With great pleasure we discovered that in U.K. a certain number of Jazz Prog inspired bands is emerging. By the moment it is a local phenomenon that not seems to have strong echo outside England. Considering the large number of new promising groups springing out, we wish that soon this scene might have the exposure they deserve. "Free Pop", the debut album of Morviscous, impressed us positively despite almost nobody around tells about it. We thought to ask some questions to this new promising act to learn something more about them and about the new British Jazz-Prog scene.
In your biographical notes I read that your band is based in London and Paris. Would you like to tell us how did it happen and how did your band start?
We are a mix of friends from school and uni. For the most part we are from the south of England, except for Christian who was born in Paris. We decided that London might be a good place to start playing as Morviscous and we moved there in 2004.
Among your influences there are groups belonging to the "Canterbury scene". Nowadays this is very rare to see in U.K. and this choice could even appear unpopular. However I read good reviews about your CD and it seems that you managed to get a good following. How do you explain this? Did you expect such a positive feedback?
The Canterbury Scene link came from the London publication Organ, who wrote a very nice review of us early on. We did not really know who we sounded like or how crowds would react, and the attachment to the Canterbury music scene has been a total education for us. Mostly our influences as a group come from artists like early Mothers of Invention, Impulse/ESP label Jazz + new people like Lightning Bolt and a bunch of other influences we have found as individuals.
Set apart the classic Prog influences that you cited, do you recognize in your music more modern and newer elements? Which ones?
Mainly active musicians/composers who get involved with new ideas and do not worry about sitting home and sounding 'classic', these tend to be modern by default. That ethos we would hope to recognise in our music. People like Glenn Branca are a total inspiration.
According to you, is somehow changing in U.K. the attention upon Prog, or is it still defined by somebody a "four letters word"?
Groups like Radiohead are way too curious to sit under titles, all you can do is say that they are 'progressive' in most music they encounter and create. The negative charge that most groups, who do not comply with 'past givens', face is that of being pretentious, but mostly that comes from the reactionary press fallout from Punk in the U.K. I read somewhere that John Lydon's two favourite bands where Magma and Van Der Graaf Generator...
I find your CD is excellent but I haven't read as yet any articles or reviews about you in Prog magazines around the world (with the only exception of "The Organ"), and your CD has even been reissued twice! Do you miss connections with the "Prog world"?
Glad you enjoyed it! We have had a DIY cottage industry approach to putting out this record, so no-one has made those connections for us as yet. We recorded the album at home in Hackney on an old BBC Radio desk, our friends 'Brothers Downes' created the artwork and we found a distributor. I guess we are working toward a free pop world, whatever that might mean, but yep, we would love our music to be heard by more people, regardless of what world they come from. The re-issue is simply to get the CD to more ears. As far as press we are surprised anyone picked up on it! Set aside from a few mavericks in the national press over here and your good selves of course. We probably need a manager, we keep messing stuff up, maybe we can ask Fabio Capello for some free time...
Have you got any data about selling figures of your CD?
It is a slow burner, so to speak. We are pleased though considering the limited funds that we have had to promote it with.
Do you know other bands in U.K. with an approach similar to yours?
There is talk of a new wave of 'Brit Jazz' over here, but it has not got to Oasis vs. Blur proportions just yet, if it does then put us down for Bonehead he he. There is a sense of isolation in London and the UK though, we have heard this is not the case with the Jazz/Prog experimental music scene in Italy and the rest of Europe. Have you heard of a group from New York called Talibam. They said Italy included some of the best received gigs they have done, so now we would really like to come over and play some shows! Anyone reading this who would like to set-up some gigs in Italy then please get in touch !!! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
How is your live activity? Do you play often? What kind of public do you have at your gigs?
At the moment we do one or two gigs a month in London and anything we can get around the rest of the country. We have done some nice support slots of late for Quack Quack, Fulborn Tevershem and Zombie Zombie and these sort of nights have a cool vibe, although we are all very different the crowds seem to buzz off similar deviances.
Your music has a very fresh, jazzy and live flavour: how is important for you improvisation during the composing process?
Everyone in the group brings something to the music. This can be written down on music score, or a couple of riffs or chords pulled out the air, or a vibe from another type of music/entity or a total happy accident. Improvisation surrounds the more thematic material, there are few 'solos' on the last record but there is group improvisation and free tensions we like to work with in and out of the box. It is a total democracy! The F.B.I have files on us, if it leaks then we might not be around anymore...
Are you working for something new?