Face to face with Algernon Doll

Algernon Doll pic 3

Ewan Grant is the main man behind Algernon Doll. With two properly eclectic albums under his belt, on his third effort ‘Omphalic’ Ewan pushes the limits even further. True, due to his great talent he belongs to the breed of musicians who can never fear becoming complacent. Rock Britain chats to Ewan about ‘Omphalic’, more new music and his ideal place to listen to music.

– Your third album ‘Omphalic’ is out. What makes you especially proud of this record?

– I think I’m most proud of how I wrote most songs the night before and I don’t hate them yet! This album
was written to play live too so it’s always nice to be able to achieve everything on record unlike the previous
records. I’m proud that people have found their own meaning in the songs and they can relate to a lot of
what I’m singing about.

– From your perspective as an artist, in what way is ‘Omphalic’ different from your two previous releases ‘Camomile’ and ‘Citalo-pop’?

– It was more of a growth project. I wanted to see if I could write a bunch of 3.30 minute pop songs that weren’t
mind-numbingly boring. I think I achieved that, hopefully! Camomile and Citalo-pop are very much “studio” records
and it was difficult to play a lot of those songs live without them sounding bare.

– Looking back at the process of work at ‘Omphalic’, what were the most interesting things about it?

– I enjoyed following through with almost every whim or melody that came to my head and trying not to over-think
about whether anything ticked any boxes. It was a lot of fun just taking the time with Tom and recording/ skateboarding
and making videos for this. It was an album i had to make to progress onto what I know I need to do now.

– Your fourth album is sketched and you’re going to work with Steve Albini at it. What are your expectations from this collaboration?

– I love Steve’s work as an artist and engineer, particularly on his own stuff and that Low album he did. We don’t really
expect him to want to change much. The idea is to get a very real document of where we are now as a live band, good
or bad. I’m done with click tracks, countless over-dubs and everything digital. We want to prove that we’re a great
punk/rock band. The most important thing is that he captures the energy from the new songs…oh and massive drums.

– When it comes to your live shows, what’s the most important thing in them for you?

– The most important thing is if we’re all putting out a strong, passionate energy. It’s hard not to get into that sort of
thing regardless of if you like the genre or whatever. It’s not important that there’s no mistakes and it’s almost
imperative that there’s a whole bunch of humanity to our playing. It’s also really important that we play to like-minded
people who have no interest in hurting anyone or displaying any mild manner of hate towards anyone else for whatever

– As Algernon Doll you’ve played solo shows and the ones with the full band. How are these two absolutely different experiences for you? What do you especially like about both of them?

– Acoustic used to terrify me and I’d hide behind the guitar and hope people didn’t talk over what I was playing. I used to just make people feel sorry for me and that’s not a nice experience. I don’t want to be a downer for anyone. With the band I can let go and be a more confident version of myself. I really love playing guitar and I’m like a kid when I get to play it loud so playing in the band is a more impromptu expression through my instrument and I  enjoy if way more.

– What bands/musicians can you name as your biggest influences and inspirations?

– I’d say Elliot Smith is my biggest influence as a song writer. I like his chord changes and double-tracking vocals.
Dead Kennedy’s and Converge changed my life and opened my mind. I think they have a massive influence
in my aesthetics.

– What’s your favourite atmosphere for listening to music?

– I like being at big punk festivals where everyone’s friends and there for a few days to share ideas and hang out.
I don’t listen to music much at home anymore. I think I prefer to play and write it.

– What’s your most favourite recent music discovery?

– Recently I’ve been listening to the new Chain and the Gang record, I really like that. I only just got into The Cribs
after years of writing them off as a laddy indie rock band. I can’t think of many new artists I’ve discovered although
I’ve been going through Steve Albini’s recording discography and found some gems! That Low record is incredible.

– Looking back at your way as Algernon Doll, what has been the most memorable moment for you so far?

– Radio 1’s Big Weekend was pretty memorable but I was too tired to fully enjoy it, regrettably! That and playing festivals
like Wickerman, Book Yer Ane Fest and Shetfest. I enjoy when crowds are that loose and I tend to find a looser crowd
at fests.

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