Known initially from his days as the lead guitarist in The Coral, Bill Ryder-Jones (Domino Records) has been quietly making his way back onto the music scene as artist and producer. This weekend (July 19) he returns home as top billing at Wirral’s Astral Coast festival. Ashley Manning caught up with him ahead of his headline performance to talk music, fame and hanging out with Arctic Monkeys.
Following his departure from The Coral in 2008, Bill Ryder-Jones’ solo career really began a year later with his stunningly ethereal film score for Leave Taking (directed by Laurence Bell) which was followed by debut album If… which saw him produce a musical adaptation of the 70’s novel, ‘If on a Winters Night a Traveller…’ It wasn’t too long before he garnered critical acclaim and adoration for his abilities not just as someone who can compose a piece of music, but someone who can create something much deeper for audiences to emotively respond to.
April 2013 saw the release of his lyrical masterpiece, A Bad Wind Blows in my Heart, which has placed him securely in the canon of the ‘Greats’ that have come out of Merseyside. I caught up with him ahead of his headline set at Astral Coast to see what’s been going on.
There is quite a difference between your first album If… which featured a series of classical compositions, to your most recent album, A Bad Wind Blows in my Heart, do you consider your newer work to be more mature and cathartic?
I wouldn’t say the last one was any more cathartic than anything I’ve ever done really. I think maybe the fact that I’m actually talking about myself and some things that have happened then it could appear to be more personal or open than If… but in reality it’s the same. The escape is the catharsis and having something you can box some feelings in, in that way, I think is the same whether it’s a concept record likeIf… or something like the last one. I like that it’s perhaps easier to relate to than If… The point of the last one was very much to connect to people. But yeah I think that whatever I’m doing in music the source of the output is always the same thing, all I’m trying to convey is hope really. I really hope that it’s hope that comes across in my music.
How do you go about sitting and writing something which is on such a personal level?
Well I’m very self-obsessed, I think certain events have perhaps put me in a corner where I do consider my world and who I am in it probably more than is healthy but it is what it is. I actually think the change in thought that made me want to start writing about how I actually feel, rather than wrapping my thoughts up in string music, was the only difference in my approach to writing. So really the sitting down and doing it is no different. I’d hope for most writers or musicians it’s the compulsion, it is for me. I couldn’t stand not having the outlet. I think you see it on twitter and Facebook, the way people do have a desire to speak their mind. I’m very glad I don’t have to put my thoughts out there in that way y’know?
So your new album gained critical acclaim, and quite a lot of attention. Are you one to shy away from the limelight or do you see the ‘fame’ aspect as a positive part of your job?
Well the music I love, really love, isn’t the kind of music that ever made a huge impact on the world at its time of release. I don’t think anything I ever do will go bang and give me fame, I’m very happy about that actually. I assume I’ll keep plodding away and maybe in the future I’ll be seen as one of those people who just did his thing regardless. People like Bill Callahan and Gorkys Zygotic Mynci were like that, Nick Drake too. I’m not really shying away from anything to be honest, I think it’s just that the kind of music I make sits outside what you could ever call popular.
You recently toured with Arctic Monkeys, what was it like being exposed to that lifestyle again?
The experience was really good. There was a lesson to be learned from it. It took me a while to come back down from it. I realised that there’s still a side to me that will get carried away. It’s very easy to fall back into old habits when you’re playing those kinds of shows. If I’m honest I really resent the attention from a certain portion of their fans. I think they’re a brilliant group and they have brilliant fans but there’s definitely a One Direction faction among their fans. I noticed a lot of young teenage girls following me on Twitter and Instagram and it does bug me. To be put in a place where you’re only appreciated for the fact that you know and have played with them is not real. I certainly don’t want to be someone who builds a career out of it. Having said that I’d of course love to do something with them again, I do count them as some of my best friends.
You’re headlining Astral Coast this weekend, and as it’s often a festival for emerging talent to be showcased, is there anyone on the line-up you think we should be looking out for?
Yeah I really can’t wait for this. To be honest there’s no one on the line up I wouldn’t want to see. My obvious favourites are By The Sea andBird as I’ve worked as a producer for them both in the past. There’s a group called Death Masks who I feel don’t get the attention they deserve but yeah don’t miss anyone.
What is next for you? Another album on the cards?
Yeah I’ve been in the studio with James Ford but I’m having a rethink. I think I actually started making a record that wasn’t true or honest, not that it wasn’t good, lyrically the songs are always about me but the way I put it together never felt right. Luckily I’ve spotted it and I’m taking some time to sort it out. Other than that I really want to tour the last record properly. I’ll be doing some more production over the summer and I’m also putting on a show in Manchester in October, we’re going to perform If… live with the Manchester Camerata Orchestra. I’m really excited about that…
You can catch Bill Ryder-Jones this weekend on the 19th July at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion, for Astral Coast festival.
You can read the original published article here.