26 | November 14, 2013 | cambridge-news.co.uk | Cambridge News
The critical list: more hot tickets Music
APPER in corduroy and tweed jackets, Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) take samples from vintage public service information ﬁlms, black and white archive footage and propaganda material and overlay it with live music (banjos, piano and electric guitar). Live, the duo – who go by pseudonyms J. Willgoose, Esq and Wrigglesworth – are electric, punching buttons and looking like well-to-do college kids in dickie bows, as old government ﬁlms reel away in the background and snatched voices from the 1930s clip along in place of lyrics. It’s incredible to watch. Citing inﬂuences from Radiohead and The Manic Street Preachers, to Oasis and DJ Shadow, their debut album – aptly-named Inform-EducateEntertain – is a pretty unique master class in sound patchworking, and it’ll make you dance like you wouldn’t believe. We caught up with the endlessly charming, ridiculously eloquent and ever so wry J. ahead of their Cambridge Junction tour stop. How would you describe what PSB do? It’s not the easiest one to describe. I would say it’s primarily electronic music performed as live as possible and with a heavy audio-visual element. What’s your music trying to achieve? We called the album Inform-Educate-Entertain which was obviously partly a nod to the BBC, that was its original mission statement, but I think out of those three it’s deﬁnitely focused on entertaining rather than informing or educating. We’re not trying to teach people history subversively. It seems to be happening accidentally anyway, people are using it at primary schools and stuff like that. I didn’t really set out with a goal or an aim or anything, it’s just all happened from setting out to have fun making some sort of interesting and slightly eccentric music. So, why the pseudonyms? Oh, how do you know they’re pseudonyms? You make a good point. . . (Him laughing) Wikipedia told me. Oh really? You can’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia, although you can believe some things. Yeah, no comment (more laughter). Does that mean you quite enjoy being mysterious? We recently had a preview of a show we played in New York and they labelled us “the mysterious English duo,” and I did quite like that. I think a slightly enigmatic, unusual, eccentric air is a good thing to have around music. During a set you only really talk to the crowd two or three times (Great to be here, How are you doing, This is our last song), and only via buttons. Do you ever get the urge to talk to the crowd directly or are you quite happy just
“A slightly enigmatic, unusual, eccentric air is a good thing to have”
Public Service Broadcasting ELLA WALKER talks to one half of pseudonymous duo Public Service Broadcasting about facing a wall of noise at Glastonbury, wearing corduroy and using your imagination. Oh, and don’t expect them to be anything less than mysterious pressing buttons? Haha, yeah, it’s never really happened yet. Occasionally the people in the front row might hear me say something at normal volume, obviously I don’t have a microphone so it’s not going to travel very far, but I think it works quite well actually. It’s in keeping with the rest of what we do and in a funny sort of way it’s sending up the banter of frontmen the world over really. I like
to think in a slightly sort of ironic manner that that’s what we’re doing. How do you go about putting a track together? Do you spend hours trawling through archive footage? It tends to be more the other way round really. There will be a musical idea lurking at some point, either from something you’re just ﬁddling around with while you’re standing onstage bored during a
sound check. . . That sounds technical! You just let it bubble away for a while and then before long you’re like, oh yeah, that can be turned into a song like this, and that could work with this kind of footage, and before you know it. . . Writing Signal 30 was deﬁnitely like that, it was just a very aggressive, fast song that came out quite quickly and then I thought it’d be a nice twist to put it to driving safety messages. But there’s still some hard grafting involved? It’s not quite as labour intensive on the research front as people think. It’s a bit more targeted and a bit less random. But it is still quite labour intensive. The Guardian gave the album 4 stars but called you “more a concept than a band” and said it’s hard to see where you can go from here without repeating yourselves. What would you
Cambridge News | cambridge-news.co.uk | November 14, 2013 | 27
J Willgoose, Esq on what he’s currently listening to: “I’m always about a year behind, so the most recent Liars album, which I think is mildly unsettling but quite good, Apparat, and Neko Case’s album – she’s got a cracking voice”
ᔡ Public Service Broadcasting, Cambridge Junction, Monday, November 18 at 7pm. Tickets £12 from (01223) 511511 / www.junction.co.uk
say to that? It was a nice review overall but I found it mildly frustrating that people acknowledge that there’s a fair bit of imagination and creativity behind this and then they assume that the same sort of entity is not capable of evolving or changing into anything equally imaginative or creative. I think it’s a bit of a failure of imagination (on their part). I think people equate PSB with only using public service information ﬁlms and we’ve already gone beyond that anyway. It’s what I originally envisaged
for it but we’ve started using feature ﬁlms and documentaries. I think there’s all kinds of different ways you can go with it and there’s a great deal of scope for doing really interesting and unusual things with it. So yeah, I would respectfully disagree but I quite look forward to hopefully proving a few people wrong. What do you have planned next? We were approached in April by two Dutch gentlemen who asked us to play at their festival in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. They had some archive footage of the world’s biggest ice-skating race which is apparently, I’ve since found out, a pretty enormous deal in Holland and said would we like to be artists-in-residence and write a couple of tracks for them. So we have done, we’ve got two new songs that are in Dutch (he breaks off laughing). . . about the world’s biggest ice-skating race and it’s a bit of a tangent really but that’s what appealed to me about it. It’s a slightly unusual step and, hopefully, a way of illustrating that this can go in all kinds of interesting directions and also a good sign that people are starting to come to us and ask us to do stuff with footage that they already have. I’d be interested to see what people make of them. What’s been your career highlight so far? Didn’t you support the Rolling Stones? We were on the same poster as them, and on the same bill but we weren’t playing on the big stage, we were part of a smaller stage off to the side. But yeah, we say we supported The Rolling Stones, we were on the same bill as them, it counts (laughing)! That was a surreal moment, it wasn’t necessarily a personal highlight. I think playing with The Manics was a much more personal thing because they mean, and have meant, a lot more to me personally. But, overall it was almost certainly Glastonbury this year. It was a totally unexpected response and possibly the warmest and loudest and most surprising response from a crowd I’ve ever had. It just blew us off our stride a bit, it was a wall of noise after every song, it was quite extraordinary. Have you visited Cambridge before? Yeah, we have, we played Junction 2. We were playing in the smaller room and Palma Violets were playing in the bigger room and they had queues going round the block and we certainly didn’t (laughing). After they ﬁnished and they were stood outside with their enormous tour bus and we were in our transit van, we poked our heads in the venue, like ohh, it’d be nice to play in there one day. We’re very glad you are. And ﬁnally, the corduroy and bow ties: do you wear them at home as well as on stage? I’m wearing them right now! Yep, it’s just so comfortable and the deﬁnition of smart casual. You don’t look like a stuffy suit or anything, but at the same time you do have a certain elegance about you.
Stephen K Amos ᔡ Stephen K Amos: The Spokesman, Cambridge Junction, Friday, November 15 at 8pm. Tickets £16 from (01223) 511 511 / www.junction.co.uk STEPHEN K Amos is all about ﬁnding the funny. Hailing from south-west London, the stand-up, compere and gallivanting TV presenter is popping along to Cambridge Junction with his new show, The Spokesman. A staple at the Edinburgh Fringe (this will be his tenth visit), and proliﬁc when it comes to bringing out new shows (at least one a year), his standup is packed with honesty, tales from his rambunctious childhood and a
whole lot of feel-good hoots. Also be prepared for audience participation, he loves that stuff whether it’s entertaining with someone who can hold their own, or makes your skin crawl sympathetically… The Junction has pulled off a bit of a coup nabbing him – don’t miss out.
e Win tickets to see On Man, Two Guvnors THE National Theatre’s award-winning comedy One Man, Two Guvnors has now been seen by over 1 million people worldwide. Now booking to March 2014, this internationally acclaimed smash-hit is a glorious celebration of British comedy – a unique, laugh-out-loud mix of satire, songs, slapstick and glittering one-liners. Owain Arthur returns to the role as Francis Henshall, following a sell-out international tour. Fired from his skifﬂe band, Francis Henshall becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe. But Roscoe is really Rachel, posing as her own dead brother – who’s been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers. Francis spots the chance of an extra meal ticket and takes a job with one Stanley Stubbers – but to prevent discovery, he must keep his two guvnors apart. Simple. Directed by Nick Hytner and written by Richard Bean, the show is based on The
Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, with songs by Grant Olding. Visit www.onemantwoguvnors.com to ﬁnd out more. What’s On has FIVE pairs of tickets to give away to see this incredible show, valid Monday -Thursday evenings and Wednesday matinees until January 13 (excluding the week of December 23). To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following question: Which actor is starring as Francis Henshall? Send your answer, together with your name, address and daytime phone number: Guvnors Competition, PO Box 268, Cambridge CB24 6HF, to arrive no later than Thursday, November 21. Alternatively, you can email the answer, together with your details to competitions@cambridge-news. co.uk. Please put “Guvnors competition” in the subject box.
Interview with Public Service Broadcasting ahead of Cambridge gig