The Crimea’s super-sized bass player Joe Udwin has sat down for a chat with Subba-Cultcha and told them all about his place in the band, the new album and his love for, among other things, Crimea b-side Sideways. I swear if another person mentions that track I’m gonna rip my head off, it’s been stuck in there for weeks and i hate it hate haaatteee iiittttt. Hospital rocks though.
There’s more Crimea love from High Voltage, this time they rate the album with four lightning bolts out of five. Which is three more than nearly hit my house last night, which really would have been one of “summer’s most jubilant and most poignant moments”. Alas, only the album gets that sort of praise.
If by chance a fan of these lot were hit by lightning, I may be seen to dance around exclaiming Burn Baby Burn. In commemoration, of course, as Ash’s songwriting skills now seem to be destined soley for hit singles such as the aforementioned 2001 hit after giving up the album game for good. Noting the similarity with management mates The Crimea, Music Towers gives the free album a very short mention.
If you missed it, here’s the online version of the NME’s album review. Now if only I could burn a few of those baby’s I have stocked in my closet
Today’s gig review comes from the Sunday Mail who gave the King Tuts show 3 / 5 in last weekend’s edition, while Timeout London look forward to Monday’s Borderline show while giving it a recommended rating.
JOSEPH UDWIN, BASS & BACKING VOCALS
Born Survivors, and one of this countries proudest exports, The Crimea have escaped from death, their major label deal and a near break up, just answer our questions, of course…
Acclaimed London based band The Crimea, have announced unprecedented plans to release their hugely anticipated second album, ‘Secrets of the Witching Hour’, as a free download in May 2007. Deliberately dodging the music industry merry-go-round and its rapidly dimming lights, the band have seized control of their own destiny by taking the bold decision to make their staggering new album available online to everyone, everywhere, completely free-of-charge. Although a CD version of ‘Secrets of the Witching Hour’ will still be for sale in record stores for those fans who would prefer to have a physical format version of the album. The Crimea hope that the vast majority of music lovers will download the album free-of-charge from the internet, the physical version will be released 4 June through their own label, ‘Free, Two, One’ records. By harnessing the all-encompassing, global reach of the internet The Crimea aim to radically boost their live audiences and merchandise sales as a result of music fans increased exposure to their new album to form the basis of a brave, innovative new business model that places the emphasis back squarely on artistic development and control. Additional income will also be achieved from google ads on the bands download page. In an age where the wider music industry is foraging desperately for unanswered questions to declining sales, The Crimea have proposed an alternative route to a destination long since forgotten – artistic integrity and longevity. ‘Secrets of the Witching Hour’ will, The Crimea hope, stand as a lasting tribute to an audacious commercial and artistic move that they hope will inspire other artists to think beyond the traditional record company model. Recorded in East London, Norfolk and Latvia, ‘Secrets of the Witching Hour’ is an album as broad in geographic scope as it is sweeping melodies. Produced and mixed by the band themselves and ably assisted by Richard Jackson (The Automatic), Dave Allen (The Cure) and Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers), the album is comprised of eleven intensely lush and lovingly crafted songs. Regina Spektor and Amy May (Paris Motel) lend their considerable prowess and musical beauty to the record, while Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, in The Mail On Sunday, has already tipped the band – and the album – as ones to watch in 2007. Fittingly, Radio 1’s Colin Murray aired the album’s first preview, the romantically poetic ‘Requiem Aeternum’, on Valentine’s Day.
How did the recording sessions for your new release go?
A twisted tale spanning 6 months, 3 cities and nearly costing us our sanity, friends, family and the very foundation of our existence. Honestly. We recorded it all ourselves with a bit of help here and there from engineers such as Richard Jackson, who recorded The Automatic and Dave Allen who produced much of The Cure’s stuff. We did the drums in London and then decamped to an old, empty house in Norfolk for 3 weeks where we laid down endless tracks of guitars, bass and keyboards, really trying to find the best sounds we could. We got most of the instrumental stuff done there and our singer, Davey, was out in the garden in a caravan called ‘The Maurauder’ singing his heart out night and day.
After Norfolk we returned to civilisation and London and we recorded a string section, additional vocals and trumpet and even a small choir, assembled out of our friends!
Then we headed straight to Riga in Latvia to finish the mixing and record the Steinway grand piano they had there but unfortunately the final mix just didn’t cut the mustard so we returned to London where Davey re-sang nearly every single line on the whole album. By this time everyone was sick of the whole process and we also had no cash so everyone went back to working and Davey and I started re-mixing it from scratch, with the rest of the band checking in to make sure we weren’t cocking it up! Anyway after about 2 sleepless weeks we got it done and it really sounds the business now.
What goals did you set yourself before you started recording?
The last record we did was heavily observed and controled by the whole of Warner Bros, and so, surprise surprise, because we were totally in control for this one, we really wanted to be happy with it and produce and record it in our own way, which is what we did. We wanted to step it up a level and that’s why we’ve got strings, trumpets, real Hammond organ, a choir and pretty much the kitchen sink. I reckon we pulled it off without it sounding overblown or like it was trying too hard, it sounds real basically.
What do you feel are your own limitations when it comes to creating/writing music?
I sometimes find it hard to sing in tune y’know? I’ve always tried to improve that. I usually sing to myself whenever I’m walking down the street so everyone probably thinks I’m a nutter, well who’s to say I’m not I guess. I can’t read or write music and that’s definitely made some things harder to understand and convey, but I also think it sets you free from all the rules, terminology and background of being classically trained, but I’m probably bias because I’m not classically trained!
Tell us 3 of your favourite songs from your career and the inspiration behind them?
The first would be ‘Lottery Winners on Acid’ because that’s the one that always gets the best reaction at shows, on radio, just about everywhere. It’s fun to play too. It’s a perfect pop song that Davey wrote and manages to mix love, drug reference’s and several double entendres into a catchy and memorable tune, what more can you possibly ask for?
Next would be a song that was a B-side called ‘Sideways’ for one of our singles last year. It has a line in it which I always find both inspiring and disturbing:
‘Don’t look sideways until you reach the end, trust no-one least of all your friends,
You gotta go figure it out for yourself, but let me tell you something, jesus you need help. Patience, give me always patience, patience, fill me up with patience.’
Last I’d probably say ‘Someone’s Crying’ because we get to go mental at the end and it never gets boring playing it.
Tell us about your worst live show yet?
The pop-factory in Porth, Wales about 3 years ago. Non-stop, sub-bass feedback throughout our 45 minute set, leaving us with a near empty room, sinking hearts and mumbled apologies from our briefly appointed sound engineer who is best left un-named, Cedric.
What are the bands plans for the rest of the year?
Sh**loads of touring! Well we’ve recently released our new album online and for FREE from our band website so we’re going to continue promoting it by touring the UK, Europe and hopefully China too. We’ve just returned from Beijing where we played the Midi Festival and we went down pretty well, signed a small record deal and are going to try get back there in October to play the Pop Festival. At the moment we’re supporting Modest Mouse for a week around the UK and then starting our own full ‘Secrets of the Witching Hour’ UK tour.
How would you describe your own/bands sound?
Eels, Leonard Cohen and the Flaming Lips having an all night BBQ party at the Pixies house, with Dusty Springfield and Neil Young playing acoustic guitar on the edge of the swimming pool, drinking Mojitos.
Who is currently moving you musically at the moment?
Midlake’s new album ‘Trials of Van Occupanther’ is what I go to sleep every night to. I think it takes the concept of a concept album to a whole new level of detail and sounds incredible. Who doesn’t want to hear about tired young brides, bandits, mountaineers and stone cutters?
What album changed your life and why?
I’m ashamed to say ‘Smash’ by the Offspring… I grew up in Zimbabwe and had very little access to good alternative music, after I heard ‘Bad Habit’ playing from behind my sister’s bedroom door, I first thought she was satanic and then fell in love with the petty aggression in that album. It made me want to play guitar and yel at the top of my unbroken voice. I really believed it all. Pity they got so unbelievably corny and sold out in the worst possible way.
A moment in your life and a song that seem so perfectly intertwined in your memory? At V Festival last year I randomly bumped into a girl I vaguely knew and she grabbed me by the hand and dragged me (willingly I might add) to a tent where Rufus Wainwright was just finishing his set with an amazing rendition of ‘Hallelujah,’ we kissed and then the concert was over. I had to sprint back to our waiting van where our agitated driver was chain smoking furiously. A perfect moment.
Your proudest achievement so far?
Well as of this second 38 845 people have downloaded our new album in about 3 weeks so I’m pretty stoke about that!
If you could erase one single/album from history (your own or someone else’s) which would it be and why?
Well strangely enough, this album; Which I love but it’s also painful, because, and this may sound bizarre, I became involved romantically and briefly with the girl who is singing all over it, so since it ended it has been a constant reminder, and we play the songs every night on the road so its impossible to be oblivious. So I love and hate the album, but definitely more love than hate I assure you. I wouldn’t erase it actually…
How do you see yourself altering the band and your sound in the future? is there anything you wish to attempt in the future that’s inspiring you right now?
I’m just thinking about this album and promoting it for now thanks!
A rumour you’d like to start about yourself, or one you’d like stopped?
Well I am pretty good at breakdancing…
What drives you & What are your fears?
Hang on, isn’t that a Keane album? Oh no that’s Hopes and Fears…
My only fear is not being able to do music all the time (like now) and having to waste my time doing jobs like market research or street sweeping, I’m not knocking those jobs, don’t get me wrong, they’re just not for me…
I’m driven by a burning desire to create and understand just about everything inanimate around me and learn to be less insecure.
The revolution comes, who would you like to be first against the wall (and if you’re feeling particularly bitchy, a second, third, fourth and so on…)?
I hate to be predictable but probably The Kooks, radio friendly unit shifters masquerading as a real band… I’m sure they’re lovely lads and an inspiration to millions but…
Best piece of advice you’d give to aspiring musicians, or the best piece of advice you were given when you started?
My father always said ‘Joseph, Life is hard and full of bitter disappointments’ and that has helped me a lot because he’s right, but it isn’t ALWAYS hard and full of bitter disappointments…
If you’re in a car going at the speed of light, and someone turns the headlamps on, would they do anything?
I don’t think the car would survive going the speed of light would it? Or indeed the people. Maybe you should ask Chris Martin, I mean if he sang; ‘words keep flying at the speed of sound’ he must be into all that kind of stuff no?
Tues, June 05 Leeds – Rios
Wed, June 06 Leicester – Charlotte
Thurs, June 07 Wolverhamton – Civic
Fri, June 08 Sheffield – Leadmill
Sat, June 09 Manchester – Joshua Brookes
Mon, June 11 Northampton – Soundhaus
Wed, June 13 Brighton – The Barfly
Thurs, June 14 Norwich – Arts Centre
Fri, June 15 Southampton – Joiners
Sat, June 16 Aldershot – West End Centre
Mon, June 18 York – Fibbers
Tues, June 19 Glasgow – King Tuts
Wed, June 20 Edinburgh – The Cabaret Voltaire
Mon, July 02 London – The Borderline
Tues, July 03 London – The Borderline
‘Secrets of the Witching Hour’ is out now as a download & physical release:
Thanks to Peggy @ Fistral…
Interview by Jeremy Chick for Subba-Cultcha, June 2007.
(Free Two One Records)
The Crimea are giving away their debut album as a completely free download, but it cannot be because they lack confidence in its belting epic rock songs. Novel promotional adventures (a tour of China precedes the conventional TV appearances) are ground-breaking where the tunes often aren’t, but this album is no mere industry finger-wagging.
‘Secrets of The Witching Hour’ is a startlingly arresting half hour of masterful anthemic indie; rock songs that will have you punching the air with glee and then, just four minutes later, sobbing quietly into your pint. Kasabian frequently attempt this balance and fail through a clear lack of conviction, but it is in Davey MacManus’s lead vocals that The Crimea emerge as champions of soul. As he can sound very much like a British hybrid of Win Butler and Jack White, listening to the album’s lyrics is akin to watching the mood swings of a hormonal teenager (albeit an exceedingly passionate one) when subject matter sways from “It’s a beautiful day to die”, on ‘Bombay Sapphire Coma’, to “Ben and Jerry’s ice cream”, on the comedic yet wistfully sentimental ‘Several Thousand Years Of Talking Nonsense’.
Romping strings, worthy guest artists (Regina Spektor appears, as well as Amy May from Paris Motel), and flashes of spoken word modernity will hopefully counteract the death tolls of credibility that follow a vocal endorsement from Snow Patrol, for this is an album that deserves to soundtrack our summer’s most jubilant and most poignant moments.
Rating: 4 / 5
Review by Megan Vaughan for High Voltage, June 2007.
Ash: No More Albums
Ash have announced that their forthcoming album, ‘Twilight of the Innocents’ is to be their final true studio album. In future, the band will only release new material in single tracks.
Interestingly, the band share management with The Crimea – who recently offered their entire new album, ‘Secrets of the Witching Hour’, as a free download. Obviously for a band with such a pedigree in single-writing as Ash (Goldfinger, Girl From Mars, Burn Baby Burn, Shining Light, Clones, Orpheous but to name a few) this abandonment of albums could be workable – but would it work for less well known acts? Opportunity or calamity?
Article from Music Towers, 14/06/07.
NME RATING: 6 / 10.
Secrets Of The Witching Hour
To give the whole of your album away as a free download is risky. But that’s what these former Britrock high hopes have done for their second album. Is this a bold statement of confidence and victory for rock democracy, or just a desperate attempt to draw attention to a pish record (it is getting a physical release as well)? With husky, soulful vocals and a mixture of lazy, hazy-day summer songs, bursts of heartstring-yanking nostalgia and slow, bittersweet melodies, the answer, surprisingly, is closer to the former. Although slightly ruined by the frequent and unnecessary Americanised monologues, the record’s Technicolor fusion of dark, sombre tunes and vibrant, upbeat tracks proudly pushes aside any doubts. Go on, download it. After all, it’s free.
Review by Jess Colman for the NME’s, 23/06/07.
THE CRIMEA *****
KING TUT’S, GLASGOW, JUNE 19
The Camden band have been dropped by two record labels yet re-emerged with a self-funded, online album. Their expansive and epic songs have a good-natured West Coast rock feel.
A cheeky cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus was a highlight but they are sometimes too clever for their own good, with annoyingly-named songs such as Gazillions of Miniature Violins or Several Thousand Years Of Talking Nonsense.
And singer Davey MacManus plays the tortured artiste a little too much.
Rating: 3 / 5.
Review by David Pollock for the Sunday Mail, 24/06/07.
The Crimea + Undercut
Mon Jul 2 Borderline, Orange Yard, Manette St, London, W1D 4JB
An ice age ago they were The Crocketts, and now they’re Crimea – big faves of the late John Peel. Expect sparkling Americana, twisted psychedelia and rootsy rocking as they plug brand new album, ‘Secrets Of The Witching Hour’, which you can download for free from their website www.thecrimea.net. Indie kids support.
Preview from Timeout, June 2007.