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Pop Music Football And Girls: Stereoboard Chats to Parlour Flames (Interview)

Tuesday, 04 June 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh

The departure of Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs from Oasis in 1999, during the recording of their fourth album ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’, came at a time when their world dominance was wavering, with subsequent albums failing to achieve the global success of earlier offerings ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’.

Having been swiftly and nonchalantly replaced by Gem Archer, Bonehead retreated into family life before making his return to music in 2002 with Moondog One (featuring The Smiths’ rhythm section, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce). Other low-key projects included DJ sets and a stint presenting the Radio Manchester show ‘Manchester Music’.

It was around the time of Moondog One that Joyce introduced Bonehead to Manchester musician and poet Alan Wilkes (also known as Vinny Peculiar), and subsequent contributions to Peculiar’s already substantial solo output followed.

In 2012 the duo announced an official collaboration under the Parlour Flames moniker and the band have now released their eponymous debut album on Cherry Red.  They are now threatening to become one of the surprises of the year following the wide critical acclaim afforded to their often ‘nostalgically English’ offering.

Now promoting the album through numerous gigs around the UK and Ireland, the duo put time aside for a quick chat with Stereoboard about the songs, the band, guitars and Glastonbury.

Stereoboard (SB) - Talk us through your songwriting process - who generally initiates things and is it more of a case of a story being added to music or vice-versa?

Parlour Flames (PF) - Some of the songs on the album were already written/demoed by Vinny: Manchester Rain, Too Soon The Darkness, Lonely Girls & Horses. Pop Music Football & Girls was written by Vinny mid session.  Bonehead’s musical templates became I'm In A Band, Jump The Brook Ruth and Get In The Van.  Sunday Afternoon, Never Heard of You and Broken Hearted Existentialist were written in more of an eyeball-to-eyeball fashion.

SB - Are the songs Never Heard Of You and I'm In A Band about anyone in particular?

Vinny Peculiar (VP) - Never Heard Of You is about an incident I witnessed, yes, but there's a lot of poetic license in there so I'd rather not name names, that would be just wrong.  

I'm In A Band was inspired by a story Mike Joyce told Bonehead and I at a Vinny Peculiar rehearsal a few years ago. He stole someone’s car parking space, they were angry and as he walked away they challenged him and asked him what on earth he thought he was doing, to which he replied “I'm in a Band!”, and proceeded to walk away.  

I added a Julian Cope verse. Julian has been known to go to school open days in his Germanic biker gear and spandex. He's the Vivienne Westwood of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He doesn't cower to expectations, sartorial or otherwise, and I love all that. It's about being in a gang and believing in something.  Bands do tend to nurture an ‘us against the world’ mentality and the song taps into that mindset.

SB - Pop Music Football & Girls - in that order of importance?

VP - The holy trinity of hurt, yes, in many ways that’s the order I'd go for.  Girls come and go but there's only ever one team, and when you find your favourite band they tend to live with you for life.  Girls are just way too complicated.

SB - What are the rest of the live band (Ollie Collins, Che Beresford, Rob Steadman) like to work with and how did you all end up together?

VP - We seem to rub along just fine, yes, so far so good. Bone and Dave Fyfe, our sound engineer, knew Che and we knew he was right for the project from the very first recording session. Ollie joined later and ended up playing bass on a couple of album tracks. Rob joined after the album was finished as we needed more strings and pads to reproduce the album live. We are hoping to incorporate the band more fully in any future recording ventures.

SB - Have you already discussed recording further material?

PF - We are in process of planning the next recordings and we've definitely got another album in us for sure.  We haven't put any time restrictions on working together, we're taking all as it comes.

SB - The live shows didn't feature trumpeter Bob Marsh - is this something you may change in the future?

PF - We just played our album launch gig at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester, Bob appeared with us and it was wonderful. We'd love to take Bob on tour with us and where possible we will use him, he's a brilliant player, it’s just a logistics thing. Bob’s a music teacher.

SB - Will you be camping at Glastonbury and taking in other acts, and if so is there anyone you are particularly looking forward to seeing?

VP - We will be camping! Jeff and Dave, our crew, have all the bases covered - military tents and a porta stove! I'm most looking forward to seeing Nick Cave, and I expect we'll be there or thereabouts to see everybody’s favourite tribute band (The Rolling Stones) on the main stage strutting their timeless stuff.

Bonehead (BH) - I'll be joining Evan Dando on stage to play It's A Shame About Ray which I'm really looking forward to. 

SB - I notice you sign your names with your aliases - where does this switch over to your real names? I can't imagine Paul ever signing a record deal with ‘Bonehead’ for example.

PF - I think we did actually sign our real names with an AKA proviso for the Cherry Red contract! So we used both.

SB - Of all the guitars you own/have owned, which is your favourite and why?  Also, are your new 'twin' Faith guitars part of a sponsorship deal?

VP - I have a 1978 Fender Telecaster in black – it’s a KEEF one with the humbucker at the neck. I'll never sell it, although I don't seem to be using it that much nowadays. My new Rickenbacker 360 has become indispensable to the Parlour Flames shows, there's nothing quite like a Ricky - so distinctive. I do like a good jangle! We don't have a deal with Faith guitars as such, but we are loving them for sure – they have really bright, responsive tones.

BH - My favourite is my Epiphone Riviera, it's an early 80s model and I played it onstage at every Oasis gig - and I used it on every recording too. I've just retired it from live work but will continue to record it. 

SB – Vinny, your solo work is available on your website at a very reasonable price. For any new Parlour Flames fans, where would you recommend they start if they want to check it out, and which of your solo albums are you most proud of?

VP - I'm probably most proud of ‘Ironing the Soul’, it's a band record and still sounds fresh to me. We are currently remixing tracks for a ‘Best Of’ compilation due out later this year on Cherry Red. ‘Growing Up With Vinny Peculiar’ also has its moments - my last album 'Other People Like Me' has some good moments too, so I'd go for those three for starters.

SB – Bonehead, are you still in contact with the other ex-members of Oasis and who would you say you are closest to, if any of them? 

BH - Yes, I'm still in contact with the band. Alan White texted me yesterday as it happens. I'd say I'm closest to Liam, I've always had a soft spot for him as a person - love him to bits!

SB - You both have an active social media presence - have you made a conscious effort to keep up with the times or is it something you both just do for a bit of fun?

VP - Bonehead runs the @ParlourFlames Twitter account quite brilliantly, and he loves doing it. I do the Facebook stuff and I have a Twitter account too - @vinnypeculiar. We try and have fun with it, otherwise it can become a bit of a chore, but it's an essential part of a connected world.

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