Ipswich: Ex-Echobelly duo bring new act Calm of Zero to The Rep

“Oh God yeah, rock ‘n’ roll is in my blood, I couldn’t just do acoustic for ever,” laughs ex-Echobelly singer Sonya Madan as we chat exclusively about her newest venture. “It [rocking out] was wonderful and I’m sure it will be in the future, there’s magic in both elements, it’s like the inhale and the exhale.”

She and Glenn Johansson are looking forward to their appearance at The Rep, Ipswich, tonight in their latest incarnation - Calm of Zero.

“Glenn and I started Echobelly and we kind of had our day,” she laughs, “in the Britpop era and everybody went their kind of separate ways. Glenn and I carried on writing and thought rather than try to resurrect Echobelly to do something brand new.”

Described as both an idea yet to fully evolve and a star-crossed love-child born out of the ashes of their former lives, audiences can expect tracks from the EPs Acoustic Sessions 1 and 2, plus a few Echobelly numbers.

Just don’t expect a full revival of one of Britpop’s best bands.

“It’s an acoustic gig, just Glenn and I, one guitar will travel, very pared down; it’s not an echobelly gig,” she laughs.

Echobelly were very loud, they were even banned from a few venues for being too loud.

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“The fans might be the first to admit that after half-an-hour of this full-on noise, no matter how much you’re into the band it gets almost tiring just keeping up with it; it was a wall of sound and there was a lot of sweat going on. There was an element that was so celebratory and very British, a honing in of identity.”

There’ll be nothing in their set to get them banned this time.

“I hope not,” Sonya roars with laughter. “Not in terms of sound levels anyway.”

Both are enjoying trying something new.

“The expectations of the sound and what you’re trying to create aren’t there, so it does free you up as an artist,” she says, adding the way they collaborate hasn’t changed; Glenn continues to write the music and her the lyrics.

“When you’re a band everybody’s influence has to be included because it’s the combination of everybody, even though you write the song. Once you bring it into a studio and have the same drummer and bass player on the tracks they’ll bring their own energy.

“Because it’s only Glenn and I and we have the freedom to work with who we want at the moment, the ability to perhaps not have to worry about the pop angle or the more commercial angle and really just explore soundscapes in a purer way.”

Will Echobelly fans enjoy this new-ish direction?

“Some will, some won’t,” she laughs. “People expecting us to be making Britpop music now... they will be disappointed, but there is still that element I think people liked about Echobelly; the exuberance, the energy, that sort of sparkle.

“The Calm of Zero songs, even though they’re acoustic sessions, some of them still have that element of melody at its best and lyrics that are a little bit more poignant perhaps. Perhaps the Echobelly fans will’ve grown up a little bit as well, grown with us,” she laughs again.

There was always an element of what they’re doing now on single B-sides and the giveaways collected by the more obsessive fans, who Sonya says will get the natural progression.

There are plans to add more members and release a full album.

“We’re always keeping an eye out but there were a lot of problems with Echobelly, it kind of fell apart – there was a lot of drugs, a lot of alcohol and a suicide and a lot of court cases,” she sighs.

“It was a rock ‘n’ roll story I suppose, but it was very kind of painful to go through it; it’s really important to get the right people together. Actually, in retrospect, I wouldn’t have had it any other way because at least it wasn’t boring.”

Calm of Zero play The Rep as part of Furry Live. For more entertainment and events news follow me on Twitter @WhatsonWayne

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