Music Q&A: Blancmange

Neil Arthur chats ahead of the release of new album Unfinished Rooms and shows at Darwen Library, 25 Oct, and Newcastle’s Boiler Shop on 26 Oct

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What informs your music and songwriting?
Uncertainty, bits of information that stick together to form as a general if wobbly line. Then I follow it and see where it goes. Add to it, press a few buttons, etc and try to get something that resembles a song. The info is read, heard, misheard, thought, misunderstood, told, pictured, texted, imagined. I’m interested in the spaces in between stuff. There’s got to be something in there we can’t always see, holding all this together.

How have you evolved as an act over the years?
Still using electronics and the odd kitchen utensil, but I guess as technology has developed, I’ve learnt through trial and error to be more selective and trust my instincts. If that is evolving?

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
I’m preparing for the tour and programming synth sounds, as well as trying to remember the bloody lyrics to a lot of songs old and new. I’m also just helping to finish off the Near Future album, due out next year. That’s Jez Bernholz of Gazelle Twin and myself. In fact we wrote and recorded the album together, but Jez is mixing and sending files through to me, while I’m getting the Blancmange stuff ready for the Unfurnished Rooms tour.

What’s on your rider?
Water and pomegranates.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
If I told you, believe me, you wouldn’t be able to print it. But here’s what could qualify for a bit surreal: I kept a piece of Ewood Park turf – Blackburn Rovers’ ground – that had fallen off Keith Newton’s boot during a game, in a plastic breakfast bowl on my bedroom window ledge, when I was a young lad up north in Darwen, Lancashire.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Gentle On My Mind – written by John Hartford, sung by Glen Campbell.

What’s your worst lyric?
From Waves: “What are these waves, they’re coming over me, it must be my destiny (alternative – it must be my dirty knee).”

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