INTERVIEW: Baker Island | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Having already won plenty of fans in recent years for their intricate, layered recordings and their joyous and loud live show, Baker Island take another step forward with the forthcoming release of their second album Restless Legs – their most consistent, diverse and fully realized statement to date. Ahead of the album’s launch, I caught up with Sean Dodds from the band to find out more about the album’s genesis.

As Dodds explains, “With Bobby Hundreds, we had all the time we needed, which ended up being over two years. In fact, the band was probably fully formed after a lot of those songs were finished. To record this album, it took about ten months during 2015 and 2016, which is quick for us!” Intriguingly, Dodds also refers to an earlier, unused version of Restless Legs: “With this album we took the approach of going to a remote studio in Scotland with a load of ideas. It kind of worked – we recorded the songs, but not well enough.  We really thank Sam at Blank Studios for rescuing our shoddy efforts.”

Although much of Restless Legs will be new to listeners, a few songs like the addictive, synth-driven Write Home are already staples of Baker Island’s live set. “We actually spent a lot of time during the mixing of the first album recording demos of new songs, Write Home being one of them. So yes, a few of these songs have been around for a while but they were always going to be on the second album.  We end up with new material pretty quickly though – we’ve got another set of songs pretty much ready to go after the album!”

I liked the idea of a pop song being about something very dry and having the title to match

I also got Dodds to discuss the wry, witty lyrical style and absurd song titles (Bishop Hawkwind on the new album being a particular delight) that Baker Island have honed in on over the years. “We don’t spend time thinking about the titles, and we don’t really make a great effort to match them to the song.  They just tend to be stupid things we’ve said, or what we think would be really bad song titles and we pick from these once we have a new song.  For The Finance Middle Management Song I was trying to write a title akin to McCarthy’s The Home Secretary Briefs The Forces of Law and Order.  I liked the idea of a pop song being about something very dry and having the title to match, even if it’s mildly sarcastic. The lyrics are a different matter; there’s usually an overriding meaning or purpose to each song, and we try to have them as self-contained as possible, just trying to be poetic about the failings of ourselves and everyone around us.  The lyrics are sometimes about seemingly trivial things which don’t get noticed but seem worth pointing out to me, such as local government only paying lip service to mental health.”

Following the album’s launch, Baker Island play a special headline show at The Mining Insitute on Saturday 9th September, and Dodds is suitable excited about the prospect. “We really wanted a venue that wasn’t the usual two or three Newcastle venues that bands play all the time. As it’s a launch gig we wanted to do something special for it, making up for all the single and album launches we’ve never done in the past. For us playing in a venue like that and with those acoustics will be an absolute mindfuck.”

Restless Legs is released on Friday 25th August through Philiophobia Music. The band play The Mining Institute on Saturday 9th September with Chorusgirl, Slurs and Swine Tax.

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