Release date: October 5th 2009
Was You Ever See
You Have Loved Enough
Erland is Erland Cooper, an Orcadian guitarist. The Carnival are guitarist Simon Tong (The Verve, The Good, The Bad, The Queen) plus drummer/engineer David Nock (engineer on Paul McCartney’s The Fireman). Well, that’s“the basic triangle and three headed monster of the group,” says Tong – keys/harmonium player Andy Bruce, vocalist Georgia Sands and bassist Danny Wheeler complete the extended line-up.
Together, they make a pastoral, psychedelic sound described by Tong as “Pentangle meets Ennio Morricone meets Love meets 13th Floor Elevators meets Joe Meek.” Their debut single, Was You Ever See, is fairly typical of the band’s style – it’s a traditional song brought new life by the unique band, who add dark tones, adapted lyrics and a propulsive beat. It’s the folk tradition: words change over time, but the song remains.
Says Nock: “Was You Ever See is based on an old welsh song about Cosher Bailey, a Monmouthshire ironmonger who builds his own steam engine and train track in the 19th century and has a grand open day. All the local characters in it gathered to witness the great unveiling, all the folk are having a jolly old time with lots of important dignitaries and then the engine gets stuck in a tunnel that isn’t wide enough.”
Also on the single are The Tempest and You Have Loved Enough, a Leonard Cohen poem set to music by The Carnival. The old master would no doubt be pleased with the simple, stirring treatment given to his words. The two tracks are b-sides in the proper sense and exclusive to the single. They won’t be on the bands stunning self-titled debut album due for release later this year.
Erland grew up on the Orkney Islands, where passing folk musicians and troubadors were a common sight. In his early teens, The Verve and Bert Jansch inspired him to swap the fiddle for the guitar. Later, having moved to London, Erland sang at Tong’s What The Folk club night in Portobello Road, where he was introduced to Tong by the producer Youth.
“It wasn’t a regular folk night where people are quiet and stroke their chin,” says Tong. “It was a more raucous affair where the acts – as many as 15 a night – had to quieten a noisy baying audience by being good. We had a transsexual compere who would berate the acts and call them cunts even before they had begun, so it was tough for the budding performers – one of which was Erland – who definitely got people to shut up and listen.”
Originally, Nock and Tong talked about writing and producing an album with Erland. Instead, they all decided to form a band, and took their name from Jackson C Frank’s My Name Is Carnival, a cover of which appears on their forthcoming album.
The band’s progression since has been fairly unorthodox: they’ve played gigs at miniature railway stations and their debut EP was individually re-recorded for each of its limited run, meaning no two copies are the same. The forthcoming album, from which Was You Ever See is taken, was recorded at Studio 13 (owned by Tong’s The Good, The Bad, The Queen band mate Damon Albarn) and mixed at Youth’s garden studio.
Erland And The Carnival will be appearing live at the Green Man Festival on 21st August.