Primitive Instinct: Prog band or not ?
About six years after the release of "Floating Tangibilty" the band from Great Britain is back with an new album called "Belief". The reactions are great so far and in the German Empire mag the album became the "Tip Of The Month". Lead singer Nick Sheridan answered some questions for DURP.
Is Primitive Instinct an prog band?
We're not really sure what genre we fit in, in the past we were called a neo-prog band but we were never really prog enough for that to be a comfortable label. Now we see ourselves as an alternative rock band, I think that best covers the type of music we make and still encompasses the prog element to our music. Also alternative is an acceptable term within the current music scene. Prog Rock unfortunately gets assigned to the dustbin in the U.K. calling yourself a prog band is like the kiss of death! We are influenced by many different bands and each of us has different tastes. I am the biggest progressive fan in the band and like Barclay James Harvest, Marillion, Pink Floyd, Radiohead but also many of the newer alternative bands, Manic Street Preachers, Foo Fighters, Head Swim etc
We are what we are. I think the reason we have survived from the late 80's till now is because we have confidence in what we are doing, but we won't chase success. We realised along time ago that we weren't going to be famous. We just enjoy what we do and that is more important that being really successful. Of course we would love to be rich and famous but not at the expense of our integrity. Thankfully quite a lot of people like what we do which helps. I'm not sure what we would do if nobody liked our music!
What about the line up changes?
We have been lucky really, we have had some line up changes but not that many. Pic and I have been together now for 10 years and Chris (the drummer) has been with us for 5. I think occasional line up changes are good, it
brings in new ideas and new styles which can enhance the band. All our major steps forward have occured after a line up change. When we lost our keyboard player 3 years ago we wondered how we could carry on, but we made the decision not to replace him and that made us work in a different way which has benefited the music. I think our current line up is very stable we are all very happy with the way things are going and we all work well together, this is the best it has ever been.
What about the decision to found an own studio?
It was getting very time consuming and expensive to keep hiring studios during the recording of Belief and we felt it would be better to spend the money on our own equipment which would allow us to spend more time and try out new ideas without worrying about what it was costing us. In the end all the mixing, and keyboards plus a large proportion of the guitars and vocals were recorded at my house. All the drums were recorded at Astra, a professional 24 track studio, to ensure we got the best possible drum sound.
What about your experiences with Cyclops?
Cyclops was good for us. We were one of the first bands to sign to the label and Floating Tangibility was their 3rd release. At that time I don't believe we would have been able to get an album out without their help. But we did lose control and the financial return was not great. Still they have sold close to 3000 copies which is not bad. But now it is much easier to produce CD's ourselves and with the internet we are able to reach a global audience so this time it was more logical to do it ourselves. We are still in contact with GFT-Cyclops and they are distributing Belief for us but we are still in control. And the financial return is much better!
We could have got a small deal but this way we can keep control of what goes on. Floating Tangibility was released through Cyclops but we didn't make any money, we just about covered our costs. The shops and distributers and Cyclops all made money but not us! This time all the profit comes to us and that helps us to keep going plus pays for the next recording. The Cyclops thing was very good for us, they got the album out around the world but now with the internet we can do it ourselves and we prefer it that way. Mind you if EMI or SONY offer us a deal I don't think we would say no.
We are well in to the internet. We can now reach a global audience from my bedroom. We are promoting the album primarily through our website and we have MP3's available to download at various sites around the world. We also have online ordering facilities, so for us the internet is our main way of promoting our music. I think the internet is really broadening peoples horizons and allowing us to hear music which we would never normally hear on the Radio or TV. I love MP3 I have heard so many wonderful but unsigned bands. It's a brilliant way to get yourself heard.
How would you describe the development between the new record and the record before?
We have matured over the past 6 years. I think a lot of the songs on Floating tangibility were a bit nieve, but don't get me wrong I still think it was a good album but Belief is better. We are a bit darker and moodier than before and there is more depth to the music and the lyrics. During that time we tried a number of different studios until we found one we were all happy with. Then our keyboard player left which resulted in me learning to play the keys as well as guitar. But the turning point was getting our own small studio, that sorted most of the problems out.
How does the songwriting work in the band?
Basically we all write together. One of us will come up with either a rhythm or a set of chords and we just develop it from there. We junk a lot of the songs that we come up with, we're a bit over critical. We try some of the songs out live to see how they feel and over a period of time they develop into the finished article. On Belief at least 2 of the songs were not performed live until the album was released and in fact the whole band had not
played them in their final form until the final mixes were complete. These 2 songs (Shekhakim and Freedom) were put together from different parts during mixing. This is another benefit of having our own studio.
What does the title of the record mean?
Belief well we all have beliefs and I think the main thing we are trying to say is that all of us should be tolerant of each others beliefs. There is no real right or wrong in life what seems right for one person is completely wrong for another but who are we to decide, my beliefs work for me but I shouldn't try to inflict them on other people. I think this is one of the main problems with different religions, they all belief they are right and
won't tolerate other relegious views. Basically we all need belief. The artwork was trying to put a number images together to reflect different beliefs. There's a cross to symbolise christianity but also a pentagram to symbolise the devil. And images of the effects these beliefs have on the children because in the end " it's always the children who get hurt while we are fighting for this stupid piece of dirt!" (praying for the rain)
Tell me something about the lyrics!
We tend to have 3 main subjects which we write about. The futility of war, Relationships and The stupidity of the human race and what we are doing to or planet. I don't know why but all our songs have been about these topics. I think it's something we feel inside us (probably inside all of us!) which comes out in the lyrics. It's not really a concious effort it just seems to happen. For us it's the lyrics that count but funnily the music always comes first. Sometimes the lyrics are only written just before we record them. But the feeling and idea behind the song is there from the start. We try to be a bit obscure with the lyrics so that people can make up their own minds what the songs are about. We don't want to inflict our views on our listeners.
You played live with lots of bands - any special things, anekdotes?
We once did a small gig at Fulham in London where we were supporting ARK. In the audience was one Mike Oldfield surrounded by his "minders" all very strange. The following day Mike was interviewed on BBC Greater London Radio and when asked if he still went out to see live music he replied that he had been out the night before and seen the best band he had heard for ages! That's our little claim to fame.
Any differences between the life and studio arrangements?
The studio recordings feature more acoustic guitars and backing vocals than we can perform live. It is the first time that we have tried to produce a much bigger sound on the recording than our live performances. This has been helped by having our own small studio which gave us some extra freedom to experiment.
Are you in touch with some of the bands you played together?
Yeah we still bump into some of the bands we have played with. We're all mates. I'm going to see IQ tonight in London and I expect will bump into a lot of old friends there.
Any plans to re-release the early cassette albums?
We released a compilation CD-R called Ice For Eskimos which included a selection of tracks from all the early cassettes. This CD is still available.
So you could make a choice, with which band would you like to play live on stage, for example as support?
For me it would have to be Radiohead, I think they are one of the most "progressive" bands around!