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Monday, 20 February 2012

In conversation with The Imagineers

Ignore the hype. The reality is better. That's the phrase that comes to mind when I speak to anyone who will listen to me about how good the Imagineers are.
Until you actually get the chance to occupy the same space and time with the band then any laudable praise will fail to live up to what you will experience.
The music will lift you up and in times like these we need a band that has that ability. So I was very pleased when last week circumstances led to me having a chat with Ali of the band who generously gave of his time for the blog.
So I guess this is where I simply say read on.

Mainy - I've got to say, The Imagineers is a great name for a band. It conjures up limitless possibilities, but how would you describe yourselves to someone who hasn't heard the band?
Ali – That's one of the harder questions because our sort of ethos when it comes to song writing is whatever happens in the studio we will try it.
Mainy...and if it feel right then that's it.
Ali – Yeah. So we thought The Imagineers could sort of cover any sort of genre we might try at any point, and then we could see just how far we could take it.
Mainy – When you are playing live there seems to be a sixties influence to what you do, but while that seems to be there you don't actually sound like any actual sixties bands
Ali – We have a few songs that have that sort of three chord chorus, and that was something that really started in the sixties. We are a kind of guitar band that's not too dissimilar to a lot of the bands from then like the Kinks and the Beatles to so I can see where the comparisons can come from, but we're also very influenced by modern music.
Mainy – So what modern music has been influencing you?
Ali - We really like the Arctic Monkeys just now, and there's lots of good bands getting aired on 6Music just now.
That's a great station.
Mainy - The Arctic Monkeys are one of those bands who I think came up fast. Sort of got thrust straight into the public eye, and then dropped out just as rapidly as they went from being a singles band and became more of an album band.
They write fantastic music, but there's not so many great singles any more, and in the long run that's seems to have benefited them
Ali – I think it was that third album they did that.
One and two were full of pop songs, but on the third they probably felt more secure and did their sludgy show gazing music and then latterly they brought it back up with an album with a few more obvious singles on it.
Mainy – The album angle is something that I consider will bring them more longevity as a band, but what is preferable? A couple of hits in the charts or decades of albums, I mean what would you prefer?
Ali – Well I've always wanted to do this as long as possible so probably an album, but you want any album to have a mood to it as I've always grown up listening to specific albums and you think 'this has got a great atmosphere to it' and you want to lose yourself in it.
I want to be part of making something like that.
I think everyone in the band has that aim.
Mainy - ..and when is your album coming out?
Ali – We have plans for recording it soon, but you know how that goes. Best laid plans and such, but we are moving the the right direction.
Mainy - You feeling good about it?
Ali – Yeah. Really looking forward to it. We are going to do this properly.
Mainy – It's the only way to do it really.
Ali - Obviously it's a dream for most to work in a job/earn a living from something that they are passionate about.
Do you think that sometimes people lose sight of that in music?
They tour, release records, and then ego gets in the way and they lose sight that they are actually living their dream.
So how do you manage to...well I guess, keep your feet on the ground? (At this point increasingly more people were starting to mill about the bands tour bus looking for autographs and photo opportunities)
Ali – That sort of comes from the environment. Most artists appear to start off very humble and then people will say 'you've really got something with your music' and then as time goes on and that becomes more and more common they start believing it themselves as it becomes their reality, and if they have money coming in then it takes them further away from the life they had before.
Mainy – So if The Imagineers reached that level then how would you deal with it?
Ali – How would I deal with it? Well I've got quite a simple life at the moment without a television or internet in my flat just so that I can focus on writing.
So I'd try and keep that the same and hopefully that would keep me grounded and I could just keep on reading and writing.
Mainy – Taking this in another direction. Do you feel that music appreciation is separating at the moment?
I find that there's so many people who when they talk about music are really talking about the X-Factor and such.
The people who appear on shows like that aren't necessarily wanting to create art. They seem to simply hunger after fame.
It's irrelevant to them if they become a presenter, dancer, juggler or singer.
Making music isn't there thing, as opposed to those who want to make some sort of artistic statement through the creation of it.
Ali – The X-Factor seems to be the first show that pandered to that instant gratification of people wanting to be somebody.
The talent doesn't appear to be something they think about.
Although the persons chosen artistic field probably provides them with the same feelings as someone in band, and I suppose that's pushed as much as they can, and then it probably crosses over in the middle somewhere and there will be generalizations on each side.
Mainy – Well there always are, but I've felt that over the last year things seem to be breaking apart slightly.
There are people who are generally into that instant gratification.
The music is less important than following the latest band gracing the cover of a magazine for many, and then there are others are who are more drawn to the actual music, and going and seeing the bands live.
It's that sort of separation I mean.
It's not something new, just something that from my point of view seems to be a bit more obvious at present..
Ali – Within the whole sort of song writing process you can look and see that the most credible artists are still doing three minute pop songs and that will be because, whether they admit it or not, they are writing for a public,
Mainy - … creating a song that can maintain an attention span?
Ali – Yeah, and that's where I see the crossover being. That middle ground, but there's all different strains of authenticity within that.
Mainy - It's a strange word authenticity isn't it?
Ali – I know. You could say Lady GaGa is authentic and when you play one of her songs on an acoustic guitar it stands up as a good pop song.
Then if you took someone like Leonard Cohen I'm sure you could take the melody and add it to Lady GaGa's production and you wouldn't know.
Well apart from the lyrics being about Christ or something as Leonard has that niche going on.
Mainy – He does seem to have cornered the market on theology in music.
Ali -. Ha. He likes his Christ.
Mainy – Maybe it's because he's getting older and he's starting thinking me might meet him soon.
To get back to The Imagineers though. When you are playing venues like Jollys, and the sizes of crowd that it can accommodate, is it difficult to imagine the next step up.
Ali- In a way we have been getting the best of two worlds.
On a night like tonight it's great because it's sort of ramshackle, and the sound is pushed to extortion. People can jump in and dance around while we're playing a stomper of a song which I really like, but at the same time we are doing support slots for bigger artists and we've had that distance from the crowds to.
So we have had both things, and we keep going back and forth between them. So we can imagine doing one or the other as we are currently experiencing both.
They both have different advantages and disadvantages though.
Mainy – In a recent conversation I had someone was expressing a bit of a disheartened view of how their career was progressing and I was saying that often success has little to do with talent, but instead being in the right place at the right time, and the way I described it to him was that you could be the best surf guitarist in the UK, but if the surf guitar sounds aren't in vogue then it doesn't matter, and while that rather sad it#s sort of true.
So keeping that in mind and considering you have an album coming out are you guys just crossing your fingers and hoping to be in that right place at that right time?
Ali – Yeah, well all we can do is go with the feedback of how audiences have treated us. If they like it live then hopefully they will like what we come out with because with the record we want it to sound as live sounding as possible.
We did the demo ep a year ago and I don't think it does the live show justice. I think it's a lot more processed and produced, but with this we hope to get both.
Try and get that live edge.
Mainy – Are you putting out the album yourselves?
Ali – I think we will go with self publishing with our management. It's in the early stages just now.
Mainy – always best to keep it close to yourself. License it of needed.
Ali – I don't think we will look got a major though. I don't see any advantages in this modern age.
Mainy – I would agree. Everything is changing drastically ever month. Look at the mega-upload situation. They were stating a label that would offer bands 90% and then the FBI kicked their doors in.
I don't think that you need to delve into conspiracy theories to consider that the two are linked.
If their plan had went ahead then every successful artist would have went there as soon as their contract with their major was up.
The whole world is actually changing and music is right there to take and I suppose that in itself is a problem to.
How do you make music and then make money off of the fruits of your labour?
Ali – I suppose the money is now definitely in the live sector now isn't it. All the downloading is like a backlash to how the music business has treated people for the last forty, or more, years.
The prices, the reissues, the bonus tracks, a band jumps labels so you get the best of the previous labels years released
Mainy – The bonus CD with tracks from the albums sessions that didn't make it to the album. Or in other words the songs the band didn't think were good enough for the album.
Ali – I found that with the LA's album recently. I just got into them as our manager was always recommending them as he worked with them back in the day.
Mainy. That one singular great album.
Ali – It's amazing isn't it, but there's tracks at the end added and I can't imagine the band being happy with them.
It's these negative aspects that record companies have that just make you want to do it yourself.
Mainy – So you know what to do now. Destroy everything that you never want to see the light of day before someone decides it's ideal for the bonus tracks on the reissue of the albums anniversary release.
Ali – That's very difficult to do in this digital age.

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