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Saturday, 16 April 2016

The S4L Interview: Vinny Peculiar

I'm very excited to be able to have the opportunity of interviewing Vinny Peculiar and am thankful for the time he laid aside to do it. There's lots of links throughout so please click on them to listen to Vinny Peculiar's musical choices etc. All photos on here are via Vinny Peculiar's website/fb page (links are at the bottom of the piece)

I read an interview of his for Avaliveradio from 2014 that had this glowing introduction, as I don't think I could better it myself I think I'll borrow it!

"Vinny Peculiar can be best described as one of British pop music’s most cherished hidden treasures. A singer songwriter with a difference, a poet and an observer of the everyday minute, a creator of poignant vignettes, mini stories and always intelligent observational and insightful. His work has a historical contest and often embraces childhood memories’, he makes absurdist observational thinking the norm whilst standing ordinary life on its head. This is the guy who’ll be found by the masses in one hundred years time and he’ll be hailed as a genius."

S4L: You are termed on your website as a Poet and Musician, what one comes first in your mind or are they interchangeable? 
VP: I think they are interchangeable up to a point; some songs started life as poems, and I use poems in the live set too to break things up a bit. If I had to choose I guess I’m a musician first but one that enjoys writing words too…hmmm that sounded way too wordy!

S4L: One of the things that's impressed me with some of the music I've listened to of yours is there's a certain Englishness to it that reminds me of great songwriters like Ray Davies (I hope that doesn't offend you in any way). Have British bands today lost the art of writing about where they come from? I mean, when you listen to some of the "big groups" you hardly guess that they hail from the likes of London, Birmingham, Sheffield etc  
VP: I love Ray Davies yes a proper songwriting craftsman and storyteller. I’m hardly in the same league but sweet of you to make a comparison. More bands form at University or at Music Colleges in areas they didn’t grow up in nowadays; perhaps this is one reason why regional identity is less evident? Sleaford Mods are kind of regional, but I’m not sure if two old blokes with a computer and an auto cue really count as a new band ha!

S4L: Over the years you have made and released a lot of music. Do you look back at any of the early stuff now and wonder how you got to where you are today or do you think you have remained quite consistent in the work you have released?  
VP: All you can do is do what you do. No matter who you are there will be pitfalls, shortcomings, stuff you don’t like as much now as you did then, stuff you like better now than at the time of release. I’m kind of addicted to making records, as in making a record of things, it’s a way of marking time and place, gives a sense of completion. It’s a tangible thing, something to hang your hat on before you collect your coat. I like to think my songwriting is improving with age, but for me its never just about the writing, the right collaboration is crucial, the right players and the right producer.  

S4L: Can you remember back to the first time you ever heard a song of yours on the radio? Was there a sense of achievement or was getting the record out and sharing what you wanted to say in the song the important thing? 
VP: When Mark Radcliff first played Jesus Stole My Girlfriend after Ironing the Soul came out that felt pretty cool. He kind of got it, which is always a bonus. The satisfaction of hearing your stuff coming back at you is great, and hearing peoples reactions. I’m hoping Silver Meadows picks up some wider airplay; Tom Robinson has started the ball rolling so fingers crossed.

S4L: What about performing live? Obviously you have done so with a band and as a Poet, what's your process of getting ready to do both types of shows? How do you work out what you are going to do, ie will it be just the new stuff or will it be a mixture containing favorites that people will know?  
VP: I’m planning on doing some Silver Meadows band shows where we play the entire album as a forerunner to the musical stage play currently in development. `We are at the very beginnings, looking at production logistics and narrative but its really exciting. So unless in a stage musical setting we will do other stuff too after the Silver Meadows band set. I’m also doing lots of duo gigs with keyboard wiz Rob Steadman over the summer, we tend to play smaller places, house concerts, the occasional church, the VP website has details…

S4L: You have a new album due out in May, Silver Meadows – [Fables from the Institution]. Can you tell us a little about it and the inspirations behind some of the songs? I was very impressed by your latest video Hospital Wing. You are writing about something that is quite a difficult issue and the video portrays a real sense of humaness of the patients who just want to go and say goodbye to a friend.   
VP: Silver Meadows is a concept album set in a fictitious 1980s long stay Institution. I worked in mental health/learning disabilities hospitals; my brother was treated in a psychiatric hospital. These experiences helped shaped the record but not exclusively. The songs are character driven, a loving couple separated by the community care act, an anxious patient planning his move on, a terminally ill young man awaiting his end, a pretty young psychologist on the precipice of discovering the hidden abilities of a young man with locked in syndrome, songs about running away from the institution, songs about returning to the institution. David Marsden produced the album, he did an amazing job, and we’re both really pleased with it. The artwork too was a labour of love by Manchester Photographer Paul Cliff. We shot the video for Hospital Wing [a song about the death of an inmate] mostly on first takes with a amazing group of actors in Bream, Gloucestershire [thank you all for embracing and enhancing] – it was directed by Andy Squiff who’s done other stuff with me namely ‘Pop Music Football & Girls’ & ‘English Village’. Andy was the energy in the direction adding a comedic twist to the storyline with the spiking of the orderlies tea and resulting trip off ward to pay their respects. It was a lovely affectionate representation so glad you liked it…

S4L: Will you be looking to do some live dates to promote the album at all?  
VP: Yes very much so. We are playing Silver Meadows band shows in September and the musical stage play is due early 2017. Dates and details are on the website.

S4L: A question I like to ask all who are invited to do an interview is what is on your Soundtrack4Life

VP: Albums – I’ve picked my teenage faves from way back!

Favourite Songs that thrill repeatedly

For More Information regarding Tour Dates, Music and other things Vinny Peculiar related go to these places:

Vinny Peculiar has some live shows coming up in May and July. Check Here for more details.
For music from Vinny Peculiar Check Here.
Also check out the You Tube Channel.

And Last But Not Least
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