I don’t normally give a band Bio before the interview. Every now and then we run into a piece of rock history, as was the case with Sonny Vincent, today it’s The Nightingales, from their website…
Birmingham’s original punk group The Prefects had been part of The Clash’s ‘White Riot Tour’, recorded a couple of Peel sessions, released a 45 on Rough Trade and, years after splitting up, had a retrospective CD released by NY label Acute Records to all round glowing reviews – from Rolling Stone to webzines.
The Nightingales was formed by former members of The Prefects following that band’s demise in 1979.
Described in John Robb’s definitive book on ‘post punk’ (Death To Trad Rock) as “The misfits’ misfits” and comprising an ever fluctuating line up, based around lyricist/singer Robert Lloyd, the Nightingales enjoyed cult status in the early ’80’s as darlings of the credible music scene and were championed by John Peel, who said of them – “Their performances will serve to confirm their excellence when we are far enough distanced from the 1980’s to look at the period rationally and other, infinitely better known, bands stand revealed as charlatans”.
The group recorded a bunch of critically acclaimed singles (Almost always ‘Single Of The Week’ in the music press) and three albums, plus many radio sessions for their great supporter Peel. They also regularly toured the UK and Northern Europe, as headliners and supporting acts as diverse as Bo Diddley and Nico.
In the late Eighties the Nightingales stopped working but, following the occasional gig between times, they re-grouped in 2004. After fucking about with various part time or starry eyed wastrels, precious sorts and mercenaries the group arrived at it’s current line up, which features Lloyd, Andreas Schmid from Faust on bass, ex Violet Violet drummer Fliss Kitson and James Smith on guitar.
Since restarting the group have been more productive than ever – releasing five 7″ vinyl singles, a 10″ EP and six studio albums (Plus two live albums), touring England, mainland Europe and USA numerous times, recording many radio sessions along the way. They have been invited to play various festivals in Europe and the States, including Glastonbury and SXSW. Their “Let’s Think About Living” 45 was ‘Single Of The Week’ on BBC 6 Music and they have continued to receive regular rave reviews for their records and live shows.
The group’s “No Love Lost” album was released by Cooking Vinyl in 2012. Described by Mojo as “Brilliant. One of the fiercest and most exhilarating rock records in ages” the record features guests, U.S avant-garde composer, Katherine Young on bassoon and Hans-Joachim Irmler, founder of krautrock legends Faust, on keyboards.
The Nightingales recorded their next album at Faust Studio in September 2013. “For Fuck’s Sake” was a self released, limited edition vinyl LP available on no label, with no barcode, with no distribution and only at the bands gigs. The record quickly sold out.
The group’s headline tour of UK and Ireland in April/May 2014 was their most successful so far and following a few shows in Germany later that year the ‘Gales returned to Faust Studio once again and recorded their new album “Mind Over Matter” for May ’15 release on the Louder Than War label.
The Nightingales will be playing live shows in Europe and USA over the coming year with a new album to be recorded for 2016 release prior to their first shows in Japan. Further dates in UK and beyond will follow.
and since you have just finished reading the history of the band , you can read their Interview with us and listen to some tunes. I’m glad I asked them to do a Meet the Band, even happier, that they agreed. Great stuff hope you all enjoy them as much as I do….
Hi our name is….
People say we sound like…..
we get all sorts – krautrock, northern soul, glam rock – but most often captain beefheart & his magic band. don’t hear it myself but hey ho who cares?
Robert Lloyd, Fliss Kitson, Andreas Schmid & James Smith
We are from…….
we say Wolverhampton as that is our base but Andi lives in Germany & Jim is a brummie
Who are some that have an influence on you
again all kinds of stuff & if you asked each member individually you’d get assorted answers but fliss was influenced by sleater kinney, andi likes funky music, jim digs garage rock & noise
How old were all of you when you started to play and who plays what in the band
we all got in to our first groups when we were young teenagers but we have got to meet each other one by one over the last eight years or so
I (Robert) sing & play mouth organ, fliss drums & sings, andi plays bass & jim the guitar
Can you tell us about the process you use, from writing the songs all the way through getting the songs out
in all honesty there is no set pattern to any of it
the songwriting involves everyone – usually one member has an idea or a couple have jammed something & then the others play around with it until all of us think it’s falling in to place then the addition of new parts & the final arrangement is decided around the length, content & vibe of the lyrics
once we have what we consider enough material for an album & we have played the stuff live to tighten it up we tend to go over to the faust studio in Germany & record the record, plus we would normally make up one r two things in the studio & record a few cover versions for our free download ‘covers club’
then the aggro begins. our last six albums have been released by five different labels plus one we did ourselves & it seems that no label wants to do a second record with us. so obviously once the records are recorded I have to tout the thing to potentially interested parties to get it released – it can be a rather painful process but there is always someone interested and we want the music out there so this has to be done
what are some of the challenges you face as musicians and how have you overcome those challenges
the biggest challenge for our group is staying afloat financially – i’m not gonna whinge & whine about it but our popularity is, er, limited & consequently our income from records tends to be zero & from our gigs it’s not much better
it’s quite expensive to do what we want to do in the way we want to do it &, suffice to say, we have no support from a manager, booking agent, record company, publisher, etc, it’s just us & a couple of good mates
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it ….
personally it’d be around 1956 or so in the usa & I can’t imagine any of the other ‘gales – or indeed anyone – could envisage a more exciting time than the birth of rock ‘n’ roll – just try to picture seeing & hearing, say, little Richard out of the blue, it must have been truly mindblowing
Who are all of you currently listening to ….
each band member would say something different for sure & I cannot honestly tell you what the other three listen to, though I know fliss is due to see foo fighters & andi is the house engineer at the faust studio so gets to hear lots of weird shit. Myself I play Cecilia bartoli & nico probably more than anything else
one contemporary band we all like though is the lovely eggs – our favourite british group. & there is an American duo called Christy & Emily that we all love also
If you could open for any Band right now who would that be and why?
gosh that’s a tricky one & fliss is probably better equipped to answer than I as she is far more hip to what is going down. maybe foo fighters ‘cos that would thrill her, they get a big crowd & at least they rock & aren’t some indie nostalgia act
Fliss- maybe more like Patti Smith or John Spencer Blues Explosion for us…. although Rob is right about the nostalgia thing it’s all over the place right now and it’s not for us.
My youngest son is 13 and in a Band, what advice would you offer him…
don’t be shy, get off with girls, take drugs, express yourself, have fun, give up once it becomes a drag, etc
Our plans for 2015…..
new album “mind over matter” out on louder than war records may 11, marc riley 6 music session may 13, uk/Ireland tour with ted chippington may 15 – june 4, couple of festival & headline gigs over the summer/fall, west coast usa in September, Germany/Austria/hungary & more in October, then record the 2016 album i’d imagine