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Nick Power of The Coral

The Full Interview

Mar 01, 2003 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Spring 2003 - Elliott Smith
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The Coral are probably the most acclaimed band to come out of Liverpool, England, in the last couple of years. You can read all about them in Issue 4 of Under the Radar, in our article on them on page 9 of that issue. If you’re still hungry for more Coral, especially after hearing their tasty self-titled debut album, then read below for the full interview UTR’s London correspondent Jumana Farouky did with the band’s keyboardist Nick Power.


Jumana Farouky (J): You guys are just back from your first U.S. tour. How did it go?


Nick Power (N): It was good, it was boss. There were good points and bad points.


J: Which was your favorite city?

N: L.A., I think. It’s weird round there. Even the bums look like movie stars, and there are muscley gay guys walkingaround Sunset Boulevard. I couldn’t move there, though. I stood out like a sore thumb. We were there only for a day. The whole tour lasted four weeks. We also loved San Francisco. That was the best part, seeing Alcatraz. We didn’t go in, though, ‘cos you have to book it. You even get headsets to wear in there. But we seen it from the bay. That was good enough. Whatever’s in your imagination is probably better than real thing, anyway.

J: And you guys were on the Conan O’Brien show, right?

N: Oh, Conan, he’s well funny! He’s like Mike Myers, he’s like 6ft 4. And he’s a sound fellow. We get treated dead well on shows like that, proper New York. And Conan was much nicer than Carson Daly. He was shit. He couldn’t even speak to us, he was just scared shitless. Conan’s much better, he’s a proper working man’s man, isn’t he? I’m sound with him. He probably hates us, though: (putting on passable American accent) “Go on! Get outta here!”

J: What about the audiences? How did they like you?

N: It was different in every place. In New York, it went well. Most had bought the album or EP and knew the songs. Canada was just dead. I think it depends on which day you play, too. Canada was a Sunday night, so everyone was not having a bevy [a drink], just waiting to get to work the next day. I reckon in New York or L.A. we got the best reception. Chicago and Philly were good. Most of the tour we were supporting Supergrass. L.A. and New York were the only ones we done on our own. Both got amazing receptions.

J: I know you’ve already done this a million times, but you’ve got to tell me a little bit about how the band started out.

N: Just from school, really. The drummer, Ian and the bass-player formed it in school and started practicing in school. Others joined, then Jamie, then I joined about two-and-a-half years ago. I always knew them, and always went to their praccies [practices] even though I was in another band.

J: And then what happened? You guys started playing small gigs…?

N: Y’know, it was Lou Carpenter, from [popular Australian soap opera] Neighbours, he’s an early hero. [Starts to relate all the major Lou Carpenter plotlines…] The shit he’s been through, all that shit with [girlfriend] Sheryl, the garage closing down, and then Sheryl left. Actually, I think she died, and then he had to get with Holly. It’s a boss show.

J: They don’t get it over in the States.

N: No, but they should. It’s like Christianity, people are losing faith. That’s the mission of this band. To open everyone’s eyes to Neighbours.

J: So, back to the band…

N: Oh yeah. After we left school, we still used to practice in the school. Then we moved out into Ian’s bedroom for two years, then using any connections we had, at clubs or wherever, we started playing in Liverpool, gigs in pubs round there. Then we got residency at the Cavern Club [basement club where the Beatles were discovered] on Sunday afternoon. Three gigs a day to three Japanese tourists. Our manager Alan Wills heard us and then formed the record label Deltasonic round us. He had retired from management, but wanted a band who were going to be committed and that. That was us. So he set the label up and then signed other bands. Now the label’s kind of on Sony and it’s kicking off quite well. There are other bands on it who are doing well, like The Zutons, The Basement.

J: Oh yeah, those are some of the bands playing in the Midsummer Night’s Scream gig you guys organized for the summer. It’s in a big circus tent…?

N: It’s round ours, on a pier near Hoylake, ten minutes up the coast from there. All you have to do is walk down to the beach, there’s a big bit of grass by the sea. The Libertines are playing, The Bees [known as A Band of Bees in the States]. It’s in a tent ‘cos you can’t bank on the weather in England. If it pisses down it’s just going to ruin it. Nobody’s done anything like that for ages, because it doesn’t make money. We won’t make profit on it, but we just wanted to do it. It’s the kind of thing that’s going to go down in history. And the Merseyside people will make money, the local businesses will love it. We’ll be local heroes…!

J: They’ll put up statues of you…

N: Imagine we get statues on the coastline! I’ll dance naked around them…

J: But instead of bronze, they’ll be made of hemp…

N: Yeah! And people can pick off it and walk around chomping on hemp!

J: People have had a lot of trouble trying to describe your sound. I’m sure you hate doing this, but how would you describe it?

N: I do hate it. I can’t really. There’s too many. Basically, it’s the sound of kids who are bored. When they have to do something for too long… if you get into a style, you have to try something else.

J: You’ve got so many styles, just on one album. You must get bored quickly.

N: Well, that’s what today’s generation is like. The cable TV generation.

J: Does it help that most bands don’t tour Merseyside?

N: There’s no fashions round ours, so you don’t get caught up in trends, and you can listen to Bob Marley or Wet Wet Wet, or be into folk. I imagine there’s loads of that in London to be honest, being caught in the fashion. That’s why Strokes-type bands stick with one style, because it would be uncool to step out of it. Round here, it’s just old people’s homes. It’s right by the sea, you see Wales from the coastline. It’s one of the best views I’ve ever seen on a clear day. And there’s some mad island called Hilbre Island that you can go over to, it’s like Treasure Island. We wrote most of the songs on that coast. It’s just a boss place to sit. There’s a shelter where you can go in and have a spliff. It’s not cheesy or hippie, it’s just a place to get the tunes written.

J: Speaking of which, there’s several words that the press always use about you: Scousers [slang for Liverpudlians], sea shanties and weed…

N: Which is weird, ‘cos I don’t even smoke weed. And we’re not from Liverpool, either. It doesn’t bother me, really, ‘cos it’s one of the best cities for music in the history of the bands it’s had. It’s good and bad. You get lumbered with it a bit, no matter how many times you say it, they think “Scousers.” Which is like me thinking someone from Cambridge is a Cockney.

J: Do you ever worry you’re not being taken seriously?

N: You can only dispel that myth with your next batch of songs. We’re not taking it too seriously, ‘cos that’s when you start going up your own ass, when you start getting deep into the meaning of your own songs. So when you get asked, you reply with Lou Carpenter. I hate the way people go deep into their own psyche. That’s for other people to do.

J: You don’t mind people deciding they know what you’re thinking?

N: It’s interesting. Usually they’re way off the mark, but at least they’re talking about something worthwhile instead of what trainers you’re wearing and what drugs you’re doing. That’s what got me into music, reading stuff in MOJO magazine about what inspired bands to write tunes. I once read this boss thing about Nick Drake in MOJO. And I still have it.

J: Do you like what the press are saying about you?

N: I don’t read it, so I couldn’t say if I like it. I don’t like the tabloid stuff, when your face is in a magazine and it doesn’t need to be. I’d like to stay anonymous. Like being recognized in places, it freaks me out a bit. I don’t like it.

J: But the bigger you get, the more that’s going to happen.

N: Sure, you get the thing of your tunes reaching more people, so that’s the sacrifice. But you can do it in a good way. Like, Radiohead is massive, but you wouldn’t recognize any of the other members, other than Thom.

J: Is there anything good about being famous?

N: Money, basically. You can just live, do your music and eat. It’s good when people are buzzing off your music, but otherwise it’s a pain in the ass. I reckon, it’s transparent. I don’t know how to describe it.

J: Is it maybe that you don’t feel you deserve it?

N: We never expected it! We weren’t doing it to get famous, just doing it ‘cos we love music. And that’s what we’re doing it for now. We just didn’t embrace the fame, it’s still a bit freaky. You deal with it in your own way. It’s not like I’m a massive star like Jim Morrison. But you’re getting paid. It’s a good wage. I’d rather be doing that than working in a supermarket.

J: Is that what you’d be doing if you weren’t making music?

N: Yeah. Or surfing. Or just travelling or something. Or fucking just read comics and shit.

J: D’you still live at home?

N: Yeah, most of us do. I haven’t got time to move out, and I’ve just about got enough money. Tried at Christmas, but we had another tour coming up. There aren’t that many places round ours and I wanna stick around ours. I’m desperate to move out. Although you do get the perks, the Sunday roast, your laundry done…

J: So tell me about the new album.

N: It’s almost done, we just have a few little things to tweak. We’re dead happy with it. With the first album, your buzzing ‘cos it’s your first album, you’ve made your mission. This is the album we’ve always wanted to make. We’ve done most of it on our own, so we didn’t have to compromise as much. To get noticed you have to put things in people’s faces. The first album is totally in your face.

J: How does the new one compare to the first, The Coral?

N: It sounds different, a bit more raw, not as much studio trickery. Loads of it was done live. And it’s spookier, a bit darker. It’s amazing! The first single off it, “Don’t Think You’re the First” got to number 10! It’s mad! It’s a mad tune and we got it in the charts and we’re buzzing and it’s mad! It’s like Scott Walker. I was well proud, it’s a historic moment.

J: So are you guys the saviors of British rock, like everyone says?

N: That phrase is thrown around so much, next week they’ll be saying it about somebody else. If you don’t play into their hands and you try something new that doesn’t fit into their criteria, you’ll be cast off. It’s a cliché. Everything’s a cliché. You can’t do nothing new. Even me answering, what I’m saying right now, what can I say that’s new? Except for Lou Carpenter.

J: But people would argue that your work is totally influenced by stuff from the ‘60s and ‘70s, that what you do isn’t new.

N: But if you’re breathing new life into something, it doesn’t matter where it’s coming from. When I hear a tune, I think, “That’s a good tune.” I hate people who think, “Oh, that sounds really retro, blah, blah, blah.” If it’s a good tune, and it makes you happy, you’re missing the point. It’s true that we do take stuff, but we try to make our stuff as original as we can. Every good band does, that’s the only way to do it. Even Captain Beefheart did it with blues, even Picasso studied that impressionist painter Braque. Although, I would like to make something one day, something that’s totally original. There’s a few people, like Kraftwerk, where there was nothing ever like that before. The sound was totally their own. It’s like classical music, but with machines, like Can. They were totally original. We wanna do something like that, one day. That’s what drives us.

J: But you have to wonder, what could come next? We feel like we’ve heard it all before.

N: There’s always bands who break barriers. In the ‘60s, people probably felt that all the great art had been done and all the barriers had been broken. It’s almost like the ‘60s again, it’s a weird time. There’s mad wars going off, apocalyptic shit, and it looks like we might not be living in ten years. It’s that same feeling like in the ‘60s, society’s changing, we’re in a period of cyber-change, proper cyber-shit. Like The Lawnmower Man. That’s what it’s like now.

J: Is that where the title for the new album comes from? Matrix Farm.

N: [Laughs, hard]. That’s just the working title. I mean, c’mon, really, Matrix Farm? Have you seen The Matrix? It would be like that, but on a farm. All these angles in slow motion, like a farmer with a pitchfork. Swoosh! That’s like something Creed would do. No, we’re not revealing the title ‘til it comes out. That’s the best way, keep it a mystery. That way it’s a good surprise for the fans when it comes out. Oh, I’m being called, I think we need to wrap this up.

J: One last question: at the end of one of your B-sides “Follow the Sun”, James says “Dedicated to the Wizard.” Who’s the Wizard?

N: You’ll never know. But he’s big. He’s the guru.

www.thecoral.co.uk



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Living Statues UK
October 1st 2009
6:19am

hi,

great post.

thanks a lot for sharing the information.

Nausicrate
January 10th 2011
7:48am

With the release of their self-titled debut album, The Coral established themselves as a talented young band that would only get better with time. Their second CD, Magic and Medicine, confirms that. While their sound has matured, they haven’t lost any of the whimsy or frivolity that works so well for them “Rolex Submariner

Background
January 23rd 2014
8:40am

Nick Power of The Coral Great!

Wallpaper
February 7th 2014
4:38pm

Great article. I really like that. I will follow your articles.

Congratulations

Background
December 25th 2017
8:57am

thanks for shareing..

Andy
March 31st 2018
3:00pm

Really great.