Finding His Niche
Not without challenges, Oliver Cole says his latest album takes him back to his best
Even when turn was still a working rock band, Oliver Cole knew his future was as a solo artist. "I'd already started to write independently of everybody," he explains. "I was getting more into songwriting and bands like Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac. I'd nearly call the last Turn album my first solo album."
As he began working towards a solo venture, Cole had a stroke of luck. A girl he "met randomly on the internet" had a friend who played in a big German rock band. He threw Cole the keys of his home studio and let him work there while pop-rockers Reamonn were on tour.
"I went and lived there and played everything on the record, which is the first time I've ever done that," says Cole. "I wanted to do that. It was a challenge. But I'll never do it again. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I did miss other peoples' input. I didn't think I would."
The songs he was writing landed Cole a publishing deal in Britain and now his album, We Albatri, is being released on EMI. The album didn't come together overnight.
"It's taken nearly three years to finish recording the album and bring it out," says Cole. "It took me a while to find my voice."
Despite knowing what he wanted to do, Cole found the change to working as a solo artist more difficult than he'd imagined.
"It's easy to lose your voice when you're in a band," he states. "When I was a kid I was the youngest of a big family and I had the benefit of listening to all my older brothers' album collections. I was really into Elvis Costello and the Attractions when I was young. But I also liked Glen Campbell and Cat Stevens. That's when I first started to write songs. I didn't have any cool factor built into me. I didn't understand credibility. It was only later in life, in my late teens, when we started having the likes of Nirvana and stuff, that I thought, 'Oh, I'm going to be in a cool band.'
"I got lost along the way. A lot of the time the songwriting got lost in the mush and the noise.
"Now I'm the same person I was back then," he says in a relieved voice. "Now I'm into songwriting. Sometimes I'll listen to a Billy Joel song and think, "That's a fucking well written song. I'm into the nuts and bolts of it again. I love that process."
But, according to Cole, even songwriting has its pitfalls. "The better you get at it, the more bland you start to sound," he warns. "Eventually you've learned every trick and you're boring the head off everybody." - EC
We Albatri will be released next week on EMI