Tag Archives: Spitfire

2013 Preview: Listen Out For – Public Service Broadcasting

7 Dec


In news about as shocking as day following night, Public Service Broadcasting are our final artist to Listen Out For in 2013. You didn’t really think we’d leave them off did you?

2012 has been kind to Mr J. Willgoose, Esq and Wrigglesworth and understandably so. Four time winners of Steve Lamacq’s Rebel Playlist on 6Music, acclaim upon acclaim for The War Room EP (which, spoiler alert, will feature prominently in our round-up of the year next week) and sold out Transmissions across the country. If that wasn’t enough, they even got to meet us twice this year! Well, you can’t have it all I suppose.

With the release of The War Room a band that was bubbling under, suddenly started to boil over and make a delicious mess on the kitchen counter of the music world. Interest in the pair is increasing daily and everyone we speak to about them has the same reaction of excitement and enthusiasm, they love what they have heard and want to hear more.

If all goes to plan, we should be hearing more sometime next year. An album is being worked on and if PSB are able to continue on their current trajectory, the results could be quite spectacular. Looking back at the early releases, you can see how the pair has grown musically. The fun and frivolity of the likes of “Introduction (Let Yourself Go” and “ROYGBIV” has been enhanced by the depth and emotion of “London Can Take It”, “Waltz For George” and “Everest”. That’s not to say you can no longer dance to it, as anyone who was at their sold out show at XOYO last week will tell you.

What was interesting about that show in particular, aside from the next (old?) generation stage set-up they used, was that the cinematic samples were not as prominent. Intentional or not we don’t know, but in that night they were able to show that they are more than just their gimmick. The balance was strongly in favour of the music and, while the samples were still audible, they didn’t feel like the focus. There was no question that it was the music and the guys performing who were providing the entertainment. People were dancing, whooping and hollering. The fevered crowd devoured it and cried out more.

We already anticipated a big year for the esteemed gentlemen but their show last week reaffirmed in our mind, as good as 2012 was (and it was brilliant), 2013 should be even better.

Read More: Prepare for Transmission: Public Service Broadcasting Interview / In Review: Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room EP / Listen: Public Service Broadcasting – “Everest”

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Prepare for Transmission: Public Service Broadcasting Interview

24 Oct

J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth are not exactly names one would associate with modern popstars, which is fitting really as, in their collective guise of Public Service Broadcasting, the pair delve into the world of yesteryear to meet their aim of “Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future”.

This blend of history and the modern day is captivating audiences and music lovers the length and breadth of the country and beyond. Their second EP, The War Room, has maintained its place as our favourite EP of 2012 since its release in May and just this week they became four-time winners of Steve Lamacq’s Rebel Playlist competition on BBC6Music. Live shows, or Transmissions as the band call them, are selling out with increased regularity and they are quickly establishing themselves as a must see band. It’s been quite a year and quite a rise for a band that was already building a steady fanbase after the release of their imaginatively titled debut, EP One in 2010 and the charming “ROYGBIV”.

Unquestionably, The War Room has raised their profile immensely and understandably so. It is an incredible piece of work that whirls the listener around on a tempest of emotion, taking in stoicism, optimism, euphoria, heartbreak and horror. In just five songs the band captures the essence of war, and you can dance to it as well.

Warm, modest and softly-spoken, the esteemed J. Willgoose, Esq. sat down with us backstage in the hours before their recent, and triumphant, Transmission as part of Norwich Sound & Vision and we were keen to know more about the back story of The War Room. It has been well documented that the EP is dedicated to J’s Great-Uncle, George Willgoose who died at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940 aged 26, but that was not the original intention. Inspiration instead came on the streets of Edinburgh where J. had been performing at the festival. As he handed out flyers for his show he considered what he could do next, should he return the following year, he didn’t return but an idea was germinating.

”I remember having the idea of a war themed EP”, he explained, ”because there’d be lots of film material on it and it would also be quite a hefty subject to tackle and you can make some really interesting music around it hopefully”.

The film material was provided by the British Film Institute who, after some initial scepticism – “it wasn’t their normal kind of enquiry”, have been supportive of the whole project offering the rights at a cost that wasn’t prohibitive. Not all rights owners have been as flexible or even available as the BFI though. We won’t embarrass anyone but it is fair to say that one British Based Corporation hasn’t been very helpful so far, ”I’ve left a few messages, sent a few emails and nothing”.

It was only once the process began that J. realised that he should dedicate the EP to his Great-Uncle and perhaps even write him a song. That song, the haunting and harrowing “Waltz For George” highlights the realities of warfare and the price that must be paid even in victory. It counter-balances the relatively light-hearted and jovial “Spitfire” and ensures the band would avoid any accusations of glamorising conflict.

It also followed the emotional flow that J. had envisaged when he set about crafting the EP. Starting off slowly and downbeat with war declared and London taking a pounding, building to hope and belief again before ending on a grave, sober note rather than the euphoria of victory. As well as acting as a beautifully understated honouring of George, the devastating effects of war is not forgotten. J. agrees, ”I think it’s right to end on a downbeat more sombre note. It’s a bit more respectful”

Throughout the interview, laughter comes easily and humour is present in the PSB live show as well. It is no surprise then that the band should choose something more upbeat and cheery as their next subject and so they set-up base camp and headed off to “Everest”. To the 1953 film The Conquest of Everest to be precise.

”I definitely wanted to move to something a bit more light-hearted and a bit more triumphant and soon as I saw the film for that, it was like, we need to sort this out.

Again the BFI were supportive, setting them up with a contact at Studio Canal Plus who ”really liked what we were doing, who wanted to help us out”, and the result is another wonderful blend of storytelling through music. The swell of brass as the track reaches its denouement brings the feeling of achievement and success to life and instils a sense of warmth and euphoria in the listener.

After such a dizzying year of achievement upon achievement, anticipation is growing for a first full-length release from the duo. It’s coming J. explains and there will be a balance between the more serious side and the lighter, more frivolous sides of their nature, it will have quite a broad range he promises. As with all great musicians, there is no desire to stand still or just repeat what has gone before. People have expressed concern that there is only so far this kind of music can be taken but it is not something J. is worrying about.

“There’s so much material and there’s so many different ways you can take it I think it would be a bit of a failure of imagination if we just repeat doing the same things and you know, since we started this it’s been adding to it, it’s started out just me on my own on a stage and there was no visual element, there was nothing like that and then gradually drums got added and then the visuals came alongside that and now there’s projection. [We] keep adding to it keep making it different, and not staying in one place cause if you start doing that people are going to get bored. I’m going to get bored more to the point!”

Right now it’s hard to imagine that ever happening.

Read More
In Review: Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room EP
Listen: Public Service Broadcasting – “Everest”

Listen: Public Service Broadcasting – “Everest”

14 Sep

“Why should a man climb Everest? Because it is there.”

After producing perhaps the EP of the year in the form of the stunning The War Room, we would have forgiven Public Service Broadcasting for putting their collective feet up, putting on a couple of old grampohone records and sipping brandy for the rest of the year. But the world of J Willgoose, Esq and Wrigglesworth remains in motion, and like Hillary as he began his ascent of Everest, the duo are aiming higher than ever.

The optimism of “Spitfire”, was a shaft of light breaking through the fear, horror and grief of The War Room. With “Everest”, it is a clear summer’s day, ebullient, uplifting and triumphant. The duo’s ability to convey mood and emotion through a combination of music and archive footage, this time from the 1953 documentary The Conquest of Everest in conjunction with Studio Canal Plus, is once again evidenced in magnificent fashion. The swell of brass at the tracks culmination brings the feeling of achievement and success to life and instills a sense of warmth and euphoria in the listener.

As if that wasn’t enough, “Everest” is educational as well! We certainly didn’t know it was simply called Peak 15 prior to its more famous Christening, and if you are learning while enjoying such stunning soundscapes, you can’t really ask for anything more.

“Everest” is out on 12 November and you can stream it below. The video, directed by Owain Rich, is available to watch here. The band’s debut album is due to be released in Spring 2013.

Read More
In Review: Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room EP

In Review: Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room EP

28 May

“This is the music they play every night in London. The Symphony of War”

London based duo, Public Service Broadcasting have a fairly simple mission statement, “Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future”, and if history had sounded this good, we’d have paid more attention at school.

Comprised of J. Willgoose, Esq. (playing all manner of stringed instruments and various sample-y and electronic noodles) and Wrigglesworth (drums, pianos and even more electronic noodles), the pair blends old public information films and archive footage with driving rhythms, glistening atmospheric electronics and quite the ear for a tune. For this, their second EP, The War Room, PSB were granted unrivaled access to World War 2 propaganda films by the British Film Institute and the result is nothing short of amazing.

The EP is dedicated to the memory of George Willgoose, Great Uncle of J. Willgoose, Esq., who died at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940 aged 26, and closes with the heartbreaking “Waltz For George”. Heartbreaking not just for the account of soldiers returning home that plays over it, nor just for the silence that hits you in the chest like a sledgehammer as you begin to feel not euphoria at their safe return, but grief for the horror they have lived. Heartbreaking also for the fragile simplicity of the notes plucked on the banjolele that the George himself had owned and played as they float over the tale of a soldier returning, ukulele over his shoulder, a solider that wasn’t George, nor ever could be.

Before that, we travel history atop a musical carpet; from the sinister, threatening undercurrent the imminence of war brings, to the defiant and inspirational stoicism of the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mentality. From the energetic and buoyant optimism of “Spitfire” to the relative calm but no less confident “Dig For Victory”.

Across its five tracks we are given not only a lesson in history, but also in making incredible, emotive and moving music. Even without the narrative we would be left with instrumentals of foot-tapping brilliance, but play in the various samples and the EP evolves into a masterful piece of stirring and emotional storytelling through music.

In Short: A stunning, intelligent and poignant piece of electro-rock. We absolutely love it.

Get It: The War Room is out today via Test Card Recordings and is available on the Public Service Broadcasting Bandcamp page. Limited edition vinyl is available at Rough Trade having already sold out on the bandcamp page, so be quick if you want one.