- Sun, 2005-12-11 10:45
The Levellers have stood the test of time, still with the original line-up, continuing to be successful for longer than their contemporaries from the '90s. Their reputation as a superb live band and their commitment to the “road” has stood them in good stead with their loyal fan base over the years.
I Like Music caught up with the Levellers as they release the 2nd single, Last Man Alive, from Truth And Lies, their 8th studio album.
ILM: You’re on the road with Last Man Alive Winter Tour '05 and then again in February 2006. What’s your favourite Levellers track to play live?
Levellers: At the moment England My Home and This Garden.
ILM: With eight albums worth of music to choose from how do you choose the set list?
Levellers: Partly what we want to play, partly what fans ask for, and partly the hits.
ILM: Your fantastic new single, Last Man Alive is out on December 12th 2005. Can you give us your own personal description of it and its whole vibe?
Levellers: It's old-school Levellers: fast, punk, pop, folk crossover.
ILM: 17 years on you still have the original line-up. Can you tell us the best and worst habit about each band member and also how you manage to remain so close while doing as many as 200 shows a year?
Levellers: Gambling, alcohol and cigarettes. All the good stuff. We got the rock n roll habit!
ILM: Of all the Truth And Lies tracks, which one did you have the most fun recording?
Levellers: All of it - really enjoyable experience: different.
ILM: You have your very own festival, Beautiful Days, which is nominated for three awards on the Virtual Festivals website. What are your plans for the 4th festival and how did that first come about?
Levellers: It’s an antidote to all the big corporate ones we do all over Europe and got tired of looking out over endless Coke/McDonald's stalls. Ours is 10,000 capacity, small, like the Greenfield's bit of Glastonbury. Lots of mad stuff going on; not just bands.
ILM: Can you describe the Levellers' process of making such brilliant music please?
Levellers: We pick up our guitars and play man! The rest just happens...
ILM: Are you continuously searching for the Holy Grail that is the perfect song?
ILM: You have your own recording studio and your own publishing company On The Fiddle Publishing. How do you juggle touring, recording and all of that too?
Levellers: It kind of fits together - we have very good tour manager and other people in our office organising things so it usually goes relatively smoothly.
ILM: Any tips or advice for budding artists and producers starting out? What’s the secret to building a loyal fanbase?
Levellers: One tip: do it because you love it and have something you need to say, because there's no guarantee of any thing beyond that. But if you’re saying something interesting and making a good noise then other people will be drawn in......
ILM: What has been the main highlight(s) of your music career so far?
Levellers: Brockwell Park anti-Nazi rally played to 25,000 people, free gig. It was wild.
ILM: I still adore what I deem as a classic - What A Beautiful Day - can you tell us when/where you wrote that and how the song came to fruition?
Levellers: Mark wrote that one around the time he first started going to Cuba. I think the whole song is a kind of fantasy bar scene with all his heroes in there drinking - a beautiful day indeed!
ILM: In 1994 you purchased a 10,000 square-foot building in Brighton called the Metway - a base for creative music in Brighton. And the Metway Sessions have given a days free studio time away weekly to emerging bands. What a fantastic idea! How important is building a music community to you and what have been the main high points of the Metway Sessions?
Levellers: When we started every studio wanted to rip us off, so we thought it'd be cool to open our place at weekends for local bands free - because the paying bands who use it in the week always go home for the weekend, so we organised the Metway Sessions with the local radio station where the sessions get broadcast. The highlights to have come through this system have been The Electric Soft Parade, Clearlake, British Sea Power and She Said.
ILM: What do you like and dislike about Brighton?
Levellers: Everything is good about Brighton, except it's really expensive.
ILM: Can you describe your favourite place on earth?
Levellers: Iona, Inner Hebrides, west coast of Scotland, just at the end of the Mull. That's my sanctuary!