With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping him out of cafes a little more than he might like, the Cornershop frontman admits to doing a lot of nothing over the past year – but he still made time to take five from us.
1.) What’s your favorite Beatles song and why?
Oh, gosh, I don’t have a favorite. I suppose at the moment, “Let it Be” is great. You listen to it, and you can hear the snare just vibrating whilst the bass is playing. You think, “Is he playing that snare?” But he’s not. It’s just vibrating. For me, that’s what takes over the song. They’re in a room, they’re playing right next to each other – and in a way, it’s recorded so shit that the snare is vibrating. But that’s more than a song, as far as I’m concerned. To hear that at the start is quite precious. So, at the moment, yeah, I’d say that.
2.) Who are three songwriters—living or dead—that you wish you could sit down and write a song with?
Well, I’m not really like that. I don’t aspire to that sort of stuff – whether they were great or not. But if I had to, well, Curtis Mayfield would be wonderful to write with. In terms of Asian stuff, I think Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan would be just genius to work with. His rawness has never been matched – even his nephew or whoever has taken over the Fateh Ali Khan name has not got anywhere near it, as far as I’m concerned. And Mayfield and Nusrat died in the same year. I won’t go to a third because I don’t really think like that. It would be too much – maybe because my songwriting is unorthodox. It’s an untrained thing. I think most people who sit down and write with other people will come with a sheet of music before anything else. That’s not really me.
3.) What’s the one song you’ve written that you think really sums you up as a songwriter?
Something like “The Roll Off Characteristics (Of History in the Making)” is probably a good one for me. It goes back into the past with the “grandma’s pantry.” It really looks forward to “the honeycomb that we’re breaking,” which, in England, has certainly been the Brexit scenario. And it talks about war. It encompasses a lot of different things and any song that can do that, as far as I’m concerned, is OK by me.
4.) What’s one song that you wish you would’ve written?
I think “Take the Skinheads Bowling” by Camper Van Beethoven would be quite a nice song to have written. It’s a mesmerizing song that makes you think – probably in a hell of a lot of different forms to what the person who wrote it thought. It’s wonderful.
5.) Is there anything you’re listening to right now that you’re particularly digging?
I’m always trying to listen to new stuff, but I’ve tried not to listen to stuff during isolation too much – or with any sort of real ear to things because there are so many other things going on. We listen to a lot of random stuff with FIP, which is a French radio station that is quite varied in terms of what it plays. We have a lot of that on all the time. I’d love to say, “I’ve listened to this group and they’re really great,” but I haven’t listened to anything in awhile that has really knocked me out.