Boom Bip Interview

Following some Spinal Tap-style antics trying to get into the Production Office at the Rescue Rooms, Bryan Hollon and DELTA 9 finally settle down in the side bar to discuss irritable bowel syndrome, tour bus porn stars and playing a bad show in front of John Peel…

D9: So how’s the tour going?

BB: Really well actually. It’s been a bit gruelling because we’ve had a pretty hectic schedule, but the turnout’s been really good, the shows have been great and the band’s tighter than ever. So yeah, it’s been good. No complaints.

D9: I heard something about it being dubbed the ‘IBS tour’…

BB: (laughs) Yeah, yeah. It started off as the IBS tour, yeah. There was a lot of toilet time, a lot of time spent worshipping the porcelain gods. But we’re all good now, we’re adjusted and our intestines are completely fucked up like all yours. (laughs)

D9: So tell me about the collaboration with Gruff Rhys on the album.

BB: Well the way that we came into contact was, the Super Furry Animals had asked me to open up for them on their Phantom Power tour and so I was on tour with them for that. It was just myself doing a solo show and my video guy so we were able to be on the tour bus with those guys. We got to be pretty good friends, spent a lot of time together and whatnot with them.

D9: They seem like they’d be fun to hang out with.

BB: They were, yeah, it was the first like, sort of, for want of a better term ‘Rock Star’ tour that I’ve ever been on. You know, having porn stars on the bus and drugs, you know what I mean the whole thing. Usually it’s pretty boring, like vegans going ‘oh, we’ve got to drink more water’. They weren’t like that so it was really fun. Definitely proper rock and roll. So we did the tour, and we got to talking about doing a project together at that time. Then they asked me to do a remix, and I was like ‘Yeah, I’d love to do a remix. Why don’t we swap – you do vocals on my record and I’ll do a remix for the Super Furry Animals.’ So they did a short tour for Phantom Phorce, the remix record, and it ended in Los Angeles. They stuck around for a few days and we recorded the song at that time.

D9: It’s a great vocal sound, the harmonies are fantastic.

BB: Yeah, he’s great. It was amazing to see him in the studio, and watch him just nail the harmonies. It wasn’t even like ‘Oh, just let me try that over.’ It was just like ‘aaaaah’ and it was there.

D9: So he’s joining you on stage tomorrow, how are you going to pull it off live?

BB: Well he’s bringing an eight piece choir with him (laughs). Some of those harmonies are anywhere from eight to twelve vocals. He’s been rehearsing with this choir. So yeah, there’ll be thirteen of us on stage for that one song.

D9: Doseone is notably absent from the new album. What happened there?

BB: Well you know, it’s just that he was busy working on a lot of stuff and I was busy working on my thing and we had done a lot of stuff. We just figured it was time to do our own thing for a while, take our own paths and keep in touch and then eventually get back together and do some stuff. You know, I mean I’m sure he was the same, I didn’t want it to always be like ‘Boom Bip and Doseone’. But yeah, I love working with him, he’s one of my best friends. It’s great to work with him and we will in the future, but for now we’ll just do our own things. He’s doing his own thing with Subtle, which I think is like the best stuff he’s ever done.

D9: What about the collaboration with Nina Nastasia?

BB: With her, it was more a case of me being a fan of hers and just contacting her out of the blue and asking her to be part of my record. Really, I just called her out of the blue and said ‘Hey listen, you probably don’t know what I do but I’d love to work with you.’ The idea was a bit daunting for us both at first because she comes from a very singer-songwriter folky background and I have more of an electronic background. Those things can work, and have in the past, but we just weren’t sure if it would work. And we were throwing around different ideas and taking different approaches to working on the song. Initially I had made a full track for her to write to and sent her this track, and she was having trouble writing to it because she’s just used to her way and her guitar – a very pure form of songwriting. So we decided to do it in reverse where she sent me the lyrics and then I built up a track around that. And I built up this track with guitars, bass, harpsichord and strings and like all this crap around it, and it didn’t sound right. It didn’t sound like me, it didn’t sound like her. It sounded too big and way too overworked. I basically came to the realisation that her voice needs to be the forefront, the focal point that you’re really listening to and everything else should just compliment what she’s doing. I started stripping everything back and throwing in heavy reverse reverbs and just basically making this sort of drony mess of all the parts that I had recorded. I basically just filtered everything out and mashed it up into the thing that it is. And then her vocals popped out, it seemed to work. Simplicity is best with her I think because you’ve got to listen to her lyrics and you don’t want to distract from that.

D9: What can we expect from the show tonight?

BB: Oh, it’s going to be great. I mean Caribou is amazing live, we just did our first show together last night. It was their first time actually performing new material and they were really, really solid. Really tight. They’re going to be amazing. Like I said, my band is tighter than ever. It should be good, a nice energetic evening. I wouldn’t expect anything laid back, it’s a very high energy show. People will be surprised at what I’m doing I think, although they won’t be too surprised if they’re familiar with Circle and the new record. Some of the studio stuff where I used programmed drums has a live kit, it’s a bit harder and makes things a bit rocky. It’s fun, it works well, we’re having fun doing it.

D9: Last time I saw you live was at the Glade stage in Glastonbury a couple of years ago.

BB: Oh, that was terrible! You know, they didn’t have half the kit that I required. They didn’t have a guitar there, several other things that I needed they just didn’t have. I was reaching and grabbing, didn’t have the right cables… And John Peel was front and centre, sitting right there at the front of the stage. I was just like ‘Oh my God, no! no!’ That was a bit nervewracking!

D9: So what are your plans for Boom Bip at the moment?

BB: Well, in the near future I’m going to be doing a lot of touring. We’ve got seven or eight more dates in France and the UK. I head back to Los Angeles, have two days off. Then we’re playing the Coachella festival. Then we have to leave immediately, fly to the East coast and start a full month of a US tour. So that’s the very near future, doing a lot of shows. And then June and July I’m planning on taking off and working on and EP that I’ve started. I’ll probably finish the EP in those two months, then in August I’m coming back over here for festivals.

D9: Well, thanks for your time and I’ll see you at the show.

BB: Wonderful, thanks for having me.

Interview by Nick Davis.

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18 April 2005

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