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And Also The Trees

Shaletown: Articles - 99

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 June 1999
Interview by Igor Nikolic and Sri Stevie


 Twenty years of work, fertilising, harvesting and also the trees. Such jubilee.

Steven: "Yes, it should be the cause of some celebration. We seem to have survived by some beautiful accident rather than by design. When we began our only hopes were to make one record and play some shows! But the time has passed very quickly. It's been an exciting & often magical journey, and one that will continue for as long as music has an importance in our lives. I think we have a lot to be proud of. We have never made a record that we didn't like...we have never compromised our music for commercial reward...and we have never been part of a fashion or 'scene' (although others have tried to put us there!). We have an incredible bond of friendship within AATT & this has been the key to our longevity. Even the ex-members (Graham, Mark, Will, Emer, etc) remain great friends"

 Does Byron & Constable done in the field what you did in the meadow?

Steven: "I'm flattered that you would consider us in the same league, and it's a fair observation, but one that I think now belongs in our past. In the period between Virus Meadow & Farewell To The Shade we lived & breathed the countryside. Nature was our everyday enviroment and it was absorbed completely into our music. It seemed impossible to avoid it. Our home village of Inkberrow was - and remains - a beautiful place, but over the years it has changed, like everything else. There are more people, bigger roads, more noise, and it's connection with AATT has gone. We all live in urban landscapes these days. Enviroments that have a poetry & beauty all of their own...."

 Something about you l'unica strada way of living...way of playing. ?

Steven: "AATT has taken us halfway around the world. These journeys have altered our lives to the point where music & life have become one entity. Each has an influence upon the other. 'Farewell...' for example was written after lengthy visits to both Italy & Germany,and had an enormous effect on the way that we wrote the album, both musically & lyrically. If you listen hard you can hear the influence quite clearly. This process carries on even now, in the Americana of our last two albums 'Angelfish' & 'Silver Soul'. Music as memories. Quite a juxtaposition from the englishness we've become famous for, and one that's not lost on's bizarre that I can feel so English when I visit the USA, but when I am home I feel more European than English!"

Does urbanisation bring crooked emotions?

Steven: "It brings more emotions & different emotions, but no more crooked than in the countryside...our lives are shaped by the people we allow into them & by default we experience more people in an urban enviroment. On a personal level I think we are all much happier living in urban landscapes. The isolation of the rural world can be wonderful, but like everything it has it's dark side..."

 The fragrancy of Lady d'Arbanville & tenderness of The Woodcutter becomes our regular repertoire & response of audience is very well. How important to you are peoples reactions on your songs?

Steven: "It's very important as this is the proof that we are making a connection on a personal level, that what we are doing is as important to someone else as it is to us. And sometimes the audience is our objective ear. They instinctively know if a piece of music is good or bad (and sometimes they will let us know!) But we have never let our audience dictate to our musical direction. We have often been told that we could have been more successful if we had given our audience exactly what they wanted, but we have always felt the need to be honest with our music. We are instinctive artists, sometimes with little control over our direction. Only once did we try to make a popular record -The Secret Sea - but in our opinion it was not a success, a lesson learned. It would be impossible to be passionate about our music if we were not honest in it's creation...
 Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination about your new album...

Steven:"It is in a very early stage so it's difficult to give a true picture. There have been personal tragedies in our lives that may shape its colour. I anticipate it will be much darker than our last album....our fascination with Americana seems to be disappearing & is being replaced with a sparse, dark, jazz feel. We're trying to experiment with new sounds and of course we have a new drummer - Paul Hill - who replaced Nick last year, so there will be some changes that are completely natural. We're listening to Miles Davis, John Cale, Tom Waits, Kraftwerk & Underworld, & I detect a return to a more 'European' sound..."

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