Psychedelic outfit Flipron are back, with new single ‘The Comet Returns’ this month and a full LP due in November
ased in sunny Somerset, Flipron are back with a new single, The Comet Returns, which trails their fourth album. Singer Jesse Budd tells Songwriting about the new material, how he measured up to some of the old-hands of Nashville and how touring partner Neville Staple helped transform one of their ska instrumentals into something very special indeed.
What can you tell us about the new album?
The album is called Firework Shoes and it comes out on November 5, appropriately enough. It’s an album about cataclysmic change over a range of scales – from the end of a civilisation to the end of a small chapter in someone’s life – and different ways of looking at these events. There are ongoing themes of astronomy and the solar system, clocks and time passing, songs about blackberry picking, carelessness, rose petals. I think it’s really quite an optimistic album, though. We’ve tried to keep focused on our plan to make a collection of pop songs that entertain on a first listen, as well as engage the careful listener.
On the new single The Comet Returns you’ve collaborated with Neville Staple of The Specials. How did this come about?
Well apart from being in The Specials, Neville has his own touring band, and our keyboard player Joe has played with them for a number of years. We had this off-beat, 2-Tone meets spaghetti western-type instrumental hanging around and we thought something was missing, so we asked Neville if he fancied putting some vocals on it, and he said he would.
We are SO happy with the results. He has a huge personality and extraordinary confidence as a performer and that kind of charisma can help to make a song really special.
You seem very influenced by the 80s 2-Tone movement. You’ve collaborated with a few of those artists. Your new video is set in the 2-Tone Village in Coventry…
The first record I ever went out and bought when I was a kid was Ghost Town by The Specials. If you were a kid around that time it was impossible to ignore the 2-Tone bands and fashions. Lots of our ska influence comes directly from Joe really, because he’s been playing in Neville’s band for years; so he’s just dripping with off-beats and little ska motifs. He can’t help it. But that’s just a part of our sound. There’s as much blues, power pop, psychedelia, punk, glam, country and folk as there is ska.
However, if you happen to be in Coventry do go to the 2-Tone village. It’s well worth a visit if you’re even half-interested in the 2-Tone movement… or even just for food at the 2-Tone cafe! It’s a mixture of an English bangers ‘n mash-type cafe menu with Jamaican classics like rice and peas, curry goat and patties. The Jerk Sausages are my personal tip – a secret recipe, I’m told!
What does long-term producer Rat Scabies [of The Damned] bring to your music?
He’s fantastic actually. I trust him implicitly as a producer. He’s a real pusher for performance. He makes sure not just that the performance is right, note-perfect and tight, but he really pushes you to go beyond your safe zones and exceed your performance. He’s a also a great experimenter and he’ll try out lots of ideas without ever getting too precious about them. I think he’s helped us to make a more confident record than we would have made otherwise. Rat is great company, too. Lots of great rock ‘n’ roll stories and Grail-hunting tales.
“AFTER OUR GIG A BIG OLD FELLA IN A CHECK SHIRT AND A COWBOY HAT WALKED UP AND SHOOK MY HAND”
A couple of years back you toured the US and played the massive SXSW festival in Austin. What are your memories of the tour?
To begin with it was just exciting for us, a little band from Glastonbury, to go to places like New York and LA and have people who’d heard of us turn up at our gigs. Such is the power of the internet that fans had even been putting up posters for the gigs and booking us hotel rooms with their air miles. It was fun playing in famous venues like The Bitter End in New York and seeing our name written under the sign.
More nerve-wracking was playing in Nashville. As a musician who plays both lap steel and mandolin, I felt that maybe my shortcomings on those particular instruments would stick out to the Nashville crowd, who are used to hearing the most amazing musicians just playing in bars. But after our gig a big old fella with a check shirt and a cowboy hat walked up to me, shook my hand and said “Welcome to Nashville, son!” so I felt pretty good after that.
Austin, Texas should be twinned with Glastonbury. They have a city motto: “Keep it weird” and claim to be “Live Music Capital of America”. But mostly because walking around downtown Austin when SXSW is on is the closest thing I’ve come across to walking around Glastonbury Festival. It had that familiar exciting crackle of electricity.
You recently played at the Croissant Neuf festival. It looks like a fantastic event, and it’s interesting that it’s entirely solar powered. How was the gig?
Lovely, of course. The sun decided to shine so by the time we played in the evening everyone was very happy and ready to dance. It’s a very friendly affair, but I think one of the things I like most is the Persian rugs they have on the stage. Very civilised.
The Comet Returns is out now. The album Firework Shoes will be released on November 5
Words: Matt Nicholson