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

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If you’re into layers of instruments twinned with lyrics that express deep and witty tales, then the chances are that you’re a fan of Joe Gideon. With years of innovative work under his belt, hes now stepping out as part of a new trio with Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) and Gris-de-Lin on new album Armagideon.

Joe met Jim whilst supporting the Bad Seeds on their Dig Lazarus Dig UK tour, and the rest is history. Similarly, his friendship with Dorset singer/songwriter Gris-de-Lin led to a curiosity of working together: “The creative process started in a barn with basic equipment,” he explains. “We started recording, playing along to songs I’d written, pretty much off the cuff. In fact, one song on the album, called Salty, is pretty much the first take of the song, never heard by the band before. I love this way of playing.”

Thinking they would be demos, they realised that the songs had inexplicably morphed into an LP. “It’s a great lesson for me to know that if you have everything set up to record, no matter how basic your set-up is, then at least you have a chance of capturing the initial spontaneous burst of creating music, which can be hard to replicate.” This instinctive style comes across on Armagideon’s wildly explorative feel, as Joe expands. “I wanted the songwriting themes to be quite fantastical. I wanted them to be themes that I hadn’t touched on before, plus I was hoping they’d be quite entertaining. It seems my mind decided that, in that case, I needed to write about time-travelling space travellers and the end of the world.”

my mind decided that I needed to write about time-travelling space travellers and the end of the world

Armagideon is a weird and wonderful record. Opening track Expandable Mandible’s rising and falling heavy percussion warns us storms are coming, while Ancient Space Mariner is a dramatic tune, with heavy piano and complimenting backing vocals from Gris-de-Lin. However, Joe wasn’t sure about the track until the final mix when it all came together, and the trusted Incan flute came into play: “Jim playing it at the end of Ancient Space Mariner was a surprise for all of us, even him.”

While his new project may bear little relation to his previous output in bands like post-rockers Bikini Atoll and indie blues band Joe Gideon & The Shark, it’s this urge to start fresh which makes Armagideon so successful. “From a songwriting point of view, I think it’s really important to embark on any new project with the dogma of not repeating yourself. For starters, it’s way more fun, and secondly, you stand a much better chance of getting something good out of it. Thirdly, if it’s a failure, then at least you embraced it with a kind of pioneer spirit, rather than a ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it’ attitude.”

Joe, Jim and Gris-de-Lin bring their catchily surreal show to Newcastle’s Cluny 2 on Wednesday 19th February, and Joe’s description of what the audience can expect is typically bizarre. “Hopefully, it’ll be as if they’re on a train, hurtling through forests and deserts and across seas, for yes, this will be a semi-submersible train.”

Joe Gideon plays The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Wednesday 19th February. Armagideon is released on 31st January



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