NEXT UP: Charlie's Hand Movements - Nuclear Tapes
In this latest instalment of our new music feature NEXT UP, it's Charlie's Hand Movements and the charming, brilliant, 38 track mad-cap-musical-experiment that is Nuclear Tapes.
I caught up with the duo to find out more about about Charlie's Hand Movements and this crackerjack collection of recordings:
Please tell us a little about yourselves and how Charlies Hand Movements came into being?
Adam: Charlie's Hand Movements is two of us: Lance Keeble and Adam Gardner. We met on a trip to Brighton at the beginning of an art course. Lance was wearing a corduroy blazer and had some Radiohead badges on his bag, and I'm pretty sure Boards of Canada, which marked him out as a person of interest.
So we gravitated towards each other and found out we were both making strange pop music in our bedrooms. I think we both signed up to the course hoping to meet someone to start a band with... You embarked on a mega multi-LP project, which then led to the recordings within Nuclear Tapes. What inspired that?
Adam: I think it partly came from making two, more conventional albums before and wanting to do something with a bit more ambition. I think both of us just want to make stuff that we can look back on one day and be really proud of, which looks clichéd as anything on paper, but it's true.
We've never really bought into passing ourselves off as anything more than a bedroom band, but we want to be a bedroom band that made a crazy body of work.
You've mentioned Manson's second album SIX as an influence; what was it about that album?
Lance: It was a fearless record I think, anything goes, with a lot of detailed sound design. The philosophy of that album is so exciting to us, a really exhaustive effort to express something vital. And Paul Draper's voice - spectacular. We've actually got a track for our next album that's got his name written all over it. It's a crazy dream, but in an alternate universe he's singing it.
It feels like, brilliantly, you did not put
the 'normal rules' or restrictions around your songwriting and these recordings. Is that fair? What was the process?
Adam: Thanks. Yeah, we definitely tried to approach the project as open-minded as possible. We were talking about writing songs in new ways, so instead of each of us bringing songs to the table that we wrote mostly alone, we'd try to build things spontaneously together.
There were rules too - most of which I can't remember now - but one was that we had to wear our special 'Nuclear' boiler suits when we were working. Again, looks so stupid written down, but it got us into a different mindset. We weren't us in the suits so I think we were less guarded. Lance's was green and really cool, but mine was orange and looked a bit too prison-like in hindsight. Are there any tracks on Nuclear Tapes which are particularly close to your heart?
Lance: 'Smash & Grab' feels like a good gut-punch… the vocals were recorded in a stairwell. It's like a nursery rhyme for grown-ups.
This 'Hot Mess' was a song that came late in the sessions too; its title really embodying the project - which was basically out of hand from the start. There's something elegantly simple about it - sobering words against a kind of gentle blue-eyed soul backdrop.
Things are tricky in terms of making new music right now, but i understand you've also got more material from other sessions?...do you have more plans for these at the moment?
We have another record made shortly after Nuclear Tapes, which we're looking to release later in the year. It's the polar opposite of Nuclear Tapes, lean and boiled down to its essence. And where Nuclear indulged in the fantastical, our next record is decidedly more earthly. Though not without an occasional nod to what might lie beyond. They also wanted to credit others who contributed to the recording and release of Nuclear Tapes:
Adam: We'd like to shout out to Mick Gawthorp, whose saxophone playing absolutely makes this record for us, and also Matt Purdon (@matt_purdon on Instagram) who put an unbelievable shift in on the artwork at short notice.
Collaboration is everything and we're fortunate to have crossed paths with these two. The record would be poorer without them. Hopefully they'll be involved in the next thing too.
And be sure to give Charlie's Hand Movements a follow @chandmovements (twitter) and @charlieshandmovements (instagram), to keep up to date on that next album release.