Interview of Simon Huw Jones
by Ivor Thiel
October 12, 1998.
Hello. So, this was the new album, Silver Soul. Took nearly
two years, about two years. Why did it take this long period to get the album out? I heard you changed labels, was it all
because of this?
Simon We usually take two years, anyway, to write
each album. But we did change the label, and did have a few difficult times with the business side of music.
Well, a lot of people were frightened because they thought
that maybe there never would be another album. In the past few years when I'd play And Also the Trees, people phoned up and
asked "When will there be another album?" All that I had heard was that you didn't have a new label. Now, finally, you've
found one. How did you manage to get to them? Why them?
Simon : It's our own label. The first CD
on our own label.
And who is doing all the work? It's a lot of work,
I think, running your own label.
Simon : Guitarist
and brother Justin. We're doing distribution through EFA.
Why did you do your own label, and choose to produce your
Simon : We'd had a lot of trouble with other labels. In
fact, the English label we signed to were enthusiastic and convinced that they could make us more popular in England. Now,
this wasn't Reflex, this was the one before Silver Soul, we just had the one CD with them. But they didn't get very far, because
we have not really spoken with the media in England for about eight years. So, I think they've fallen out with us forever.
And we don't really care about that, but the record company had a lot of trouble and we decided to sort of leave them and
go on our own.
Well, when you do it on your own, I suppose at least
you know exactly what happens to your CDs, because you have all the work in your own hands.
You just said that you didn't talk to the media in England for
about eight years. I know that a lot of bands are telling me
that if the media likes you there, you're the best band for a week or a month, but if they don't, then they don't speak to
you. What's the media situation in England?
Simon : I don't know. I think it was about 1986 or 1987
the first time we came to Europe, and we had a very good time, and at that point we were getting pretty good press in England.
When we got back, we didn't speak to the media and they didn't speak to us. We really couldn't be bothered to do all the running
around and telephone calls, trying to be friends with people who you're not friends with. All that falseness. And we just
decided that we weren't going to bother.
So you didn't care at all about that.
Simon : Not really, no.
I saw on the tour, you only had one gig in
England, and it's right where most of the band lives.
Simon : It's
near to where most of us live. In fact, it was our first gig in England in six years.
But, I heard it was a good gig.
Simon : It was a good gig. We really enjoyed it,
and the crowd really enjoyed it. I was quite pleased because a lot of people who knew nothing about And Also the Trees came
ready to criticize us, and they liked the gig a lot. So, for me that made it particularly worthwhile.
So maybe there will be an English tour soon.
Simon : There was an agent who asked us afterwards if we would
do a tour, but of gothic clubs, which we're not so keen on. But maybe, maybe we will.
The Obvious. Something special to say about this song?
Simon : Lyrically, I thought of the lyrics when I was in Bern.
I was living there for six months. I loved living there. The idea come to me as I was walking home from the supermarket down
the big old main street one night. For me, it's quite special for that.
it difficult for you to live most of the time in Switzerland, with most of the band in England, in Inkberrow, I believe, to
produce the new album? How did you manage it?
Simon : Well, what happened, Justin and Steven wrote
the music, and then last spring, Justin came to Lugano ,on the Italian border near where I was living then with some recording
equipement. We cleared the flat that I was living in, and I surrounded myself with books and bits of writing that I'd done,
and just sang whatever came out of my head or the books or whatever. We got a lot of the vocal melodies written there, and
then he went home. So, yes, it's difficult, but we always manage somehow.
So Justin and Steven do the music first, the bassist and
the guitar player, and you later do the lyrics.
Simon :The lyrics and the vocal melody, yeah.
And finally, you produced it in your studio
in England, or where?
Simon :No, we went to Cornwall to do that.
Ah. So, ten tracks on the new album. Perhaps you can say
something about it? You just talked about The Obvious lyrics you wrote in Bern, is there a special story about Nailed or Rose-Marie's
Simon :Nailed. Now this is something that is just
very... The music wrote that in my head for me, I think. It had to be urban. And it's almost like this character called Red
Valentino from a song of about three or four albums ago, his spirit seems to walk in and out of all of our albums. I think
this is a reincarnation of him. And Rose-Marie's Leaving is one of those blissful songs that I wrote the lyrics for as I sang
them. It came straight out of my head. It took no time at all. If we could do all the tracks like that, we would do an album
every six months instead of every two years.
You say one album every two years, but the band started
in the beginning of the eighties. Now we are at 1998, and there should be more albums than eight.
Simon : Yes, when we first started, it was a period of time when
bands were recording 12" singles, this is a good excuse this one for being lazy or not prolific enough, but in those days
bands were doing 12" singles with two tracks on the B side, and one on the A side, and not including those songs on the albums.
Thiel That's right, I remember. I even have here the box
of all the singles and 12" maxis. I remember the only cover version I know from And Also the Trees was from a Maxi, it was
in the sum of Cat Stevens. Why did you cover this song, and have never done another cover?
Simon :Yes, Lady D'Arbanville. Well, that was a
song that I'd grown up with. My sister was a bit of a hippie in the sixties, and she used to be in love with Cat Stevens and
would play that song, and it stayed with me for a long time. And that was a time when the group, we were quite influenced
by the romanticism and color of the pre-raphealite paintings. That was a song that just seemed to fit in.
The last time I played Rose-Marie's Leaving, someone phoned
me up and asked me if this was a new song from Nick Cave.
Simon : Really. Oh, well...
It's probably the first time that someone has told you
this. I don't see too many common things between this song and Nick Cave. Perhaps it's because it's a little bit slower.
Simon It's the blues influence, isn't it?
Yeah, probably. So, let's have a last few words about this
wonderful song, it's called Highway 4287. Listening to your last two albums, the lyrics, for one, are getting more urban.
And also, it's incorporating different musical types, a little blues, a little jazz. Can you say something about this?
Simon : Well, the way I see it is that
if And Also the Trees has a spirit as a group that's the music rather than the members, then it's almost as if it emigrated
to America about three albums ago, and it's now coming forward in time, I think. At first, we were interested in the F. Scott
Fitzgerald 1920's and 1930's America. And now it seems to have gone forward after the jazz age and it's sort of going towards
the blues period and a bit of the 60's America with the wah-wah guitars coming in as well. It's not preconcieved, but it's
just the way it seems to be happening.
Something about the more urban character perhaps,
is because civilization is getting nearer and nearer to your parents house?
No, I don't think it's that, I think it's because I have been travelling a lot, and the rest of the band have been travelling.
I see. So, do you want to say any last words about the
concert, or what people can expect tonight from the Silver Soul tour?
Simon : Well, I think if you've seen And
Also the Trees before, then you'll enjoy it tonight, because it will be a bit different. People are saying that there is a
sort of power and energy that wasn't there before. And the people who haven't come to see us before, I think that the Trees
are quite a different experience.