One of the things about writing a music blog is that you get sent a lot of email. This is great because we love discovering new music, but it can also be a little tricky as there is no way we can listen to everything we get sent (for most of us this is a hobby and we need to find a balance with our day jobs/lives). This is not a whinge though, what we’re getting to is that sometimes you randomly stumble on an artist who you’ve never heard of before. Ian Roland is one of those artists that we’re very they got in contact with us as the Helicopter EP has become a firm favourite. The gentle acoustic sounds, rich warm harmonies and folk storytelling have stood up to repeat listens and we look forward to hearing more in the future.
Good day Ian, congratulations on the release of the Helicopter EP, are you pleased with it?
I am very pleased with it. I recorded the EP at Cobbs Mill Studio, Sayer’s Common with engineer Jake Skinner co-producing with me. As well as the brilliant engineering skills of Jake, I had a fantastically talented rhythm section: Lee Bridges on drums and Scott Gentry on bass. Lee used his authentic 1960’s drum kit on the recording and Scott brought along his double bass to provide a super tight driving force for the songs.
Are these six relatively new songs or have you been living with them a while?
Yes, they are relatively new. I have written all the songs on the EP in the last 10 months or so.
What was the toughest to record? Why?
All the tracks went down very smoothly really. I had demoed the parts for the tracks at home in quite a bit of detail so I knew what I wanted to get recorded in the studio. The rhythm sections on each track were the unknown but Lee and Scott are such great players, it all came together quickly and easily.
Putting down backing vocals for ‘Shooting Star’ was done on the fly as well. We came away with something reminiscent of Burt Bacharach’s ‘South American Getaway’, used in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, one of my favourite films, which was a fantastic surprise and bonus!
Annie makes a few appearances in the songs on this EP – who is this mystery lady?
Annie’s a high wire trapeze artist. I wrote a trilogy of songs centered around her on the EP: ‘Hate’, ‘Got You, Annie’, ‘Shooting Star’. She is someone exploited in her work environment but realizes there’s a way out when, after a near-death experience, she discovers a new way of seeing things…and love! She’s a survivor and an embodiment of hope.
Tell us a little of the musical background of Ian Roland.
I started learning guitar in my early teens and I played in bands at College. After University I worked as a “go-for” at Parkgate Recording Studios in Catsfield, East Sussex and, as well as chauffeuring Ian McCulloch’s band around in my battered Ford Fiesta during their recording sessions there, I met producer and composer, Tim Cross. Tim had been musical director and keyboard player for Mike Oldfield,mikeoldfieldofficial.com, on his Five Miles out tour and had co-written ‘Family Man’ with Oldfield. He was also keyboard player for TV Smith’s punk band The Adverts, and was a session player for Doll By Boll, Skids, Fleetwood Mac amongst others.
Tim was a fantastic producer and musician. I spent over 20 years learning from him and together we wrote a wide range of production music for JW Media Music, www.jwmediamusic.com, and other publishing companies. During that time I also got to play guitars, mandolin and do backing vocal parts on some of TV Smith’s www.tvsmith.com solo albums, namely ‘March of the Giants’, ‘In the Arms of My Enemy’, ‘Not a Bad Day’, as well as for blues singer Dana Gillespie’s, www.dana-gillespie.com, various Indian Bhajan albums, all of which Tim produced.
Having had a few years break, I am now back out again playing live the new material I have written over the last year or so.
We’ve seen you play live and the distinctive 12 string acoustic brings a great sound – how did you find your way to that particular instrument?
I play a Simon & Patrick 12 string guitar. It’s a Canadian make and I really love the instrument. I also play six string guitars and mandolin but I find the 12 string can combine the sounds of both these instruments in a unique way. About ten years ago, I was looking for a new guitar and I stumbled upon the 12 string I have now. It’s the main instrument I currently write and perform with.
The sound of a 12 string is so strongly attached to the west coast sound of bands such as the Byrds – is this something a musician is conscious of when using the instrument?
I wouldn’t say I consciously picked up the 12 string because it was a West Coast sounding instrument, although I am a fan of that sound. Bowie played a 12 string, as does Mike Scott of The Waterboys. My main draw to the 12 string I have now was that it seemed to capture together the sounds of my mandolin and six string guitars. When it’s picked, it can produce interesting and unpredictable results as well!
How would you describe your music?
I guess my music is rooted in folk-rock. I’m gigging solo at the moment so I am ‘singer-songwriter’ and ‘acoustic’ as well.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Fleet Foxes, Midlake, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, Passenger.
You can choose the 3 headliners for this year’s Glastonbury, who would they be & why?
The following acts have influenced and inspired me so much. They are fantasy choices of music and would be:
- The Kinks – reformed, playing anything!
- Neil Young – playing his ‘Harvest’ album.
- The Waterboys – all the original band members playing tracks from their Big Music era circa their second album ‘A Pagan Place’.
Ian Roland – Links
EP stream https://soundcloud.com/ianroland
Gig listings http://www.reverbnation.com/ianroland
Facebook Band Page www.facebook.com/ianrolandband
Amazing Tunes: http://ianroland.amazingtunes.com/