The 50THIRDAND3RD Interview With – Cowbell

London Garage Soul duo return with 3rd album HAUNTED HEART released on Damaged Goods!

More Memphis, more Fuzz, more greasy foot-beating, party-greeting, soul-treating maximum RnB. And yes, more Cowbell.
Jack Sandham (Guitar/Keys/Vox) and Wednesday Lyle (Drums/Vox) have straddled the Atlantic with the beat stampede of their songbook so far, but Haunted Heart sees them walk down the dark end of the street, drawing on Atlantic-era Ray Charles and Dusty, while still keeping on creeping on with the sweaty-hand shaky-knee Garage rock ear-worms.
From the Sun Studio, Cramps-like swagger of the title track, to the paranoid Coasters swing and Doors-keys of None Of Your Business, Jack’s urgent vocals yelp out from the first needle drop, stepping aside for Wednesday’s wink of the eye on the Holly Golighty/Black Lips femme-fatale fury of Downlow, which sounds like it’s been ripped straight from the beating heart of the Fillmore during the Summer Of Love.
Produced by the band themselves at Soup studios in Limehouse, London, their early raw bare-bones sound has now been fully expanded with Jack’s sandpaper grit guitars and Wednesday’s freight train rhythms chased down with some glitchy synths and vintage organs (Doom train/Neon blue) as well as a drop of Delta gospel Blues on Nothing But Trouble (also incidentally the first Cowbell song ever to actually feature a Cowbell).
Otis and Pickett-era horns breathe seductively into the swampy-stomp of What Am I Supposed To Do, while New Kind Of Love tiptoes onstage with its alluring smokey jazz piano as Wednesday brings a beautifully casual Peggy Lee type Fever to the microphone.

But it’s with the curtain-closers on both sides of wax that Cowbell have really rung in the new, Something’s Gotta Give swaps in gently plucked Laurel Canyon vibes, teardrop-stained and tie-dyed into a soul-stirring torch song. And just as we’re ready to step off this train, the last stop of No Wrong drops us off in the sherbet-sweet swell of a Cowbell classic. A toast to Percy Sledge and Van Morrison, with a giddy gospel reprise that has Jack and Wednesday promise that they “won’t do you no wrong”. And they’re damn right. Haunted by name, haunting by nature. Flip it up and start again. More Cowbell.

Cowbell are Jack Sandham and Wednesday Lyle.

They live in London, England.

Haunted Heart is their 3rd album on Damaged Goods, following their debut Beat Stampede and the follow-up Skeleton Soul.

This will be a great day , you are about to listen to a few songs off the new LP from one of my favorite bands , Cowbell. The range that Cowbell has is off the charts, this is a band that you will fall in love with . Cowbell are on Damaged Goods Records home of Billy Childish and many more artists you need to go spend some time with.From the opening note of my first listen years ago to all of the tracks on the new LP , I’ve been hooked. I’m a big time fan and it was my honor to ask Cowbell these questions.

The 50THIRDAND3RD Interview With – Cowbell

1. For those not familiar with your back story can you give us a little history of Cowbell.

We were old friends but Wednesday didn’t play drums until she stumbled into a drunken jam sometime in 2009! We were hanging out at a mates studio and she stepped up out of the blue, sat at the kit and got a groove going.

She decided to take it up and started playing along to Creedence songs alone in the rehearsal room . When she got bored on her own she asked me to come down and keep her company, I was between bands and up for trying anything out. We immediately had a connection and started writing songs there and then. We played our first gig after about a month.

A while later some friends who run a great Americana night in London called ‘What’s Cookin’ persuaded us to release something so we put out the first song we recorded ‘Oh Girl’ and it was played by Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 music. Too Pure Singles Club then asked if we’d like to do the next 7” with them and ‘Never Satisfied’ also got plenty of radio action. We went on a big UK Tour supporting the reformed Britpop scousers ‘Cast’.

We soon started doing some gigs, festivals and short tours in Europe before we signed with Damaged Goods in 2012. Since then we have released two albums (Beat Stampede in 2012 and Skeleton Soul in 2014), done more touring in Europe and have also been over to the US. We are about to release our third album ‘Haunted Heart’ on the label.

2. How did your relationship with Damaged Goods come about

We released our third 7” single ‘Hanging by a Thread’ ourselves on our own label ‘Cool Jerk Records’ and Ian from Damaged Goods got in touch to say he’d heard it and liked it and could he have one! He asked if we had any more stuff recorded but at that point we didn’t have much. It was a while later when we had enough stuff for an album that we got back in touch and eventually it all came together.

3. Cowbell has quite a range is that more from influences or is it a plan to showcase your different sides?

A bit of both, we like lots of different stuff and our sound is a reflection of that. I love some albums which are full tilt the whole way but the albums I go back to the most have more ups and downs and that’s the way ours seem to go. We usually start out planning how we want our next record to sound but then something in a different style sounds cool and we get thrown off course. It’s kind of annoying at the time but works out in the end!


4. When you went in to the studio what kind of equipment are you plugging in to and turning up .

I took my Fender blues deluxe amp and played my Guild t-100 semi for my main sound. For a lot of the solos and other parts I used a knackered 50’s Silvertone through a Watkins copycat and an old French cinema projection amp which looked pretty evil and gave you the feeling it could explode at any moment, it took a while to find this sound but we knew when we’d got it right.

For some different flavours we added keys here and there. Hammond, Wurlitzer, Grand, upright and a detuned honky tonk piano (Doom Train) as well as my 60s Transistor Phillicorda for the more filthy stuff.
An Korg M500 sp analogue synth was cool for the theremin spooky stuff (Doom Train and Haunted Heart)

We used a huge 1940s RCA 44b Mic on our voices and lots of the instruments too , particularly the bass drum. It’s a big part of the sound of this album. We used lots of room mics for atmosphere and used for a natural slap back on lots of sounds. They also have a cool reverb chamber at Soup Studios which was always in play. Weds played an old Rogers kit that they have there.

We recorded it all both on tape and on computer with the intention that the computer would help speed things up. It didn’t, but at least it did give us more to play with in the mix which was new to us, there would be some parts or sounds we’d forgottern we could return to that would add something. We’d only had tape on our previous albums so we’d had to be very strict.

5. Is your sound evolving from the first album or is more of a continuation?

Both. It’s a mixture of trying to keep the energy and buzz that we had when we started out while and keeping it fresh. The change of studio for this album was good for us. We wanted to try a bigger more atmospheric sound and we felt we got that at Soup.

6. You have quite the knack for writing hits , what’s that process look like for you. Lyrics first , music first how does it work?

I tend to write the slower stuff at home on the piano or guitar, the spark can be some words but usually it will be a chord pattern or melody that leads me .

For the more upbeat stuff we’ll often get a good groove in the studio and I’ll sing some nonsense until proper words take shape. Weds is very understanding with this!
When we get a good thing going we try and stay in the zone and get it as complete as possible at the risk of forgetting it or over thinking it later.

We love the way old rhythm and blues and soul songs are put together so instinctively our songs take quite a traditional shape though we deliberately went in to the studio with looser arrangements this time so we could see what worked on the day.

7. Tell us about ‘Downlow’ sounds like someone got in trouble.

Yeah, don’t mess with Wednesday, She looks cute but she’s a brute!!

8. What are you plans for touring this year, any trip to the states planned Any last thoughts about your new album that you want to share with us?

We’ve got a few shows in the U.K over the summer. We’ll do some dates in Europe in the autumn and we’re hoping to go back to America but that’s up in the air!

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Scott

Pittsburgh Kid.....Sunshine State.... Vinyl Junkie, Love music old and new, garage/garagepunk rockabilly and psych get played a lot.....

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