TCG: And the album's dramatic orchestral finale, "Way To Your Heart", could you say something about that?
JL: The only thing I could say is that obviously I was inspired a great deal by, not only The Beatles in many respects, but George Martin because he, as a producer, did some great work. I mean without George, I don't think they would have been the same band to tell you the truth. I just feel that he showed a lot of people how to create different scenes and scenarios, different pastels within one song. Where as in a lot of The Beatles' work, y'know, "Lucy In The Sky" and like "A Day In The Life" as well, took you from very close, more intimate moments, which was more first person to third person, very orchestral and open settings, which was something I hadn't really delved into before. And I thought that was the perfect song to try and achieve that on ... the intimate first person and then shifting to the third person and wider, big orchestral state of play.
TCG: I've got to tell you, there are some strange things going on during the last song. I even hear vinyl surface noise!
JL: Oh yeah. Absolutely!
TCG: To make it sound like a vintage record?
JL: Absolutely! There's some clocks ticking away and there's some surface noise from vinyl, which is the time keeper of the track in fact.
TCG: On the song "How Many Times" you talk about taking responsibility for our environment. It seemed that back in the '60s, social issues were everywhere in music. Do you think there's still a place for that sort of feeling in music today?
JL: I do, if you don't shove it down peoples throats, yeah. I mean, I've never been one to preach, don't like being preached to. I prefer to be a free thinker and I just think especially with what I do, I mean the last album had "Saltwater" on it, this has "How Many Times". It's rather than preaching, it's just a reminder and an awareness factor, even for me, just as a reminder, that there are still problems going on in this world and they certainly ain't gonna change unless we do something about it. Simple as that.
TCG: You say that you try to write complex or complicated songs. Can you give an example of how that applies to your music.
JL: A lot of material on the album, whether it's "Way To Your Heart" or "Walls", I think is pretty complex in many respects, even "Day After Day", but I mean there's a lot of stuff that will be either on the next album or at least on future projects that are a lot more detailed and in depth -not only musically, melodically, arrangement-wise, orchestrally also -that will surface at a later date.
TCG: How sophisticated should a catchy, melodic song be?
JL: Well, don't know, it depends what you're going for. You want to obviously have some kind of hook that will reel people in to a certain degree because that's what people are used to. But, it's nice to have some freedom within songs, y'know, it's a difficult one. There isn't really a rule book or a defined answer for that. With music and creativity you should be allowed to go anyplace to a certain degree. It's just whether you want to get in on the radio or not. (laughter).
TCG: It's been 15 years since your first album Valotte came out. Do you have any reflections about that album?
JL: Well, I think it wasn't bad for a debut, y'know. I thought there was, at least at that point in time, some relatively mature material on that album. I wish with the second album, The Secret Value Of Daydreaming, I'd have a chance to do a proper job on that, but unfortunately, due to being contractually obligated, being literally ordered back into the studio to write and record then and there, that was my demise as far as I was concerned. And the rest of the albums were playing catch up really.
TCG: What did the title of Valotte mean?
JL: It's the place where I recorded the album. It's a beautiful, old beaten up chateau in the middle of France that overlooked mountains and lakes and that was the sentiment behind the song, y'know the title track.
TCG: Going back to the time of Valotte, how did you end up signing with Tony Stratton Smith and Charisma Records?
JL: He grabbed my tape out of a bag, and it didn't have a name on it and liked what he heard, called the phone number and then I turned up.
TCG: Is he still around?
JL: No, he passed away a long time ago.
TCG: From your very first album, you've worked with guitarist Justin Clayton. How and when did you meet him?
JL: In school. (laughter) In school when I was about 11 or 12 we started taking guitar lessons together and that's how we met.
TCG: Would you like to specifically work with any special guitarists or other musicians?
JL: I don't know. I guess I wouldn't mind either playing around with Bowie or Bono. The B's. (laughter). That wouldn't be a bad idea. But, I mean I've worked with quite a few already that I've enjoyed working with. Like Paul Buchanan from The Blue Nile, on the last album, which I absolutely loved. And a lot of other musos like the guitarist John McCurry, who was with Cyndi Lauper for a while, who I did some work on with Mr. Jordan. I thought he was a great guitarist, and still is, and in fact may be coming on the road with me this time round. Annie Lennox would be someone that I'd want to work with. She's phenomenal. I think she's great. I mean there's tons of people out there. But, it's not a driving force in my life. If circumstances arise or a situation would evoke that or promote that than I'd jump into it, but who knows. It's not something I would go out of my way to set up.
TCG: Are you listening to any special CDs these days?
JL: I would have to say, let me see. One that I'm just getting into- is actually by an older friend of mine, who I dedicated the song "Crucified" to, is an old friend of mine who passed away a couple of years ago, Kevin Gilbert. And it's an album of his called The Shaming Of The True. He, in my eyes, was just such a genius and it was such a loss when he disappeared, because he died before his time, unfortunately, which was very, very, very sad. I truly feel he was a real, real genius and a real source of inspiration.
TCG: On Photograph Smile you play acoustic guitars. Do you still play electric guitar? Will you be playing electric guitar on future albums?
JL: Maybe. If I'm in the mood and there's a guitar there maybe I'll do it, but it's not something I really think about. Obviously, as far as travel is concerned, acoustics are much easier to lug around and obviously if you have an idea it's a lot easier, for me, I feel to feel like there's a whole sound there rather than the electric sound, unless you're gonna carry another bunch of gear around to plug it all in. Even the walkmans and stuff, I like the sounds of acoustic and I'm mainly a rhythm player anyway. Occasionally I'll get a little wacky on demos and get the electric out and do some very strange solos indeed, but more of that later on. (laughter)
© 1999 20th Century Guitar
Background/Flowers from the 'Photograph Smile'
CD inlet by Angelika Letsch.
'Hey Jules' © 1998 - 2002 CJ Burianek