Search results for 'Public Service Broadcasting'

Public Service Broadcasting – “Progress”

13 Mar

After the mega success of 2015’s The Race for Space, those magnificent denizens of chords and cords, Public Service Broadcasting have returned with a brand new single and much teasing about a new album.

All is not quite as it was however, evolution and (dare we say it) progress continues within and the duo is now a trio. Having been involved for sometime as a multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire, Mr JF Abraham (erstwhile of the Professor Penguin parish) is now a fully paid-up member of the band.

“Progress” is also the first single* from the band to feature a guest vocal, with Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell providing a swirling vocal hook that is so subtly infectious you’ll find yourself singing it absent-mindedly in the shower. With its trademark PSB guitar lines and atmospheric electronic sound, it is everything you’d want from the band with a little added something. It’s subject matter however is still up for debate.

With samples about the coming of machines in factories and ‘Why I believe in progress’ the title of a Henry Ford essay, we could assume it (and the forthcoming album) is about the modernisation of manufacturing, industry, the dawning of the age of mass-production and the beginnings of modern capitalism.

J Willgoose Esq is saying nothing though, not yet anyway so we’ll have to wait and see. Given that the band is about celebrating human achievement, it’s interesting (and fun) to ponder on what is in store. Especially as they have just announced a show at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, the press release for which notes cryptically that it is ”a room steeped in rock music history and of great relevance to the new record…” As a venue that historically was at the heart of London’s Irish community (that originally came over during the industrial revolution) that played such a role in the development and expansion of London itself, perhaps the album will be about our nation’s capitol itself?

Who knows? We can’t wait to find out though.

*The Race for Space’s ”Valentina” featured vocals from The Smoke Fairies but wasn’t released as a single so technically this is accurate.

”Progress” is out now and available to stream or download here.”

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Public Service Broadcasting – “Gagarin” (video)

19 Nov

PSB Gagarin

They did tell us that they would be doing something a little different and now, having already revealed that album number two would be all about space, Public Service Broadcasting have returned and delivered on that promise, in spades.

When we spoke to Mr J. Willgoose, Esq back in January as part of our Blogathon, he gave us a little insight into the, at that time unnamed, “Gagarin”. ”What I will say is that it’s very incongruous, he told us, ”deliberately so. It doesn’t match the subject matter in the way that you’d think it would. But that is the point, for me. I think we need to be brave in the way we develop things from here”.

While Mrs Willgoose, esq may have suggested it was a bit ‘cheesy’, we are of the mind that the deliciously groovy and uptempo beat and sensibility of “Gagarin” is actually a superbly uplifting piece of electronic-funk-pop. It is still distinctly PSB, and not just because of the sample use, with little Willgoose signatures in there (call backs to “Signal 30”for example) as well as (it sounds to us) as a little Muppet Show reference thrown in too.

As for the bravery that Mr J spoke of, clearly it extends to cutting shapes as the video (which you can watch below) features the pair (yes, even Wrigglesworth), donning their custom PSB space suits, and busting some moves on the dancefloor. Ok, so it might not actually be them doing the dancing, but to paraphrase a famous TV poster, we want to believe.

Regardless, it is a great video and a cracking tune.

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Blogathon: Inform – Educate – Excite Us With Tidbits About New Material: Public Service Broadcasting Interview

31 Jan

PSB Interview

If you’ve been wondering where we’ve been for the last hour or so of the Blogathon, don’t worry, we haven’t sacked it off in favour of falling asleep on the sofa with Bargain Hunt on in the background. We’ve actually been chatting away with one of our favourite people and all round good egg, Mr. J. Willgoose, Esq or the wonderful Public Service Broadcasting

Unusually for PSB, Mr. J. was not out and about touring the country or beyond so he vey kindly offered to give up some of his writing time to chat to us about the year he has just had and what he has planned for the future, all in support of Blogathon.

Told you he was a good egg. Here’s the chat we just had.

Alphabet Bands: Mr J. How are you Sir?

J. Willgoose, Esq: Very well thanks

Jolly good, and where in the world are you at the moment?

I am in my kitchen, which is something of a novelty

I expect it is given the amount of touring you did last year. How does it feel to be home?

Very nice, thanks! We’re gearing up for our month in America but it’s been nice to spend a bit of time at home for a change

You’ve been to the States before yes? How was it? Suitably exciting that you are heading back I see.

Yes, we went over for CMJ in October. We played 3 shows, one of which wasn’t much fun, one of which was chaotic but fun, and one of which was good fun and seen by some good people.. so it was a good mix.

So pretty much the Goldilocks experience then? Are you over for SXSW this time or is this a full on PSB tour?

Well, I should say it’s all dependent on getting visas, which with a shady character like Wriggles on board is not going to be plain sailing. I’m not even sure his family know his first name. But yes we’re doing a west coast run, Chicago, Toronto, then east coast and then down to Texas via Georgia.
I am fully expecting SXSW to be full of lots of big time charlies, but hopefully there’ll be some nice people there. I think there’s an attitude amongst certain bands that if you’re playing there, you’re kind of a big deal, which is an attitude we run a million miles from. But it should still be an interesting one

Yes, you do a very nice line is self-depreciation which has been evident in live shows before. I saw that your stage set-up expanded towards the end of last year. Are you tempted to go even bigger for America? They don’t do ‘small’ over there really.

Tempted, yes, but we’re starting from square one over there so on a practical level there just wouldn’t be room for it. And on an even more practical level, we can’t afford to ship it all out there! It’s going to be a bit of a step back in time for us though to early last year when we were on the Signal 30 tour, pre-album, and being provided with fitted (elasticated) bedsheets to use as projector screens. Although I do expect American venues to be run a lot better than some of the ones over here!

Given the number of shows you did last year, you must have seen practically every small to medium sized venue in the UK! Aside from Norwich (of course) were there any particular standouts?

Ha – it’s quite hard to remember them all to be honest! My other half is always telling me I should keep a diary, which I always agree with and then always fail to. Off the very top of my head though we loved the crowds and the venue down in Exeter, the Phoenix… and the Railway in Winchester was a good old-fashioned sweatbox to start the year off.

Oh and the show we did at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal was good fun – a nice local crew there, and it’s where we met our soundman Rob (better known as Bobby Goldenears), so it’s full of fond memories for us all

How about the show with New Order? Was it a surprise to be asked to play with them?

If you’re talking overall highlights.. well, the above, plus our show at The Forum, plus supporting New Order & the Manics… plus Glastonbury… they were all pretty special. And yes, it’s always a surprise being asked to play with a band you have that much respect for. It’s pretty much the best feeling I think you can have, in any profession – peer validation, in a way. If people who you respect for what they do seem to feel the same way about you then it is immensely satisfying. Plus more than a little odd!

Speaking of odd… How did the BBC F1 link come about? It looked amazing and I must confess, I was very pleased and proud to see you guys doing it. How did you feel when you were asked and then when you saw it back?

Ha, thanks.. It just came up as quite a late possibility towards the start of our November tour. I think the guys behind the video had thought about booking deadmaus, but that wasn’t happening, so we were naturally second in the queue! I have to be honest, as nice as everyone on the shoot was and as amazing exposure as it was, it is incredibly boring playing the same minute and a half of a song for 7 hours or so, so by the time we’d finished filming I was ready never to hear it again. Then we were driving back from our show in the Netherlands that Sunday and started to see Twitter going bonkers, and that’s when it kind of hit us. I think it’s very easy to get used to a certain level of exposure and start taking it for granted, or just to get wrapped up in the detail (as per the filming) and forget how ridiculous, and great, the last year has been, on many levels.

Oh and I can’t comment on that F1 video without thanking the guys at Intro and the beeb who actually edited the song – it wasn’t our work to put the samples on it, they did all the hard stuff and we just moaned about standing around in corduroy all day!

Wriggles doesn’t do stairs any more, too – he’s gone a bit Mariah on us

Hahaha. When he starts asking for all the brown M&M’s to be taken out, you know it’s time to get Wriggles III in…

Ha. Yeah, we’re keeping tabs on the situation..

I’m glad you mentioned the Netherlands (as well as your stellar 2013) as you took us all by surprise with the release of the two Elfstedentocht tunes. How much fun was that to do?

It was nice, actually – great to do something on a bit of a tangent. I think most people appreciated that we were keen to explore other areas and broaden the net a bit, which was good. I was slightly worried that people would think we’d gone totally bonkers. It didn’t stop several people missing the point entirely (the Guardian’s review of our Forum show being a prime example) but it was just good to get some new material into the live set.

Hmmm, the Guardian has a habit of missing the point when it comes to you, in my opinion, but they are quite nice with it I suppose…

Yeah, they’ve said some nice things, but quite a few different people write for them so you’re bound to get a bit of a mixed bag of opinions there

Very true. I can only blame myself sadly… Ok, new material.
I know I cannot ask what it is but how is it going? Are you working on a new album?

Ha. I have trained you well sir! And I am going to answer the second question first, and with a question of my own. If I said it was likely to be c.30 minutes long and 7-8 tracks, what would you say that was?
An EP? An album? A mini-album?

EP I would say. Though others may disagree.

I’d say mini-album. It’s not going to fit on a 10″, which instantly means it’s not an EP in my eyes
Although The War Room was a 12″.. so it’s hard to say

Yeah, I could be persuaded actually. 8 tracks too. Bit long for an EP

Maybe 7
Possibly 9
Actually no
It’s 7 or 8

So, some tracks then…

Yes. That much we know.
And I have demo’d about 4 of them now to a reasonable level, and started on the 5th today. It is a tough process as you’re continually battling against self-doubt, procrastination, self-loathing and other melodramatic emotions.. but I think I’m doing alright so far.

Aside from the inner demons, how has the process been? Have you found it easier to get samples? The BBC reduced their rate after the F1 appearance?

I’ve actually been working on this already for over a year – I think the first email I sent was just as I was finishing the album last January, and the BFI have again come up with the goods on a quite spectacular scale. I’ve also got some other sources on the go, so I’ve definitely got enough material, and it covers what I hoped it would. Now the challenge is to meld the material to the ideas I’ve been carrying in my head for the past year or so and tie the whole thing together so that it makes sense. I would say that the most likely first single is a bit of a departure. I played it to the Mrs the other day and she didn’t like it as she said it was too cheesy. She’s been wrong before though!

Hahahahaha. You’re not going all Euro Pop Guetta on us are you Sir? Pitbull on guest vocals?

Definitely not. It’s just quite.. er.. different, in terms of instrumentation. I think. I mean it might end up getting binned anyway, so I shouldn’t say too much. I think it’s good though.

What I will say is that it’s very incongruous.. deliberately so. It doesn’t match the subject matter in the way that you’d think it would. But that is the point, for me. I think we need to be brave in the way we develop things from here.

Sounds intriguing and quite exciting. Bravery is a good thing in music and should be applauded. Will there be other surprises? Any more foreign language tracks like Elfstedentocht?

There will be foreign language on some of it, but it’ll be interspersed with translations and other English commentary, I think. Unless I find something really good between now and later in the year!

Oooh, so multiple languages on one song then? Is that what you mean?

If by multiple you mean two, then yes!

Hahaha. I think that counts, maths was never my strong point…
So, any news on release times? Or is it far too early to be talking about that?

It’s not if you ask my management! We’re already well into 2015 in their eyes. I try to be a bit more realistic… but I hope there will at least be a single before the end of the year, if not the full thing proper.

Ahhh, so after a storming and prolific 2013, this year could be relatively quiet. Just a thousand gigs…

Ha, yes. We’ve still got a very full calendar – I’ve had to fight to reclaim some of it for writing too. Most of the focus for the first half of the year is on the US & Europe, with festivals and a small UK tour for later in the year.

Yes, I imagine writing on tour must be extremely difficult. Will we see you in Norwich before the year is out perhaps?

I’m not sure, sir. I can’t say for definite. When I say a small tour, I mean 5 or 6 dates, so the odds aren’t great. We’ll see though. I’ll always be up for a gig in Norwich personally, if it makes sense with the rest of our schedule.

Ahh right, that is small – especially by your standards. Ok, I don’t want to keep you from valuable writing time. Before we go, one last question on behalf of my Brother in Blogathon arms Breaking More Waves…

Do you ever get mistaken for the ‘other’ PSB, the Pet Shop Boys?

Ha! Not in person, no. On Twitter it’s more of an issue because our name is too long for Twitter, so we had to abbreviate it to PSB_HQ. But I don’t think anyone’s ever come to one of our gigs expecting to see the Pet Shop Boys. I hope not, anyway – on production values alone they’d be sorely disappointed!

The lack of silly hats… and Wriggles looks like he’s having far too much fun to pull off Moody & Aloof. I’m sure they’d still have a great time though.

I’ve never seen them myself, actually – I’d love to. Some classics in there!

Absolutely, I think it would be fantastic show. Well, you’ve played with New Order, perhaps they could be next. Tell your management to get on it, The PSB Squared Tour.

Ha. Consider that done, sir. Consider it done.

Can’t wait. Mr. J. Willgoose, Esq, thank you for your time today, I look forward to hearing the new material later this year, maybe next.

Thanks sir! Fingers crossed eh. Good luck with the blogathon too, a noble cause.

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2013 Albums of the Year #3: Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain

19 Dec

PSB_Album Art

It should come as no surprise at all to anyone who reads Alphabet Bands, even semi-regularly, to see that the debut album by Public Service Broadcasting should feature highly on our list of favourites from 2013. After topping our EP of the Year list in 2012 with The War Room, we, like many many others, were eagerly and excitedly awaiting the arrival of Inform – Educate – Entertain. We were not disappointed.

We’ve spoken at length about how skilfully and artfully they use the music and the melody to complement and enhance the narrative of the samples from old public information films and archive footage, but it is worth stating again. It is far too easy to get lost in the perceived gimmick of Public Service Broadcasting and to our mind that misses the point. The samples are critical of course, but the beauty and enjoyment comes from how they are used and woven into complimentary sounds to convey a narrative, emotion, excitement and energy.

There is no single thread here, but each track has been spun and entwined with its own individual soundtrack. “Signal 30” brilliantly evokes the sense of speed and drama, hurtling along at a breakneck pace with the guitars revving and growling engine like, an undercurrent of barely contained aggression bubbling away. “Everest” is ebullient, uplifting and triumphant. The swell of brass at the tracks culmination brings the feeling of achievement and success to life and instils a sense of warmth and euphoria in the listener while “The Now Generation” is much more playful and light-hearted.

There is variety here in spades, so much so that the samples actually augment the music, not the other way round. Naval Officer Thomas Woodrooffe’s infamous drunken account of the Spithead Review of 1937 could easily be played for laughs and dismissed but instead, on “Lit Up”, it forms a delicate and evocative accompaniment to a moment of wondrous and beautiful calm. ”It’s fairyland, the whole fleet is in fairyland”, he rambles as we are treated to floating electronics and church bells, very much the aural equivalent of the fairy lamps he can see all around him.

On an album as strong as Inform – Educate – Entertain it is hard to pick standout tracks, but you will have to go far to find a better album opener than the title track, a medley of the forthcoming delights that will have fans grinning from ear to ear, while the W.H. Auden featuring “Night Mail” is just sublime.

As wonderful as the samples are and as perfectly chosen and utilised as they have been, attention should be on the undeniable quality of the music presented, the emotions that it is able to stir within and the simple fact that, because of those factors, you will be listening to this for a long time to come. It’s a fantastic accomplishment and one that does everything it says it will, and then some.

’Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is out on Test Card Recordings and can be bought digitally here or on CD/Vinyl here.

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Watch: Public Service Broadcasting – “Elfstedentocht” Pts 1 & 2

30 Oct

PSB Elfstedenocht

Is there no stopping those fine gentlemen from Public Service Broadcasting? They are relentless; touring constantly, releasing singles as well as their debut album, filming videos in the freezing cold, generally being awesome and gathering plaudits wherever they go (which is pretty much everywhere). We reckon you could solve the UK’s current energy problems just by plonking Messer’s Willgoose, Esq. and Wigglesworth on a tandem and hooking them up to the national grid. They’d be able to power the country for at least a year without breaking a sweat.

Further proof of their inability to stop comes in the form of two brand new tracks that the corduroy clad pair have been teasing fans about over the last few weeks. They did say no one would guess the subject matter and they were right, we don’t think anyone even got close to a cross-city speed skating race in the Netherlands.

No, seriously.

The duo were approached by the organisers of the Explore the North festival in Leeuwarden, Netherlands who asked if they would like to use some footage of the Elfstedentocht, the world’s biggest ice skating race, and write some songs. Naturally they said yes.

“Elfstedentocht” parts 1 and 2 are about an occasional speed skating event, , that takes place in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands, passing by all eleven historical cities of the province. The Eleven Cities Tour, to give it its English name, is a 120 mile long tour which is held both as a speed skating match (with 300 contestants) and a leisure tour (with 16,000 skaters). It’s held no more than once a year and gaps between contests can exceed 20 years as it all depends on the thickness of the ice (the entire course must have natural ice at least 15 centimetres thick). When the ice is suitable the tour is announced and started within 48 hours. (Thank you Wikipedia)

Oh, and the sampled audio clips are in Dutch, obviously, and each track captures a different aspect of the event. Transcripts of the commentary are included in the videos description on YouTube by the way – so you don’t need to go and learn Dutch to get the full experience.

“Elfstedentocht Part One” is a the closest thing we’ve had to a full on rock track from PSB so far, with a guitar line that channels Rage Against The Machine, if Rage wore a smoking jacket, monocle, pipe and slippers combo of course. A monochrome gem of energy, collisions, speed, snow and cups of tea (very PSB we think you’ll agree) that blends the grandeur of “Everest”, “Signal 30″‘s rocket fuelled aggression and the vibrant optimism of “Spitfire”.

“Elfstedentocht Part Two” on the other hand is a more relaxed and mostly ambient electro track. Wintry colours fill the air as the track matches the vast expanse of white all around, seemingly infinite like the universe around us. There is an ‘other worldly’ quality to it as the sounds expand, you could just as easily be travelling through the majestic beauty of the cosmos as gliding serenely along a path of ice through snow-laden countryside. It’s calmer, more tranquil and relaxed than its high octane brother, but equally as fantastic.

We may not have been able to guess the subject matter in advance, but we were spot on with the quality of the tracks. Both of which convey the spirit, sportsmanship and competiveness of this enchanting and eccentric winter event perfectly. Wonderful stuff, as always Gents.

’Inform – Educate – Entertain’ is out now and can be bought digitally here or on CD/Vinyl here.

You can also catch a Public Service Broadcasting live transmission at a venue near you as their never-ending gig schedule continues.

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