The Leisure Society have just released their third album Alone Aboard The Ark. A beautiful collection of songs gentle and delicate in their structure, yet deeply tender in its overtones. During a break between tours, AMBY spoke to main man Nick Hemming about banning wastefulness, Sylvia Plath’s poetry, and an album that changed my life too, Adam & the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier.
AMBY: How would you describe The Leisure Society’s sound to those unfamiliar with your music?
The Leisure Society: That’s always a hard one to answer as we always try to be quite eclectic stylistically. But I guess you could call it orchestrated pop music.
AMBY: You have just released your third album Alone Aboard The Ark. Which tracks are your favourites?
The Leisure Society: My personal favourite is We Go Together. It’s a song about a summer romance, the kind of relationship that you know will probably not last, but is great fun while it does. I think the boozy late night jazz feel of the instrumentation perfectly matches the lyric. I’m also really fond of Tearing the Arches Down as it allowed me to really crank the guitar amps for the first time on a Leisure Society recording.
AMBY: The Sober Scent Of Paper is a fascinating song, What is the story behind it?
The Leisure Society: I’m a big fan of Sylvia Plath’s poetry. Wuthering Heights in particular had a devastating effect on me the first time I read it. The Sober Scent of Paper – as is usually the case – started off with just the guitar chords. I was endlessly repeating them and singing nonsense over the top when the line “Chains dredge the great lake around you, pull you along by the knots in your hair” popped out. I didn’t really know what it meant, but something about the desolate image and the rhythm of the line made me think of Sylvia. I spent the next couple of weeks re-reading her poems and listening to tapes of interviews, slowly the lyrics to the song assembled.
AMBY: Who influences you as a songwriters and musicians?
The Leisure Society: Discovering the Beach Boys’ 1966-73 output had quite a profound effect on me as a musician. I basically spent a year recording demos in my bedroom trying, and failing, to be Brian Wilson. Film soundtrack composers were also a big influence on my early attempts at recording, people like John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Henry Mancini, Franco Micalizzi and Burt Bacharach. My earliest musical heroes, and therefore probably the most formative, were Paul Weller, Adam Ant and Slash….. make of that what you will!
AMBY: If you could tour with anyone, who would you chose?
The Leisure Society: Hmmm tough one. Arcade Fire or maybe The Shins. Basically anyone good enough that you wouldn’t mind watching them every night for weeks on end.
AMBY: What would a movie based on The Leisure Society be called?
The Leisure Society: Whatever Happened to the Leisure Society?
AMBY: Which three albums changed your life?
The Leisure Society: Adam & the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier, Guns n Roses – Appetite for Destruction, The Beach Boys – Friends/20/20 (strictly speaking two albums, but they did come on one CD)
AMBY: What is the funniest thing to happen to you at one of your gigs?
The Leisure Society: We played a very boozy show on a beach near Barcelona. It was really hot so we came straight off stage and decided to go skinny dipping. We were all running down the beach toward the water and Mike (our violinist) misjudged it slightly and launched himself into approximately 1cm depth of water, he hit the sand, belly first, with quite a thud, deflating himself with a severe “WHOOOOOF!” The funniest part was that as it was dark he didn’t realise that everyone witnessed the winding – he just jumped up and carried on running into the sea as if nothing had happened.
AMBY: What has you excited for 2013?
The Leisure Society: We’ve just come back from a big tour and it was amazing playing these new songs live, so more of that please!
AMBY: If you could create a law that everyone would have to follow, what would it be?
The Leisure Society: Ban wastefulness. Because the vast majority of the Western World are so privileged we waste a huge amount of food, fuel, money, water etc…. It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that the way we live isn’t sustainable, so it’s up to us ALL to do something about it.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about The Leisure Society that nobody knows yet?
The Leisure Society: Before we go onstage we get ourselves warmed up with an improvised version of the Haka. The only rule is that no two Hakas are the same. Can I preemptively apologise if this is in any way insulting to Maori traditions!
Thank you The Leisure Society, for giving us your answers!