Articles


Fly - Interviews

ON BAND.......................NME APRIL 1998

Unless you regard cleaning toilets as the gateway to spritual enlightenment,it's safe to
say that for Gary Ainge the '80s ended inauspiciously.After ten albums,the drummer
formerly with maverick Brummie psychedelicists Felt had nothing to show for his rock
toil but cult renown and a mean way with a bog brush.

Still,Gary had plans.Getting together with fellow ex-Felt vets Martin Duffy(keyboards)
and Marco Thomas(bass),he recorded some instrumental tracks in 1991.Felt's erstwhile
patron Alan Mcgee was up for doing a deal with this new group,dubbed Italian Paper.
Then Duffy joined Primal Scream.By the time he got back,Creation were confronting
the spectre of bankruptcy.Gary and Marco took a half-hearted look at a few alternative
options,regarded Duffy's continuing involvement with the Scream-and decided to shelve
Italian Paper,"for a while".

Years passed.With Martin Duffy as resident musical genius,Primal Scream became
rockaholic demigods,while Alan Mcgee released Oasis records.Presumably,at some
point Gary and Marco must have got back in touch with their old mucker Mcgee and
said,"C'mon Alan,how about cutting us a wedge of the 18 wheeler suntan budget?"...
"We never did,did we?"Gary frowns at his pint of Stella."Not really,"says Marco,
looking a little crestfallen. "I don't know why."

Italian Paper are now Fly.Duffy has been replaced by a mysterious young 'soundsman'
called Richard,and Gary and Marco are contemplating with complete and utter bewilderment
the fully-fledged release of their demo a mere seven years after its recording.More
incredible than any of this,the debut EP by Fly-very roughly,New Order do Neu! and
also invent trip-hop-sounds like it could have been recorded last week.

"it was a kind of blessing that it didn't come out at the time,"says Gary."Back then
you were either dance or you were a singer-songwriter,and I think we would have got
lost.Whereas now people are a lot more open-minded to instrumental music."

The existence of Fly owes everything to the sort of good fortune normally confined
to a freak alignment of rabbit's feet.Late last year,Gary gave a copy of the demo to
Phil King,another former Felt-ster.While doing some part-time office work Phil played
the tape to a colleague,who had just started his own record label.

"Phil rang me up a couple of weeks after I gave him the tape and said,'I've got you a
record deal'!"

They're doing a gig soon.In Paris.

Marco: "And if it doesn't work out,forget playing in England! That's an old Felt thing
Lawrence (Felt singer) would never play in Birmingham 'cos that's where he came from.
He was self-conscious about that stuff,and I wouldnt say we're dissimilar.But if we
can get it right.I'm up for anything.We want to be listened to.To be honest,it's just
an ego trip."

So smile the least egotistical band in the history of rock.Alan Mcgee's welcome to
call any time.

BY KEITH CAMERON

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INTERVIEW FOR MCB......................HONG KONG

1.After Felt disbanded in 1989,I know Gary,Marco and Martin Duffy came together to
write new material,but why did it take until 1998 to have your 'Motorway ep' released?
What happened in this period of almost a decade?

MARCO:To cut a long story short,Gary Martin Duffy and myself got
together soon after Felt split.Within a short time,we had quite a lot of material.
Just as it seemed we were ready to record the songs,Martin was asked to join Primal
Scream,to record the album,'Screamadelica'.So Martin was not available for more than
a year.In that time,Gary and myself worked with Terry Miles(Martin's cousin)Who later
went on to record with Airstream,Bernard Butler and Denim.

More material was written,and when Martin Duffy was available,we had a meeting with
Alan Mcgee.We were set to record an album,but Martin had to complete a six month
tour first.

Six months went by and we were ready to record,but luck was not on our side!By this
this time Creation were in financial trouble,due to the 'My Bloody Valentine'album.
So our album was shelved.
In the meantime,Martin was off with the Primals,touring,recording etc.Before we knew
it,five years had gone by with nothing to show.The Creation thing just did not happen.
I don't know why.

More years passed,with very little happening on any front,including writing.Then out
of the blue,we had a chance to make the ep,which was taken from recordings we made
7 years earlier on a four track recorder(which was only meant to be a demo!).

Within twelve months of the ep release,we signed with Elefant and made 'Put the
Needle Down and Fly'.It's just taken a long time for it all to come together.

So,ten years have passed,with only one ep,and an album to show.Hopefully things
will move a bit quicker from now on.


2.Have Gary and Marco contributed to other bands/artists' work,after Felt and
before Fly(Italian paper)?

MARCO:I've not worked with anyone else,but I think did that Gary
something with Add N to X and Primals.

3.When I read the NME article,It quoted that Gary and Marco wanted Fly to represent
your own music style,but not Lawrence's self-conscious Felt.Did you see Fly's success
appear to be achieving that goal at this stage?

GARY:Fly had to be completey different form Felt,otherwise there would have been no point.

Marco:All I can say,is that we write music,decide whether we like it and whether
we want to use it.The 'style' thing is just a natural development of writing.
In other words,if we write a tune that we are happy with and it happens to
sound like this or that style,so be it.I think people will hear that the album
sounds nothing like Felt.Obviously there aren't any vocals,but also instrumentally
I think we are different.Remember,Lawrence wrote most of the Felt stuff anyway.


4.So can you say something about working with Lawrence(both in Felt and Fly)?What's the
difference between Felt and Fly in creating music?

GARY:Lawrence doesn't have any musical input with Fly.He just helps with the
business side of things.

MARCO:Quite simply,working with Felt was all about how best the other musicians
could play around Lawrence's ideas.Lawrence would always have the last say on any
input from other members;He was quite the dictator.
Fly is more democratic.Everyone has a say.If we brought in a new musician tomorrow
and that person had a good idea,we would use it.That would never have happened with
Lawrence.


5.What's been the response to the 'Motorway ep'?It seems quite low profile(like Felt!)

GARY:We got single of the week on Keith Cameron's XFM show,which was the best
radio show in the UK for years.Also,some decent print press,but our ex-keyboard
player decided to leave the week the ep was released.After punk and techno,hardly
anyone can play,so it took ages to find Martin(Davies).Fly is instrumental,so we're
probably not mainstream enough to attract mass appeal.If a hit comes along,we'll
take it,but I suppose we're essentially underground.

MARCO:Problem is,not enough exposure.It was released on a tiny label and we only
did one gig.Need I say more?


6.When 'Motorway ep is released in 1998,Martin Duffy was still a band member,but
what's the reason he later departed?

MARCO:He was too busy with Primal Scream,but there's no reason why he couldn't be
involved in future projects.


7.Then Martin Davies joined the band,didn't he?Can you tell me some more about
his background?What kinds of keyboards do the two Martins play on the album?

GARY:We saw him in a club.He looked like James Fox,circa 'Performance'.We'd
heard he was a good player,so we asked him to join straight away.He's the Fly pin-up.

MARCO:Each player has their own personality musically,and for different reasons they
are invaluable.


8.Would you tell me something about the production process of the debut,'Put the Needle
Down and Fly'? What's the musical influence?And why did you choose Spanish Elefant to
release it (not Mcgee's label)?How about UK distribution?

MARCO:We produced the album,because of artistic control and budget.Not being on a
major,Eno wasn't interested....
There are no influences,we just do what we feel is right and hope it sounds ok.
I would say that in the hands of a proper producer,our music could be so big
and dynamic.
The process of producing was simply,us having an idea,then leaving it to the
engineer to do all the technical stuff.

GARY:The album is hopefully going to be released on Lawrence's 'West Midlands
Records',in the Uk soon.

MARTIN:It was important for us to give the tracks a spontaneous feel.So we
didn't want to rely on the use of sequencers or keyboard loops.Virtually
every keyboard sound you hear on the album was played live.


9.When I listen to 'Motorway',and then,'Put the Needle Down and Fly',the first feeling
is really like Neu!Especially Gary's drum!And Marco's bassline just reminds me
of Peter Hook!So,can I say that Fly's music is a kind of combination of Kraut Rock
(post-rock)and post-punk?

MARCO:As I have said earlier,there is never an intention to sound like other bands
or have any particular style.Yes,some of our music has a NEU! feel,but I,
wrote Motorway before I had heard anything by them.Some of the basslines
do sound a bit like New Order,but again that was unintentional.I don't
even like New Order,although I do like Peter Hook's bass playing.

GARY:The thread that runs through all our songs is Marco's bass.It's our
trademark.It's what makes us different.It's what our fans will latch on to.
Like Marco said,it was a happy accident.Marco hadn't heard Neu! at that point.
The hooky comparison is great,I'm into his playing,I never liked New Order
though.

MARTIN:I think the beauty of our music,is that it is not easy to categorize.
It is very eclectic.Yes,you can hear traces of Krautrock,but also many other
musical genres.It's not something we purposely aim for,it just comes naturally.


10.Although felt have plenty of beautiful instrumentals,they are very different to Fly's.
Is it the kind of music you want to make for years,even during the Felt era?
Can I say that it is the 'root'of your music?

MARCO:As I said earlier,I never had any input into the writing of Felt music,so
there was never much incentive to write music.I only started writing seriously
when Felt split up.

I always keep an open mind when writing,so the next album may sound completely
different to this one,who knows.


11.When I listen to some titles on the album,like Multiplex,Motorway,Flightpath
and Scandinavia.The drum,the bass and the keyboard all make me relate
to Neu!'s Hallogallo and Kraftwerk's Autobahn!
Similar kind of motorway music,for driving!What do you think about this
view?

GARY:The best time to listen to Fly,is late at night,preferably after midnight,when
you are driving alone on a motorway-it's very trance like.

MARCO:That's fine,I think you're right.good 'driving' music,but also
there are plenty of tunes which evoke different sorts of mood.


12.The ending of 'Situation' is also co-written with Martin Duffy again,is it
recent work?Will Martin someday join Fly?Or feature with you on tour?

GARY:That's one of the unfinished songs we had.Martin (Davies) Helped us
complete it when he joined the band.

MARCO:Situation was one of the first songs we wrote.It began with the
haunting bassline and developed from there.
Martin duffy may do more work with us,we'll see.


13.There's some old synth sound on Chalet,is it inspired by Denim?(laugh)

MARTIN:Many things can inspire a song.The only thing we try to avoid,are cliche
keyboard sounds.That is why we like to use keyboards with real time editing
capabilities.They give you much more scope for originality.

MARCO:Again,nothing is inspired by anything,intentionally anyway.We are
actually limited to the sounds we use,we just choose sounds we like.
Quite often we will use the same sounds,as they seem to be the ones that work.

GARY:We borrowed a synth from Lawrence for that song!Maybe that's why.


14.So,Lawrence did help Fly to title the instrumentals and design the artwork
too.It seems to be 'Train Above the City' part 2,ah ah!But why do you
suggest Lawrence to do this?Have you also asked why he names this as
'Motorway,and that as 'Multiplex'....etc,and the meaning of,'Put the
Needle Down and Fly'?

GARY:We use striking one word titles,hat illustrate the songs,like
'The Shadows''Apache,F.B.I,that kind of thing.Yes definitely clean,
minimal imagery.It's total instant pop;We haven't wasted a track.Getting
Lawrence to do the titles was like a Warhol thing.The album title is
classic,it seals it.


15.All the song titles in the album are using one word,it suits the music style
of Fly very well I guess.Very clean,very brightful,calm,minimal.So that's
why Lawrence did it?

GARY:Yes

MARCO:I do like minimalism,so I'm quite happy with these song titles.


16.What are the band's plans for the future?

GARY:We're doing a video for Multiplex and we want to promote the album
properly this time around.

MARCO:To write and record,play some gigs,that's it.


17.Finally,why did you choose Fly as a band name?You know,Fly and Felt
both start with the letter F!Is it Lawrence's idea again?

GARY:We wanted a three letter band name,like Can and PIL.All the best band
names have three letters.And 'cause we're a trio.

INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY JANSEN