- Mon, 2010-03-22 15:48
In 2003, dance duo Audio Bullys forced their way into the limelight with the release of their critically feted debut album Ego War. Combining an intimate knowledge of electronic music with an ear for a catchy hook, they took both mainstream radio and the clubs by storm. Follow up, Generation, failed to garner the same praise, but after a four-year hiatus they’re back to prove their pedigree with new album Higher Than The Eiffel.
I Like Music spoke with Simon Franks about taking a different approach on the new album, working with partner Tom Dinsdale, what’s in his record collection, and that quintessentially English topic; the weather.
"I Like Music because… of the drums.” Simon Franks, Audio Bullys
ILM: What’ve you got planned for the tour? What can everyone expect?
Simon: Just all the new tunes and some of the old stuff. It’s just a chance to get to hear the new music.
ILM: The new single Only Man is fantastic. What’s the story behind it?
Simon: Thanks! It was one of the last ones we made on the album. Our manager kept saying “I reckon we could have one more,” and I’d said before that I thought it was done. So hats off to Phil, ‘cos he was really pushing us to keep going! It was probably the best single on the album in the end. It was right at the end of the six months we’d been working in the studio, and it was late at night. We were quite buzzing I think. We just took the sample and chopped it up then put the vocal in; it just happened really quickly. There was no thought to it, it was just a really spontaneous thing. It just had the magic. We both knew when we’d done it that this was a good one.
ILM: How would you describe the process of putting together new album Higher Than The Eiffel?
Simon: It took about six months. There were a few tracks on there that were ready from before. Shotgun was an old track, so were Twist Me Up and Drained Out. But all the other tracks were made over that six months. It was good. It was the hardest we’ve worked in a long, long time, which is how I like to be doing it. It was a laugh! We came back together as a band, got a lot of mates to come in and play and just created the magic again.
ILM: You’ve taken a bit of a hiatus. Why was now the right time to return?
Simon: We were always playing and making music. We just hadn’t sat down in one go and said “let’s make an album,” like we did with the albums before. The one that we were gonna put out wasn‘t really a proper body of work that had all been done together. It didn’t sound like an album. There were some good tunes though, and some of them you’ll probably end up hearing as time goes on. It was just nice to start again. It didn’t feel right to put out what we were thinking about putting out, and it was nice to say “You know what, let’s really do it properly.”
ILM: What’s your studio like?
Simon: We did some of the tunes round at Tom’s, but the majority of it we did do in our little studio in Hornsey, which is just next to Camden. It’s only small, but nice!
ILM: What’s your preferred tech set-up?
Simon: On this album we use a lot of synths and plug-ins. Out of all the records this features the most playing from other musicians.
ILM: The friends you mentioned earlier?
Simon: Yeah, there was my brother, a guy called Terry and a girl called Tina who did some strings.
ILM: How would you describe your working relationship with Tom? How do you work together?
Simon: It varies. Sometimes I’ve written a song and we put something down around that. At other times he’ll have a backing track and a beat and I’ll put a vocal on. We just a have a laugh. With this album it was a bit more of a party than the old records. There were always people around and we were just treating it like enjoyment as well…. That’s when you get the good results.
ILM: Nice and relaxed, just hopping upon creative spontaneity whenever it appears?
Simon: Well, yeah, it’s like having a party on the side, but always still with your mind on work. You’re always trying to turn on the keyboard and get a groove, or put a vocal down, or write an idea. It was nice. To be honest I miss being in there now! We’ve let it go now that we’re not in there. So we need to do another one soon…
ILM: What’s your advice to those who would love a career in music?
Simon: It’s hard not to sound clichéd but if you think you can, then you probably can, and you’ve got to stick at it. But then I suppose it’s not always true, ‘cos you see these fucking shit music programmes with people who think they can sing, but they can’t! So it’s not always the case. I don’t know, yeah, just keep at it and never be disheartened.
ILM: What’s your music collection like? Vinyl? CDs? MP3’s?
Simon: Yeah, I’ve got some vinyl, and then CDs and my iPod as well. But my laptop broke so I’ve not been downloading any new music. My iPod’s become a bit redundant; it hasn’t been upgraded with tunes for about a year!
ILM: A year? That’s a long time!
Simon: It is a long time! Nowadays a lot of the time I’m with my girlfriend; she’s got an iPhone and I’ve got one of those iPod dock things. We just get things up on Youtube and put them on the player.
ILM: When did your love for music begin?
Simon: I don’t remember really, I think it was more subconscious. It wasn’t like I was always saying that I wanted to be a musician when I was older, ‘cos I didn’t. I wanted to be a skateboarder when I was a kid. Then I was into graffiti. Music was always there, but it was never at the forefront. I’ve always loved music, but it was when I got to about 17 or 18 that I really started trying to follow it properly.
ILM: What have you been listening to recently?
Simon: I went through a big stage of listening to Crystal Castles. I’ve sort of played that a bit much now though. Jimi Hendrix was one of the first things that I really got heavily into, then The Doors. Through my teens it was house music and garage music. Early garage music, before it had got into the charts and they were calling it 2-step. The Beatles, obviously. Biggie Smalls. Whatever really…
ILM: You mention on your site that early rock and psychedelic bands had an influence on some of the stuff you’ve been doing on this album…
Simon: Yeah, I think it’s something in the vocals, maybe. It was a breakthrough era wasn’t it, the 60s? It’s something that is always going to be with me.
ILM: You mention the party atmosphere that comes with your music, do you get a chance to party much? Where do you like to go out?
Simon: I don’t know… It’s funny, people always ask me that and I can never really think! We used to play at Fabric and I like it there. The Cross, which is gone now, was a club we used to go to a lot in the 90s. I’m not really out all the time any more. I quite like the warehouse thing now, cos you can smoke and stuff. It’s not that I always want to smoke, but I think that the smoking ban really changed venues and clubbing.
ILM: Other than the tour in March, what are your future plans?
Simon: We’re going to America for a bit. We’re going to spend a little time in New York and LA, get a bit of sunshine and do some skateboarding. I’ve got a few mates out there I want to see. It’s nice to be on the move. The weather’s just been so shit here! We had a nice summer and then the winter kicked in and I thought, “When next winter comes around, I’m going to get out of here!”