Hello all in Air Formation. Please introduce yourself to our readers. How did Air Formation form? Can you give us some history of the band?
My name is Matt Bartram and I play guitar and sing in the band. Ben (Bass), Richard (Keyboard drones), Ian (Guitar/Feedback) and James (drums) are nursing hangovers at the moment.
We are all a group of close friends that go back many years, Air Formation started officially in June 2000 when we sent a CD of songs to Drive-in Records. They loved it so much they decided to release it as a self-titled EP that came out in October 2000.
Stay Inside/Feel Everything is a wonderful disc. Can you give us some indications of the recording and writing process on this album?
Thanks for the compliment. I wrote all the basic song structures for the album over two weekends during a very cold and wet February a few years ago. I then took the songs along to the others and we set about working on them. It took us pretty much the whole of the year to get them ready to record.
I love the cadence of your album. The timing and song order are brilliant. Was this done purposefully and, if so, what were your thought processes behind picking these songs and placing them in that particular order?
I wrote eight songs I knew would work well together on an album, so it wasn’t like I picked the best eight out of a possible twelve like most bands do. To be honest I never thought what might happen if some of the songs didn’t sound good once recorded. I’m quite efficient at scrapping the weaker songs before the band gets to hear them, I guess that’s what comes from having limited time and money. As far as the track order goes I was guided by what felt right.
I wanted the album to be more diverse, we’d done a droney, one-note thing (which I loved) with most of the songs on “Ends In Light” so it seemed only right to go for something more immediate.
What sort of equipment do you use? Do you use different effects in the studio and live?
We just use very standard guitars/amps with delay pedals and distortion. We also use a synth that adds a lot to the sound but we never used any studio trickery whilst recording the album, what you get is us playing live. The only overdubs are vocals and a little feedback in places. We only ever used a maximum eight tracks on the desk.
Do you see a fundamental change in your sound between your previous albums and Stay Inside/Feel Everything How do you see your growth as a band over the time you have been together?
With S.I/F.E. I knew exactly where it was going, what I wanted it to sound like and how I wanted it to feel, I think this sense of focus comes across in the songs. The other real change is that Ian joined just as ‘Ends in light’ came out. His guitar playing is outstanding and brought a more melodic feel to the new songs. I guess as time’s gone on we’ve just got better at working as a unit and things are naturally evolving.
Your compositions are really beautiful and complex. In particular, I really like “Why I Lost You” and “Caught Upon the Waves”. Are there any stories behind these songs? What songs on the album are your favorites and why?
“Why I lost you” was the first song I wrote for the album and the last one to be finished, originally I planned for it to be an acoustic track with finger picking guitar. I guess that idea worked better on “Here comes the rain”. We had a real tough time getting “why I lost you” sounding good live but after hearing it recorded I was so pleased with how it came across. It’s one of my favourites on the album. “Caught upon the waves” is just a great one to play live and sounded great from the first moment we all played it. A lot of people come up to us after live shows and tell us that it’s their favourite which is great.
Your recently played a gig at the AC30. How did that go? Will there be release on the AC30 comps from that gig?
We played the club for the second time last night and both times had a fantastic reception. It’s one of the few nights we play where we feel truly welcomed. The crowd is always really into what we are doing and it’s great to be up on stage and see people packed in from the front to the back enjoying the music. Robin Allport (who runs ClubAC30) has done such a great thing in starting it up, I hope it carries on for a lot longer. We contributed a new track to the first AC30 comp which is available from Tonevendor. There might be something else in the pipeline but we’ll have to wait and see what happens…..
What do you see as the future of Air Formation?
I just want to carry on writing and recording the best songs I can. Every year that we’ve been going something else exciting happens and it really feels like things are picking up pace. There will definitely be a lot going on during 2005 and we’re all feeling really positive.
What artists would you say influence you the most?
“Flying Saucer attack” & “Spacemen 3” are the most influential bands for me. However I listen to everything from Simon and Garfunkel to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion so I guess like everybody, I pick things up from all kinds of places.
What are you listening to now?
“The Beach Boys” (Friends/Sunflower/Surfs up), “Spacemen 3” (The Perfect Prescription), “Monster Movie” (To the Moon) “Low” (Things we lost in the fire) “Yo la tengo (Summer sun, I can hear the heart..)… This could go on forever as music is on around me all day….