Ceremony's Andy Nelson: "It's been a profound joy to finally get to take these songs out"

Ceremony are a band whose music is constantly developing with every album and this development is something that is undeniable in their latest record The L-Shaped Man. The album has been described by the band in interviews as "very personal and a big leap" and this month they are coming to the UK to play the new material live. We spoke to guitarist Andy Nelson ahead of their show here...


Your brilliant new album The L-Shaped Man came out in May. How has your
evolved sound been received?

Ceremony fans have once again shown themselves to be among the smartest, most sophisticated and discerning music fans on earth. It's incredibly validating to be reminded of just how many people have the patience and capacity to appreciate a unique band like ours who have never been easily understood. But just as we have no interest in living in prison, why then (assuming they're just like us) should the people who buy our records?

Before coming to the UK you’ve played a bunch of shows in the US. Did it feel good to be back playing live and playing new material?

Yes! We spent such a long time on this album, and finished it so long ago, that it's been a profound joy to finally get to take these songs out and see what they can do. Songs can be living, breathing creatures, you know, so it's impossible to fully grasp how they'll live on the stage until we actually take them there. Naturally, 'The L-Shaped Man' songs are even more intense and moody, more energetic, more brooding in the live setting. And since we always play songs from our entire catalogue at our shows, whenever we make a new record, we're not unlike a painter whose just gotten ten or eleven new colours on his palette (rather than just more of the same). At this point, our fans know what to expect, and people actually seem stoked on the range of dynamic that the new and old songs have when they're combined. It's bizarre that nowadays, more often than not, people come up to us and ask us to play MORE new songs, but it's certainly encouraging.


We love the album artwork for The L-Shaped Man. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Our singer Ross has always handled the look of our albums and this one was no different. We actually had two concurrent, and drastically different, ideas going for a while -- one involving this huge, dramatic painting whose artist had inspired some of the record's lyrical content, and the other based around these line drawings Ross had been experimenting with; he even showed them in an art show a few years back, actually. For a bunch of reasons, we ended up ditching the painting. It was gorgeous and evocative, it just didn't feel right for some reason. Ceremony has gotten increasingly into minimalism over the years, so the simple text and line drawing seemed perfect. It took a late night epiphany regarding the colour scheme, after a lot of obsessing, to take it to the next level and become the finished beauty you see now. We're all thrilled with how it came out. It's funny to see so many people posting photos of their vinyl copies on the Internet, saying how beautiful the package is. Can't say I disagree.

You’ve played Nottingham before (Rock City basement in 2012) what do you remember about this city?

For me, touring is a constant blur, and as experiences mount, and my aging brain fails me more and more often, you'll hopefully take no offense when I say I can't remember a fucking thing. I love England, though, and we're all very grateful for any opportunity to return.

Ceremony play The Bodega this Sunday (9th August). Tickets are available here. Let's make their Nottingham experience unforgettable this time.

Interview: Francisco The Man

It took roughly seven years for Scotty Cantino, Nestor Romero and Abdeel Ortega to arrive at Francisco The Man. Following a two-year hiatus beginning in 2008, the band relocated from Riverside to Los Angeles, CA, bringing along a new addition, guitarist Brock Woolsey.

Earlier this year, as part of their UK tour, they graced the Bodega stage for Dot to Dot Festival, and we are very excited that they are coming back here this Friday to play a headline show.


You played here earlier in May for Dot to Dot Festival. How was it?

D2D was really great. I was really surprised out how well our shows turned out and the great response we had from everyone at the shows. It was a highlight of our May tour, for sure.

You've been in the UK doing a few festivals recently, how has the British crowd compared to the U.S. Crowd?

It seems like you guys like us a lot more, that's for sure. We have our cities back at home that we do well in but overall the response is much better over here. It's nuts. I'm not really sure why that is but I'm certainly ok with it!

How has your debut album been received since coming out?

I think it's done well. It's gotten a better response than anything else we have released. It's had us on the road since December and across the pond twice. No complaints.

What do you guys like to get up to when you have free time on tour?

I do a lot of walking around. Eating food, drinking beer and napping in parks.

Francisco The Man play at The Bodega on Friday 31st July. Grab your tickets here.

Interview: Drew McConnell of Helsinki

Drew McConnell is more famously known as the bassist in Babyshambles but recently has been working on his side-project Helsinki. The latest Helsinki album was released last month and features a number of special guests including Peter Doherty and Albert Hammond Jr. Luckily for us we'll get to hear some of this new material live when he plays here later this month. We caught up with him in the run up to the show to chat about recording the album and of course, our great city of Notts.


We love your new album ‘A Guide For The Perplexed’. Do you enjoy being in the studio and experimenting with new sounds/genres?

Yes, I feel very at home in the live room of a studio- When you get the right mix of players in the same space the results can be very special, a lot of spontaneous improvisation became ’the parts’ on this album.

What can we expect from this tour?

Well I think each show will be pretty different, as which players can make which shows will differ from day to day. As such the songs will probably sound quite different each show.

You’ve worked with some great musicians throughout your career. Is there anyone you haven’t worked with that you’d love to collaborate with?

Of course, too many to mention. But I’d love to do something with Courtney Barnett. I love how she mixes the surreal with the mundane in her lyrics.

And adding to that are there any new artists that you are really excited about?

Fat White Family are doing a good job of flying the flag for British Rock n’ Roll right now, and Sleaford Mods are proper aren’t they. I really like Felix Tandem from Ireland, and there’s a new kid from Essex called Ratboy who’s making a good noise.

Do you enjoy coming to play in Nottingham? Do you have any good memories of the city?

Yeah of course - The Rock City crowd have always welcomed Babyshambles with open arms. My best memory though is playing a venue called Brownes with my hip-hop band Mongrel in 2009. All the other venues on that tour were scuzzy little punk venues, but this one was like a kind of wine bar; in soundcheck we were like “well this is going to be weird” but it properly kicked off.

Helsinki plays at The Bodega on Sunday 26th April. Grab your tickets here.

GEORGIE interview: "Hopefully this is the beginning of an exciting journey"

Local songstress GEORGIE will be showcasing a batch of new material at her headline show here in a couple of weeks. Having taken a break from gigging to spend some time in the studio to work on new material, she seems more excited than ever to be showing off her new sounds to a hometown crowd. We spoke to her about how things have developed in the last 12 months...


How does it compare playing with a band to playing

It's a lot more fun and energetic and it's better for the audience I hope. I feel it's important to bring music alive in a live atmosphere and I wanted the feeling of that 70s band kind-of-thing which I love, such as Crosby Stills and Nash and Fleetwood Mac. I love that I can now bring those harmonies in too.

What can we expect from The Bodega show?

I'm sure the on lookers will be the judge of that, I hope we can give a good night to remember! I'm thrilled and excited to be playing The Bodega, a venue that I love. There will be new songs and new instruments and all that kind of stuff.

You are in the midst of a Nottingham music revolution right now. How does it feel to be part of it?

It's so great and to be a musician in a band in your hometown playing to that wicked community is great in itself. It's all about the people, I think they make the vibes special here.

You’ve just been announced as playing Dot to Dot again this year? How did you find last year’s festival?

Yes I can't wait, it's one of my fave festivals, so many exciting artists playing! And it's such a fun day for music lovers! I loved it, it was one of my highlights last year. The Trent SU venue was great and I was over the moon with the response. Loved it!

What have been the highlights of your musical career so far?

I've had so many, being in the studio for the past year has been great. I love working with great people and developing and perfecting the sound too. Playing with guys in the band is great fun! There's also been many amazing gigs like Splendour, Dot to Dot, Y Not to name a few. It's all been great and I just enjoy doing something I love so much and music is the key to it all for me. Just being able to make music and to have people appreciate it is amazing. Hopefully this is the beginning of an exciting journey.

GEORGIE plays at The Bodega on 17th April. Tickets are available here.

Interview with Sivu: "I love playing in Nottingham"

Born in the sleepy town of St.Ives, Cambridgeshire, but moving to London to pursue music, 24-year-old James Page struggled to adapt to the capital. He worked as an administrator for a bailiff company, played a crash-course of depressing open mic nights, and then took up a permanent fixture in a call centre in Waterloo – the latter of which strengthened his work ethic, and the songwriting process itself.

At the end of 2013, after delaying the process for as long as humanly possible, Sivu finally handed in his notice at the call centre, signed a record deal with Atlantic Records and finished up his debut album, Something On High which was released in October 2014. This year he is embarking on his first ever headline tour and we are lucky enough to be one of the venues that he is playing at! We spoke to him about returning to Nottingham...

Sivu cont

Last time you were in Nottingham you played at Dot to Dot Festival. How did you like the Nottingham crowd?

I love playing in Nottingham. I've been lucky enough to play there a few times and always had amazing audiences, so very much looking forward to playing my first headline show at The Bodega.

A couple of us managed to catch you when you supported Bombay Bicycle Club recently (good job by the way). Did you have fun on that tour? What was your highlight?

Thank you for watching firstly. That tour was really a dream come true it's not often you can say I got to play along side one of my favourite bands. Me and my band were treated so well too, I don't think I will ever forget it.

The upcoming tour is your first headline tour. What can we expect?

I'm going to be playing songs from my album 'Something on high' as well as some new songs that I'm yet to play live which I'm really excited about. As the venues are quite intimate I wanted to pull in the set slightly taking the songs to a more stripped back setting. It's been quite a challenge but I think it shows the songs in an honest light; taking them almost back to how they were written.

We have always been big fans of your press shots (yes that’s a thing when you work in a venue!) Who came up with the idea?

Thank you! Imagery is always something I wanted to ensure we had right from the start, so i teamed up with an amazing artist/photographer named Vita Hewison and she is brilliant, she only works on film and we spent a lot of time working on double exposure shots which helped us to create what become the theme of the album.


Can we expect to hear some new songs when you play at The Bodega?

I will be playing a handful of new songs which I'm so excited about. No one has heard these songs yet not even my close friends so it will just be nice to test the waters to different audiences every night.

Tickets are available for Sivu's gig on 14th March here.