Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Fine thank you.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Theresa McKee”?
Well, since you asked so politely.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
This one’s fictional. It’s about a young woman who is pregnant and is facing being a single mother. She has a rush of different feelings all going off at once. Fear, excitement, anger, wonder. Which hopefully are expressed in the rush of the music and the up and down melodies.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
I found the animated film “The Bremen Town Musicians” in the public domain. It’s a 1969 Russian version of a Brothers Grimm tale directed by Inessa Kovalevskaya. It’s a bit grainy by today’s standards but it’s colourful, charming and vibrant and has an air of innocence. I chopped bits up and rearranged them to match the song. I’m still using MovieMaker, I need to upgrade to something a bit more sophisticated! We had a very small budget for videos so it was good to make this one for nothing but electricity and time.
The single comes off your new album Fox Pop – what’s the story behind the title?
Fox Pop has about eight meanings for me but to define is to limit. I’ll tell you one thing: there was a review of an album of ours years ago which compared the music to a fox rummaging through a bin in a city at 4 AM.
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote the songs over several years, I was going through lots of big life events so there’s a five year gap since the last album, although we released a 4 track EP three years ago. We recorded again in Jon Clayton’s One Cat Studio in Brixton which is always enormous fun. He has great ears, great mics and an encouraging and laid-back manner. Every day was a joy. We rehearsed half the songs beforehand and had played some live. Other songs the band learnt in the studio. On some we left gaps in the arrangements to be filled at a later date. Such as the middle 8 of “In The Folds Of Her Robe” where we then hit on the idea of the massed vocal harmonies.
What role does Sheffield play in your music?
I was born and brought up here and am now back after many years in London. Both my Dad and my maternal Grandad worked in steel factories so I’m from a typical Sheffield background. Which informs my writing and worldview I guess. I like to write stories about ordinary lives which of course are often extraordinary.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Some are personal, like “The Years Dressed In Gold”, which is about my Dad dying. Others are fictional short stories like “Fill In The Blanks” which started with the idea for the first verse and then finished another sixteen verses later, I wrote most of that on a train journey from Sheffield to London. If I was going to Doncaster it might have been shorter. And Back To The Willow, which is about a guy from Ireland trying his luck over here, a theme I’ve written about before (I’m from an Irish family). Politics seems to get into my songs too such as “There’s Idiots, Then There’s Idiots With Money” which is me imagining I’m at the Mansion House dinner. I’ve tried to write directly political songs over the years but am never very satisfied with them, but politics seems to creep in in other ways.
Any plans to hit the road?
I really really want to hit that road very hard once it’s feasible. That road needs a damn good spanking. In the meantime me and Polly are doing a live Facebook stream on July 7th at 9 pm.
What else is happening next in Sergeant Buzfuz’s world?
Me and Polly are going to start playing as a duo as Murphy MacLean, something we can start in lockdown, half her brilliant songs and half mine. That’ll be more folky than Buzfuz. I’m looking forward to one day seeing the band in real life again in London. I want to plug in and rehearse these songs loud again. Followed by the pub. And then some gigs. I have a bunch of half-written new songs for the band. And we want to do some more improvised songs as on our last EP. I’ll probably make a few more videos for songs from Fox Pop. I also co-run the Blang label and we’re preparing for our fifteenth anniversary in October. There’s still a slim chance we can do the live launch gigs for Fox Pop then.