The Blue Aeroplanes release what will be their tenth studio album, 'Anti-Gravity' in June, available on vinyl only. We've had a sneak preview and it's no exaggeration to say it is right up there with their very best work. Gerard Langley kindly took the time to answer a few questions from us about it.
AlbTwo: Firstly, congratulations on the album - you must be very proud of it? It sounds to these ears to be more consistent than ‘Altitude’ – do you think that’s a fair assessment, and if so, why do you think that is?”
Gerard Langley: It’s more consistent than ‘Altitude’ because it was recorded largely by one lineup at one time, the first time we’ve done that since ‘Life Model’.
A2: What’s your own personal favourite tune on there? Tell us a bit about that?
GL: Don’t have a favourite tune. Or if I do, it’d be different next week. That applies equally to Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, Sandy Denny, The Flamin Groovies, Dr Feelgood, The Duke & The King or Camper Van Beethoven.
A2: Who’s ‘in’ the band at the moment, if such a concept even exists?
GL: Me, John, Max Noble, Gerard Starkie, Chris Sharp, Rita Lynch. With Dave Chapman as a pretty regular addition and recently Rodney Allen’s come back into the frame. It’s always nicer if there’s a regular bunch of people but it doesn’t matter if there isn’t.
A2: How did the link-up back with Dave Chapman come about? He was last in the band for Spitting out Miracles, which was released in 1987? Had you stayed in touch, and what had he been doing himself musically during that period?
GL: Yeah, we’d always been in touch with Dave to some degree but kind of forgot to invite him and he didn’t volunteer. That’s now been corrected. It’s amazing how difficult it is to play the earlier stuff properly without either Dave or Nick Jacobs around. Their style was so individual. Dave first re-appeared in 2007 and did Fiddlers with Angelo. When we rehearsed ‘Lover & Confidante’, a song we did for years with the Angelo/Rod/Alex Lee lineup, Dave played the riff (which he wrote) and Angelo said “bloody hell! That’s how you play it!” Dave has mostly been involved with arty film projects during the intervening years, either lecturing or doing weird commissions in Scottish castles to commemorate a century of venison or something.
A2: And how about St Vincent? Have you met? Were you mutual fans?
GL: I have met St Vincent. I’m a fan of hers, I’ve no idea if she likes us or not. She’d heard of us.
A2: Who or what else had an influence on the album?
GL: Absolutely nothing specific. We literally went into a room and started playing. Most of the early tracks were recorded without the band even knowing.
A2: How has running the Fleece rubbed off on the Aeroplanes? You must have (inevitably) seen a lot more up & coming bands over the last year or so as a result – have you seen anyone that reminds you of yourself, or that has given you a different perspective on your own band?
GL: No. That’s not how it works.
Part 2 follows shortly, in which we rather rashly draw comparisons with Mark E Smith.