A picture and some finishing touches

Since we’re so close to finishing I thought I’d have a crack at the sleeve. I hope you like it. It’s inspired by a bit of Peter Blake and a bit of Roy Lichtenstein. Have you ever seen any Roy Lichtenstein up close? They are incredible. I went to see some works of his in Porto this one time. The canvases are huge and the massive blocks of yellows and blues and blacks in his early works are so beautiful and vivid. There I go, getting all flowery on your ass. Ahem. Sorry. Anyways, here it is.

We’re really close to finishing now. We’ve just got a few instruments here and there and then mixing. Mixing might take a while though, because there are loads of miniature music pieces that need pasting into place. We’re in the studio two nights next week so we’ll let you know how it goes.

Banana.x

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Keyboards and pretty things

Thursday night saw both Banana & Louie in the studio for the first time in a little while. We were mostly recording keyboard parts, whuch was amazing fun because Louie got to play around on a Moog. I didn’t realise how many lovely sounds a Moog could make. Maybe we’ve been spending too much time on the micro-Korg. Louie has a near infinite amount of sounds on there, but I always ask for the same two; B55 (Hammond Organ pretty much) and A54 (wobbly synth strings). I did a wee bit of ukulele too and we put down some glockenspiel.

Since we’re nearly there I’ve started designing sleeves and all that malarky. We can’t quite decide in a title. We were going to call it Themes from Alphabet Soup after one of the songs and all the little connecting bits, but now I’m starting to think about calling it Songs for Ditchling, as a kind of donning of the cap to the amazing Peter Howell and all the work he did with Agincourt, Ithaca, Friends etc. If you’ve not heard of him you should look up his music. It really is incredible.

More sessions in a couple of weeks. I think we’ll have this thing done by April.

We’re planning an extra special launch concert where we play the whole thing with A Little Orchestra.

Exciting times!!

Banana.x

El Planeta Amarillo!

Matt was asked a few questions for Spanish indiepop fanzine El Planeta Amarillo, where he talks a bit about Banana and Louie. Here’s an English translation for anyone interested:

1. Can you tell us about the beginnings of the band? Who are you and where do you come from?

It all started in Devon. I used to go to lots of indiepop clubnights in Exeter and remember getting drunk one night and thinking ‘I could do that. I could get up and sing all those songs I write in front of people.’ I tried a few various things. One of those projects was called ‘A Fine Day for Sailing.’ It was me and my friend Jen Hall playing shambolic anti-folk music. Sadly Jen moved away (she’s actually back in AFDFS now!) but I started a full band with my friends Andy B, Leo Collett, and Simon Bish. Simon ran a record label called Pop Noise. He gave me lots of encouragement to get things going and kept me going when I doubted my ability.

We had various incarnations of the band in a short period, some more successful than others. A year or so ago I moved to London and I started afresh with Jen, who had moved to Brighton, and a mutual friend Jake Chivers on drums. Thom Allott on bass, Sharon Leach on keyboards, Lauren Palmer on cello and Caroline Honour on vioiln all joined last winter.

2. Where do you find the inspiration to write the songs?

They mostly just come to me naturally and most often when I’m in the bath for some reason. That may explain why my guitar strings go so rusty so quickly! It feels like there’s a melody trying to get out and I just translate it into music. Mostly I write about real experiences, but take something real and develop it into something else. Thom and Jen sometimes songwrite too and we might have a song from each of them on the new album. They’ve written a couple of lovely ones.

3. Is ‘Sand box’ your second or your third album? Although I have only heard of two albums, ‘My baby loves pop music’ and ‘Sand box’, I have read in a review that ‘Sand box’ was your third album… so in that case, which is the album I am missing?

Haha!! The truth comes out. Technically Sand Box is the third proper album. The first one is called Honeylands. I recorded it at home (as I did My Baby Loves Pop) but I played drums myself and the drums sound awful, so I’m a bit embarassed by it. It is a shame because it contains some of my best songs. I’ve somewhat made my peace with it since, and I have also re-recorded a couple of songs from it (Village Idiot / Blanket Girlfriend.) Only 100 copies were ever made. Maybe it is time for a re-release?

4. Which bands influence the sound of A FINE DAY FOR SAILING?

Any other time I would say The Beach Boys, Felt, The Go-Betweens and The Beatles. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of psyche folk sort of stuff. There is a band Sharon introduced me to called Agincourt that has really influenced the sound of my other project, Banana and Louie, especially.

5. Do any of you play also in other bands now or have you played in other bands in the past?

We’ve all played in a fair few I think. My first band was a garage outfit from Bristol called The Mighty Stars. Thom and Sharon were in a band called The Gresham Flyers.

We’ve all got out fingers in a lot of pies right now, which partly explains why it’s taken us ages to finish the album. Me and Sharon are doing a project with our friends A Little Orchestra called Banana & Louie (it is a secret who is Banana and who is Louie!) It started from some musical suites I’d been writing, but has now turned into a kind of indiepop psyche folk album! I’m also in Matthew Rimmel (from Big Pink Cake)’s band The Fireworks. Thom and Jake play in a band called The Horses of Instruction. Jen and I also have an anti-folk project called Lost & Found. We recorded a lovely album a year ago but haven’t worked out what to do with it yet.

6. What about your solo project? Are you writing songs for a forthcoming album?

The solo project turned into Banana & Louie. I’m SO excited about it. There will be a full album out this spring on Vollwert Records Berlin. It’s sounding really special. You can read about it at: https://bananaandlouie.wordpress.com/

7. Have you ever been to Spain playing or on holiday?

I once stayed in Granada and visited a lot of Andalucia. I really loved the pretty villaged in las Alpujarras. It was beautiful. The rest of the band have been to Barcelona I think, but I’ve never made it there yet.

8. Do you prefer gigs or the studio?

I love both, but I prefer the studio. I’m really into production – people like Phil Spector and Brian Wilson who used the studio like an instrument. I’m hoping to do that at Klank studio where we’re recording both the new AFDFS album and the Banana & Louie project.

9. As almost no-one lives on music nowadays, what do you do in a normal day? …And what are your hobbies?

I’m a Librarian. I love the job and I am proud to be one. We’re struggling to keep libraries open over here though, so every day is a fight. I don’t get time for hobbies..I’m too busy buying books and making music!

10. Can you name your favourite band/artist from each decade?
Favourite of the 60s: Beach Boys
Favourite of the 70s: Agincourt (just 70s – 1970)
Favourite of the 80s: Felt
Favourite of the 90s: Teenage Fanclub
Favourite of the 00s: Beulah
Favourite of nowadays: Hi-Life Companion

11. When will there be a new album coming?

Soon-ish!! I can’t wait. We’re getting really excited about it. It’s sounding really fresh and full of energy. We might release it on our own record label that we’re forming (we’re starting a clubnight too!) It’ll probably be ready in May/June which will be just right, because I think our music best suits the summer. But before then we’ll be releasing a free download single of Little Places, which is the best song that we have written and recorded by a long long way.

12. What’s your opinion about music formats nowadays? Which is the favourite one for your music?

Vinyl, always vinyl. It sounds snobby, but it sounds great and who doesn’t love a good 7″. Having said all that, the album will probably be on CD because of the production costs of 12″ vinyl. I do use an ipod too, so I can’t be too snobby about it.

13. I have chosen “Ballad of the bedsit” for the ‘Urano’ compilation CDR that comes with this issue of my fanzine. What can you tell us about that song?

It is going to be on the new album because we love it. It is a bit tongue in cheek. I was going through a bit of a rough period and it felt a bit like I was stuck in a Smith’s song – melancholic, or a bit monochrome like the record covers. So we purposefully tried to give it a bit of a Smith’s sound in the studio. It’s not meant to be derogatory, because the Smiths are one of my all time favourite bands.

14. Which are your plans for 2012?

We need to finish the album, which we should do in the next few months. Then we’ll put out the single and then that. The Banana and Louie one should be coming out shortly too. We’ll be starting a club night in London, and a record label, so it’s exciting times for AFDFS. We’re also playing the brilliant Cherry Coloured Pop alldayer this spring. And of course, we’d LOVE to get to Spain.

Over the (good) hump!

This weekend was just brilliant. I spent pretty much the entire weekend in Studio Klank with Simon and Jona, as well as various members of A Little Orchestra in Wood Green. We pretty much finished putting all the strings down (just a few remaining cello and harp parts to go) and finished woodwind. It was a real joy to record. Nat brought us in a smorgasboard of snacks to keep us going, and between her, Jona and myself we managed to ensure we had about 10 litres of milk to keep the teas and coffees full.

I’m so indebted to ALO, especially Kenny and Nat. Their parts sound magic. My favourite one to work on this weekend wasa song called Alphabet Soup. It’s a song about so desperately looking for the meaning of life that you resort to a can of Alphabet Soup for the answers. More importantly, it sounds fucking brilliant!! It features some lovely staccato strings, bouncy piano, clarinet and flutes. There’s some nice ukulele too and Jona polished it off with a great bassline. It’s basically the music I always wanted to make..something between Pet Sounds and Forever Breathes the Lonely Word.

It feels like we’re completely over the hump now (in a good way – not that there was a bad hump.) You know how in a working week wednesday is the hump day? (My friend Andrew O’Brien coined the term.) Before wednesday it’s the start of the week, after wednesday it’s the end of the week. Well this weekend felt like a wednesday. We’re looking towards the finish now, rather than just setting out.

I can’t tell you how proud of it I already am. I feel like we’re finally making the record I always wanted to. I can’t wait for you all to hear. Hopefully we”ll have it finished by April. We might do a free download single so you know what it sounds like, and then it’ll come out on Vollwert Records-Berlin. Thanks to Werner for having faith in us!

Ooh, nearly forgot to mention. Please come see us perform a couple of tracks live with A Little Orchestra. You can have fun guessing which of us is banana and which is louie. The venue has changed now – it’ll be at the Buffalo Bar on 26th January. There will be some lovely sets with ALO  from some of our favourite bands too, as well as some amazing ALO pieces. It’d be lovely to see you there. Who’ll buy me a chocolate orange vodka?

Love banana and/or louie.x

 

B&L Live with A Little Orchestra

We’re incredibly excited to announce that Banana and Louie will be performing a couple of songs live with A Little Orchestra later this month. An evening with A Little Orchestra will be held at the Jamm, in Brixton Thursday 26th January from 8pm.

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=jamm+brixton&ie=UTF8&hq=jamm+brixton&hnear=&t=m&vpsrc=0&ll=51.471086,-0.11199&spn=0.006295,0.006295&output=embed
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The evening is free admission and features some of our favourite other bands, including The Madrigals, Shirley Lee, Haiku Salut, Simon from The Loves and Andy from Pocketbooks.

For more details go here:

http://www.facebook.com/events/327917750553099/

See you there,

Love B&L.x

So we’ve finally decided on a name. banana and louie. We hope you like it. One of us is banana, the other is louie. You have to guess which is which because we’re not telling you!

The ALO project is really moving along now. We’ve put woodwind and strings on and soon Kenny is coming in with his harp. It’s sounding really lovely. We’re getting pretty enthusiastic about 2012 now.

We’ll have the album out, we’ll be starting on some EPs and will be doing some gigs too. We can’t wait! 2011 has been a tempestuous year for so many reasons, but 2012 is already shaping up nicely.

We’re doing some more recording on sunday (mostly guitars/bass) and then return to the studio at the start of January, with more woodwind and strings.

We’ll let you know how it’s coming along.

In the meantime, a very merry christmas from banana & louie.xx

Last night was very exciting. We had a little rehearsal with A Little Orchestra up at Kilburn. We went through  most of the violin/viola string parts and it sounded gorgeous. Kenny had taken my demos and scored the strings from there, as well as arranging a load himself. He’s been incredible and has put lots of work in. I think we owe a few people a few very bog boxes of chocolates at the end of all this! ‘Caroline’ was my particular favourite. There is a bit at the end where the strings build and come in doing (I think!) sevenths and it all weaves together beautifully. I can’t wait to record it. We start doing the orchestral parts on monday and I can barely contain my excitement. It’s going to be so much fun.

I’ve been feeling surprisingly inspired of late, despite being a bit overwhelmed by the amount of life stuff I have going on right now (too busy!) I think after this project we’re going to put out a load more banana and louie records. I’ve been writing so many new songs recently. I miss the freedom of just being able to write some tunes and record and issue them straight away. We might do a series of EPs. We’re going to do some gigs too.

banana.x

B & L get going

We started recording at Studio Klank last night. Despite both me and Jake being knackered, we got the drums and acoustic guitar down for four songs and it sounds great. We’ll be laying down the rest of the drums tonight, then at the end of November A Little Orchestra will be squeezing in to record parts. It’s all very exciting. Here’s a picture of Jake, behind our improvised baffle..an upright piano! louie.x

It begins!

So excited!! Recording starts next week. We’ll be taking AFDFS drummer Jacob Chivers into the studio to start recording drum tracks and guide guitars. Then at the end of the month most of ALO will be heading into the studio with us to start putting down instrumental tracks. This is probably the most exciting and challenging thing we’ve done in music and we CAN’T WAIT to get going!!! Check back here, where I’ll be blogging all about how it’s going over the next few months.

b&l.x

Hello world!

So who are banana and louie?That would be telling. One of them is banana. The other one is loiue. That’s all you need to know right now.

Who are A Little Orchestra? A small, London-based pop orchestra led by Monster Bobby of The Pipettes. They formed in February 2010 and have around 10-15 members. They play a variety of instruments including violin, viola, bassoon, trombone, trumpet, clarinet and flute..both modern, minimalist classical pieces and original compositions, and also enjoy accompanying bands. Since they formed last year, they have collaborated with a range of indiepop singers, including Darren Hayman, The Pipettes, Elizabeth from Allo Darlin’, Pocketbooks, Shirley Lee of Spearmint and The Loves.

So what’s the plan? banana and louie have finished recording the demos for the album. The album works as a series of inter-linked songs that will hopefully come together as something like one piece. The tracks are being arranged by ALO and banana and louie, with Kenny from ALO scoring many of the parts.

Recording starts in November at Studio Klank and the album will be released next year on Vollwert Records.

Can we hear some? You can have a listen to the full demo below (please bear in mind that the vocals on this are very rough – just guide vocals that we recorded in one go – so forgive us if they get quieter and louder or out of tune!!):

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