In the spotlight - Ipswich rockers Blacktop Harrison
Entertainments writer WAYNE SAVAGE questions drummer Clive Richardson
The band: “Musicians and friends Ian [Crow, on guitar] and Chewy [vocals] conceived the blueprint for the band during the end of 2007. Close friend, music producer and guitarist Gareth [Patch] was persuaded to join on bass guitar and backing vocal duties. With me on board the band now includes three music producers and four experienced songwriters.”
Their sound: “It reflects a range of influences from metal, through stoner rock, progressive rock and psychedelic-era Beatles to experimental soundscapes.
“The band’s live set focuses mainly on heavy down-tuned guitar grooves which lay the foundations for vitriolic, yet melodic vocal hooks, often reinforced with three-part harmony, utilising dynamic concise arrangements.
“In addition to our powerful live sound, the albums feature more reflective, acoustic guitar tracks; giving us the opportunity to broaden our sound palette with the use of more unusual instrumentation such as a home-made signal generator, customised percussion, Melodica, Theremin and experimental digital sound design.”
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The difference between their albums and gigs: “I suppose you could say we’re two bands, the recording and the live band. We don’t really do any acoustic stuff live or the sound design stuff. You’d need to listen to a whole album to get the flavour of the band.
“We’re all into the production side and love messing about with home-made synths and bits and pieces. Some of the percussion stuff on the new album is home-made percussion, shakers and stuff.
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“[Live] we don’t use any machines or anything, it’s just four guys playing.”
Joining a successful band: “I joined about September 2010; I knew Chewy from a few years back when I did music therapy for people with learning disabilities; he was one of the carers at one of the resource centres. We were friends on Myspace and the guys in the band had a page.
“When they did their second album I sent Chewy a message that said ‘Love the new tracks. If you ever find yourself without a drummer bare me in mind’ and that kind of planted the seed. Their drummer [Joel] left for university, I went along, had a jam and we got on really well.
“I joined about three quarters of the way through the final recordings of the latest album Adjust Your Radar. All the rocky stuff is Joel; the acoustic stuff is me because they’d been rehearsing the rocky stuff.”
“Joel’s back in Ipswich now. I said to the guys ‘Oh no you’re not going to get Joel back’,” he laughs.
On gigging: “We don’t gig as often as we’d like to but we’re looking at playing some summer festivals. There are not that many venues that do original stuff; we’re purely original; we don’t touch covers.
“We’ve all been through having deals, management, labels, touring and all the rest of it; we’ve all been there and done it. We love creating and making music, that’s what the band’s all about. At the end of the day, we’re happy to play to half a dozen people; if they are into the band and love what we’re doing then that’s just a bonus.”
Their albums: “All three [Blacktop Harrison, No Direction, Semaphore and Adjust Your Radar] were recorded at Amblin’ Man Recording Studio in Otley. They can be bought at gigs and the new album is also available from cdbaby.com and downloadable via major digital distribution sites worldwide.”