In Search of...: The (not so) Secret Diary of a Band

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2012: year of the Urusen!

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a wonderful festive period. We all took some time off from the band (and some of us got some time off work too!) so I personally am feeling rather refreshed going into the new year. Others, like Jay, have been working the whole time as there is lots of work to pick up over Christmas for musicians, so him less so!

Anyway, a new year brings new news and new additions to the blog. The last Urusen action of 2011 was going back to Real World in December to do the final tweaks on the tracks that will feature on our album. This is now - touch wood - done. We have some boring housekeeping to do, along with an order and a title (again, almost all done) and then we're good to go for starting the wheels turning on getting our little beauty out into the world.

However, this post isn't going to be about us. One thing I was very keen to do with the blog, was to get the input and opinions of some of the wonderful people we cross paths on this 'wild old ride'. As followers of the blog will know, 60% of the band did an in store at an independent record shop in Warminster called Raves to the Grave. We were invited by Reuben, who works there, as well as being in a rather good band himself, and being a dad to a beautiful baby daughter! Who better to talk about the modern realities of the industry and of being in a band right?!

Port Erin. Good hair all round.

Reuben and his band are currently mixing their new album, so over the course of a few emails, we discussed the resurgence of vinyl, the Christmas #1, and the dangers of having family members in the same band...

 "My family has made me even more dedicated to my music. I'm not just wanting to make for myself any more."

Hi Reuben. An independent record shop in Warminster, not the most obvious place to have a record shop. How's business?

We sold a ridiculous amount of the Military Wives single leading up to Christmas! Business is good; our Warminster shop is the vinyl off-shoot from our main shop in Frome. It opened two years ago and is now beginning to establish itself as one of the South West's leading vinyl stockists. People have been know to travel from as far away as London and Cardiff to hunt for treasures down stairs.

The future of HMV is being heavily speculated over once again amid concerns it is unlikely to exist for long beyond Christmas. Do you sympathise or do you see it as a good thing?

It will be sad if all HMV's go, they have been a huge part of the industry for nearly 100 years. To not have a reliable, chart high-street retailer will be a blow and further alienate youngsters from physical formats and the idea of going to a record shop.

Quite. When you walk into your shop, the 1st thing we noticed is that you have A LOT of 'physicals', namely vinyl. Does it have a future as a format and if so, why?

Vinyl is becoming a bit 'trendy'. BBC 6 championing vinyl only days on New Year's day etc. Vinyl sales this year alone have seen a 40% increase from last year . I think with great concepts from groups like Record Store Day and bands who want to still want produce a record as a physical piece of art it could see a bit of a return.

"I think music has to become respected again as a true art form..."

You also have a band called Port Erin who recently recorded in the Wood Room at Real World (like us!). Tell us a bit about the band. What's your take on being a musician in 2011?

We have been together since 2007. Have played all over the U.K., done the usual slog. We take inspiration from lots of different artists. I hate the age old question, but I guess we're (here we go...) Progressive-Pop / New Wave / Psychedelic Jazz-Rock. Most of this album was written by sifting through recordings of lengthy improvised jams and pulling out the best bits and creating songs around them. 

When we played our in-store with you, we also got to meet your beautiful baby daughter Melody - and even signed a vinyl for her! Day job, band, fiancée and daughter - must be quite a balancing act?

Guess so. But since starting the band I've always used diaries (Moleskine!)so I like to think I / we are fairly well organised! My family has made me even more dedicated to my music. I'm not just wanting to make for myself any more.

With your record shop hat on, how/where do you see the industry changing/moving in the next few years?

Hmmm. I think the second hand vinyl industry will continue to grow, as with new releases on vinyl. I think music has to become respected again as a true art form for there to be some shift. Music is almost a gadget or accessory now and, to most, freely accessible (Torrent sites etc). I'd like to take this moment to say I've never downloaded music - legally or illegally! The way people listen to music is very different now. Very rarely do people sit down and listen to an album, it's more a collection of one's favourite tracks in a playlist. In a sense, the album has died. Hopefully there will be a counter-culture against this and the album format will continue to grow.

And as the singer in a band (same question)?

Hmmm. There's so much competition. I think it's the same as ever for artists, hard work and a pinch of luck.
Finally, you're in a band with your brother. We've got cousins in ours. What's your take on mixing family and music?!

It's good. You can argue your musical point, smash each other in the face, steal cigarettes and not feel guilty.

For more info about the record shops where Reuben works, visit their website, or better yet, visit one of the shops. To hear some music by his band, Port Erin, go here.