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

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When they came to make a new Field Music album, the Brewis brothers had a plan – to take it back to basics simply by getting together and playing live. Unfortunately, like so many other people’s plans lately, this one was halted by the pandemic – and so Flat White Moon ended up being a completely different set of songs altogether.

“It’s not the album we set out to make,” Peter Brewis tells me. “Me and Dave [Brewis] just wanted to get in a room and rock the hell out. I think we were listening to a lot of Free, strangely, and I thought we were going to write ten All Right Now’s, and then we didn’t because obviously we couldn’t play together in the studio. So after doing a couple of tracks in that style I ended up doing a lot of stuff just in my flat.”

Luckily there were still occasions when the pair could meet up. “We recorded a few songs together in the studio – really just banged things down – and then we had to do it separately for quite a while. Then we got back together and finished it off. The album prior to that [Making A New World] was…well, it was a bloody concept album and all the songs ran into each other and it was just complicated. I think we wanted to do something that was a little bit less like musical architecture. Sort of like ‘Can we just do some songs please?’.” He laughs.

Flat White Moon comprises a real blend of song styles, opening with the lush, layered sounds of Orion From The Street, a track of which Peter is particularly fond. “In terms of the songs that I wrote it’s really important to the record, and I think it says a lot about where I was at. And also Not When You’re In Love and When You Last Heard From Linda as well. I wouldn’t say they were my favourites but they’re the ones which mean the most to me.” Songwriting is shared between the two brothers and Peter also admits: “Quite often after I’ve written some songs and then I hear what Dave’s done, Dave’s songs are my favourite. Maybe that’s a bit of jealousy as well – when Dave’s written something amazing I’m like ‘Gah, I wish I’d thought of that!'”

I think we wanted to do something that was a little bit less like musical architecture. Sort of like ‘Can we just do some songs please?’

Asked about influences for the new album, Peter says that some of them stretch right back to childhood. “We used to listen to music all the time in the house. My mam and dad had the classic record collection, as you can imagine. They grew up with pop music really, when the Beatles were starting to happen, and then progressed to Dylan and Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Roxy Music, 10CC and actually because my mam was a youth worker she kept up with things right up until the early 90s when it turned to dance music.”

It’s little surprise then that a song or two on Flat White Moon have a touch of McCartney about them – such as the harmony-filled Not When You’re In Love. “Try as I might to get away from the Beatles, it’s difficult,” says Peter. “There has to be a conscious effort for it not to come out in what I do. But me and Dave have been listening to other things and we were maybe influenced by when we first really started liking music ourselves rather than just listening to our parents’. Mam and dad never had any Joni Mitchell and that’s something that I’ve got into quite a lot recently and I think that’s been a big influence on the approach to the lyrics on this record.”

The band are currently engaged in rehearsals, but not for a traditional tour, as Peter explains. “Now we’re in this brave new world of streamed gigs, we’re going to do one from the Brudenell in Leeds on Thursday 29th April. Nathan from the Brudenell just asked whether we fancied doing one and of course we said yes. We’ve played there so many times that it’s one of the venues that certainly feels like home – you just walk in and you know how it sounds and it’s great. So while we can’t go out and play we thought let’s do something else. I think everyone’s thinking the same really.”

The morning that I speak to Peter, he and David have also launched a podcast in which they discuss the influences behind the new album. Entitled Field Musicast, their sense of humour is evident throughout as they talk about musical ideas that they may have “nicked in a very respectful way”, but at the same time it’s obviously vital to them that their own identity shines through.

“We’ve got to be guided by what we like and make the things we think that only we can do,” says Peter. “Even when sometimes it might be a pastiche of something or tongue in cheek I still think there’s that sense of humour and sense of ourselves, and that particular kind of musicality that me and Dave can do. I’m not saying it’s unique or anything and I don’t think it’s massively original but I think it sounds like us. And I think it’s important to do that, for us.”

Field Music release Flat White Moon on 23rd April via Memphis Industries. The band will perform a livestreamed set via Brudenell Social Club on Thursday 29th April, check the band’s website for details on how to tune in

The band have also created a series of podcasts for Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens’ Paint The Town In Sound exhibition, which explores the relationship between art and music. Listen here



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