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Interview

Chris Corney interview 

Bedfordshire

added: 17 Oct 2011
interviewed by: Claudia A

Chris Corney interview - Bedfordshire - Printable version
Bedfordshire-based singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and on/off Quireboy Chris Corney takes a brief break to talk about the release of his new album ‘Airways Mansions’ and what makes his musical world tick.

Music-News:
Chris, Airways Mansions is your fourth studio album… how do you find time for your own projects, what with being a much-in-demand producer and also playing with and recording for other artists?

Chris Corney:
Yes it's been a busy year Claudia! What with playing bass touring the UK and Europe with The Quireboys and my production work. But there's always enough downtime to work on my own stuff… I even wrote one of the tracks off the new album called 'Bella' in my hotel room in Madrid while on tour with The Quireboys. You have to grab time as and when you can!!

MN:
Please explain the title of your new album for our readers. Also, in what relation does the title stand to the songs on the album?

CC:
Airways Mansions was a hotel in West London, near Heathrow I believe, where in the 1950's/60's the American blues & rock ‘n’ roll artists of the era would stay. The name of the hotel suggests a very grand place… but it was actually a tatty B & B run by a little old lady. I stumbled across this story while watching a TV documentary a while back about the British 60's R&B scene and thought it would make a great subject for a song… but it just ended up being an album title! I'd love to tell you that it's strategically linked in with the songs on the album, but I'm afraid it's just a title!

MN:
You have some great musicians playing on Airways Mansions, such as Tom Welham (who worked with Gabriella Cilmi) and Keith Weir (Quireboys, Down ‘n’ Outz) to name but a few. Was it more like a relaxed family atmosphere when you guys got together, or was it more like a “I’m under pressure to finish this record because other projects are waiting, so let’s get on with it!” atmosphere?

CC:
No, I don't like working under pressure… it's not the way to get good results. It's always happy hour in my studio! Everyone who appears on the album are also friends, so it was always a nice atmosphere. We recorded Tasha Baylis' drums and Tom Welham's guitars at Tom's studio in Maidenhead, which was a real pleasure. Everything else on the album was recorded at my own studio, which was good as there were no time restraints etc.

MN:
You are based in rural Bedfordshire and so is your studio – do you reckon the rural surroundings and calm that comes with it are an added bonus as far as your creativity is concerned?

CC:
I think so. I know people love recording at my place as the studio is in my home. From my own experiences, a lot of commercial studios suffer from a sterile-ness of which I think can have a negative affect performance wise. When a studio is within someone’s living space you instantly have a nice relaxed working atmosphere, which in turn makes finer recordings in my opinion. Having said that, if I'd have had the opportunity to record my own album at Abbey Road I'd have gone there instead!!

MN:
A lot of your musical style embraces that wonderful Americana genre, which in my opinion is still underrated in this country if performed by native artists. Was Americana and its associated US-acts always your musical Leitmotiv?

CC:
Yes, Americana seems to be a fairly wide genre nowadays… and the older I get the more I find myself listening to this style of music. In my youth I was very much embedded in the rock scene, but as I grew up I think I craved more eclectic instrumentation. The band that really changed my outlook on music when I was in my early teens was Crowded House. And while they are not from the U.S they often get referred to as an Americana band. They showed me that there was more to life than Iron Maiden and Metallica!! And probably forged the beginnings of the sound I encompass today.

MN:
Who are your musical heroes/heroines?

CC:
As mentioned in the previous answer, Neil Finn from Crowded House is pretty much God to me! He has an amazing knack of writing hooks and wonderful lyrics. You forget just how many hits / killer songs that band had / has. Tom Petty was a big influence too… I got into him as a 13-year old or so when 'Full Moon Fever' came out. That was another really important album for a young me. And then there are some not so well known artists that I'm crazy about such as Nada Surf and Catherine Wheel. Both have also helped shape my sound to some degree. My producer heroes include Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Kate Bush.

MN:
You play several instruments – which was the first instrument you purchased and when?

CC:
That would be a guitar. When I was 11 or 12 years old my next-door neighbour’s older brother had a cheap imitation of a Les Paul electric guitar. Well when I laid my eyes on this and was shown by him how to fret an A chord that was it!! Luckily he was selling it not long after and my lovely parents kindly bought it for me.

MN:
What, in your opinion, makes a good producer and recording artist?

CC:
A good producer is a sympathetic one in my opinion. There's a fine line between steering an artist in the right direction, and hijacking them!! Obviously it's important that the right artist works with the right producer. I would be no use whatsoever to a 'nu-metal' band!! It's also a great compliment to a producer when you hear a song and say, “that sounds like so and so produced that”. I.e. you can hear the producer's identity on the recording. An extreme example of this would be Mutt Lange. Like him or hate him you can instantly hear his work. For me a good recording artist is someone who has talent for starters! And having a clear idea of what they want helps, but also the trust to let the producer do his job.

MN:
A controversial new movie (as yet untitled) starring Al Pacino as legendary producer Phil Spector is set to be released over here – will you go see it if your schedule allows for it?

CC:
I'm not a big cinemagoer to be honest, but I do like fact-based films about musicians etc… So yes, a film about someone like Mr. Spector would be worth a watch (on DVD though for me!).

MN:
Back to your album and the song ‘The Desperation Show’… It contains the poignant lyric “You been down so low on the airtime in the daytime, you've been down so low on the Desperation Show” – is the song a stab at the increasing fascination the public has with trashy, sensationalist news and Reality-TV shows?

CC:
Yes it is! I'm a fan of relaxing in front of the telly when I get the chance, and it's depressing the things people put themselves through for their 15 minutes of fame!

MN:
Finally, can we expect to see Chris Corney and Band play live in London at some stage soon?

CC:
I hope so. It's been a few years since I played with my own band in London. And I'll be sorting a support slot or headline show probably early next year. Keep an eye on my website for details (www.chriscorneymusic.co.uk/)

MN:
Many thanks Chris, and best wishes for the new album and all your other projects.

(Please read my review of ‘Airways Mansions’ in the ‘Music-News Album Reviews’ section)

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