herald

Friday 17 August 2018

'Power' ready to turn on Academy

British Sea Power, the colourful indie band from Cumbria who've been teasing audiences with inventive power-pop variations since their debut album in 2003, are famous for a series of gigs in unusual places, including on the Great Wall of China, the Chelsea Flower Show and the Natural History Museum in London.

They've achieved a lot that's worth remembering, including recording a new score for Robert J Flaherty's 1934 docu-drama Man of Aran.

But amid the thrills, the plaudits and the impressive output, singer Yan (who answers to the name Scott Wilkinson) recalls receiving an important imprimatur at an early gig in Dublin. "A fan called Jack who used to follow The Who was down the front and he was really enthusiastic," says Yan. "We have quite a rock-based powerful gig and we did a good one that day and he said we have some of the power of The Who."

"The Who are one of my favourite bands," enthuses Yan, clearly delighted British Sea Power had received the approval of Mod legend, and friend of Peter Townshend, "Irish" Jack Lyons from Cork, immortalised in their song Happy Jack.

Having written and recorded much of the latest album, Valhalla Dancehall, on the Isle of Skye, the band continue to attract categorisation in media circles as being wacky oddball eccentrics. Yan shrugs off such definitions as lazy.

"It's exaggerated," he says. "I can see where it's come from and I'll take a fair amount of responsibility for it. We're known for playing in strange places and that but we also play a lot of clubs. We like to broaden our horizons and have a bit of fun and stop ourselves getting bored."

The 13 tracks on Valhalla Dancehall clock in at over an hour. And despite having three main writers, the album has a unified feel. "That's important on a record," says Yan. "It was a struggle. We ended up with a lot of material that didn't get on because they were hard to place next to the other songs."

With five albums in eight years, as well as touring extensively, does the band remain enthusiastic?

"We were recharged after the last record," he says. "Up until the mixing, it was all self-contained. Rather than spending all the money on a few weeks in a studio, we had a year of recording and writing together. I did a lot of experimenting. Now I find I'm more excited about writing songs than ever."

British Sea Power play the Academy on Thursday

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