About this Playlist
When it comes to music, there are few things more personal than a playlist. It’s a reflection of one’s taste, mood, and experiences. And this particular playlist, well, it’s like a journey through time and genre.
70 years of influences have created the Human Rhythms Not Algorithms sound.
The Hoof caught up with Andrew Pipe of Twelve Caesars, the latest artist to feature on the playlist.
“So, let’s start at the beginning – when did you first discover your love for music? And what was the moment that made you realize you wanted to pursue it as a career?”
As a child, I kept on at my parents until their will finally broke and they bought me my first guitar, aged 9. I have many happy memories of running their respective record collections up to my room, Fats Domino, Otis Redding, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Gene Pitney, Nat King Cole, Bill Haley & The Comets, Gene Vincent (I could go on).
As I got older, I would gravitate toward other kids interested in music and started in bands aged 12, 13. I distinctly remember writing and recording a couple of songs aged 15. Me and a few mates got hold of a Fostex, 4 track, reel to reel recording device; bounced down the drums and managed to record a couple of vocal harmonies on it. I played my first gig in front of an live audience aged 17, at the Thorngate Theatre in my home town of Gosport, Hampshire. I was off and running.
“Your latest album has such a unique sound. Can you share with us the inspiration behind it and how you developed this sonic identity?”
The inspiration for the LP’s title, ‘Scenes From Wild Eyed Dreams’, is a lyric taken from a song on the album called ‘Eleven Ways From Hell’ – legend has it that there are 11 hidden portals on Earth through which one can enter the Underworld. The topics covered by the LP’s tracks take you on a bit of trek, moving from the US Civil Rights Movement (City of Angels) through to Tiananmen Square (Days of Rage) and the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Fall of the Berlin Wall) via the war in Vietnam (Swan Fendered Mercury).
“Every musician has that one classic track that they hold dear to their heart. Can you tell us about yours? What about it inspires you or keeps you coming back?”
I was talking to my nephew, Josh, a few years ago and casually mentioned my goal as a musician being, walking into a recording studio on and day 1 and walking out on day 3 with Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. He made me stop, go back and explain what I meant – I just automatically assumed that everyone already knew what that meant.
I remember the summer of ’78 and hearing Baker Street on transistor radios (that and Mr. Blue Sky by ELO) on sun soaked days in Privett Park which backed onto our house.
Baker Street has, for as long as I can remember been the benchmark for me as a musician and as a songwriter – I’ll spend the rest of my life striving to reach it.
“We’re always on the hunt for new music here. Is there an up-and-coming artist or band that you’ve recently discovered and think deserves more attention?”
Poppy Ajudha – she so rocks.
“Looking ahead to the rest of the year, what are your plans? Any exciting releases or shows that you can tease for us?”
We’ve had two singles so far from the current album ‘Swan Fendered Mercury’ and ‘California Sleaze’.
Ramrock Records, North Street West and Ashley Beedle are remixing ‘California Sleaze’ as we speak – another title from the current album is ‘Ride the American Wave’.
* It has been gathering momentum since Jo Wallace and Ashley Beedle heard the original version. They both thought that the repeated refrain on the end of the track was hypnotic and merited a big, epic Balearic West Coast expansion to make it even more magnificent.
The result is remarkable – the No’West crew added waves on a seashore with Darren Morris’s psychedelic fuzz guitar playing weaving in and out of the Twelve Caesars instrumentation, complimenting the mesmerising vocals of Andrew Pipe. The result is solo George Harrison outings, Beach Boys along with Spiritualised and My Bloody Valentine all rolled up in a Californian trip. ‘Ride The American Wave’ is equally at home in Laurel Canyon as well as the White Isle.*
Andrew Pipe explains ‘Ride the American Wave’ is an adaptation of Hilaire Belloc’s famous couplet from ‘The Modern Traveller’ about the Maxim gun. To quote the great African historian, Chinweizu:
Whatever happens, we have got the Atom Bomb, and they have not.
* Promotional description from Jo Wallace.
“Playlists have become such an important part of music discovery in recent years. What do you think the future holds for this format? Are there any playlists out there that you personally listen to?”
The internet has democratised music and made it available too anyone with a half decent mobile phone – presumably, that will continue to proliferate as technology continues to improve. I’ll listen to Jo Wallace Radio at every available opportunity – I thought I knew a bit about popular music until I encountered her, frankly intimidating, knowledge and all it’s all consuming vastness.
“Connecting with fans is crucial for any artist. How do you prefer to interact with your audience? And have you found that social media has changed the way you approach this?”
Growing up in bands in the 1980s the cassette tape demo was the way of giving your audience an idea of your studio sound when they walked away from your gigs.
In the early 90s, my old band, Candystash, even got a demo CD up together.
Social media allows us to transport music around the world, effective immediate. I love that.
“With so many different ways to consume music nowadays, it can be hard to know what format to focus on. How do you feel about streaming versus downloads versus physical copies?”
I’ve been constantly surprised and delighted by the spread of technology and the way it has allowed for both the consumption and recording of music to become within reach for so many. The punk ethic of recording at home and away from expensive recording studios has been here since the 1970s but now the individual can make a half decent fist of a song with relatively little. I read bout Damon Albarn making a Gorillaz recording using just an iPad – that excites me.
“What’s the best way for fans to support you right now? If they only had a few minutes, what could they do to help spread the word about your music?”
Listen to it, dig it and share it with everyone you ever met.
“Do you believe music matters? Why?”
Yes, music matters – music saved my life. No question.
“When did you write your first lyrics/music and how different is it from the lyrics/music you are writing today? How did your style develop or evolve?”
I’ve been watching that Great Songwriters TV show on one of the Sky channels, Sky Documentaries, I think it was, [it was, available on NOW TV] Chuck D has always been a songwriter I greatly admired.
He says he starts with a title then fills in the blanks – I’ve caught myself doing that before. I find it easier to come up with a melody the filling in the blanks with lyrics. Having a terrific piece of music already written helps with solving the rest of the rest of the puzzle, in my experience.
“Is collaboration a part of your whole creative process or do you write songs individually first and then collaborate on refining the song?”
Twelve Caesars is all about the collaboration between me, the songwriter, and the music producer, Steve Ennever.
I always joke to friends that I’m the guy with the beaten up acoustic guitar and a pair of cymbals strapped to his knees and Steve is the guy that makes it part way listenable.
I’m of the opinion that Steve Ennever is a towering musical genius but I would say that, wouldn’t I?
[Andrew and Steve]
“Which kind of music/ artists do you enjoy listening to and how has that shaped your own music/sound? If a band, maybe something along the line: do you (band members) share the same music tastes or differ in tastes and how has that shaped your band’s sound?”
My influences are XTC, Jimi Hendrix, Beach Boys, Miles Davis, Pixies, Joni Mitchell, Hüsker Dü, Thomas Dolby, Curtis Mayfield.
Steve’s are Blue Nile, Ayub Ogada, Free, Martha Reeves, Talk Talk, Elias & His Zigzag Jive Flutes.
We find plenty of common ground – our music will always be shaped by our influences.
“If you could share the stage with one artist, of the past or present, who would that be and why.”
Donna Summer, she has one of those voices, like cut glass.
“If you were granted a short audience with the omnipotent being and could play them one track of yours – so that they would know who you are (in that moment) – what track would that be?”
The Fall of Here & Now was written about the three day war in Heaven. I’d like to know how close I got to l’actualité
“What is the best performance you’ve ever seen by another musician?”
Motörhead at the Portsmouth Guildhall in April 1982. The first gig I ever went to, aged 13. I honestly haven’t seen a better one since.
“What’s your opinion on the impact of music festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury on the industry, and what role do they play in shaping music culture?”
I was performing comedy in the Theatre tent in Glastonbury 1993 – I remember it for being the Rage At The Latrines year after the Rage At The Machine gig. Black Crowes were superb that year. Then the comedy tent proper in 2000 – Willie Nelson was the go to guy on the main stage.
I can’t honestly say they played a significant role in shaping my music culture. All I ever did when I was there was survive long enough to get away in one piece and make it home.
“What is your favorite lyric from one of your own songs?”
“Breathe it in, Spit it out; you’re a lost soul longing to know its whereabouts.
Fan the flames, mesmerised; all that prejudice knows is the hatred it sows brought to life.”
“What is your favorite album cover of all time?”
“What is your favorite music-related documentary?”
“What is your favorite music-related book?”
“What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your career in music?”
Stand Up Comedy
“How do you define success as an artist? Is it based on commercial success, critical acclaim, or something else?”
Frank Zappa was asked why he had recorded a particular piece. I remember him saying that the reason he recorded any piece of music was because he wanted to hear it. If he put it down on a record or a CD and someone else wanted to buy it, all well and good.
I define success by being happy with what I’ve achieved.
If anybody else does, that’s great too.
“Tell us about your writing and recording process, what instruments, software or hardware do you use?”
Cakewalk & RME AD/DA converters. PMC monitors. Summit & Chandler Mic Pre-Amps. Audio & Design Express Limiter. Nueman, AKG, Calrec, Dachman, TZ, SE, Shure & Crown PZM microphones. A plethora of software plug-ins too numerous to mention.
“How do you approach experimenting with new sounds or styles in your music without alienating your fanbase?”
Let’s call it ‘experimenting with new ideas. In this context while recording, ideas for new parts/sounds within sections or throughout the song are obviously put forward.
If Steve Ennever, as producer, have not dismissed them, then we’ll do everything to mould that idea to fit the atmosphere of the track. Ultimately it’s the song that has the last word whether it works or not
“What’s your opinion on the relationship between art and politics? Should artists be political or keep their work apolitical?”
It’s a choice.
Nile Rodgers says don’t. Chuck D, I assume, would take a different approach. Berry Gordy famously held back Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ “Put it out or I’ll never record for you again” was the great man’s response.
Art should imitate life and, sometimes, life is politics.
“Can you talk about any mentors or influential figures in your life who have helped shape your career?”
Jo Wallace at Ramrock Records – I owe her everything.