In The Belly co-presenter and Sunset Cinema Club funkaholic bassist, Greg Haines, has been snapped up by Speech Fewapy Records to release his debut solo EP under the guise of Greg Bird & Flamingo Flame. Available to download for free from www.speechfewapy.com, ‘Shruburbia’ is seven tracks of Eighties Goth and Funk influenced majesty which Greg himself claims to dawning of the ‘Gothic Groove’ genre. The Blue Whale Blog caught up with him to find out more about the Shruburban bliss…..
‘Wonderland’ by Greg Bird & Flamingo Flame from Shruburbia
‘Shruburbia’? where’s the title come from?
“I’ve got a song, that I haven’t recorded yet, called ‘Suburban Dog’ where I’m fantasising about being a middle-class family’s dog lying around and eating all day with no worries, so it’s kind of an extension of that. And ‘shrubbery’ is big theme in the lyrics on this EP, especially as I use the word ‘leaves’ in about three different choruses.
“But it was actually Eve (Greg’s girlfriend) who named the EP, I threw a bunch of words at her to see what she could come up with and that one stuck.”
You recently moved from Redditch to Moseley – has that ‘culture shock’ had any bearing on the writing of the tunes? It obviously played a big part in recording as you did it all under your Moseley staircase.
“It definitely influences my music, as it influences my dreams, which are what most of these songs are based on. But I will have to correct you there, as I’ve been living in Selly Park for over five years…And also, Redditch is very green; I’m sure I read somehwere that there is a higher tree:square mile ratio there than any other town in the UK. So, neeargh!… But yeah, I do love my new surroundings in Moseley, I live in a really sleepy / retirement home area and I just love it.”
When did you know you were going to create the EP? Before Sunset Cinema Club went on a hiatus?
“My solo project has been in the works as long as SCC were around, but I never got around to it. I think some people even got sick of me talking about it when at one point it seemed like it’d never happen. It was like a personal Chinese Democracy for me and a few mates really. I think both SCC’s hiatus, and the gradual re-emergence of chorus pedals in new / current music is what drove me to sort it out once and for all, ’cause I can’t let that revival pass without getting involved myself!”
Shruburbia seems quite conceptual as an EP, is that the case? Did you have an intentional sonic target? SCC seemed to throw the kitchen sink into every song, was this an intentional fixed direction?
“Nearly everything I write is conceptual, there’s always a vibe or atmosphere or even just a beat that I want to use before I’ve got anything resembling a song. With SCC a lot of stuff came from jams, but you could probably tell which ones happened in my head before the rehearsal room… Like ‘Breast Strokes’ and ‘Hardcore’. I used to imagine this cartoon version of myself, and a sitiuation, and then write around that like some weird post-hardcore musical.
“But my solo songs mainly, lyrically speaking come from dreams and fantasies and stuff like that. I feel like I can get a lot more weird and personal on my own now, as I’m not putting anyone on the spot except for myself.”
Will you continue to explore the Gothic Shooegaze sound on future EPs? Or do you plan to change direction with every release?
‘Gothic Groove’ is the sub-genre I’m claiming as my own at the moment. I’ve always wanted to go more Goth and I’ve always wanted to go more Eighties Soul / Disco…Both sounds are what I grew up with so I’m always drawn to them. But there was only so far I could take that in SCC because I didn’t want to inflict those styles on Dom and John! And I didn’t want to turn it into “my” band.
“Part of the reason it took me so long to get this done is because I couldn’t settle on which direction – Goth or Funk. Then it became screamingly obvious that it would cool to try and do both sounds at the same time. The Cure did it with ‘Lullaby’ and Killing Joke did it with ‘Love Like Blood’, so it’s not that original, but yeah, my personal challenge is try and push those extremes as far as I can without things getting too muddled or novelty sounding.
“So there will be more whiteboy-funk, and more chorus pedals, more Eighties Madonna beats, and more dream-pop…And on the next EP some New Jack Swing. After that I want to mix Bauhaus with Soul II Soul.”
How did the release with Speech Fewapy come to fruition? I take it you’ll release more stuff with them?
“I’m a big fan of Bryn Bowen/The Shalfonts – who I’ll be playing bass for at Island Bar on June 11th, and I love how they give their stuff away for free. I think as long as you’re still recording stuff in your bedroom and not paying for it then you can’t really charge people for it. I also hate it when bands come out of nowhere and you find out they only got together like a year ago; I can only imagine them as label-projects then. So I had this idea to build up a back catalogue of songs and at the same time get as many people into them as possible by giving them away as I went along.
“And then I saw how The Traps have been releasing their singles and EP’s through their Speech Fewapy site, and the presentation and effort they put into that label is just really inspiring…So I emailed them asking how they went about it…And then I was mega chuffed when they offered to do it for me!
“The amount of enthusiasm they’ve had for this so far has blown me away. All the comps and special events they’ve held and are still planning… I imagine this is better than being on a major label in a lot of ways!
“So yeah, I will be doing more stuff with them, at least another two EP’s this year and probably loads more in the future.”
How did it feel taking to the stage as a solo artist for the first time? Did you feel ‘naked’?
“I was dreading it for a while, even to the point where I thought it would put me off pursuing the solo thing altogether like it has done in the past. But it was a lot easier than I thought it’d be. I did rehearse a lot so that helped. And stickers on the keys…And masks do wonders for onstage confidence too, definitely a fixture for future gigs.
“And next time I’ll have Danny Rowe from 35 Seconds jamming on guitar, so there’ll be someone else to take some of the slack heh heh.”