"We've got the desire to make new music again" – hmv.com talks to Inspiral Carpets
Back in the early 1990s, Manchester indie types Inspiral Carpets were trailblazers, playing to huge crowds and selling records by the shedload. They put out four albums in quick succession and seemed to have the world at their feet, but, after a dip in fortunes on their final album Devil Hopping, they dissolved in 1995 and haven't put out a new album since.
Now reunited with a line-up that includes original vocalist Stephen Holt and as well as the rest of the band's classic members, they're due to release their brand new record later this year.
Before all that though, the band are repacking and re-releasing Dung 4, their original demo tape that's never been sold on CD or Vinyl. We called up bassist Martyn Walsh to find out why they're re-releasing Dung 4 and to find out how their new album is progressing…
You're about to re-release Dung 4, which is a demo tape you first sold in 1989; does it feel odd to be releasing a new album (of sorts) after a 20-year gap?
"We've actually had stuff for the last two Record Store Days, ever since we've had Steve back in the band, we've done two singles, we did 'You're So Good for Me' in 2011 and then 'Fix Your Smile', Dung 4 is a bit more special for us, it was the band's first LP, it was a more embryonic thing, I remember selling cassette versions of it, so it's nice to actually see it formalised."
So was it your idea to put Dung 4 out? Or was it more of a label thing?
"We've signed to Cherry Red for the release of our new album and it seemed like a good thing to do. Die-hard Inspirals fans have always said to us that they'd like a proper version of Dung 4 and it's always been something we've wanted to do and to make sure it comes out in the right way. We wanted to put it out on vinyl and CD and Cherry Red felt the same. It's also a nice way to bookend things and get ready for the next time."
Have you cleaned it up for the new release?
"It's been remastered and cleaned up. We did on this little studio outside Manchester on this four-track, so it's been remastered but it's still got the charm. For me it sums up a very strange time for me, I didn't play on it, I joined after the bassist who played on Dung 4 left, so although I wound up putting together a lot of cassettes, I remember putting in all the inlays in the tapes on my mum's drive!"
Does it still sound like you remember when it first came out?
"To me it sounds like the band that at the time I wanted to be in, I used to rehearse with another band in the same place as Inspiral Carpets and I respected their desire. They recorded Dung 4 on New Year's Eve, which I always thought was such a statement that they were committed to the band."
"Now we've got Steve back, he sang on Dung 4 and now we're introducing a new phase with him, it feels right to be doing this now alongside making the new album now. We've got the desire to make new music again."
So how far along are you with the new record?
"It's 75%/80% recorded, we're going back in the studio in the next few days to carry on and we've just had a really good collaboration confirmed. It's going to be mixed in May and should be ready in September/October time. We've got a busy summer with quite a few festivals, including some in Europe, so it's great to be back out there. It's an exciting time."
It's been reported that the new album is going to be self-titled, is that the case?
"Listen, being in Inspiral Carpets is proof that democracy just doesn't work, it's like watching celebrity couples name their babies in magazines, I don't think it will be self-titled, there's a few in contention, but watch this space."
How has recording been? You've done it quite gradually right?
"It's been done over a period of time, but in quite intense sessions. I've kept my hand in by doing remixes and some music for computer games, so I like being in the studio, it's taken time for the others to get back into it. But it's gone really well, we've got Jim Spencer mixing it, he's worked with people like New Order and The Charlatans and he's making sure there's a continuity to the sound, even though it's been made over a period of time."
What kind of music industry do you feel like you're coming back into?
"It's quite strange really. There are times where the people who buy records feel like they're camped in these genres, but not young people, who seem to be perfectly happy buying a Courteeners record as much as they do a Tinie Tempah record. All the festival bills are more diverse than ever, it's so easy to make music now, which is good in some ways, but it does mean a lot of mediocre stuff gets out there."
Would you fancy being a new band starting out in 2014?
"I do feel a bit sorry for some of the new bands, they don't get much time to develop, a lot of bands fall by the way side early on. But I do still feel that the good music rises to the top. As for us, I don't feel out of place."
"We're playing with Arctic Monkeys at T In The Park and we listened to that album a lot when we were recording our album. We all got into that album in different ways, some of us heard tracks on the radio, some of us saw videos, it ticked all the boxes to us. I think you could argue that Arctic Monkeys could have been influenced by Inspiral Carpets when they were getting started, so it's come full circle."
How does it feel to be putting an album out now? It's very different to putting one out in 1994, which was the last time you put a full length-effort out…
"An album now is a collection of tracks for a lot of people, rather than the way you'd sit down and listen to side A and then side B. That Arctic Monkeys record cuts through that, it's all good tracks, you want the whole thing and not just to pick and choose on iTunes. So, for us, it definitely showed that the appetite for an album is still there."
Inspiral Carpets will release Dung 4 on Monday (April 28). You can pre-order it from hmv stores and from our download store now.