Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Nation Favourites: 4 Or 5 Magicians

Call us reckless, but we think there's a future in asking questions of some of our favourite bands, so that's what we're going to try and do more of. As opposed to our earlier attempts this item will be more regular, albeit shorter (we like to think 'snappier') and not with as many really famous but no less talented people. All the same, they will all be with artists we like and have supported in our own very small way and we thus want to get to know and share in their world and vision.

Get on with it, you tosser.

Anyway, the first Nation Favourite is Dan Ormsby, who is somewhere between vocalist/guitarist and 'everything' in Brighton's artfully disenchanted, Huw Stephens-approved, Los Campesinos! and Johnny Foreigner-supporting post-Pavementeers 4 Or 5 Magicians.

So, what makes you so special then?

In the current climate, the fact that we don't sound like The Human League? I don't know, this is probably just a question geared towards highlighting my arrogance and self-righteousness, which I'm not going to humour (unless I already did, whoops!) Don't worry though, I'm answering this question last, and I definitely do a bit of that later!

Who inspired you to get into music/songwriting?

It's always been nabbing away at me to write songs since I was a kid. When I was about twelve I wrote a song called "Pink Elephants" which was a straight Lightning Seeds rip. I still like The Lightning Seeds to this day, actually. I'd like to think I'd find the cassette of me tapping the desk and singing that song someday when my parents retire to Cornwall and make me empty out my room. For now I'll content myself with the casette of Like You Do... Best of The Lightning Seeds that is resident in the glovebox of my dad's car/our "tour bus". More specifically, when I first started a band in my teens, I was loving all the intelligent britpop (if that isn't an oxymoron) around at the time - Mansun, Supergrass, The Longpigs, Blur... I guess there's unintentional bits of them in my songs now. But yeah, my main influences are, sadly, mainly American bands from fifteen odd years ago who just said "fuck it" and wrote, in the main, great, simple, standard songs - REM, Nirvana, Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr, and Guided By Voices mainly. But there are so many influences crammed into what I do. If there weren't, 4 or 5 Magicians would probably be crap, or just wouldn't exist. I guess that's why there are so many terrible bands in the world - because the songwriter only listens to about six bands, none of which are Guided By Voices.

Are your lyrics purposefully cynical?

Probably. I mean I don't do it on purpose, and I'd like to think they are at least equally as positive as cynical, if not more, but I do accept that I'm not exactly about to write the next "Walking On Sunshine" here. I could sit here analysing myself all night (literally, I really could) but I think people, if they care about this sort of thing, should work out what I'm getting at for themselves. But then most people don't even care about the lyrics as long as it has a whistlable tune, right?

Is slacker rock overdue a proper revival, and are you the part of it some claim?

We aren't slacker rock I don't think. I'm too meticulous for that to be right, even if it sounds like it should be. I think we may sound a little bit "slacker rock" to some people as I can't really play any instruments very well. But the others are all very good players - I've somehow amassed a band of virtual virtuosos. Then I get them to play four chords in 4/4 for four minutes. Sorry guys. I think "alternative guitar rock" or whatever you want to call it is due a revival, for enitrely selfish reasons - it's the sort of music I like, so it would be good to have loads of cool guitar bands around to listen to. We never really did the alt-rock thing properly over here, so it would be good for it to happen now. Other people like other stuff. That's cool. But you've had you're fun.

What's the last decent thing you heard?

I've just been flipping through the MTV channels with the rest of the band, and we just saw a video by a chap named Soulja Boy. That was good. Affable rap. I think we share a similar sense of humour. In real life I'm currently very excited by the prospect of Laura Hocking, or Laura Sings Liver to give her her stage name - simply a one in a million (or billion) talent. I'm very much looking forward to hearing what she comes out with over the coming months, I know she's recording some songs right now in fact. She reminds me a lot of dearly departed fellow northern troubadour Jake Thackray, but a pretty girl version. She has a turn of phrase though that takes on Thackray at his best. Not that it's a competition! But I guess with her, there is no competition. This is turning into a review, I'll shut up.

What next?

We're doing a tour starting tomorrow if we can find someone to drive us around - I actually can't believe the bad luck we've had over the past few days on that front. I suppose there was also an element of slack organisation about it too, but what do you expect? My dad is going to bale us out in the second week if we need him to, so that's alright. My dad is cool, he likes to get involved. We'll soldier through the first week somehow. How long would it take to cycle to Swindon from South London do you reckon?

We're hoping to do some festivals in the summer, but we probably aren't well known (or well backed) enough for this to happen, but I'll keep an open mind. We were chosen to play The Great Escape without even asking which, even to cynical old me, is quite a nice, and unexpected thing to happen. It means we get to see Times New Viking for free as well so that's cool.

We're releasing a single on April 21st through This Is Fake DIY - its a double a-side of Change The Record/Ideal Man, possibly the greatest such single since Bionic/The Law by King Adora. We have another single ready to go for summertime as well from the same session we did with Ian Button (the nicest man ever), Out Of My Hands/Behind Each Other's Backs, so maybe if this current one goes well then Fake DIY will release that too, or maybe by then we'll have signed a multi-trillion dollar deal with Myspace/BMG or whatever. Hopefully someone with enough money to send us out to Seattle to record with Guy Picciotto will come along before long, at least. I'd quite like to go to some other countries and play to the people there too at some point. The furthest I've ever been from home is Belgium. Or Newcastle, that's probably further. Maybe we're doing some recording with Jason Loewenstein from Sebadoh in May, I need to talk to him more about this. That would be good I think!

But in a wider sense, I really have no idea what is next for 4 or 5 Magicians. It isn't really up to me, is it?

4 Or 5 Magicians - Orderly Queue

4 Or 5 Magicians are touring for most of April ahead of said single.


Andrew said...

great interview ormsby... you still owe me £20 for those fugazi tickets from five years ago - paypal is fine.

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