Meet: Idlewild’s Rod Jones

Whilst the first glimpse of Idlewild’s new album Everything Ever Written, titled Collect Yourself was very good when it dropped onto our radar late last year, the bands new single Come On Ghost, is brilliant. Swaying with intent throughout and decorated with grating guitar solo’s and soaring riffs, it shows the band is capable of stepping up a gear even at this stage in their careers. Its also (I’m speaking for myself here, but I’ll include everyone, you know, for dramatic effect) our favourite song of the year so far.

Seven albums in, the bands new, eighth effort was produced by guitarist Rod Jones, and mixed by John Agnello, (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr) and was recorded prominently on the Isle of Mull. It was also the first record that featured new members Luciano Rossi (piano, organ & vocals) and Andrew Mitchell (bass, guitar & vocals), who’s influence both in the writing and the added harmonies is felt on Everything Ever Written. As front man Roddy Woomble puts it “The record soundtracks a period of transition. Working without time constraints gave the whole thing a creative freedom. Idlewild is a new band to me now; I’m excited for the future.”

Ahead of the release on February 16th, we caught up with Rod Jones

So, welcome back – five years away. Is it good to be back?

Hi there. Its great to be back actually. We feel genuinely excited and re-energised and very proud of the record we have made.

And with a new line up – have Luciano and Andrew added something to the band, in terms of the recording etc.

Absolutely. Lucci got involved quite early in the recording process on keys and really pulled the songs in a new direction. The way he interpreted the songs had a big impact on the way we played ourselves and gave a new dimension to the recordings. Andrew joined on bass as we were putting together the final session and just instantly fitted in. So much so that we ended up re-working some songs and also writing a few new songs with the new dynamic he brought. He’s also a great guitarist and singer which alongside Lucci gives us so many possibilities for vocal harmony both on record and live. It feels like a new band and an exciting time.

Was it an easy record to make? After all, you’re relative experts now, eight albums in….

Its never easy but it was the most fluid and natural it has felt in a long time. Producing the record myself allowed us alot more freedom and time to experiment and re-draft recordings, sometimes just building on the original demos. I suppose the freshness from the new lineup and the time away also made it feel more enjoyable and less constrained also. Less concerned with the past and open to new ideas.

I read somewhere that the new album, Everything Ever Written, is your most eclectic record you’ve ever written – why do you think that is – was that something you were aiming for, or did it just happen that way?

It really just happened that way. We really just splurged as we wrote and recorded. I was intent during recording on treating each song on its own strengths and style rather than trying to make them all sound the same. There are threads that hold them together obviously through the writing and personality and somewhat instrumentation but I think the whole album has an experimental and exploratory feel.

And you went out to the Isle of Mull to write some of it?

Situation and surroundings obviously have an affect on you as an individual and this always reflected in what you write. Roddy lies up that way and whilst he would sometimes come to me in Edinburgh to write I would also go up there sometimes. Its a fantastic place to write and work surrounded by wonderful scenery and shut off from distractions which just brings a focus.

Tell us a bit about Everything Ever Written – what can we expect from the record? Do you think it’s a record that shows you’re still growing and getting better?

Personally it feels like a rebirth of the band. A new beginning with plenty of possibilities for the future which is a great way to feel. In that way I feel we have alot of room to grow and explore. It is a very diverse sounding record and what interests me the most i that this throws up so many possible directions we can shoot off in from here.

We love the new single Come on Ghost – it’s a fantastic record. Tell us a bit about that, how did that come about – its sounds at the end like you threw the kitchen sink at it in the arrangements in a brilliant way. Did you have fun with it?

It was a song we wrote very early on which went through a few drafts actually. To me it always had a very flaming lips feel which pointed in the direction of trying to throw so many instruments and ideas at it. Certainly one of the most interesting to record and a great song to involve other musicians in. Getting in friends on Brass, strings and a great sax solo just really gave it the ragged symphony feel.

You’re off on tour in March – you all getting ready for that? Are Idlewild meticulous rehearsers of the set, or is everything left rather more fluid….

We are rehearsing at the moment for the tour and re-imagingin a few songs, learning some new ones and getting Andrew, Lucci and our friend HAnnah involved. The 5 part vocal harmony we now have is a great asset. There will be some songs that are presented in the more “traditional idlewild” way but also a good few surprises.

Anything being prepared for the tour bus playlist?

Im sure there will be a healthy diet of the old favourites, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Steely Dan, Wilco, The Walkmen and their various solo albums and plenty more. Maybe a few scraps over the controls….

What plans have you got for the rest of the year – you managed to pencil any festivals in?

After the European and Uk dates we’ll see whats next. A few festivals and some more dates later in the year. We never plan too far ahead but theres plenty more to come.

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