the studio change as a full band?
There wasn’t really an approach, except that it was the first time that I think any of us had worked with engineers in a real studio, as opposed to recording ourselves.
The band came together very accidentally, the songs too, all in the space of a few months. We were fortunate to have an incredible pair of engineers at the controls, Demian Castellanos and Jimmy Robertson, and that allowed us just to play without concern about what microphone to use. They also mixed the record, and having experienced that I hope to never have to mix my own music again!
The album captures your visceral live energy well. What was used during recording - was there any kind of overdubbing involved at all?
There was some overdubbing, but very little. We set up as if we were playing a show, or practising, and almost the entirety of what you hear was all played together as a group. Some of the vocals were overdubbed, but some are the originals. We added a few other things here and there.
Musically, many of your songs maintain a nostalgic folk sound, but you also have these crazy psyched out guitar jams. What were you personally trying to convey through this album?
Landscapes outside and in. I don’t know what the others think of when they play the songs, I’ve never told anyone to play something in one way. Sometimes I have asked for people to slightly change something, but everything the other guys play comes from them, so whatever is conveyed is the psychic ground that forms between our musical expressions.
With awellupontheway you resorted to funding site IndieGoGo to raise money for a physical release. What factors made the vinyl and CD pressing so important to the band?
I know you’re a record collector because I used to sell you vinyl when I worked at the record shop in Falmouth! So you probably know why! I love the damn things. There are a lot of people out there that dismiss collectors as fetishists, but if you told them they could only eat space food… actually space food is probably pretty good. OK, if they could only eat hamster chips or that we all had to wear North Korean plastic clothes they’d probably feel different about how they fetishise those basic needs. And I feel that music is a basic need for me, at least I haven’t tried going without it.
I have never been particularly articulate on this subject. I even love jewel cases for CD’s! Everyone wants cardboard ones! Give me black jewel case trays! That’s what my first Dylan album came home dressed in.
The IndieGoGo thing, well to be honest initially it hurt my pride initially, but who cares, that’s the wrong sort of pride anyhow. We don’t have a label and we don’t have rich parents and we’re all being milked for rent. End of story.
You showcased much of the content for this album live at your final show in Penryn last year. How uncertain was the band's future as both a studio and live act at that time?
Well, we haven’t been in a studio since a couple of weeks before that show, but we’d like to. But we’d only want to do that if we could pay the engineers and everyone else properly and that’s going to have to wait. The future is relatively uncertain, but we have a couple of shows lined up, and everyone in the band is keen to hang around and make the same dumb jokes so we get together when we can. And that works because it makes it special. If anyone out there wants to loan us a barn somewhere for a week so that we can write the new record, please get in touch.
Regarding uncertainty, I saw Roy Harper play at End of the Road recently. At the end of his show he said he hoped he’d get one more chance to play for us. Some people I spoke to thought it was really morbid, like he was thinking it was his last show. Maybe it was, but I felt like he just appreciated it all so much that he hoped all of us got to do it again. I got the feeling that he saw it all as being infinitely precious and fortuitous that we even got to be there. Maybe he thought the audience were looking ill, maybe he saw portents. He was immaculately dressed and when he played ‘Just Another Day’ I was in tears.
How has the positive response to the record had an impact in the decision to tour as a band once more?
Well, we decided to tour before the record had come out, and we didn’t know if anyone would like the record or come to the shows. It’s been good that people liked it, but we would have done it anyway.
How extensive shall touring be following this release, any Cornish homecoming
We would tour if we could get shows. We’re hoping to do a Cornwall homecoming in
As a songwriter you often echo the masculine, pastoral lyrics of Bill Callahan and Will Oldham. Did any artist play an inspiring role during the writing of this album?
I listen to both of those songwriters a lot, so I imagine their way of thinking has seeped in. But when a line comes and then the song starts unfurling, it’s not a conscious state, it just flows out. The good ones anyway. If I am consciously trying to construct and sculpt the words as they are born it goes wrong. They get funny shaped heads and grow up to be bullies.
I have to be lucky enough to be overpowered temporarily, the good ones come when my guard is dropped. Anything else is a sham. There has to be an erotic relationship. Not a pornographic one.
Carl Sagan inspired some lines on the record, as did things my friends and loved ones said or remarked upon. Landscapes do it too.
Do you plan on writing more material with Red River Dialect or does the future hold a scattered future for the band?
Yeah, we’re going to do another one! I have a stash of songs, we just need some time together to dress them up and dance with them.
Are there any artists you aspire to perform with or possibly support live in the future?
I don’t know. Supporting people can be troublesome, because if I get too worked up, or too drunk or too carried away with it or get angry with myself, then I don’t enjoy the band on afterwards. Which is arse about face. Better to be in the crowd and just connecting.
How do you see yourself progressing as a songwriter following this
accomplishment of this album?
I’m not sure if I do! It’s just a snapshot - it’s just all we could muster at the time. I don’t have any urge to develop anything, I just want to follow my nose.
Finally, what was the most enjoyably memorable moment in making this album?
Meeting all the people.
Check out Red River Dialect on Bandcamp.