It’s been a while since we’ve sat down with an artist for a little chit chat, and to be honest, we’ve missed it. For this instalement we caught up with none other than ex The Coral guitarist Mr Bill Ryder-Jones on the terrace of the Point FMR in Paris. Here’s how it unfolded.
There is an obvious evolution between cinematic and instrumental album “IF..” and “A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart”. What changed between each LP?
Yeah, the voice is quite obvious. Songs are also more about me, not hidden behind a concept like I did when I was making the first record; I couldn’t have made something personal. It was great that the record label gave me the chance to do what I needed to do musically for first album.
What is for you the main difference between being in a band and playing solo?
There’s a lot of differences. This is my thing and The Coral was really James’ thing. This is my project, these are my songs. It can be quite hard on your own but I actually prefer it now. That’s what music means for me: connexion between people. I feel a lot better putting my feelings out there… We didn’t really get that with The Coral. It was very “us and them” like “we are a band, a tight gang and everyone else is out of it”. This is much more direct.
Do you like being the main attraction on stage?
Not really. I am not entirely comfortable with being the one at the front with the microphone. It takes time, but I think that automatically with the record I’ve made I will get used to it. It’s different because the gigs are smaller and most of the people who come like the album; so they definitely like me. Which means I don’t really have to act up. I just have to be really cool and play.
It’s your second solo show in Paris after opening for Villagers. How was it?
Oh amazing! That was the best gig we’ve done yet! I love Paris and the crowd at that gig was perfect. We played really well. Probably the best gig I’ve ever done, Coral Included.
Do you like the bands you’re opening for? Villagers, Pastels, Porcelain Raft….
I like Porcelain Raft yeah. And i love Pastels and Lightships. It’s Gerard Love from Teenage Fanclub. He’s playing in Pastels as well. I am also opening for Anna Calvi. I love opening for people. I think it takes the pressure off a little bit. You’re not the main focus. You can just sit and play a few songs. People can’t wait to see their favourite artists so they’re in a good mood, ready to listen.
The Coral songs and your own material are mostly influenced by the past (Byrds, Beatles, Nuggets Compilations…). Which current bands impress you?
Coral songs are influenced by the past. My songs are about my past. I don’t know what Coral songs are about…I don’t think my record sounds like the 60’s. I don’t known where it’s meant to be. It sounds like a childhood bedroom with nice colors. God, there’s a lot of good things out there! I love the last Arctic Monkeys album. Arcade Fire is one of my favourite bands. I love Grimes, Lykke Li. The last Pastels album, another old band but that new album is great. The last Lightships album is really important to me. I don’t actually really listen to that 60’s stuff you associate with The Coral. You know, bands like the Byrds, Captain Beefheart are not for me anymore. Maybe when I was younger…
What do you like in the producer role (ex : with your friends By The Sea)?
Yes I love that. Liam from By The Sea is my best friend. I am doing the Witches as well. Liam is not an easy guy, and I am not an easy guy. He really trusts me musically. And I am a bit like a big brother for him. I am a bit horrible to him. He likes it and I think he needs it. We made the first album with no money. The record is just a proper album, made in a proper recording studio and sounds really good.I am really into it.
You were involved in many projects with great musicians like Alex Turner/Arctic Monkeys, Noel Gallagher, Graham Coxon, James Skelly, Ian Skelly, By The Sea… What did you learn from those different collaborations?
You mean what did I teach them? No, just joking! With Graham [Coxon] and Paloma Faith it was like a money job. Playing the fucking guitar, that was not much. Working with Alex [Turner] is different because he’s incredibly clever. I think that playing guitar for Alex and what I’ve done in the past is not the same stuff. He’s quite a leveled guy, quite intense in the studio. He knows what I can do and whenever he needs me for something he asks me to do what he knows I can do. And I play guitar on the song. I love his music. Particularly “Submarine”, that had a massive influence on the way I did my record. I did “Submarine” just before I made the last record: the drums are very similar, it’s very minimalistic, intimist, everything is important. Quite different from The Coral with lots of instruments…That’s a good lesson.
You composed for several Movie Soundtracks. Do you work differently for a Movie Soundtrack than for yourself?
There’s a slight difference when you already have the inspiration gifted to you. You’re given the source, the excitement; so you just reflect it in the mirror. But the actual writing process is very similar. Think about things for 90% of the time and write them for 10% of the time. I write a lot in my head and then I remember it when I play the guitar or the piano and have the lyrics.
If you could have composed for any movie, which OST would you have done?
That’s a great question (laughs)! My favourite soundtrack is ‘Once upon the time in America’ but I couldn’t have done it. I would love to write something like that: an italian or american thing like those kind of films: ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Once upon the time in America’. Let’s say ‘Midnight in Paris’, just because I know I could write something for it.
What is the best Coral album in your opinion?
‘Magic and Medicine’. I think a couple of songs on it could have been better but I love the sound on it. I love some songs from James and Nick on that record. “Eskimo Lament” is a Nick song and it’s lovely. “Milkwood Blues” is always great. And obviously “Don’t think you’re the first” which is a great song as well.
Do you still think Liverpool is a music city?
Yeah. Liverpool is an art city. It’s very Bohemian. In England it’s got a reputation for being really rough. And it is on a side, with lots of heroin, gang problems and things like that. But it’s always been very prolific in terms of bringing out brilliant bands. In the darkest hours of the 70’s and 80’s when there was no money in the city, you still had Echo and the Bunnymen, Mick Head, The Teardrop Explodes… I also love Manchester bands but when you’re from Liverpool you can’t say you love them more. But I love Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Stones Roses, The Verve…
I heard you really like France. Do you prefer French girls or French wine?
I know more about girls (laughs)… It’s a hard question! I think French people generally are great. There’s no bullshit with the French from my experience. They let you know if they don’t like the fact you don’t try to speak French. I feel so guilty about speaking no French. In the UK, we let things go with the government. We should just revolt sometimes, like the French do, and not let things go. That’s pathetic.
Would you join a band again in the future?
Yeah. I’d like to do what Johnny Marr does. Johnny’s got a band for projects and is playing guitar. I talk about things like that with a few bands. Let’s see what happens…
You’ve already done many things for a 30-year old man. What’s next for Bill Ryder Jones?
I don’t know. I am making an album now. I’ve got a couple of songs. I‘m just gonna continue making music. No five-year plan. I would like to go to Paris probably… Play football twice a week and write music.
Thanks very much for your time Sir!
Thanks. Really enjoyed this one.
If you enjoyed what you read make sure you keep your eyes peeled for young Bill on his Facebook and Twitter pages. Last but not least, a big thank you to Sophie Jarry for her stunning shots; you can see more of her work right here.