Parlour Flames – Interview with Vinny Peculiar

VPArtWe recently caught up with Vinny Peculiar, one half of Parlour Flames to talk touring, guitars and toy xylophones.

Hi Vinny. Firstly, can you remember what the ‘moment’ was that got you into music?

It was hymns and the school orchestra as a child, but seeing Bowie play ‘Starman’ on Top Of The Popswas the rock n roll Eureka! moment.

How did your previous experience of working on your own material prepare you for Parlour Flames?

I’ve done a lot of recording over the years; I’m just releasing my 10th solo album so I had some idea of the process. That said the whole production learning curve was still pretty steep as we produced the Parlour Flames album ourselves.

Where and how did you meet Bonehead?

I met him through Mike Joyce who was drumming in the Vinny Peculiar band at the time. Bonehead ended up managing us briefly, then stepped in to play bass on a few European dates and we hit it off as friends. We always said we’d do something together at some point and finally got round to it with Parlour Flames.

After meeting (and working together previously) was it a natural next step to get together and create Parlour Flames after you met?

Well we both had some time on our hands, and the time felt right. We didn’t really expect to make an album, it started off as an E.P. project but we keep on going. It was a lot of fun and we’re really proud of the album.

How (if at all) different was the writing and recording process of the Parlour Flames album versus what you’ve done before? Did you adapt to suit your newest band members or was it a case of sticking to what you’ve always done?

Some of the songs I’d already written; ‘Lonely Girls and Horses’, ‘Manchester Rain’, ‘Too Soon the Darkness’ and I wrote ‘Pop Music Football & Girls’ mid session. ‘Never Heard of You’ started life as a Bonehead acoustic verse pattern and I added a chorus and lyrics, so that one was written more eye-ball to eye-ball, old school. ‘Sunday Afternoon’ and ‘Broken Hearted Existentialist’ were also written this way. ‘Get in the Van’ ‘Jump the Brook Ruth’ and ‘I’m in a Band’ were adapted from Boneheads musical templates with Vinny lyrics. We played most the instruments ourselves, apart from drums, flutes cellos.

Where did you record Parlour Flames?

It was recorded in Bonehead’s basement studio.

Do you have a particular favourite track on the album?

I like different ones for different reasons, ‘Pop Music Football & Girls’ seemed like a great single to me, shame 6Music didn’t think so!

Were any tracks trickier to get down than others?

We went to a couple of studios to get the Bonehead Marshall cranked-up-to-eleven guitar vibe. We spent a while on that until happy. The usual challenge in home studios is drum sounds but the room seemed to work pretty well for them, which helped.

Tracks like ‘Never Heard Of You’ and ‘I’m In A Band’ – is this approach a light-hearted look at yourself or more a view of general rock star pomp?

Both those songs come from real life events; I witnessed the ‘Never Heard of You’ incident outside a Manchester nightclub. ‘I’m in a Band’ was inspired by Mike Joyce who told us the story of an altercation he had in a car park where he was challenged after stealing someone’s space – he walked off head in the air stating “I’m in a band”. I loved the idea of musicians being invincible so I ran with that as a lyric evolved. There are a good few clichés to be had in the name of rock n roll and many are in that song! Big house, fit wife, made for the life – the open day at the school line was inspired by Julian Cope who, so the story goes, went to his kids open day dressed like a rock roll Goliath (Julian gets the last laugh – “the scholars and the idiots all want a piece of me”).

For our musical readers – what was your set up in the studio and does that change when playing live?

We had a lot more amp options in the studio obviously, whatever sounded right we’d use. The usual process of trial and error. Bone has a great Fender Champ I loved, and my Fender Hot Rod , the odd guitar sounds from LOGIC, the Marshall JMP2000. I also used a 1972 Gibson Hummingbird a 1974 Fender Jaguar and a 1972 Tender Thinline Telecaster from Boneheads collection, all great instruments. My Rickenbacker 360 also features.

My live setup is a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe – I did use an AC30 Clone but I went back to the Fender. I also use a 2011 Rickenbacker 360, a 1988 Gibson 335 and a 2001 Taylor 410. My pedals included a Boss Dimension C Chorus (Japanese 80′s), a Big Muff, MXR Delay, a Timmy Pedal (Paul Cochrane) and an Electric Mistress. We’re both pedal freaks!

I read that toy xylophones feature on the album, is that true?

Yes that’s true!

Was it a daunting prospect to release new material with, as the media constantly refer to him as, “Bonehead of Oasis”?

I just tend to focus on creating and performing. The media will always look to label and bag people, it’s what they do; promoters also use names to sell gigs. It doesn’t really bother me most of the time..ha!

How was being back on the road touring your new material?

It was great, we have a band, they are great players and we all seem to get on OK. The live sound has evolved a lot since we started, there’s a more rocky element to it.

Do you have any fond memories of your supporting tour for the new album?

Some great gigs; Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms and Inverness Mad Hatters were standouts for me.

Parlour Flames played a lot of festivals over the summer – do you have a favourite?

Glastonbury was the band favourite. My own personal favourite was Ramsbottom, a small but beautifully formed festival just down the road from here.

What’s next for Parlour Flames?

More recording/writing and a tour next year, I also have a new Vinny Peculiar album out on Cherry Red in Feb so will be doing a few solo gigs to support that as well. It’s a retrospective remix affair entitled The Root Mull Affect.

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