Thursday, 23 October 2014

Dave Fidler - Interview

Dave Fidler releases his debut solo album I'm Not Here next week and plays a launch night at Manchester's Whisky Jar on Thursday night (30th).  We spoke to him about his career to date, the album and touring with I Am Kloot's John Bramwell.

So, Dave Fidler, tell me your life story?

Haha, you’re not starting with that.

OK, we can cut out the bit when you were a kid.

It all started when I was 1 and I got dropped (we both laugh)

Well if that’s relevant…  When did you first pick up a guitar?

I started when I was thirteen, which is quite late.  For teaching, it’s quite late.  I taught myself.  My brother was a bassist and he needed a jam partner so I started playing with him and he became a really good lead guitarist.  I started writing a few songs, pretty naturally early on and then he started writing lead parts. We’d jam, he’d start and I’d finish it off.  So pretty early on, I got into collaborating, which is probably the best learning method.

I started a school band, a few of them.  One called The Pedestrians.  I know there’s been a band since in Manchester called that.  We recorded an EP and did alright considering our age.  We recorded at the Adelphi building, which is part of Salford University.  My keyboard player built the studio there and just invited us in for a session and that went down really well.

I got speaking to a couple of managers who offered to manage us. We played Band On The Wall with a guy called Phil Campbell which was probably my first main gig.  We sold it out when we were 16 and 17, that’s pretty cool.

We filled it and we saw him play on Jools Holland and got in touch thinking he was American, but he was Scottish and he came down and played with us and we’ve stayed in touch since, he’s a really nice guy.  From that my brother was in a band called Rio 6 that played a lot with Elbow and Kloot in town.  I saw The Mouth quite a lot before they were Kloot because they played the same sort of venues.

The drummer from The Rio 6, Sue, used to live with Pete from Kloot and the two bands used to rehearse at the same place so there was a further connection there.

The Rio 6 were a bit older than us and had done more of the circuit.  We had lost a few band members from The Pedestrians so my brother who was the guitarist and the bass player Sion joined forces and formed a band with me and my drummer from The Pedestrians called Tim.  And that was Bluebird Kid Clark and that’s the band I’ve spent since 2006 doing.



And you’ve done two albums with them?

Three studio albums.  Our first one in 2006 was called Bottom Dollar, named after a bargain discount store in Stalybridge.  We had a drunken night when it closed out, commiserating about it, and we said we’d name the album after it and we woke up the next morning with the sign in Shaun’s front room.  We’d been out and got some stepladders and unscrewed it.  It had looked quite small in the shop, but it was massive.  The back cover was the tripe and sandwich shop in Stalybridge which we thought was quite cool.  It’s one of the few places you can still get that, an original tripe shop, only in Stalybridge, but we quite liked that.

We released it through a label called Massive UK that were based on Edge Street in Manchester and I did a bit of work for them promoting a night called Circus Rock, a crazy night based on Rock And Roll Circus by The Rolling Stones, but I got bands in and a ringmaster in to introduce the bands and snake dancers and fire breathers, that type of thing.   We tried to get a lion, but couldn’t do it.

It went really well.  We won a competition called Popworld where we got to go on T4’s Popworld and do a track and get on the small stage at Glastonbury, getting quite a good profile. We did a gig at Moho and Frank Sidebottom came down and introduced us and we were on Channel M a few times.

A few years later we recorded an album called The Red Squirrel Revival.  We did this as a double album, it’s a twenty track album which was a bit brave. It’s still available on Spotify.  We did a gig at Gullivers just as it was being taken over by the new owners who were Mark Kennedy and Tony.  We did two nights there, sold out both, sold a lot of albums and then we got confirmed to support Puressence at the Apollo, which was quite a pinnacle for us.  We started to get backing vocals in, Louise Turner who’d done stuff with Elbow and some great stuff on her own was one, Jo (Dave’s wife) and Taylor Jackson, who’s a jazz singer who’s really good, has an amazing voice who’d done some backing vocals with me on a solo album I never released called The Musings Of A Lonesome Bluebird.

I lived in a flat just off Oxford Road and my friend’s Dad owned a mill building near there and he gave him one wing of this building to live in so we did some house parties there and spent all our time writing.  Taylor was one of the directors of Massive UK and she sang with me. Jo, who’s my missus who has sang with Gorillaz and Louise did the Apollo gig with us.

The band took a bit of a break, I wrote some solo stuff but didn’t do anything with it and then we went into The Weirworks Studio in Sheffield with a good friend of ours called Sam Jones and recorded a live album in a day called Live At The Weirworks.  It’s officially six tracks, but the first track is actually three songs rolled into one.  We were trying to get round the fact that everything’s gone on line and people don’t listen to albums anymore so we tried to make it so they had to listen to the first half of the album in one track.  We got to meet Arctic Monkeys there as they were shooting a video and we bumped into them.

Tim Fisher who did drums originally with Bluebird had left at that point and my little brother Andy had joined.   He was a massive Arctics fan and he loved that.

We did a launch for that at Platt Chapel and it was a really cool venue at the time. We gave away the album because we thought it would be good just to get it out there and we got some really good reviews.   We stopped playing then and everything was fizzling out a bit, so I thought it was time I did some solo stuff.


What sort of time was this?

This was 2013. We’d had a break for a couple of years, had a year writing and I was doing quite a bit of other stuff, playing sessions for people and in 2012 I had formed another band called Dave Fidler And The Corvettes, who is me and four other girls.  My sister was playing mandolin, harmonica and banjo, kind of folky stuff, a girl called Jenny singing, a girl called Frankie playing violin and a girl called Becky on keys.  We released a little EP which went down quite well as an independent release and we made a video at the flat in a mill I used to live in in town.   That’s sort of wound up a little as I’ve focused on the solo stuff.

I ended up writing my own stuff, but did my first solo gig at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival last year and that’s where John (Bramwell) first saw me playing.

He loved it, I was doing covers and my own stuff.  I had spent a lot of time in those couple of years learning finger style guitar, really focusing on it, listening to people like Peter Green and Tommy Emanuel.  I did this gig and did a Tommy Emanuel cover which John seemed to like, we connected after.  In some sort of miracle, he didn’t lose his phone for a couple of months so we stayed in touch and by the first gig of the tour, it came off.  That was the start of this year when I first started touring with John.

When John asked about touring, I didn’t know whether to do it with the Corvettes or Bluebird, but he said he wanted me on his own, which he was fairly certain about.  That helped me to focus, I’d tried and tested a set on an audience in those first few gigs and changed it round a bit.  I booked Sam Jones who’d done the Weirworks album and he was really good at reel-to-reel recording, the old sixties style, and we did it in a day.

What made you do it that way?

Out of all the years I’d been in the bands, doing separate recordings, laying down the drums first, that kind of stuff.  When we did the Weirworks album, I felt that captured the energy better than anything before and wanted to capture that for my solo album.

We recorded it all in a day.  With it being reel to reel it had a real warmth to it, we put it through some tape delays and I’ve been sat on the album since March, so it’s been a few months.  I’ve had it mastered in Nashville and John has had a production angle on it, he’s produced it.

We’ve been selling pre-release copies at gigs and I’ve sold about 600 so far.  That’s brought us to now where there’s 250 heavy white limited editions vinyls and some proper cds and it’ll also be available on bandcamp where you can get it both as mp3s and lossless.

What’s it been like being out on the road with John Bramwell?

It’s felt really right. It’s a massive thing that he asked me, because I always respected him as a song-writer.  Anyone knows him knows he’s a down-to-earth character although off-the-wall at times.  When I went to pick him up for the first gig, he cooked me a meal, we jumped in the car and it was easy to chuck our guitars in there.

One thing he did say to me was that he hadn’t heard me play since that festival gig so I better be good.   I guess I’m still on the tour.  The first day we drove to Bristol, so we had lots of time to chat.  We grew up just around the corner from each other and knew a lot of the same people without knowing each other. I’ve done a lot of the driving so it’s been a great opportunity to spend time chatting with him and learning from him.  He’s taken me under his wing, he got me on 6 Music, which he didn’t have to do.  He’s helped with promotion, he introduces me, I introduce him, it’s a very Mancunian thing.  Massive respect to him, he chose me and he’s stuck with me and it’s over and above what anyone would have expected.



I'm Not Here is released next Thursday (October 30th) when Dave plays a launch gig at Manchester's Whiskey Jar.  We will be running Dave's track-by-track view of the album on release date.

Our review of the album can be found here.

Dave Fidler's website can be found here and the album can be pre-ordered on CD and vinyl from there.  He is also on Twitter and Facebook.   Tickets for the launch show can be purchased here.
A review of the album can be found here.
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